Cavalera Conspiracy - Canberra ANU, 27/01/12

Professionalism and experience wins the day...

Good old Max Cavalera; Seemingly alone amongst big time metal musicians, he’ll always stop off in Canberra and deliver a show, and for that the black clad community of  the nation’s capital should give eternal thanks. That they don’t turn out to do so in huge numbers undoubtedly says more about them than it does about Max, but we’ll worry about that another time. And we’ll talk about Max a bit more later. But first there are a couple of highly contrasting supports to talk about.

First up are Contrive. Will Andrew Haug’s absence from the national airwaves as host of Triple J’s The Racket make the punters love or hate this band any less? It’s a moot point, but at this point I’d guess any sort of reaction would be welcomed by the band as they go through their paces largely ignored by those in the building who’ve bothered to turn up early. Compared to what comes later, the band puts in a lifeless, uninspiring performance; If Haug drummed out of his celebrity skin there might be something to get excited about, but he doesn’t, and bassist Tim Stahlmann is really the only member of the trio who tries to pull a performance out of the bag tonight. The band troop off not having done anything wrong but don’t do enough right to kick up a stink.

You can’t accuse Queenslanders Lynchmada of similar crimes however. The moment they hit the stage the bar empties and the faithful jostle to get front and centre in order to have their facial hair burnt off by a truly incendiary performance. Vocalist Joel Harris leads from the front, exhorting both his band mates and audience members into greater effort, and you have to say it pays off. It’s been a long time since a support band has defied your oft-jaded reviewer to stay away from the bar in such strident fashion, but Lynchmada do just that and ya know what? I ain’t complaining. Tonight they put on a devastatingly compelling performance, giving Canberra a lesson in aural violence it won’t soon forget. They are, in a word, masterful.

Of course that gives Cavalera Conspiracy a mountain to climb to top such a performance, but Max and Iggor are nothing if not troupers, and they give it their best, and most brutal shot. Iggor Cavalera in particular plays a blinder tonight – quite simply the man is the best metal drummer I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness, combining brute force with stunning precision to absolutely annihilating effect. The same can be said for guitarist Marc Rizzo, who’s uber-fluid leadwork cuts through Max’s snub-nosed bludgeon not so much like a knife through butter as a diamond-tipped drill through the most adamantine rock you can imagine. Iggor apart, the band doesn’t seem to be operating at much above cruising speed, yet somehow they lay waste to everything that’s gone before them. That’s professionalism for you, no more or less, of course, but it still sparks something primal in those present over the course of a set that includes tracks from both the ‘Conspiracy’s albums as well as the expected smattering of Sepultura classics. This isn’t Max and Iggor in top form, but its close enough, and we all head into the balmy Canberra night pleased to have caught up with these most metal of brothers again.