The Waterfront, Norwich June 15, 2022
by Owen Willis
There’s a bizarre spectacle in King Street this evening: swarms of patch-laden, black-clad metalheads snaking round the corner, trying their best not to join in with Elton John absolutely bellowing Tiny Dancer from his gig at nearby Carrow Road.
The unlikely aperitif has the crowd in unexpectedly (but deservedly) high spirits ahead of heavy-hitting newcomers Cage Fight.
Their stuff sits somewhere between Lamb Of God’s first two albums, seasoned liberally with the stylings of mid-90s hardcore, with the four-piece effortlessly commanding that space.
Each song appears as a composite of metallic hardcore’s heaviest tropes, with pummelling double-kick passages punctuated by spine-busting breakdowns that land on your head like a cartoon anvil.
Sure, it can be predictable, but it’s never boring, and Rachel Aspe’s vocal range enhances the band’s compelling savagery.
Kings of the UK underground Raging Speedhorn receive a reception befitting a headliner.
The passion in the room for Corby’s hardest band would lead most to think that they had only just reunited, despite having been back in the game for nearly a decade.
Newer cuts from latest album Hard to Kill introduce slower, Sabbath-esque doom moments into their mid-tempo swaggering stomp. But the core of their sound draws on the deep-fried New Orleans sounds of Crowbar and Eyehategod.
The character of the southern States is so ever-present that dual vocalists Frank Regan and Daniel Cook both sound like Phil Anselmo on Pantera’s most brutal albums. The interplay between the two is almost competitive as to who can deliver the next line with the most venom – the outcome being one of the loudest, sludgiest sets likely to grace Norwich this year.
And then Sepultura triumphantly take to the stage, with tonight marking the end of their first UK run since prior to the pandemic and the release of Quadra.
Despite early technical difficulties, the celebratory spirit remains undamped as vocalist Derrick Green promises an evening that will span the band’s near 40-year back-catalogue.
This is Sepultura at their strongest since their stratospheric peak back in the early 90s – although that’s not surprising given that the current line-up has more years under its belt than the Max Cavalera-line up had. It’s only just that when Green announces an “old school cut” – referring to 2011’s Kairos – it elicits a response comparable to their world-beating anthems of yore.
There is no resting on laurels to be found here tonight, and Sepultura play with a level of intensity illustrative of their ongoing passion for their craft. Newer numbers Means To An End and Capital Enslavement perfectly synthesise virtuosic playing with infectiously bouncy groove, whilst 90s deeper dives Cut-Throat and Infected Voice sound refreshed – the lack of rhythm guitar underpinning Andreas Kisser’s dissonant screeching actually enhancing the near subsonic rhythm section’s ability to make it feel as though the floor is giving way beneath you.
That being said, it’s not a set without its flaws: specifically, some of the slower, proggier choices, whilst played incredibly well, don’t necessarily serve the set but rather temper the excitement in the room.
However, all is forgiven by the time the samba-infused hits from Chaos A.D. and Roots drop, and these moments shine the brightest of the night. That’s not to relegate everything else but a testament to just how monolithic these albums continue to be for modern metal.
And if the biggest issue you face is competing with your own legendary back-catalogue, it’s not a bad place to be.