When I first heard that Sepultura were going to be making a trip to Christchurch I knew that I was going to be seeing them, we just don’t get enough world class heavy bands down here to miss out on the event. Then when I realised that thrash masters Death Angel were also along for the ride then it was a no brainer. However, I wasn’t too sure about the venue, which turned out to be Canterbury University Student’s bar! But, if that was where they were playing then that was where I was going to be on a rather damp Sunday evening. They say that planning is everything, so of course it made sense that I was having to travel to Melbourne the following morning on the first flight out of NZ, which meant that I would have to get up at stupid o’clock and therefore miss at least half of Sepultura’s set, but c’est la vie.
On getting into the venue, which was basically a large room with a stage at one end and a bar on one side, I was rather surprised to see that the ceiling slopes at a rather large angle. It might be good for the look and feel of the room when it isn’t being used as a venue, but having sound waves crashing in at weird angles was going to do nothing for the sound quality! I met up with some friends from work (more about them at the end), who told me that there was also going to be a local band playing. I inwardly groaned at the thought, until I discovered that said band was Blindfolded And Led To The Woods. Their recent album ‘Modern Adoxography’ is a stunning slab of death metal, and although they always seem to be playing gigs I had somehow missed them to date, so was looking forward to actually catching these guys live.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Sepultura were formed in 1984, Death Angel in 1982, while I am sure that none of the Christchurch band were even born back then, but they were determined to make the most of the opportunity. They may not all look like a metal outfit, with plaid shirts rather worryingly making a fashion statement, but when it comes to locking it down and turning up the metallic noise then they do a very fine job indeed. Mind you, their Facebook banner shows them posing next to a rusted out tractor, a little different to band photos taken on the gritty streets of LA! They are tight, and incredibly impressive. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before they start venturing offshore to play more gigs, but until then I am going to have to ensure that I catch them again.
Death Angel have had an interesting history, even breaking up for a number of years, but lead guitarist Rob Cavestany was a founder member, while he and singer Mark Osegueda (who has been in the band since 1984) have appeared on all of their studio albums. Rhythm guitarist Ted Aguilar joined in 2001, while the rhythm section of Will Carroll (drums) and Damien Sisson (bass) both entered the fray in 2009. To say that they were tight, having fun, and absolutely killing the crowd is something of an understatement. It was their first ever appearance in NZ, and we were treated to a band having an absolute blast who were going to take everyone along for the ride. This was the last night of the three-date tour in NZ (before they also went over to Melbourne), and they were determined to make a major impression, which they certainly did.
Songs were taken from throughout their career, from early numbers such as “The Ultra Violence” and “Mistress of Pain” up to the most recent release, 2016’s ‘The Evil Divide’ as they bookended the set with “Father of Lies” and “The Moth” respectively. They showed that eighties style thrash still has a place in the modern metal canon, and given the gig they performed it shows that few do it better. I have been a fan of the band for quite some years, and all eight of their studio albums show that they have always been much better than the status accorded to them. I don’t think there were many Death Angel fans in the audience at the beginning, but the venue was full of them by the end.
So, the stage had then been set for the mighty Sepultura. I don’t think I am the only one who feels that their latest album, ‘Machine Messiah’, is the best they have recorded with ‘New’ singer Derrick Green (who has now been frontman for 20 years), and may actually be their most consistent ever. Having been pummelled by death metal, been taken to the cleaners by old school thrash, it was now time for nu-metal to take control. There hasn’t been a founder member in the band since Igor Cavalera departed in 2006, but to virtually all fans bassist Paulo Jr. and guitarist Andreas Kisser are originals, even if they weren’t there at the very beginning. Derek has more than stamped his presence on the band, while drummer Eloy Casagrande has been the permanent replacement since 2011. This venue is way smaller than what they are normally used to be playing, but they showed no sign of reducing the venom or sheer attack. Rather annoyingly for me, both volume and lighting took a massive leap in the right direction with the main guys on stage, but at least it now meant that we could feel the riffs in our chest cavities as well as with our ears.
Whereas Mark Osegueda was permanently working the crowd with both actions and words, Derrick was way more content to take centre stage and let the music speak for him. They were in a room full of metalheads who couldn’t really believe that they were seeing such an important band in such a small venue, and they weren’t going to let anything from preventing them from having a good time. This is punishing music, riffs and attack that is felt as much as it is heard, with Derek the complete and consummate frontman – Max who?
Virtually all of their best songs were put to the end of the set and to the encore, which was understandable I guess, but I couldn’t stay to the end if I was hoping to be able to function at all the next day. Knowing that the band weren’t due to finish until midnight, and that I had to be up at 4 in the morning, I had to leave early and missed out on the really classic numbers. But, to be fair, I still had one hell of a night. I hope that Death Angel keep the promise they reiterated many times, and do make it back to Aotearoa, and I know that I need to see BALTTW again while I can, while Sepultura proved that they are an incredible force to be reckoned with.
Now, back to my friends that I mentioned at the beginning. Two guys from work, who are also metalheads, have set up their own website that sells punk, rock and metal gear for 0-6 year olds (www.teenyrockers.com), cool, right? Anyway, just for the hell of it they contacted Sepultura to say what they did and wondered that as they were in town, would they be up for an interview? What no-one expected, least of all Dena and Gareth, is that the guys would happily agree! To see the video of their interview with Andreas and Derek, just visit https://youtu.be/VJYMFo9hoOY. Sepultura were so pleased with the outcome that they have also posted it on their own site, and then put the Teeny Rockers link up to encourage their fans to check it out. Just goes to show what can happen if you put yourselves out there!