Live Music + Gig Reviews

Soulfly + Skindred @ Astoria, London

7 February 2006



Having been touring the same album for three years, Cardiff-based ragga metal act Skindred step up to the daunting task of warming up tonight’s lukewarm crowd. It is an objective they would be far more effective in meeting if frontman Benji would spend more of the set singing and less of it clowning around between every song with dodgy attempts at crowd calls and responses that swiftly begin to grate.

Despite this, tunes like Set It Off are solidly delivered, and the crowd is remarkably respectful towards the Welsh quartet for the duration of their slot. As the lights dim and the PA cuts out, the crowd’s anticipation of Soulfly‘s appearance after a near two-year absence from these shores is tangible. Blasting onstage to Dark Ages opener Babylon, the Astoria explodes with old school Sepultura fans and newer metal fans going equally mental to the aural warfare that is Soulfly.

Tearing straight through Prophesy followed by Seek And Strike, Max Cavalera makes it clear from the outset that he is not here to preach or rant or prove anything. His band are in town to blast through a blistering back catalogue of metal standards, and perhaps play a few new songs too if they feel like it. It is a real treat for spectators to be watching an artist such as Cavalera still screaming and thrashing his heart out like he were trying to get his band their first record contract. The feral aggression of Roots, Born Again Anarchist and Mars leave the crowd dripping buckets of sweat on to an already treacherous Astoria floor, with bloody noses and bruises being dispensed freely.

Wounds are nursed during a welcome instrumental break down, which provides Marc Rizzo with the opportunity to showcase some of his more delicate guitar skills, of which he has plenty. Returning to the stage with renewed vigour, Max tears into Refuse/Resist during which Bobby Burns manages to destroy a bass string, leaving Max and Marc to carry the number. By the time Execution Style utters the war cry of “Ready, Aim, Fire!” across the venue the band are back on form. Despite some questionable mixing issues, Tribe and Bleed are performed with majestic ease, with Max’s eldest son joining him on stage for the customary dual chorus vocals during the latter number.

Quilombo is also given extra boost by the appearance of Skindred’s Benji who clambers out from behind the drums to lend his raspy ragga charms to this fine slice of late ’90s Soulfly mayhem. Winding the clock back another decade to 1989, a stunning and brutal extended rendition of Inner Self knocks the wind out of an already knackered mosh pit. However, they receive a lengthy feedback-drenched breather before the band return for the closing number, which could only be the mighty Eye For An Eye. Needless to say, the final round of Max Cavalera’s shotgun philosophy is delivered with deadly accuracy.

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More on Soulfly
Soulfly – Savages
Soulfly’s Max Cavalera: “Salvation is really important. It is when you figure out your purpose in life, why you’re here” – Interview
Soulfly + Skindred @ Astoria, London
Soulfly – Dark Ages
Soulfly’s Max Cavalera: “I’m not afraid to be fragile. Kind of like Che Guevara” – Q&A