by Robert Dean
Twenty years ago, when Sepultura released Roots, it was a milestone in heavy metal. On the surface, it was unique to see a band embrace their cultural heritage instead of trying to be completely Americanized. Sepultura was from Brazil, and they wanted to make a statement that they were from a rhythmically different side of the planet. Their traditions gave them different time signatures, a deeper reliance on drums, a different feel of timbre. Roots showcased heavy metal as world music, and it changed the game.
But, as their signature record gained stream and bands around the world copied the crushing style, Max Cavalera bailed on Sepultura. The classic lineup of the band was over. And in the years since, Cavalera has gone on to form Soulfly, while the remaining members of Sepultura keep busy with recording and touring. Iggor, Max’s brother, stayed in Sepultura for some years later, but eventually left the band he and his brother formed all those years ago.
With the 20th anniversary of the seminal Roots record coming to pass into 2016, the Cavalera brothers, along with Soulfly alum Mark Rizzo and Tony Campos hit the road to celebrate. As bad blood flows black as night after all of these years, getting the original lineup today proves a Misfits-style quagmire, but hey Glenn and Jerry patched it up for two shows, so who knows what the future holds.
The Roots tour made its way through Austin last night, and the vibe was exactly what I wanted from some vintage metal: very drunk and very excited. With lots of head bobs and beer guts, the folks who came up on the Roots album were in full force. Everyone might be a little older, but the excitement was just the same. As for the Cavaleras, it seemed like Max was a little skeptical, and going through the motions of the set, as this is the second leg of the tour. But, as he saw the reactions of the crowd, and felt the appreciation coming back from chants and interaction, he livened up as the songs went by.
As they pulled out the drums and held tribal jam sessions, or crushed their way through Dusted, or even the encore of songs like Procreation of The Wicked, Children of The Grave or Ace of Spades, it was evident to anyone that the band went from another night on the road, to enjoying the room full of people who wanted to do nothing more but pour their hearts out back to them.