Cavalera Conspiracy

Pumpehuset, Copenhagen - 2016

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Even though they didn’t assume this name directly, only going by the tourname "Max & Igor Cavalera Return to Roots", Cavalera Conspiracy returned to Copenhagen in the dark of December, for a very special show indeed. In a way, one could even say it was a Sepultura show, there were after all as many members we associate with the classic line-up here, as there are in the band nowadays.
And of course, they were playing Roots. On its 20th birthday. All the way through, more or less.

“Hey! (hey) Hey! (hey) Hey! (hey) Return to Roots Bloody Roots!”
- Max Cavalera (vocals/guitar)

Yep, this was it. The brothers back together, playing a full bag of Sepultura material. How awesome does that sound? How hyped do you think the world was about this?
A short intro, a combination of mixed banging sounds, a bit of the Xavantes tribal chanting from Itsári, and some droning noises, led our way into the show, and gave the band time to enter the stage. It was of course the Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor, that got the loudest cheers, but John Mark ‘Johny Chow’ Bechtel on bass, and Marc Rizzo on guitar, also looked positively fired up for what was about to come.
Max Cavalera immediately engaged the audience, and then threw us into the first song – Roots Bloody Roots. This wasn’t just going to be good, it already was!
Rizzo jumped high, Chow headbanged wildly, Igor Cavalera banged away vigorously on his drums, and Max Cavalera screamed and tormented his guitar. He didn’t move about very much, not in the beginning at least, and his thick crayfish like dreadlock didn’t allow for headbanging, but when we reached Spit, not even he could keep from jumping, and after this, he became more lively in his performance, culminating in a lot of fun towards the end, but more on that later.

“Enjoy the fucking show? Coming out here on a Monday night?!”
- Max Cavalera (vocals/guitar)

If the band was on point, it was still nothing compared to the audience!
Pumpehuset’s big hall was sold out well in advance, and was now packed from wall to wall, from stage to bar. And everyone was ready for the show of a lifetime – even before the first song, the hall was filled with shouting, and things only got louder from there on out. As soon as Max Cavalera asked for a response to his “Hey”, Copenhagen gave him that, and more.
The audience wasn’t just shouting and screaming though. No, they were active as hell as well. A mosh was quick to assemble in the middle of the floor, as the first couple of lines were busy headbanging, and when Cut-throat came up, everyone was jumping. Max Cavalera asked for a circlepit for Straighthate, Copenhagen tore the fucking floor up!
Our voices were first properly tested in Attitude, where we got to shout “Can you take it”, but of course Ratamahatta was the real singers delight, and we all shouted along to lyrics I’m guessing less than a quarter of us understood.

“Get the circlepit going one more time, destroy this fucking place!”
- Max Cavalera (vocals/guitar)

Of course, the audience truly had something to be excited about. Back in my awkward teens, Roots was about the heaviest album in rotation, and my mates and I headbanged wildly to it when we were home alone, and could crank the stereo up high. Never had I thought that I’d stand here, with Max and Igor Cavalera in front of me, performing the entire thing! It seemed like many felt the same way.
And the Cavalera’s repaid us for our dedication in showing up with a lot of memorable titbits. Max Cavalera was quite talkative between songs, and Igor Cavalera used the sampled Itsári to play a drum solo in. Max Cavalera wanted in on that fun as well, so in Ambush, he had an extra drum brought in, so that the brothers could jam with each other.
The jamming developed further in the encore section, which was opened with some improv with only the brothers on stage. Brotherly telepathy Max Cavalera called it. They also performed a violent medley, in which I’m sure I heard the Titãs cover Policia among other songs.
I’m sure I’ve never seen Max Cavalera happier than during the performance of the Motörhead cover Ace Of Spades however, during which he also gave his own interpretation of Monty Python’s silly walks sketch.
And then we reached the end, where Slayer’s Raining Blood got to start a second run of Roots Bloody Roots, now in a much faster, thrashier version, which also saw a wild wall of death in the crowd! After this, Rizzo and how shuffled off, leaving the Cavalera brothers alone on the stage to take a bow, and take in the accolades of the gathered fans.

Note: this review was written by my teenage-enthusiastic self. Had it been written by my slightly more jaded grown-reviewer self, I might would have pointed to several reasons this show shouldn’t work.
The most obvious of all being that the band wasn’t in any kind of shape for delivering this show. Both Max and Igor Cavalera are 20 years older than they were when Roots came out, and more than twice that heavier in pounds!
Igor Cavalera may not have missed a beat in playing, but he sagged over his drums like a tortured man between each song.
Max on the other hand, couldn’t keep his thrashy voice up all the way through, and reverted to a soft spoken-word delivery at several places, keeping the gruff voice for when it was really needed. That the man isn’t a guitar god has been evident for many years now, but next to Rizzo’s very versatile delivery, his one-string slow pounding was directly embarrassing. Hell, he even had his roadie control his effects pedals for him!

But you know what? This did work, and how!
I had such a fun time, from beginning to end, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! For all those wishing for Max Cavalera to re-join Sepultura after their split after the Roots album, this was for you. The setlist may not have been exactly what you’ve been praying for, depending on what album is your favourite, but damnit, you won’t get it better than this!


Roots Bloody Roots (Sepultura cover)
Attitude (Sepultura cover)
Cut-throat (Sepultura cover)
Ratamahatta (Sepultura cover)
Breed Apart (Sepultura cover)
Straighthate (Sepultura cover)
Spit (Sepultura cover)
Lookaway (Sepultura cover)
Dusted (Sepultura cover)
Born Stubborn (Sepultura cover)
Itsári (Sepultura cover, solo Igor Cavalera)
Ambush (Sepultura cover)
Endangered Species (Sepultura cover)
Dictatorshit (Sepultura cover)
Solo (Max & Igor Cavalera)
Procreation (Of The Wicked) (Celtic Frost cover)
Medley (Max & Igor Cavalera)
Ace Of Spades (Motörhead cover)
Roots Bloody Roots (Sepultura cover, fast version)

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