Sepultura at KOKO, London

Death makes its mark on KOKO…

Having arrived at the famous north London club KOKO around 5:30pm, there were not a lot of people about— not surprising, as it was drizzle and cold that greeted those waiting for the gatekeepers to open the portal to metal madness. A little after 6pm the doors opened, much to the delight of a fellow wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, I’m sure…

Inside, the backdrop of Obscura was already set up on stage and the bar was flowing nicely. The merch stand was packed full of great artwork from all bands listed at very reasonable prices too. Not just shirts and hoodies, but badges, flags, hats and all sorts.

First up was New Jersey deathcore metallers, Fit For An Autopsy. Vocalist Joe Badolato took command of the stage and the band played well. Although the floor had not filled up yet, the band got those who were there riled up with their great stage presence. They played a mix of tracks from their studio albums and finished off with ‘Iron Moon’ and ‘Black Mammoth’ from the latest release The Great Collapse. The band thanked Goatwhore, Obscura and Sepultura for having them join the tour.

Next up was New Orleans based blackened death metal veterans Goatwhore who appeared on stage with a slight oddity… lead vocalist L. Ben Falgoust II was sitting on a road case with his right leg cast in plaster… a broken leg and still performing live with no let-up. Guitarist Sammy Duet addressed the crowd to make some noise for his injured bandmate, asking, “how many of you pussies could do this?”.

Falgoust II invoked the “Pit Troll” (the guy was at least 6’6″) to fuck shit up, get crazy and start acting like animals in the pit. The “Pit Troll” got two guys to pick him up and throw him over the security barriers to incite some crowd surfing. He was not opposed to picking others up and surfing them over the top of the crowd. They played a great set list and the crowd went crazy for them. Definitely a band I intend to keep up with.

German tech-death masters Obscura take the sound of death metal and apply it to themes of nature, science and philosophy. Sebastian Lanser’s drum kit took up a large part of centre stage. The band played well and played tracks from their back catalogue finishing up on ‘Centric Flow’ from their 2009 release Cosmogenesis. The crowd had a mixed reaction to this band. Some visibly enjoyed it, others seemed to just listen… although everyone was treated to guitarist and vocalist Steffen Kummerer scaling the speakers and jumping off at the end of the set.

The Brazilian thrash, death, groove… well let’s just say metal legends Sepultura have been through sound changes and line-up changes for more than 30 years.

Although this is a review of their live set, I want to set some context to the band first.  Starting off as a death metal band, they found their best sound, in my opinion, in the 90s, with albums like Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots where elements of thrash, groove metal and crust punk were added. At this point, the band fractured and arguably their most notable member Max Cavalera left the band, later followed by his brother Igor. The only members remaining from the glory days were Paulo Jr on bass and Andreas Kisser on lead guitar who have done a great job keeping the band going the following years.

Lead singer Derrick Green has done a good job keeping the vocal sound similar to what it was before his arrival and their albums from 1998 onwards have met with both criticism and acclaim. The latest album Machine Messiah on which this show was based has been acclaimed as a return to the 90s sound. I am not so sure… being a fan of the band from back then, I revelled when the band played tracks like ‘Desperate Cry’, ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’, ‘Inner Self’, ‘Ratamahatta’ and ‘Roots’… but sadly I can’t say the same for more recent tracks like ‘Sworn Oath’ and ‘Machine Messiah’ — and from the look of the crowd I think it was the same for a lot of others. Is it because Green was singing? Was it because the new songs are not well received? No, I don’t think so… I think it’s because of those who go to see Sepultura want to experience the glory days of the 90s again… that distinct sound created by the perfect storm of the band members at the time.  I am sure the band has their fans going forward and they will continue for many years to come… The live set was great, energetic and full of nostalgia as a lot of old favourites made me feel like I was back in 1996 when the band had the world at their feet.


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