It was to The Fleece for the first of a trilogy of visits to Bristol for live music this month to see the legendary Sepultura. The gig was originally meant to be held at SWX but for reasons unknown it was moved to The Fleece. No complaints here as I’m very fond of The Fleece as a venue.
It was an early start with doors at 18:30 and first band Fit For An Autopsy (5) hitting the stage at 18:45 to a fair but quite sparse audience. Deathcore really isn’t my thing at all. It’s a subgenre of metal that I find utterly generic and Fit For An Autopsy did not change my mind. I cannot fault the bands performance or enthusiasm as they played like a well oiled machine but the music they played simply isn’t for me.
Next up were New Orleans blackened thrashers Goatwhore (7). Goatwhore are just one of those bands that scream metal from their look to their sound and their performance. They are an utterly fantastic band to watch live with tons of energy and bags of attitude. It’s just a shame that the sound was working against them with the bass virtually inaudible, the guitars muddy and the drums drowning out everything else. The band forged on regardless with a set comprising of material from last years Vengeful Ascension album such as Forsaken and Chaos Arcane sitting alongside staples such as Apocalyptic Havoc, Baring Teeth For Revolt and Fucked By Satan.
The main support slot went to German technical death metallers Obscura (9) who simply floored the crowd with an absolutely jawdropping performance. It was a perfect fusion of aggression and technicality with staggering levels of musicianship especially from bassist Linus Klausenitzer and lead guitarist Rafael Trujillo. The interplay between the band the audience was warm and humble and the band came across as a genuinely friendly bunch of guys with no ego or arrogance about their blinding musical skills. A good chunk of the set was made up of material from 2016’s Akróasis album but there were a couple of older tunes such as Ocean Gateways and The Anticosmic Overload which went down a storm.
And then it was onto headliners Sepultura (8). Sepultura need no introduction as a band that have had a massive influence on metal both in the underground and in the mainstream. Tonight’s set was promoting newest album Machine Messiah but also celebrating Derrick Green’s 20 year tenure as frontman of the band. As soon as the band hit the stage with brutal opener I Am The Enemy all hell broke loose with a massive surge and bodies flying everywhere.
This intensity barely let up for the first five or six songs reaching fever pitch when classics such as Territory and Desperate Cry were played. As this tour was promoting the Machine Messiah album a good chunk of the set was given to new songs off this album. Maybe a bit too much was played from the album and some songs started to wear a bit thin with the audience such as the brooding title track and the instrumental Iceberg Dances. As 2018 is the twenty year anniversary of Derrick Green joining the band a nice chunk of songs were played from the Against album with the title track and Choke sounding particularly ferocious and getting a suitably ferocious response from the audience.
The rest of the set was made up of classics which are Sepultura live staples such as Refuse/Resist, Inner Self, Arise, Slave New World, Ratamahatta and the legendary Roots Bloody Roots. The sound was great throughout and the band played with absolute joy and enthusiasm. I managed to get a great spot very close to the front right in front of guitarist Andreas Kisser. Special mention has to go to drummer Eloy Casagrande who has to be one of the finest drummers out there and watching him play is an absolute joy. It was great to see Sepultura in a small intimate environment and by the time they left the stage an audience of deaf, beaten and battered metallers all with massive grins on their faces seemingly agreed with me.