By the time the doors open for the show, the queue to get in had snaked all the way around the block; the news that the legendary Soulfly were playing the relatively tiny Talking Heads had clearly got a lot of people excited, and that the place was sold out was no surprise.
Regular attendees will probably be familiar with openers Dendera; the Portsmouth band seem to be the go-to guys for any metal goings-on around these parts, having recently supported the likes of Saxon and Grand Magus in Southampton. The problem with playing support to such a diverse range of acts is that they won’t necessarily appeal to the core audience of some of these, and a portion of the Soulfly crowd appear indifferent to their back-to-basics classic heavy metal. However, that doesn’t stop them from giving it their all: existing fans sing along to every word, and even a few of the uninitiated pick up the chorus to ‘Bridges Will Burn’ after the first few goes through. The band have clearly won themselves a few new fans once again.
Next come neo-thrashers Savage Messiah. Their look and sound may be deeply influenced by the 80’s heyday of the genre, but their distinctly modern approach and their ability to pen a decent tune or two helps to set them apart from many of the copycat revivalists of recent years. Their majority of the band’s set consists of a selection of songs from their upcoming album The Fateful Dark; the new songs generally adhere to their tried and tested formula, though perhaps with a greater melodic element than some of their previous material. New single ‘Hellblazer’ is pure Judas Priest-worship, and the opening ‘Iconocaust’ is a full-on thrash attack that sounds set to become a staple of their live show. Set-closer ‘Insurrection Rising’ brings us back to more familiar territory and sees the band off in style.
With the opening bars of ‘Bloodshed’ comes the arrival of the headliners to the stage. As Max Cavalera emerges from behind the wall of amps with his trademark four-stringed, Brazilian flag-adorned guitar, a huge cheer erupts. From start to end, the whole room seems to be a giant mosh pit, letting up only between songs. Fan-favourite ‘Back to the Primitive’ arrives early, and everybody loses their minds to the fast-paced ‘Blood Fire War Hate’. Their set features no less than six Sepultura songs, including such metal anthems as ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ and the truly classic ‘Roots Bloody Roots’. Max’s son Zyon is sitting behind the Soulfly kit these days, and he makes a fine job of it, capably recreating the parts his uncle Iggor laid down back in the 90’s. The band return to the stage for a medley of early hits ‘Jumpdafuckup’ and ‘Eye For An Eye’, giving everyone one last opportunity to ‘fock sheet op!’. To see such a band as this in so intimate a setting is a rare treat indeed, and their Southampton show ended their tour of the UK on a high note.