Spann Report: Soulfly at Central Station
Soulfly? In Wrexham? Surely not…
When I first found out about the metal legends gracing our little town, I was intrigued. Then, when I found out I’d be reviewing the show, I was excited. Very, very excited actually. How did it go? Read on to find out…
On arriving at Central Station, the first thing I noticed was that there was a queue at the doors, something I’ve not seen at a metal gig in Wrexham in years. Once inside, it was evident that tonight would be a busy one, and no sooner had I taken my spot at the side of the room did openers Apollyon storm the stage.
Apollyon are an interesting sight, it must be said: Their drummer is rocking the best moustache this side of German porn, both guitarists look suitably metal with their hair and their grimaces, and the whole lot are seemingly fronted by a bull with a bass guitar. They hammer through a set of suitably punishing death metal-esque tracks, the four of them creating a wall of sound that can be quite magnificent to behold.
And when they’re in their stride, Apollyon are very, very good. Stand out track ‘Morbid Symphony’ opens with a riff that coils and flexes like a serpent, vocalist Gareth bellowing like he was trying to shatter stone. True, songs can lumber in places and at times the band did slip out of sync, but these are both very minor problems that can be solved with time and experience, and shouldn’t detract from the praise this band deserve on the whole. Apollyon’s vocal style isn’t my cup of tea (It sounds exactly like someone dropping a bag of gravel into a cutlery drawer), but it suits the style perfectly nonetheless, and Apollyon have a bright future ahead of them.
As Revoker step on the stage, Central Station is beginning to get very warm, and as a result the (still growing) crowd takes some effort to get going – Although Revoker clearly think they’re the band to do it. Opening with an unholy cacophony of noise, the Welsh quartet very quickly demonstrated a fantastically diverse bag of songwriting tricks. Vocalist Jamie sounds like he’s alternately channelling Corey Taylor and Phil Anselmo, and as a whole the entire band are keen to show that not only do they have the skills to pay the bills, they’ve got riffs made out of cliffs as well.
Revoker’s problem, though, is this: They just don’t quite have that spark, that certain something that makes a band more than good and makes them great. They reminded me of a hundred great bands, but never quite got there, that place that makes a band special… until their final song. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of it, but the last song finally got it all right. The riffs were tight, the vocals perfect, and absolutely everything clicked into place. Revoker are going to go places, mark my words; they just aren’t quite ready to go there yet.
And then it was time for Soulfly. Central was absolutely jammed, more full than I have seen it in a long time. The heat was still unbearable, the air viscose with perspiration. Everybody wanted the same thing, they wanted it now, and they weren’t afraid of letting it be known.
The lights went down, and Central erupted. Seriously, there’s volcanoes in Iceland who had nothing on this crowd, and as Soulfly’s tribal introduction kicked in and planes had to be diverted away from North Wales, the chanting began. Stood in that room, I felt like I was part of an army, a battalion marching furiously to war, and the tension in the air felt like it was about to snap at any moment… And then it did.
Except it didn’t really go anywhere.
Now I’m fully willing to admit that maybe I just didn’t get it: after all, the sold-out crowd seemed to be loving every minute, but as the band took the stage and tore into their opener, there was simply no energy on the stage. The songs plodded, Max Cavalera’s signature monotone bark simply sounding lacklustre. Guitarist Marc was the only thing to be enjoyed visually, bobbing and weaving through songs as he was, the rest of the band practically motionless throughout. Cavalera stands on stage like some angry heavy metal bear, growling at the crowd during songs, but spending very little time actually interacting with them – a cardinal sin in my book. Even crowd favourites didn’t zing like they do on record, and it says something when the two best songs of the night were covers of Cavalera’s old band, Sepultura. Soulfly walk the walk and they make enough noise, to seem convincing, but their performance on Friday simply felt like watching a band who just weren’t into it.
I will admit that Soulfly do have a certain bludgeoning charm to them – although each song lumbered along at the same pace, the bass and the steady thumping rhythms had somewhat of a hypnotic quality to them – It’s just a shame that there’s nothing that can fully detract from the dull performance on the stage. I found myself becoming rather bored, and while the sea of people moshed and headbanged through the entire set, I’m afraid I simply didn’t think that the performance represented a band that has been at the top of the metal scene for over ten years. Maybe it was the heat, but I left Central feeling somewhat disappointed.
Listen to Chris’ interview with Soulfly guitarist Marc Risso: