Sepultura and Sacred Reich Revive Thrash Metal at the Corona Theatre

The 2022 Sepultura/Sacred Reich tour made its Montreal stop yesterday – uniting metal fans across the city. This much needed gathering came in the wake of the province’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions, with concert venues only re-opening at full capacity five days beforehand.

The sold out show proved that this easing of restrictions could not have come sooner. Fans packed the Corona Theatre to see Los Angeles up-and-coming metal act Art of Shock, Arizona moshers Sacred Reich, and the South American success story Sepultura. While Art of Shock warmed up the crowd as best they could using their short opening slot, it was clear that most attendees came for Sacred Reich and Sepultura, both bands being key players in the 1980s thrash metal explosion. For fans of the genre’s founding acts, seeing both groups offer modern renditions of their classic material was quite the treat.

Historic acts do have their drawbacks, however. Sacred Reich quickly showed their age, despite otherwise giving solid renditions of their songs. Frontman Phil Rind, armed with a bass guitar and a fittingly rough set of vocal chords, was quick to fill the audience in. “I wanna give 1000 per cent for you guys,” Rind said in an apologetic manner, referencing his reluctance to step away from the mic stand centre stage. The Arizona native then revealed that he was under the weather, citing the numerous late-winter blizzards their crew battled throughout the tour.

The frontman quickly turned this situation into one of the highlights of the night though, right before blasting into another one of Sacred Reich’s chugging crowd stompers. “Appreciate getting old,” Rind said. “It’s not something everyone gets to do.”

Rind’s down to Earth stage banter contrasted oddly well with the band’s material. While referring to himself as “Captain Asthma” right before going into a song called “Death Squad” was an interesting juxtaposition, the frontman’s self-awareness paired well with the reasoned societal takes found in Sacred Reich’s image and lyrics. All in all, the band blasted through an entertaining and fun set, Rind flashing smiles at the audience the whole way through. Before the end of their slot, the vocalist again made use of the mic between songs, mentioning his gratitude for those present, specifically talking about how aspects like where fans are from or what language they speak cannot get in the way of their passion for music.

This ending notion made for a great transition into Sepultura, the night’s headliner. Since their 1984 formation, the Brazilian death/thrashers have managed to make quite a name for themselves within the genre, despite their origins in South America – a continent notoriously difficult to break out of for eager music acts. Thanks to a strong work ethic and impeccable songwriting during the 1980s, Sepultura managed to not only become one of the leading bands within the more extreme end of the metal music spectrum, but a household name in their home continent.

Moving to the modern era, Sepultura have gone through some integral lineup changes. The founding Cavalera duo Max and Igor are unfortunately no longer a part of the band’s makeup – the brothers replaced with Cleveland native Derrick Green on vocals and drummer Eloy Casagrande from São Paulo. As a result, the historical impact of seeing the band play live has somewhat dwindled in the modern era, but this is naturally no fault of those on stage last night.

Sepultura absolutely stole the show, proving their famed status within the genre. The diversity of the band’s music, which often contrasts slower riffs with Mach speed assaults on the ears, was clearly just the right mix for those in attendance, as the crowd pulsed in fluid-like waves. Green delivered a steady and energetic performance, his guttural shouts backed by Casagrande’s masterful use of the kit, Paulo Junior’s level bass playing, and Andreas Kisser’s clear connection with the lead guitar.

The band played a Quadra-heavy set in support of their newest full-length. While the tracks work well live, a combo from the album’s instrumental song “The Pentagram” into the slower “Machine Messiah” off the band’s 2017 release of the same name created a 10-minute lull. If you're planning on grabbing another beer sometime during their performance, this would be the time. Fans could have benefitted from a set that better balanced all Sepultura eras, given that no material was played from their first three records. Although this may be the result of an internal dispute between the current iteration of the band and the aforementioned Cavalera brothers, the group’s strongest material was held back on this tour, failing to quench the thirst of old school Sepultura fans as a result.

All in all, Art of Shock, Sacred Reich, and Sepultura all put on excellent performances, each shining in different ways. While Sacred Reich had a little more fun with their stage banter, Sepultura delivered the hard-hitting numbers that audience members came for. Given the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions and this concert being one of the first big metal gigs since the pandemic, an uplifting optimism was in the air at the Corona Theatre. This vibe is set to continue, as Norwegian black metal progenitors Mayhem are billed to come through town in less than a week on March 22.

Hunter co-hosts The Iron Club, your weekly guide to the dark and mysterious realm of underground metal, which airs every Sunday from 9:00 - 11:00 p.m.