Soulfly – September 12, 2019 – Dingbatz, Clifton, NJSaturday, 14th September 2019
Always a persistent force on the road, it seems Soulfly was just touring the US in support of their latest album, Ritual, this winter. A tour that also hit Dingbatz back in February. Though said show was on a Friday, and this time around a weeknight Thursday show – though by no means did that deter anyone from attending, as the venue was quite packed as the night progressed.
Arriving right at 6PM, the first band of the night for this scribe (though the second band to play given the seven band event) would be local act Deadtide. The band played through a brisk five song set to keep the festivities going forward, including their most recent tracks “Alteration” and “Begin the Dream.” Modern metal is the name of the game here, with some catchy melodic riffs with just enough aggression to make melodeath fans feel at home – and without sounding like a carbon copy of their influences. Not a whole lot of room for movement with five more bands’ gear on the stage, but they clearly made do with what was available, providing a rousing bit of energy with their set. The band has been building a name for themselves in the area and online, and hopefully an upcoming full-length will be just the thing to get them to the next level.
First up for the national acts was that of Arrival of Autumn, who are on their first tour of the US, following the release of their Nuclear Blast debut in the form of Harbinger earlier this year. The metalcore is strong with this one, though on the heavier side of things for the most part. Utilizing a small touch of cleaner singing, but mostly the hardcore-esque barks took center-stage (they were a near-constant, for better or worse) and they occasionally dug deeper into some heavier territory. But they were clearly pumped to be on this tour and were giving it their all, appreciative of the crowd for coming early to catch their set and moving around the stage when possible (again, things were pretty tight at the beginning with the number of bands playing).
Next up was Prison, an act that hadn’t popped onto my radar much before this show. Nu metal laden with deathcore influences isn’t exactly a strong personal interest, but there was no denying their impression they left from the stage. Monstrous breakdowns (a whole lot of breakdowns and chugs, which pushed right into your chest) got the audience in the swing of things as vocalist Johnny Crowder incited the crowd to give it all they had with charisma to spare. Angry tones and grooves coupled with the darker lyrical aspects gave them a more unique feel for something of this style, and their live presence left an impact on the crowd. As an independent act, there’s a reason they’ve been growing significantly in the last two years.
As the numbers inside Dingbatz continued to jump up, Incite began to push the crowd to the next level. With a number of tracks from their recent Built to Destroy in tow, they did their best to do just that. Frenetic and powerful thrash riffing and thick grooves that were seemingly built for the road instantly grabbed ahold of the audience, as did Richie Calavera’s shouts from the stage. Entertaining, and undeniably fun would be the easiest way to describe the band and their interaction with the crowd, and it didn’t take much for the crowd to follow right along with them.
If there’s one thing that can be relied upon, it’s Unearth‘s ability to bring a moshpit with them. The crowd all but erupted into one as the band began to play, and there was no turning back from there. With a large chunk of the set coming from their excellent Extinction(s) and the classic The Oncoming Storm, the audience was primed and ready for chaos. Plenty of energy from beginning to end, and of course, plenty of encouragement to keep the pit antics going – other cuts like “My Will Be Done” and “Watch It Burn” hit with a ton of impact, both from the stage and audience. Unearth is going quite strong at this point – proof that the metalcore formula is still quite viable when in capable hands.
Not sure if the show sold out or not, but Dingbatz was quite packed by the time it was Soulfly‘s time to shine. Lots of anticipation in the crowd as Max Cavalera and company hit the stage. Not being able to have witnessed the act in over a decade on the live front, this seemed the perfect set-list to be re-acquainted as it seemed to span much of the band’s lifetime, going from the beginnings with cuts like “Bleed” and “Fire” all the way to the present with “The Summoning” and “Under Rapture.” Some Soulfly shows have had some themes to them, but this one seemed to just be a nice retrospective look at some of the band’s stronger cuts over the years.
Max himself having plenty of presence on the stage, frequently interacting with the crowd – whether it was to sing-a-long, charge up a circle pit, or just a throw of the horns – there was much to take in as he stood front and center with his guitar. The rest of the band didn’t slouch here either, offering a bit of energy to spice up the band’s already thrashing and groovy cuts. It’s clear that Soulfly is still quite hungry to power forward, with frequent bouts on the road that find ways to keep fans engaged and enamored. The band is a metal institution at this point (much like Max) and it’s great to see them still firing on all cylinders and coming up with solid touring packages.