One of Heavy Metal’s top tours of 2015 came rolling through Portland on Saturday night, May 2nd at the Hawthorne Theater. Max Cavalera, a living legend in his own right, is back at it along with his musically-respected brother Igor Cavalera, headlining the Pandemonium Tour as Cavalera Conspiracy. The Cavaleras called upon San Francisco Bay thrashers Death Angel, Arizona-based heavy bangers Lody Kong, and North Carolina legacy project Corrosion of Conformity Blind, to complete the Pandemonium Tour lineup.
A little background for you. “Blind” was the 3rd studio album (released in 1991) by Corrosion of Conformity, who at the time consisted of brand new to the scene vocalist Karl Agell and founding member Reed Mullin. Both now lead the charge for Corrosion of Conformity Blind today. Enlisting members Scott Little (guitar) and Mike Brown (guitar) from Agell’s current band King Hitter, and the addition of Jerry Barrett a.k.a. Little Spoon (bass) completed the group. Although some would call Corrosion of Conformity Blind a legacy project, I would also call them a great band with an album that has stood the test of time since 1991, continuing to rattle bongs with a fresh metallic scent, even today! Would the 2015 live performance stand up as well? Here’s a look at how things played out.
I have no doubt that starting band Lody Kong’s set, and the start of Corrosion of Conformity Blind’s set were both awesome. Unfortunately, after emceeing the Portland Global Cannabis event all day, I had no idea this show was a matinee starting around 6:00 pm. Don’t forget to start checking your concert and show times beforehand! Earlier start times have been catching on with venues, even on Saturday nights, as was the case here.
Walking in late to hear Corrosion of Conformity Blind performing “Great Purification” was a mixed bag for me – pissed off to be late, but damn, what a tune! Thunderous banger “White Noise” followed and suddenly, I didn’t feel late anymore. “Buried,” “Mine Are the Eyes of God,” and “Break the Circle” couldn’t have ripped any harder. One of the ingredients that separates Agell’s vocals from most other Heavy Metal vocalists is the soul that emerges from within. The true test of Karl’s rating would come during the next two songs. ”Dance of the Dead,” the third track on the album, will always be a crowd singing giant, and fan-favorite ”Vote with a Bullet,” being the heaviest, and most widely known tune, is also (somewhat ironically) the only song Agell didn’t sing on the 1991 release. I couldn’t have sang any louder, and Agell’s execution of these classics couldn’t have been any more on point!
Their last tune of the night took fan participation to the next level. Agell proceeded to ask the unknowing crowd if anyone could play bass, with one lucky fan volunteering for the cause. The next thing you know, this Portland dude is a member of Corrosion of Conformity Blind, albeit for a 2-minute, punk-heavy, 2-note song, but still! Portland dude represented! In fact, Corrosion of Conformity Blind represented with a straight up dominating performance. And I’ll say this – it was exhilarating to finally exhale nearly 24 years’ worth of pent-up Blind consumption.
Next up, Death Angel! One of the more well-known Bay area thrash bands, over the years Death Angel has shown Metal audiences exactly how they’ve come to earn worldwide respect. Blasting classic tunes like “Mistress of Pain” or mid-majors like “Thrown to the Wolves” and “Sonic Beatdown,” leading to newer gems like “Claws In so Deep” or latest release title track “The Dream Calls for Blood,” Death Angel ignited Portland with the utmost fury. Midway through the set, speaking to the crowd, vocalist Mark Osegueda stated, “As soon as I pulled into Portland this morning I had to go to urgent care for bronchitis, but the Portland energy is carrying me right now.” Honestly, if Mark wouldn’t have told us, you would have never known, but it did explain the magic tea medicine or whatever he was drinking throughout the set.
Next came headliners Cavalera Conspiracy, led by Metal veteran brothers Max and Igor Cavalera. Igor, in from Brazil to help carry the Cavalera Conspiracy torch, is just as much of a must-see as his older brother, realizing that when you have the two brothers together, you also have 50% of the original Sepultura! Blazing tracks like “Sanctuary,” “Inflicted,” and newer tune “Babylonian Pandemonium” show that Cavalera Conspiracy is as legit as any band. When you have 50% of Sepultura (which could be the closest we’ll ever get again), you know you’re going to hear tracks like “Refuse/Resist,” and “Territory.” What you didn’t expect was also getting to hear “We Who Are Not As Others,” and an unknown NAILBOMB blast from the past.
Closing out the night with the Cavalera Conspiracy brought not just a big, fat hit of Metal supremacy, but also one of the best concert moments of the year. During the set, we had a father shouldering what appeared to be his son, and it did not go unnoticed by Sir Max. After walking to the back, and claiming a bongo and a pair of drumsticks, Max, in his own seasoned, fatherly gesture, motioned for the kid to join him on stage. There, Max and the young thrasher-in-training played along to Igor’s tribal medley for an amazing tribal drum session. It was a moment a young fan will hold dear forever. Congrats to the Corrosion of Conformity Blind guys on their successful return. For the guys to even land on a tour that takes them from the east all the way to the west coast with other groups of such legendary heaviness should say something about the “Blind” album’s presence in today’s music world.
If you can find this album out there, don’t miss the chance to pick up a copy of Corrosion of Conformity “Blind” – both for nostalgia’s sake, and in support of live music!
What a night!
Special thanks to Candlelight Records