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Live Reviews : Sepultura, Elm Street & Desecrator @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 03/10/2014

By on October 5, 2014

Images: John Raptis
Words: Graham Frizzell

It has been almost a year since Sepultura released their blistering 13th studio album The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must be the Heart.  As such, the Brasilian act’s Australian tour would prove to be one of the most anticipated of 2014. With seasoned thrashers Desecrator and relative newcomers Elm Street in support, what ensued was nothing short of intense; in spite of some rather ugly behaviour from certain sections of the crowd.

I am not going to add fuel to the highly contentious issue of whether or not Sepultura is Sepultura without brothers Igor and Max Cavalera in the fray. Frankly, it is a tired debate that lost its legs a long time ago; only to be reignited upon the departure of Igor Cavalera (following the release of 2006’s Dante XXI). Instead, much like The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must be the Heart, Sepultura’s Melbourne show will be judged upon its merits only.



Being a 170 Russell (formerly Billboard the Venue) virgin, I had no idea of what to expect in terms of acoustics, atmospherics, space, the stage and indeed potential obstacles (being as I am legally blind negotiating venues for the first time can be rather tricky). With the latter a non-issue, I found myself a fantastic vantage point form which to take it all in. In short, 170 Russell is a fantastic venue, with the acoustics being top notch.

Desecrator kicked off proceedings in emphatic fashion. “This is testament to the best metal scene in Australia!” roared lead vocalist/guitarist Riley Strong between songs. On the strength of the numbers who had turned out to support the locals, his statement was absolutely bang on. I knew upon witnessing these guys at Cherry Bar some 18 months ago that they are well deserving of supporting any major act. Loaded with vocal crescendos, sewer plumbing breakdowns and as filthy as a Grey St prozzie. The title track to Down to Hell provided a real highlight in both Desecrator’s set and the night as a whole. Tight and frenetic; traditional thrash at its very best.

If you have not heard the name Elm Street, you soon will. These guys have a sound that is all their own; a seamless combination of thrash with power metal, replete with raspy falsetto vocals from frontman Ben Batres. I thoroughly enjoyed the band’s Iron Maiden-esque harmonies. Elm Street is an act I would gladly see again; truly they are worth every last bit of support they get.

Elm Street

Elm Street

The all-mighty Sepultura hit the stage like a neutron bomb; opening with the haunting and complex “The Vatican.” What followed would prove to be an absolutely magnificent performance from these legendary metal pioneers.
Much has been said of Derek Green’s vocal contributions; particularly those made on Against and Nation, however this man is an absolute powerhouse on the stage.  Bestial, powerful and intense; mere words do not give his vocal execution justice.  Never mind Max Cavalera; Green is a more than capable frontman who delivered the classics as well as Cavalera ever could.

I never would have guessed that “Biotech is Godzilla” would feature in a Sepultura set list in this day and age, however there is little wonder that it was included. My word! This, folks, is metal at its very finest; a damn good exemplary reason as to why I (and so many others) love this genre of music. I found myself dancing like a raver during “Da Lama ao Caos,” not giving a damn what others thought. Other highlights included “Dusted” and the incendiary “Territory.”

In spite of what was turning out to be a perpetually electrifying performance, the atmosphere inside 170 Russell seemed rather… off. The moshpit appeared relatively tame from where I was standing, however this did not trouble me nearly as much as a palpable tension that had ensued. My suspicions were confirmed upon witnessing boos from a section of the crowd to the back of me. Frankly, I found this to be nothing short of abhorrent. Shame, Melbourne, shame. Clearly these people were there to hear one song and one song only, never mind what was a brilliant performance by one of the greatest metal bands on the face of our sickened planet.



Of course Sepultura belted out “Roots Bloody Roots,” and as one does, they saved the best ‘til last. The (slightly undeserving) 170 Russell crowd and I were treated to a three-song encore featuring the aforementioned finale, “Trauma of War” and a simply awe inspiring rendition of “Ratamatta.” Aside from the band, surprisingly, not pausing so as to cue audience involvement, I found myself blown eight ways from Sunday.

I have attended many memorable gigs throughout my life, however Sepultura’s Melbourne show shall go down in my book as one of my absolute favourites; one that I only wish I could relive time and time again. Massive thanks and props must go to Metropolis Touring, 170 Russell, Desecrator, Elm Street and the diehard Melbourne metalheads who came out to support both the headliners and the local supports.

Sepultura Setlist
The Vatican
Impending Doom
Manipulation of Tragedy
Convicted in Life
Dead Embryonic Cells
Biotech Is Godzilla
Da Lama ao Caos
(Chico Science & Nação Zumbi cover)
Inner Self
(Titãs cover)
Trauma of War
Roots Bloody Roots