October 2, 2013
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Mike DiQuinzio
Photos by Fabien Castro
Soulfly - Soulfly, Havok
Max Cavalera Downstroys His Bloody Roots
The stage at Trees was set for a legendary night of metal last Tuesday; a night where the new generation would assure us that the future of metal rests in good hands before being shown the door by one of the godfathers of the genre. Unfortunately, only one of those things happened.
Havok, a Colorado-based thrash outfit reminiscent of early bands like Nuclear Assault, absolutely killed as the mosh-happy crowd proceeded to completely destroy each other in the pit. Their exhilarating set was a reminder of all that was great about the genre's best years as the band sped through one thrash anthem after another. Most notably, "Afterburner" enforced their "No Karate in the Pit" stance after their frontman's introduction of "You know that guy in the pit doing spin kicks? FUCK THAT GUY!" generated a roar of agreement from everyone.
With the adrenaline level set so high, it would take nothing short of a legend to maintain it. Luckily, the night's headliner was one of the most legendary frontmen in metal; a guy so metal, in fact, all four of the bands he's fronted over the last twenty years have carved a niche in almost every headbanger's heart. So if you're one of those who agree that Max Cavalera is an inimitable genius of a force in metal, stop reading now because the praise stops here.
To be clear, I am and always will be a huge Sepultura, Soulfly, and Cavalera Conspiracy fan. It breaks my heart to have to say this, but it's true: Max Cavalera ruined this concert for me. Although the band was on point, Max couldn't seem to keep up. The problem is that where there used to be a commanding roar, there is now a tired vocal that sounds like he's just run a marathon.
Not having heard the new album Savages yet, I was not familiar with opener "Bloodshed" so I did not notice anything wrong. However, my all-time favorite Soulfly song "Prophesy" followed and that's where the cracks began to show. As I shouted the lyrics to this classic, I noticed that I, along with everyone else in the room, was putting more heart and effort into it than Max was. I began to feel disheartened by the second verse but figured it would improve as the set went on, so I got excited again when the band started "Back to the Primitive" and again sang every word... and again, was completely let down as the real truth began to sink in: some guys just can't hack it as they get older.
By the time Soulfly started to dig into the Sepultura catalog with "Refuse/Resist", his voice had worsened and I realized I had a major decision to make: do I stick around and watch in disappointment as a legend struggles to deliver the goods, or do I leave and hold onto the past with my memories intact? Sufficed to say, I chose the latter. I left after the fifth song because, to paraphrase, all this I could not bear to witness any longer.
Watching rockers age is not an easy thing to do. Seriously, does anyone really believe that the Ozzy of today out-performs 1980s Ozzy? No, it just sounds good to say. However, it doesn't make you love the performer any less because age happens to everyone. Am I still a Max Cavalera fan? You bet your ass I am. Will I still buy the new Soulfly CD? Most definitely. But I think Max and I have shared the same oxygen in the live venue for the last time.