Date: March 1st, 2017
Venue: Vicar Street, Dublin
Line-up: Kreator + Sepultura + Soilwork + Aborted
Opening up tonights show were grindcore behemoths Aborted. The band played in Dublin just last year as support to Kataklysm and tore up the stage despite being the opening band then as well. Tonight the band prove that they can match the raw intensity from the much smaller Voodoo Lounge in the Vicar Street, no stage is too large or too small for these guys. Not so much warming up the crowd as setting the room on fire, we were treated to 30 minutes of jaw-dropping riffs and intensity all fronted by the demented Sven de Caluwé and his blood-curdling growls.
Unlike the other bands tonight who have visited Ireland on a semi-regular basis, it’s been around 13/14 years since Soilwork’s last show in Dublin. With a brief intro playing as the band took to the stage they blasted into the title track of their latest album The Ride Majestic. Soilwork are a rare example of one of the older melodic death metal bands to transition into the more mainstream appeal of alternative metal successfully, meaning their songs tick a lot of boxes when playing live. For something melodic and catchy we have ‘Stabbing the Drama’ and ‘Nerve’ but don’t let these fool you into thinking they’re a bunch of softies. Vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid seemed a little frustrated that the crowd weren’t moving as much as he would have liked so he nominated a guy who stood out in a red shirt among a sea of black as the leader to gather a large mosh pit. Initially he just tried to rip his shirt off and run away but true to the word he led the crowd for the speedy and forceful ‘Two Lives Worth of Reckoning’ and ‘Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter’.
Sepultura have made many visits to Ireland over the years but I’ve never had the chance to catch them live. I had heard that they had a fierce live reputation but they lived above and way beyond my expectations. Young drummer Eloy Casagrande filled up much of the stage with the other guys positioned out either side of him. Frontman Derrick Green towered over the stage leading the band through the past and present of the band with his gruff and firm vocals and long-time member’s guitarist Andreas Kisser and bassist Paulo Jr were having the time of it. With this band, more so than others, it’s important to find that balance of the old and new material. The old favourites like ‘Refuse/Resist’ and ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ of course make appearances, the band giving a stellar rendition and the crowd lapping it up lovingly but the real test here was the new material. The band just released their 14th album Machine Messiah in January and used this tour to air new material, with a fair chunk of the set coming from that album. Though it may be a controversial opinion, I found myself enjoying the new songs more than the others, they highlighted the bands continued hard work and they performed them with a sense of pride. With the chanting of their name between songs they were ticking all the right boxes and it was a shame that the set ended so early.
After all of that the night still wasn’t over as it was soon time for headliners Kreator to take to the stage. With a slightly more elaborate stage setup than the others, the melodic intro to ‘Hordes of Chaos’ began before shots of confetti were fired out over the crowd to signal the main riff kicking in. Pillars of smoke shot up during the chorus of ‘Phobia’ between the crowd rallying verses. After this point there were multiple screens turned on either side of the drums which displayed various images throughout the night; music videos for the newer tracks, images of rock and metal musicians who have passed away during ‘Fallen Brother’, fans of the band during ‘Hail to the Hordes’ and simple images of album covers for other select tracks.
While there was a lot of effort put into the stage display and show, I felt that much of the bands performance felt flat. Vocalist and guitarist Miland “Mille” Petrozza started off a little quiet but over the time livened up more and more culminating with the older tracks towards the end of the night, demanding circle pits ‘Irish style’. However, his enthusiasm didn’t really spread out to the rest of the band who strolled around rather lifeless.
There was a large focus on newer tracks, not surprising since they released their latest album Gods of Violence just a few weeks ago, but when they are stacked up against the older material it makes their weaknesses stand out that much more. They were more melodic and crowd friendly, they didn’t hold a candle to the older material that dominated the encore (which coincidentally was probably the highlight of their set). ‘Violent Revolution’ pummeled and hit hard just as the title suggested, while ‘Flag of Hate’ was highly anticipated by the crowd and invoked applause when Mille took out the flag to introduce the track.
Still their love or Ireland and our crowds energy and enthusiasm will ensure that Kreator will keep coming back to deliver (mostly) killer performances.