Rio’s Carnival came early this year and made a stop in Montreal. Noticeably absent were extravagant costumes, scantily clad woman, debilitating regret, and the questioning of life choices normally associated with my attendance to the event. Noticeably present were old school death metal shirts, a couple of metal legends, and poutine.
Our carnival was presided over by death metal titans Sepultura celebrating 30 years of ass-shaking Brazilian brutality. Accompanying them were German thrash legends Destruction (who have been around long enough to successfully name their band Destruction before anyone else), Arsis, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, and Starkill. Break out the peacock headdresses and tanning oil, and strap in.
First to the pitch were relative newcomers StarKill, who play a kind of symphonic-melodic-black-thrash-euro-power metal style (according to their T-Shirts) that I’m all too familiar with, given that my own band practically invented the really-long-cram-a-bunch-of-styles-into-one-convoluted genre. But in all seriousness, these young guns put on a pretty good show. Graduating with honors from the Wintersun school of melodic metal and backed by bombastic backing tracks, they ripped through a relatively short set comprised of songs from their records Fires of Life and Virus of the mind (out on Century Media records). Good live energy was sadly lost on a rather miniscule crowd. These guys are definitely a band to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Halfway through The Last Ten Seconds of Life, I wasted my last ten dollars on beer, hoping my last ten cigarettes would last while realizing only the first ten seconds of this set weren’t breakdowns. With that being said, I honestly didn’t hate it by any stretch; however, throwing a new-school breakdown-centric band to the old school metal wolves is a recipe for disaster in almost any situation. Put these guys with Emmure, The Acacia Strain, etc. and I’m sure they would have been welcomed with open arms.
The first thing to strike me during the Arsis set was, “Where the hell did they find an Ewok with gigantism, and how did they teach him how to play bass like Steve Harris from Iron Maiden?!” Then someone pointed out to me it was the same gigantism-stricken, Steve Harris-worshiping Ewok bassist from Havok, Mr. Mike Leon. Off to a good start. Wub Wub. It was painfully visible (in a good way) that Arsis was the most senior band up to this point in the show. You can’t fake that kind of experience and confidence on stage. Those virtues speak louder than shred when playing to a crowd, and can often mean the difference between a decent or a fantastic set. Although I’m not too familiar with their back catalog, they apparently played a good deal of older songs which seemed to appease the now much-fuller audience. Mike(bass) and Brandon (guitar) showed great prowess in performing and engaging with the audience, while James(vocal/lead) and Shawn(drums) brought the whole show home with their staple leads and technicality.
Now I’m going to freely admit that most of what I know about Germany comes from porn, which doesn’t exactly help me here. The other 10% of my German knowledge base is rooted in thrash and beer, and even that’s a little shoddy. However I do know that when you go to a Destruction show, you’re gonna get solid, efficient, brutal thrash metal.
Destruction made the most of their 45-minute set by setting the crowd on fire with blazers “Nailed to the Cross” and “Thrash Till Death.” Again, experience speaks volumes here, and having a 30+ year career will definitely teach you something. These vets know exactly how to get on: kill everything, and get the fuck out. They certainly seemed to enjoy the sizable crowd that amassed for them (apparently the biggest of the tour), and no one left disappointed.
Now I’m going to freely admit that most of what i know about Brazil comes from porn, which doesn’t exactly help me here. However Sepultura is a force that even the most casual metal listener is at least vaguely familiar with in one aspect or another. Over 30 years in, including an infamous split with the group’s original front man and principal songwriter, their story is undoubtedly one of overcoming adversity and of determination.
Like big Brazilian booty the group came in heavy, and more than demonstrated why they’ve been one of the most revered bands in the game throughout their career. Churning out a wide variety of cuts from their catalog, it’s easy to hear the band’s influence on the generations of metal bands that came after. Featured in the night’s set list were favorites “Arise” and “Refuse/Resist” among others, as well as their Motorhead cover of “Orgasmatron.” As expected, they ended with “Roots, Bloody Roots” to thunderous approval.
This show gets 7.5/10 vuvuzelas.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Eric Brisson Eric Brisson Photography