Soulfly/Havok – October 12, 2013 – Bernie’s, Nashua, NHSunday, 13th October 2013
Renaming a club can be a tough sell, but it looks like Bernie’s is hoping to be another small venue for national and international heavy acts to showcase their talent in within New England. Soulfly and Havok along with two local openers who would play on an overcast Saturday night here; the venue from the outside has a warehouse look to it, as it’s a part of a small plaza in a busy section of the city with stop lights every 500 feet. The stage is nicely set in the air, and sightlines are great from almost every vantage point.
Clicking in at 7:20 pm, openers Carnivora from Boston were a last minute addition to the bill. The five-piece played a half hour set of speedy crossover metal, equally emphasizing the slam parts as much as the quick hitting blasts and black metal oriented riffing. When the vocalist announced a ‘familiar’ song: Slayer’s “God Hates Us All” – I shook my head in wonderment as I didn’t really recognize much about the band in their interpretation. The 20-something couple grinding it out with a heavy duty make-out session next to me offered more entertainment than these guys.
Synthetic Mindset hit the stage next, gaining roaring approval from the 125+ in attendance at that point. With a new singer (Ronnie Carignan) firmly established in the group, their sound reminds me of the Deftones with a little Killswitch Engage tied in. Dedicating material to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and the late Suicide Silence singer Mitch Lucker is admirable, and also inviting former vocalist Jeremy Jenkins up for the final song that got the crowd pogoing and slamming away proves no hard feelings for lineup changes. They got the masses hyped up for the next band.
Havok went through a quick line check, and vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez as well as lead guitarist Reece Scruggs gave the crowd a few cool riffs and licks of familiar oldies like “Peace of Mind” by Boston and “Leper Messiah” from Metallica respectively. This would be another hometown show for drummer Pete Webber, and he and the band did not disappoint despite a less than favorable house mix (a little too heavy on the bass and tinny on some of the guitars). The circle pits and fist waving ruled during their 40-minute set, which included favorites from their three albums and one EP like “D.O.A.,” “Give Me Liberty…Or Give Me Death,” and “Point of No Return.”
Scruggs’s sweeps and tapping reminded me of classic Death Angel and Forbidden. Sanchez even had a good sense of humor regarding the audience’s ADD tendencies while the Red Sox/ Tigers playoff game was broadcasted across all of the flat screens in the venue, quipping about us “Only missing the apple pie.” Finishing with “Time’s Up,” the crowd loved what the four-piece brings to the thrash table- and you can tell they are poised for bigger and better things.
Then it was time for Max Cavalera and Soulfly. With a skeleton adorned microphone stand at center stage, the group wasted no time getting to a double shot off the new album Savages with “Bloodshed” and “Cannibal Holocaust.” Guitarist Marc Rizzo delivers jaw-dropping lead runs when called for, but with the band you can expect a lot of Max style screams and bass/drum work that promotes maximum audience pit action.
The set list moved around Soulfly material like “Back to the Primitive” and “Rise of the Fallen” to Sepultura favorites like “Arise,” “Territory,” and “Roots Bloody Roots.” The sweat pouring off the bodies in the audience only fueled the musicians on stage more. We would also get a Nailbomb track “Wasting Away,” and it seemed like Max didn’t want to take much more than 20 seconds between the ending of one song for another one to take charge. Security had a challenge making sure things stayed safe in the pit (those darn people who love to throw fists and kicks in the air), but I didn’t see any broken bones or bloody appendages, so all seemed well. By the conclusion of “Eye for an Eye,” Max would leave the stage while the three musicians pulled out an instrumentally condensed cover of “The Trooper” from Iron Maiden to signal good night.
The crowd at its peak was around 160-170 people, surprising to me given Max’s number of years invested into the genre and albums he’s put out. Overall, I would say the fans got what they wanted from their heroes, and it’ll be another show talked about for weeks and months to come. Kudos as well to the father/son combination I met earlier in the night – the son at 14 has been going to shows for four years and this is what we need to keep the genre alive and thriving another 50-70 years down the line.