Another cold night in wintry Wolverhampton beckons but KK’s Steel Mill is always a welcome sight. A former factory building owned by former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing, the venue, opened in 2018, has already gained a great reputation, landing many top quality metal acts ahead of other local rivals.
Unfortunately, the road to Wolves always seems to be fraught with problems and gridlocked motorway traffic, accidents and roadworks all conspire to make me late for local openers Recall the Remains. A quality performance despite missing much of it, I still have enough time to be impressed by the band’s style of vicious hardcore/metalcore riffing. Frontman Jacob Collins roars, screams and pig-squeals like a maniac while vocalist/bassist Jordan Barnes delivers cleaner melodic hooks with just right the right amount of dirt in the pipes. Another local band on the way up? It certainly looks that way.
After a short time, the crowd returns from the merch stand and bar for Arizona groove thrashers Incite who unceremoniously blast into a conveyor belt of riffs, breakdowns and squealing guitar solos. Wearing knee length shorts and a blue plaid shirt, and throwing many of the same shapes, frontman Richie Cavalera (stepson of Max) looks like a younger, skinnier Phil Anselmo returning with a post-00’s version of Pantera. Peppering the set with shouts of “Metalheads!” “Smoke Weed!” and “Can you feel this?!”, the exceptionally spitty frontman rips into the likes of ‘Fuck With Me (Wake Up Dead)’, ‘War Soup’, ‘Deadbeat’ and ‘WTF’ while not being distracted by the irritating technical gremlins who try to ruin the show with their attempts at early amplifier sabotage.
With a noticeably larger crowd now waiting impatiently for the main act, Cavalera Conspiracy (or simply Cavalera if you like) walk on stage to the sounds of ‘The Curse’ before tearing through Sepultura‘s debut EP in its entirety. Beginning with title track ‘Bestial Devastation’ and ending with ‘Warriors of Death’, the first part of the set is completed by an airing of ‘Sexta Feira 13’, the first ever song written by the band forty years ago but never actually recorded until this year.
Viewing the ensuing carnage with amusement, frontman Max Cavalera watches crowd surfers land on heads and circle pits opening up from nowhere as he launches into the next part of the show. German Composer Carl Orff‘s classical masterpiece ‘O Fortuna’ signals all hell to be released as the crowd are treated to the (almost) complete ‘Morbid Visions’ album. ‘Mayhem’, ‘War’ and ‘Crucifixion’ sound magnificent as do ‘Show Me the Wrath’, ‘Funeral Rites’ and closer ‘Empire of the Damned’.
Another short break concludes with the intro to instrumental ‘Inquisition Symphony’ which segues neatly into a crushing ‘Escape to the Void’ as the band return briefly to 1987’s Schizophrenia (Roadrunner) album. Any lucky soul left unmolested by bony crowdsurfers or shirtless circle-pitters until now is suddenly in the thick of it as the band belt out a medley of 90s classics, ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ and ‘Territory’ bookending an unreasonably fast version of ‘Refuse/Resist’.
Another short break ends with a recorded ‘Chaos BC’ and more roars of approval as the band return with the world’s shortest drum solo from Iggor Cavalera and a grand finale of ‘Troops of Doom’, the only track missing from the show’s second segment.
Dressed in tight black jeans, leather jacket and a pair of large studded wristbands, Max’s youthful mid-eighties look complements the music almost perfectly. Only almost perfectly because in all honesty the retro ensemble really doesn’t do his less than svelte, mid-fifties figure any favours at all. Also, Iggor wearing glasses is a further reminder that time catches up to us all. Not that a good percentage of the crowd here need any reminding of that, to be fair.
A great night as expected but being the first show on the tour, there’s always going to be room for some extra polish here and there. But if that doesn’t happen, then who cares? What’s classic thrash metal if it isn’t a little rough around the edges?
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