It took two hours for me to reach Kentish Town, due to massive delays in the London Underground, so it’s not like I was in a massive hurry to mosh or anything. I did expect the Cavalera brothers to gather quite a crowd- even on a weekday- but The Forum was absolutely packed. The evening had a rather celebratory air and it was hard to move around (let alone to try and navigate the crowd while balancing a drink in each hand) but we managed to be fairly close to the stage. The (mostly male) crowd was your usual assortment of unreconstructed Sepultura fans: A lot of dreadlocks, camo pants, Brazilian flags, 80s punk and metal t- shirts everywhere and somewhat unfortunate hygiene choices. Basically, I felt a mixture of thirst and a general readiness to smash shit up.
Max and Igor were in London to play the Sepultura Roots album in its’ entirety. Roots, with its’ nü-metal grooves, hardcore aggression and native Brazilian instrumentation (courtesy of the Xavantes tribe) is a milestone for a generation of headbangers. It was in fact rather controversial upon its’ release and I remember plenty of snooty, borderline racist reviews in the metal press at the time decrying it as a novelty. But most of it feels vital and contemporary now (well, apart from the nü- metal bits) and we soon realized that the Cavalera bros still got it.
Flanked by guitarist Marc Rizzo and bassist Johnny Chow (of the Cavalera Conspiracy), Igor laid down a monstrous groove and the resulting sound was brutal. Max Cavalera has lost nothing of his voice as far as I can tell- and he sure as Hell hasn’t lost his ability to lead a crowd. Roots Bloody Roots and Ratamahata created moshing maelstroms within the crowd, while Dictatorshit, Cut- Throat, Spit and Attitude are absolutely punishing.
The celebratory atmosphere is reinforced by a handful of fantastic covers, including Celtic Frost’s Procreation (of the Wicked), a Sabbath medley, the obligatory Motörhead tribute (The Ace of Spades, but to be fair, it’s a glorious, breakneck version) and even a few bars of Raining Blood by their old rivals.
It was all very celebratory and loud as fuck and I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. If I may be allowed a note of personal reflection, Roots was epochal: the coruscating sound, the songs that are unformed as compositions but peerless as howls of anger, the crust punk solidarity, the glorious sight of Third World musicians being recognised on a global scale- all this was a rallying cry for many a suburban kid in the 90s. Watching the band performing and everybody enjoying themselves thoroughly, it’s hard not to think that the reason that this particular album is still relevant in this day and age is because we all still have plenty to be angry about. We would be wise to remember that.