As the entertainment world once again slowly, and cautiously, begins to re-open around the city of Montreal, as concert venues creek open their rusted doors and bang the dust off the rugs – we can only hope that this is the last time we ever see such closures again in our lives.
To say that the two years without live music has been taxing on the soul is a monstrous understatement. Yet, with each passing day, more and more tours are being announced and soon there will be an over-abundance of gigs and things to do. Already, we are seeing multiple shows on any given evening. The same night we waltzed into the Corona to bear witness to Sepultura; Immolation were backstage at the Foufounes Electriques, mentally preparing themselves for their show.
In the moments leading up to California’s Art Of Shock taking the stage, friends reunited with faces not seen in some time. People hugging others, fist bumps and handshakes, and the confusion by many over whether or not they could finally ditch their face masks. Some did, others abstained. Now, normally when it comes to concerts in Montreal, few bother to show up for the early bands. That wasn’t the case on this evening though, probably due to the starvation concert-goers have endured throughout these last few months.
Art Of Shock played a short, six-song set, that included Dark Angels, I Cast A Shadow and Final Strike – under a blood-red sky of lights that allowed for little more than silhouettes. Nameless, faceless shadow-people slamming hard riffs.
On the streets between sets, the banter was ripe. It was a gorgeous day – an above-average warmth had swept the city, coupled with it being Montreal on Saint-Patrick’s day, all manner of persons were wondering Notre-Dame Street West in the Little Burgundy district, in front of the Corona Theatre. Some were imbibing in a pint next door at the Burgundy Lion pub, a British pub, but the days of English and Irish conflict are well behind us. As was the case earlier inside, friends reuniting, likes bears emerging from the slumber of the winter hibernation months. A glorious night to be out and about.
Some things, however, never change. Such as the Canadian / American border constantly restricting artists from entering into each other’s nations. Thus New Orleans’ sludge heavyweights Crowbar sat this one out and instead played a set in Buffalo, New York. I wore my Crowbar shirt and a New Orleans Saints cap in a pitifully silent protest, and at least earned the odd head nod from audience members. Hopefully, they’ll make it through on their next run.
That meant that Sacred Reich took the stage next – and this was something I was eagerly awaiting. The majority of the crowd wasn’t yet born when Sacred Reich’s debut record, Ignorance, came out back in 1987; something frontman and bassist Phil Rind alluded to on at least two occasions. First asking for all those forty years of age or older to raise their hands, which I sheepishly did. Which three of the four band members did, while twenty-five-year-old newcomer Joey Radziwill smirked to himself at the dad joke from his bandmate.
The eleven songs that came next were seriously damaging to my neck. Starting off with Divide & Conquer, from their most-recent output, 2019’s Awakening, then into the thrash metal classic The American Way – Sacred Reich were simply incredible. One of the thrash metal bands of the late 80s and early 90s that surely deserves more recognition than what they receive. Guitarist Wiley Arnett was shredding his guts out, ripping thunderous solos left and right while laying down the galloping full-force attack the rest of the way. Rind’s voice is as poignant as ever, making this a truly special spectacle – and one that had me digging out and dusting off their old records as soon as I arrived back home.
Closing out the evening, were the now Cavalera-less Sepultura, finally touring for their newest album – 2020’s Quadra. Arriving considerably late to the stage, as the impatient gathering began to sing Ole Ole – as we do at practically any and every gathering within the city’s confines. Under blinding, eye-piercing bright floodlights, they emerged. Silhouettes, but as soon as the opening notes of Policia struck, the building was alive with screamed lyrics. Seems anti-police brutality protests can unite, as both Anglos and Francos sang together, in Portuguese, in glorious unison.
From that point on, Sepultura jammed through an eighteen-song setlist, that consisted of equal parts post-Cavalera jams as the classics. Jaunts like Territory, Refuse Resist, Infected Voice and the crowd erupting Arise. A little taste of the group’s history in one sitting. All of it great, all of it well received and much of it played to rabid albeit aging fans. Bare faces appearing more and more as the night went on, and the heat emerging off human bodies intensified.
Frontman Derrick Green is an absolute beast, punishing the microphone with every note he sang – and doing so with one foot in a boot brace. The duo of Paulo Jr. on bass and the legendary Andreas Kisser on guitar – the two longest-running members, along with Eloy Casagrande on the drums. True, there are no original members remaining in Sepultura – despite Paulo Jr. and Kisser having been with the group during the majority of their recordings, and with many turning their backs on the group once Igor Cavalera left way back in 2006 – Sepultura continue to be as dominant as they ever were.
Following Arise, the band exited stage left, while the chants of Ole Ole once again rang out. Predictably dragging the boys back out for two more slabs of heavy metal perfection; Rata and Roots, off the incredible and ground-breaking Roots album. Expertly played, and as solid as ever. Sepultua were fantastic.
Live music is back in la belle province and none too soon.
Review & photos – Kieron Yates
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