Of course MetalTalk.net was at Rock in Rio. There would be no chance that the biggest Metal online magazine in the UK would miss that chance. The thing is, we had such a massive hangover from all those Caipirinhas we had there that it took us two months to recover from that and post our review of the festival.
Words: Nando Souza
Apart from its name, Rock In Rio is not all about Rock. It’s a seven day festival which includes all kinds of music and rock just seems to be one of them.
This year, the Brazilian crowd was fortunate. They had two days considered to be the ‘Metal day’, one headlined by Metallica and the last day of the festival was headlined by Iron Maiden.
Thursday 19 September:
The Sunset stage is to express artistic freedom. This area of the Rock In Rio set up will be for meetings of established artists and some of the most praised new names in music from around the world. On the Sunset, the artist has complete freedom to dare and realize an old dream of sharing the stage with a particular colleague.
República, Dr. Sin and Roy Z
Republic, Dr. Sin and Roy Z fulfill the role of warming up the audience. Brazilian bands and American guitarist/producer opened the Sunset Stage on the first day of metal in the festival.
The faithful metal audience was hungry for their metal – dry guitar riffs, straight bass lines, powerful drums and solos, many solos. The legendary Brazilian band Dr. Sin joined forces with Republica and the extraordinary guitarist and producer Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson Judas Priest, Halford). They knew how to give the audience exactly what they wanted, with competence, and lots of energy. Thus, they achieved some incendiary moments, but it was clear – for what we saw of the reaction of the audience and also by what he heard on stage – the show fulfilled its role of warming the crowd for what was about to happen later that night.
Roy Z gave an interview after the show which you can check out here:
Here’s some footage of the gig itself:
Of course they also played two covers. Check them out:
Almah + Hibria
Almah and Hibria look great in their black shirts and earn their applause. Despite the limited repertoire, representatives of the national metal command the headbangers present at this moment.
Almah and Hibria. Who? The heavy metal audience that had occupied much of the space in front of the Sunset Stage seemed to know very well that the first is the new band of singer Edu Falaschi, the very one that caused the enormous controversy in a lousy show with Angra at Rock in Rio 2011 and soon left the band alleging that Angra songs were not written for his type of voice) and the second, a quintet from the south of Brazil with certain international fame.
Blondie Edu and ‘his’ Almah started the show, to applause and cheers from the audience. Despite the competence of the band, the sound was confusing, and the quality of songs like ‘Trace Of Trait’ and ‘Hypnotized’ are unsatisfactory. Then, Hibria followed, led by bald singer Iuri Sanson, and they sounded a much more cohesive band with songs like ‘Silent Revenge’ and ‘Silence Will Make You Suffer’ (it’s curious that such a loud band write songs about silence), to a great audience reaction.
At the end, they all joined forces to play ‘Rock And Roll’ by Led Zeppelin.
Sebastian Bach entertains with good music and ‘blunders’. The former lead singer of Skid Row experiments with sentences in Portuguese and reminds us of the hits of his old band.
Sebastian Bach knows how to play with the crowd. Speaking more phrases in Portuguese than most Brazilian bands that played at Rock in Rio, the former lead singer of Skid Row made an exhilarating show at the Sunset Stage with a good setlist, and a competent and powerful execution of his band, and especially for constant blunders. As a pop star, he knows how to explore the theatricality inherent to metal music, taking it to extremes, with the ability to put himself in the exact point between irony and seriousness.
Announced – with great exaggeration – by Zé Ricardo, Sunset Stage host, as “one of the greatest artists of the world”, Sebastian Bach stepped on the stage with lots of energy and a hardcore punch to the sound of ‘Slave To The Grind’ (from his Skid Row phase). And now the guy showed his arsenal: spinning the microphone by the wire over his head as he bangs his smooth hair, always finishing songs in a shrill cry, the shouted hoarse singing (which begins to show signs of tiredness), the frantic fingers asking for clapping, requesting the audience to punch the air, and (last but not least) a bunch of phrases in Portuguese:
— Nósestamosmuitofelizes de “astar” com vocês.
— Meunome é Schumann.
— Todomundopulando “camigo” — repetia, emulating some type of metal IveteSangalo (pop Brazilian singer).
Requests to jump along or sing along were almost always during the Skid Row hits like ‘I Remember You’, ‘Monkey Business’ and the greatest of all, ’18 And Life’. The setlist also wandered through his solo work, songs like ‘Here I Am’ and ‘American Metalhead’ (of which he suggested the name change to ‘Brazilian Metalhead’).
The funniest moment of the gig was when he wore a wig (some sort of advertising), one of the gifts distributed to the audience. With the same excitement, the public embraced his music, which travels through classic rock, hard rock and even a certain pop appeal, despite the heavy sound.
The World Stage, the primary musical area at the festival hosts the main acts and headliners.
Sepultura, Tambours du Bronx
Sepultura and Tambours du Bronx demonstrate percussive force to open the night. The bands rely on drums and heavy guitars to win over the audience at the first show of the World Stage.
The great success of the Sunset stage in the last Rock in Rio, the meeting of the largest Brazilian metal group, Sepultura, with the percussive French combo Tambours du Bronx won the right to perform at the World Stage this year. And they came with everything to repeat on a larger scale their demonstration of pure power.
Shortly after the fireworks, they hit the stage playing ‘Kaiowas’ a track from the 1990s, then ‘Spectrum’ brought Andreas Kisser’s guitar imbued with an absurd heavy sound to complete the massive attack of bass frequencies, and causing the audience to make a sea of Horns.
One of Sepultura’s successes was missing: ‘Refuse/Resist’, another one from the 1990s which had an enthusiastic response from the audience. It was one of the great instrumental moments of the show, with a festival of guitar riffs and bass lines by Paulo Jr., a perfect wedding with the drums – the Bronx and Sepultura’s drummer, Eloy Casagrande.
Before ‘Sepulnation’, Andreas took the microphone to make his political call: “Let’s show the world that Brazil is not sleeping”. And he offered an attack of guitars and drums. Soon after, the Tambours showed one of their songs, ‘Delirium’, which reinforced the impression that, although the strength of the sound (with lead singer Derrick Green screaming with his monster voice) and an overwhelming visual spectacle, it lacked a little musical substance.
A version without many attractions of ‘Firestarter’ (by English electronic rock group Prodigy) and a tangled ‘Territory’ by the excess of drums did not diverted the route of the steamroller formed by the union of the bands. Before the audience gave up to exhaustion, they played the main Sepultura hit, ‘Roots Bloody Roots’, with a kind of metallic touch made with berimbau. With strength and will, Sepultura and Tambours du Bronx set firein the metal night of Rock in Rio.
Father forgive for I have sinned. I completely neglected Pope Hemeritus II and his Nameless Ghouls and I did not write any review of this show for I desperately needed to rest for the rest of the night. However, from what I could hear in the distance, it could have easily been the worst gig of the festival.
Alice In Chains
With a show based on their dark album ‘Dirt'(1992), the band presented a very efficient and friendly version of themselves.
Few bands besides Alice In Chains might say they had upon their heads a black cloud for so long. In their last appearance in Rio, two decades ago, what we saw was a group literally fighting for survival. With the repertoire of the then newly released album ‘Dirt’ (1992), the album group trudged across the stage with their gloomy, heavy, desperate – and great songs. Without vocalist Layne Staley (lost to drug problems in 2002), the group appeared recreated at Rock in Rio, with the same musicians from before – guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney. Now with vocalist William DuVall (who joined Alice in Chains in 2006 and has recorded two albums), they did a typical arena show exciting, almost happy, based on the repertoire of ‘Dirt’.
The vigorous and accelerated ‘Them Bones’ and ‘Dam That River’, from the 1992 album, opened the show by putting much of the public to jump. ‘Hollow’ (from the new album, ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs In Here’) slowed the mood down a little bit, with its heavy and repetitive riff. The excitement only returned with ‘Man In The Box’ a MTV hit of group’s first album, ‘Facelift’ – and the public (adults and teenagers) sang as if it was 1991.
Even without being exactly heavy metal, Alice In Chains showed a heavier sound, anchored in incredibly solid bass lines and Inez Cantrell’s virtuoso style – who may have lost his long hair, but still plays fine. DuVall, in turn, proved once again a perfect vocal clone of Layne Staley, without half the trouble, much more friendly and communicative.
The show continued with ‘Nutshell’ from the album ‘Dirt’ that the group dedicated to Staley and Mike Starr, bassist who recorded the album, quit the band and then died, a victim of drug overdose in 2011. ‘We Die Young’ brought more memories of ‘Facelift’ and from the beginning of the band on MTV and then ‘Stone’ from the irregular new album. After that, it was a celebration of ‘Dirt’ songs: ‘Down In A Hole’, the intense ‘Would?’ and, in a moment of total catharsis, ‘Rooster’. Even without Layne Staley, Alice In Chains decided to win and broaden their audience and, thus, made their darkness dissipate. They are still a great band.
With many songs and some flames, Metallica warms the crowd. In a show that had 18 songs, the audience sang them all from the heaviest ones to the most commercial.
The crowd was already impatient when the screens started showing, at 12.35am, the preamble to the Metallica show, a clip of the movie ‘Three Men In Conflict’ with the orchestral song ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ by Ennio Morricone. Immediately, the crowd went nuts and started to sing along the melodies until the band played the first riffs of ‘Hit The Lights’ and then ‘Master Of Puppets’, from the beginning of their career, when their sound was still labelled as thrash metal. Whoever saw the presentation on TV may not have noticed, but it was amazing the amount of people who sang the lyrics of these songs from 1983 to 1986. It’s important to say that those songs were never played on radio or MTV.
Before the third song, the singer and guitarist James Hetfield addressed the audience saying it was great to go to work and come face to face with a crowd like that, adding that he could not call what he does “work”. In a great mood, he communicated with the fans, even if it’s just in English. At one point, he asked, “are you ready?” To which the crowd shouted “yes”. So he replied: “I was talking to my bandmates.”
The lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett, also had some fun, playing themes of ‘Superman’ and ‘Star Wars’ (by John Williams) between the tracks ‘Harvester Of Sorrow’ and ‘The Day That Never Comes’. When playing the latter, there was a delay between Kirk and Hetfield, one of the few mistakes of the night. This ballad, incidentally, was the only thing taken from their latest album ‘Death Magnetic’ (2008).
The other 17 songs were much older, going no further than the famous ‘Black Album’ (1991), with the exception of ‘The Memory Remains’. Often when talking to the audience, Hetfield used the term “Metallica family” to refer to all who were there. The fans reciprocated with chants for both faster and heavier songs, such as ‘Seek And Destroy’, and for the most commercials ones like ‘Nothing Else Matters’. The drummer, Lars Ulrich, as usual, ended up playing a few songs, hitting the plates with the sticks while standing up, and bassist Robert Trujillo wandered around the stage and twirled with his instrument.
Without choreographed steps or fashion hits, the band played an exciting show only with its music and charisma. Well, there were some pyros and fireworks on ‘One’, which recreates an atmosphere of war with explosions on stage, ‘Blackened’ and ‘Enter Sandman’. But flares, fires and explosions are worthy at a heavy metal gig and they were not used as a distraction to cover musical deficiencies. Playback was used. But it was only in very short introductions such as ‘Wherever I May Roam’ or ‘… And Justice For All’.
One criticism that radical hipsters like to make about Rock in Rio is about the overwhelming presence of artists with decades of road experience, especially on the World Stage. On Thursday, the band that opened and closed that stage would fit that profile. Both Sepultura (Tambours du Bronx accompanied by Sepultura) and Metallica are veterans and had played in the 2011 edition. But the supporting band was Ghost, a new band, which has been hyped and has visual and audible originality.
Well, after playing eight songs, Hetfield (who is an assumed Ghost fan) said he had seen Ghost’s show and asked the audience’s opinion. The reaction was negative. Hetfield joked: “Poor Ghost! You were frightened, as I understand it’s like a Mass!”. The fact is that Metallica fans, after more than two hours of show, went home much happier and, as Hetfield made sure to remember they have been in business for 32 years.
All photos taken from the official Rock in Rio Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RockInRio.