Cavalera Brothers Revisit Prime Sepultura: “This is the real Sepultura, right here,” Max Cavelera said towards the end of this Max & Iggor Cavalera set at the Belasco in Downtown L.A. on Saturday night. It was a rare show of defiance from the man who, until recently, has been fairly pragmatic and diplomatic in the press about his former band.

The situation is undeniably messy, and has been for years. Max and Iggor formed Sepultura in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1984. By second album Schizophrenia (1987), the lineup was settled — bassist Paulo Jr and guitarist Andreas Kisser completing the group. Third and fourth albums Beneath the Remains and Arise saw them leap into the premier league of extreme metal. The next two — Chaos AD and Roots — saw them step up again, tasting mainstream metal chart success.

But in 1996, Max Cavalera was out and American vocalist Derrick Green was in. To muddy the waters further, Iggor Cavalera would remain with Sepultura for another decade, eventually leaving in 2006. The current lineup of Sepultura is far from a disaster and, in fact, we saw them recently in this very same venue.

That said, anyone who has seen the Cavalera brothers on this tour can’t really argue with Max’s statement. Based on these two gigs, the Cavaleras are leagues ahead of the current lineup of Sepultura. Sure, Seps had to contend with the difficulties of a stand-in drummer at the L.A. show. And they were performing new music, including songs from 2020’s Quadra.

In contrast, this tour sees the Cavaleras performing music almost exclusively from those Beneath the Remains and Arise albums. Wall to wall metal classics.

The crowd clearly knew it — Los Angeles was up for this show from the moment the doors opened. The mood was one of anticipation with an edge. Flurries of half-assed fighting broke out as people got a touch carried away, but overall it was contained chaos.

The setlist was perfect. Tunes from BTR — the title track, “Inner Self,” “Mass Hypnosis” — gave way to classics from Arise — the title track, “Desperate Cry,” “Dead Embryonic Cells.” We also got the cover of Motorhead’s “Orgasmatron” that the Seps have been performing for decades and, to finish, “Troops of Doom” from the debut Morbid Visions album, and a snippet of “Escape to the Void” from Schizophrenia.

The last time this writer saw Sepultura with Max and Iggor in the ranks was in 1994 (Donington, England), and they were touring the Chaos AD album. Even then, a setlist like this one would have been a dream. So as we see and hear this Cavalera band lay waste to the Belasco with this brutal set, and see their name on the backdrop written in the original Sepultura font, we can only nod at Max’s words. Yup, this truly is the real Sepultura, no matter what it’s called.

Earlier in the night, Max’s son Igor Amadeus Cavalera opened the show with his two-piece project Healing Magic, and very impressive they were too. A sludgy, very heavy sound that is achieved without bass, and the tunes are memorable too .

Denver grindcore metal vets Cephalic Carnage were the middle act, and they too didn’t disappoint. Guttural vocals, loads of songs about smoking weed, and some hilarious black metal masks — what more could you want? Actually, a new album would be nice.

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