Cavalera Conspiracy - October 19, 2011 - Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA
By: David E. Gehlke
With a barricade splitting the crowd in half (under 21 on one side; boozers on the other), The Altar Bar felt less like The Great Wall of China and more like a cause for claustrophobia. Blistering does mind rubbing shoulders with fellow concert-goers, especially those who feel the need to stand too close, even though the show was far from a sellout. And some people need to learn the benefits of taking a shower. It works wonders.
And so Cavalera Conspiracy strolled into town with Otep and Earth Crisis in tow, a bill that featured three bands that could easily headline on their own. This explained the higher-than-normal ticket price, which could also explain the rather ho-hum attendance. Which could further explain why the show ran well into the night, thus explaining why yours truly was tuckered out by night's end. Nevertheless, once a pair of local openers cleared the stage, Earth Crisis were up first, prompting the small hardcore contingent to do their thing (read: spin kicks, air-punching, pile-ons, etc.) while select cuts from the band's new Neutralize the Threat were aired. Singer Karl Buechner isn't the manic frontman he used to be, preferring to casually stalk the stage with his trademark bandana and windbreaker, but his ferocious roar is still as nasty as they come. Naturally, the crowd went gonzo for set closer "Gomorrah's Season's End," with the cries of "We are straightedge!" ringing loud and clear.
Enjoying the best response of the night, Otep rolled out its well-seasoned array of political/social nu metal. Lead singer Otep Shamaya is the obvious star of the show, with loads of charisma and sass, going as far as to chuck a beer back into the crowd that wasn't to her liking. She also spat into the crowd (not lady-like), lost her shoe (very lady-like) and hit her drummer's cymbal after her microphone went astray and clocked her in the mouth (somewhat lady-like). Shamaya's charisma cannot be disputed, explaining why she and her revolving door of backing musicians have survived the fallout from the nu metal scene they were so a part of roughly a decade ago.
Basically the closest thing to a Sepultura reunion, Cavalera Conspiracy is touring on the heels of their most-excellent Blunt Force Trauma. Having a virtual goldmine of Sepultura classics is also a good reason to hit the road, but man, Max Cavalera has never looked this old and lethargic. The legendary Brazillian lumbered around the stage with the urgency of a tortoise, sometimes going as far to not even playing, letting guitar wizard Marc Rizzo do all of the work. Rizzo pretty much carries the band, handling the rhythm duties while Max sang, and doling out an array of dashing leads that serve to emphasize just how much of a budding guitar hero he is. Also, big-ups to Igor Cavalera and his always-monstrous time-keeping. Dude is one of the best extreme metal drummers ever.
A fellow concert-goer commented to Blistering that Max Cavalera looked inebriated, which could have been the case (yet probably wasnít), but that didn't stop songs like "Killing Inside," "Warlord" and Sepultura gems "Refuse/Resist" and "Territory" from whipping up a storm. Yes, there's still a mighty wallop to Cavalera Conspiracy (namely from Igor and Rizzo), but 1989 this is not, and Max apparently can no longer hold down the rhythm guitar gauntlet while maintaining his guerilla bark. Itís one or the other, and itís a tad bemusing. If Max keeps turning in more performances like this, then Derrick Green will all of the sudden look like he was a good idea after all. Unthinkable.