Soulfly at Whelan’s – Review and Photos
Soulfly at Whelan’s – July 11th
Four years after they last visited our shores, Soulfly have returned to Dublin with a new line-up and two new albums to shed blood, sweat and tears in Whelan’s. Brazilian metal luminary Max Cavalera formed Soulfly in 1997 soon after leaving Sepultura, which he founded with his brother Igor some thirteen years earlier. The metal is obviously embedded deep in his genes, as this tour is as much a Cavalera family holiday as it is a Soulfly European tour. His son Zyon, whose in-utero heartbeat was used as the intro to the classic 1993 album Chaos A.D., is now 21 years old and playing drums with his Da. The support act tonight is a band called Lody Kong and also features Zyon on Drums as well as his brother Igor.
Kicking off at 8:30pm sharp, the four youngsters confidently take to the stage, entrusted by Max to grab the attention of his loyal fans, who must surely hold high expectations of such talented stock. And they do not disappoint. Initially the crowd seem a little unsure about the bass-heavy hardcore offering, but by the third song, most are nodding and headbanging approvingly. The pace is as fast, if not faster, than the anticipated Soulfly staples, and Zyon keeps the pounding rhythm like a metronome in overdrive without missing a beat; even when a stick flies from his hand mid-track. Igor climbs atop the front row fans to perform his final guitar solo of the night; his slight frame supported by the arms of half a dozen willing helpers, as others clamber to participate. Their nine song set earns a deserved show of appreciation from the crowd, but the end of their Dublin debut also signals the imminent onslaught of more familiar Cavalera compositions.
Some house music from Lemmy Kilmister et al keeps the silence at bay as the stage is readied and the final soundcheck hiccups rectified. A Brazilian flag hangs prominently from a speaker stack hiding no diminished national pride after the embarrassing ass-kicking delivered by Germany in the World Cup Semi-Final earlier this week. At exactly 9:30pm lead guitarist Mike Rizzo, who has now been with Soulfly for a decade, takes his place onstage to cheers and applause. As the intro to ‘Prophesy’; the title track to his first album with the band; builds the excitement further, he is joined by a now-topless Zyon, his “auld fella” Max and former Static-X and Prong bassist Tony Campos.
The opening track immediately gets the now-crowded venue jumping and is quickly followed by ‘Primitive’, before a double-whammy of old-school Sepultura favourites; ‘Arise’ and ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ turns the floorspace into a hot, sweaty, heaving mass of bodies. The swell pushes the committed front-row die-hards forwards against the knee-high stage; a ridiculously dangerous setup for such a predictably crazed crowd, as Max regularly encourages everyone to jump and let loose. The sweat running down his face is visibly stinging his eyes, but he doesn’t flinch. Just two tracks from their most recent album Savages are performed; ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and ‘Bloodshed’, and while the nineties’ Sepultura and Soulfly tracks are clearly the house-favourites, the new tracks are well-received and many fans are seen singing along with the lyrics. Meanwhile; unsuspecting crowd surfers traverse the stormy wave of arms, only to fall head-first onto the tiny stage.
The volume of sheer metal bleeding from the speaker stacks causes them to struggle to cope at times, but nobody seems to notice as they thrash around to the almost twenty-song set spanning more than twenty years of Max’s illustrious career. The penultimate song of the night is ‘Roots’; the title track from Max’s final (and highest-ranking) studio album with Sepultura, and the crowd sing along loudly and proudly. The finale is a medley of ‘Jumpdafuckup’ and ‘Eye for an Eye’ featuring an extended bass jam where Max leads the audience in singing “Ole, ole-ole-ole, Soulfly, Soulfly”. A bit clichéd, but somehow completely appropriate in this instance.
As the final notes ring out, Max stands with his back to the audience, arms outstretched; echoing the album cover of the eponymous Soulfly album, before modestly exiting the stage. His bandmates continue to jam to a 60-second instrumental version of Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’ before showering the exhausted front rows with bottled water, and taking their leave. Perhaps a larger venue would have been more appropriate for tonight’s show; but you probably won’t hear any complaints from those who were lucky enough to be there.
Review by Alan Daly
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko