Brazilian born metal legends, Max and Iggor Cavalera have returned to Australian shores and to their ‘roots’ for their ‘Return To Roots Tour’ where they and the rest of Cavalera Conspiracy are playing the iconic 1996 Sepultura album ‘Roots’ in it’s entirety, much to the delight of Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy and any other metal fans who know what’s good for them…

Cavalera Conspiracy, absolutely tore the roof off the Forum Theatre in Melbourne, leaving countless sweaty, satisfied bodies in their wake.

A warm spring night in Melbourne city quickly set the vibe for what was to be one hell of a show, in the setting of the beautiful Forum Theatre. The juxtaposition of heavy metal in the old theatre really is something that needs to be seen. Fans adorned in battle vests and old Sepultura tees lined up outside the old venue and already, the excitement could be felt in the air.

We walk in just in time for Welsh metal band SKINDRED to take the stage. They did exactly that, commanding the crowd with their infectious enthusiasm and party vibes. Vocalist, Benji Webbe, wearing a sequin getup, big spiked sunglasses and a positive upbeat energy that instantly induced a reciprocating energy from the crowd. The unique amalgamation of industrial, nu / groove metal, electro with a heavy reggae influence, made for a surprising and transfixing performance, an unexpected collection of sounds and music styles.

Webbe has an engaging stage presence, with an ethos resonating in one of his many positive quotes of the night, telling the crowd to “…celebrate life” owning the stage with an inspiring don’t-give-fuck what anyone thinks attitude and offering advice of the same nature, constantly reminding the crowd, saying things like “You lot are beautiful, don’t let them tell you anything else” and “Life is too short, we’re here today, then gone tomorrow” The duality of the vocals delivered by the energetic front man were impressive as he transitioned from powerful clean vocals into a more aggressive reggae sound breaking out into a fast reggae inspired ‘skat’ from time to time.

Some highlights of the spirited set included guitarist Michael Fry’s impressive beard length, guitar shredding and vocals, the band playing a AC/DC inspired song they had written for Brian Johnson’s (former AC/DC front man) new television show, playing their own take on a portion of ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath and when Whitfield Crane, singer of Ugly Kid Joe got up to sing with the band. Skindred got the crowd literally jumping, at on point to a sample of House of Pain’s famous song “Jump Around” and the rhythm of the percussion and bass in this band definitely warming up the crowd for the Cavalera brothers and band.

After a short break, it was time for the main event. The lights went down and traditional tribal inspired instrumental sounds hailing from deep in the mountains of Brazil could be heard in the old theatre. There was a restlessness and excitement brewing amongst the crowd as we waited to witness the ‘Roots’ album brought to life. As red lights lit up the Return To Roots banner depicting the album artwork, the insanely talented drummer, Iggor Cavalera took his seat placed behind his epic percussion set up, including two kick drums, with the Australian flag on one side of the kit and the Brazilian flag on the other. The crowd let out an exuberant cheer as the band took their places and Max took to the mic, commanding, “Everybody scream, let’s go fucking nuts…RETURN TO ROOTS BLOODY ROOOOOTS!!”

Then it was straight into the one of the most iconic songs in metal history, with bassist, Tony Campos and lead guitarist, Marc Rizzo playing the infamous riff and bass line. Max Cavalera accompanied them on rhythm guitar and let out the most anticipated words of the night, “Roots! Bloody rooooots!” in his intensely raw and brutal screaming voice. Some of the crowd were grabbing each other and screaming in each other’s faces while others focused on firing up the pit that didn’t lose it’s furious momentum for the entire show with crowd surfing and circle pits.

Leading into ‘Attitude’ Max introducing the song with the same wooden instrument seen in the official video for the song, called a Berimbau, creating tribal sounds and inducing chants from the audience with Iggor soon joining in on drums and making their way through the song. Although every song on ‘Roots’ is a highlight, one in particular that stood out as a one of the crowd favourites after ‘Cut Throat’ was of course ‘Ratamahatta’ with it’s heavy drums, strong bass rhythms and intense tribal style vocals, inducing a wild frenzy throughout the crowd. This led into ‘Breed Apart’ and similarly created uninhibited feet stomping and animalistic movements from the crowd.

Throughout the set combining the chronological order of the ‘Roots’ record and some covers, Max Cavalera’s stage presence was enforced with an intense stare, the kind that you feel right in the depths of your soul, his wild eyes and strong stance commanding the crowd with some dread lock head banging thrown in and metal claw hand gestures all while shredding on guitar. The crowd mirrored him with a see of metal claws and clenched fists punching the air to the beat of the drums. Speaking of shredding, bassist, Tony Campos and lead guitarist, Marc Rizzo were electric, with an infectious rhythm, constantly stealing looks of sheer amazement from the crowd, at the sheer speed and ease at which they played their instruments, while respectively continuing to amp up the crowd with their impassioned and bold stage presence. Iggor Cavalera proved once again just why his percussion skills are second to none, furiously drumming throughout every track with his fierce yet precise machine gun legs and muscular arms, beating the skins with a mesmerizing tenacity. Iggor particularly held the gaze of the crowd, as he began the song, ‘Itsàri’, on his own under a spot light and along to the tribal chants in the song, with the whole room becoming fixated on the master of his craft.

For people who may not be aware, ‘Itsàri’ is the song that was originally recorded up in the depths of the Brazilian jungle where Max and Iggor stayed for three days with a traditional native tribe, called the ‘Xavante’ tribe. ‘Itsàri’ means Roots in the Xavante language.

To read about their experience in the jungle and lots more you can check out our interview with Iggor Cavalera here:
While Iggor played, it was a slower, more intimate change of pace and a chance for the crowd to catch their breath. Then something pretty incredible happened. Momentum quickly returned as Max then joined his brother on stage, bringing out his own single tom drum for a very special moment where the Cavalera brothers beat the drums together in unison. Before Max joined his brother in the percussion spectacle, Iggor’s feet were hitting the pedals on his kick drums in such a way that the vibrations were moving the sticks resting on Max’s single tom drum, making them bounce and almost beat the drum on their own. As the brothers drummed together, Max switched between his tom drum and Iggor’s symbols. This took us to the final three tracks of the Roots album- ‘Ambush’ and then a slower groove in ‘Endangered Species’ and the final song on the album, ‘Dictatorshit’ bursting with volcanic energy.

The ground shook under the feet of the crowd as they let Cavalera Conspiracy know that they weren’t quite ready for the night to be over, asking for an encore with everyone stomping on the wooden floor, as if in a tribe of their own. Front man, Max let the crowd know that they weren’t ready for the night to end either, saying “We’ll play some more shit but you have to fucking scream!” Naturally the crowd didn’t have to be encouraged too much to let out a collective roar back at the band. Cavalera Conspiracy then played two covers- Celtic Frost’s song ‘Procreation Of The Wicked’, a band that Max described as a major inspiration to them and Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ putting their own Cavalera rhythm on each of the tracks. Just when we thought we were finishing on a high, the band took us to the next level, playing a faster version of ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ the perfect way to end such a monumental show. The energy in the room was palpable, Cavalera Conspiracy putting on one hell of a performance for the last song of the night and the crowd erupted into a sea of jumping, kicking, circle pits, crowd surfing maniacs and it was fucking perfect.

I will never forget that show, definitely one to go down in the history books that’s for sure. Fuck yeah metal!
(Sorry/not sorry about the cursing…I figure if Max can get away with it…)

Review by Sarah Thomson

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  1. Sarah, brilliantly written. You captured and put in words what we were so fortunate to witness. Many moments have stuck with me, the fact that many a phone was stowed away for the fear of missing a moment of being on the floor… Max’s wild-eyed excited look of joy as he incited us once again to celebrate hearing “Ace of Spade” as he approached the mic, Iggor’s precision and intensity and Tony & Marco not missing a note and having a ball!

    The cynical 40+ yo in me was wondering for a moment if they could do it, to recapture the album as when we all first heard it. Could they bring it all back from their shows and when Max toured with Soulfly in the previous millenia? I was so glad to be proven wrong as they LAUNCHED into “Roots”, so reluctant to leave that Gen-Ad floor as the lights came on in The Forum.

    Chants of “One More Album!” became our new battle-cry. One-more-song would just not do.

    As we all made our way home, there were grins all around. Richmond Tigers fans realising their dream of a birth in the AFL Grand Final, many a Hens’ Night wandering through Federation Square and of course, us.

    Us in the battle vests, the faded black t-shirts and memories made new.

    Thank you Skindred and Cavalera Conspiracy. ‘Til next time \m/

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