REVIEW: Calavera, Exhumed, Incite at Irving Plaza | 09.27.2023

Brazilian metal legends Max & Iggor Calavera hit the road earlier this month in support of their recent re-recordings of Sepultura’s debut EP, Bestial Devastation, and album, Morbid Visions. The tour, aptly named the Morbid Devastation Tour, features the brothers performing both releases in full, along with a stacked undercard lineup of Exhumed and Incite. The bands stopped at New York City’s Irving Plaza Wednesday night, and I was there, as I always am, with cameras in tow.

THE SHOW

Incite took the stage first and went full throttle from the get-go, delivering a set of high-quality headbangin’ thrash metal that set the night in motion. Frontman Richie Cavalera served as the metal maestro as he conducted the circle pit and commanded that every fan in attendance enjoy themselves to the fullest. The band was firing on all cylinders and the crowd was loving every minute of it.

Incite’s set featured a handful of tracks from their latest album, Wake Up Dead, including Mental Destruction and War Soup. The band capped off their set with “WTF” from their 2014 release, Up In Hell, while a sea of middle fingers pumped into the air.

After some crowd hyping from the band’s “mascot”, Dr. Philthy, Exhumed took the stage and opened with “Drained of Color“, the lead single their 2022 album, To The Dead. Philthy would return throughout the set to keep the crowd on their toes, at one point donning a chainsaw in one hand and a severed arm in the other (a fake one, obviously); it was an entertaining visual companion to Exhumed’s signature gore metal sound.

Exhumed’s brutality was on full display as they tore through an epic set of old and new material alike including “Limb From Limb” from the band’s debut 1998 album, Gore Metal. After seemingly playing their last song of the night, frontman Matt Harvey announced that as it turned out the band actually had time for just one more. They then proceeded to play “Utter Mutilation of your Corpse“; a song that clocks in at six seconds in length. I’d like to think they wrote that song for the explicit purpose of using it for this bit. Either way, it was awesome and a funny way to end the set.

Chants of “Sepultura” and “Cavalera” began to stir as the stage setup was changed over for the headliners of the evening. The crowd roared went the lights went dark and Igor Cavalera took his place behind his kit. The backing band then took their places as well, and frontman Max Cavalera stepped to the center mic to introduce themselves as the real Sepultura.

A tidal wave of energy flowed through halls of Irving Plaza as the band took us back to 1985 with a play-through of Bestial Devastation and then to 1986 with Morbid Visions. If you’re trying to consider how long ago 1986 was, that’s the year I was born; I’m a grown ass man with a family and bills and achy joints. The Cavalera brothers have been in the business of melting faces for quite some time. Their performance this evening proved they’re still the very best at what they do.

After playing the two releases end to end (sans one song), the band returned for a multi-song encore featuring more Sepultuta classics such as “Refuse/Resist” as well as the missing piece that hadn’t yet been played from Morbid Visions: “Troops of Doom.”

The tour continues this weekend at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Pittsburgh and goes through mid-October before ending on October 18th at The Wiltern in LA.

THE SHOOT

All in all this was a relatively stress-free evening. The lighting was bright, particularly during Exhumed and Cavalera’s sets, and the members of all three bands played to the camera which made my job easy.

Something I’ve been struggling with lately is that I’m sabotaging my use of back button focusing. I end up holding the button down which causes the camera to continue to refocus, thereby negating the purpose and benefit of the back button focus feature.

As a quick explanation, back button focusing allows you activate the autofocus only by pressing that button, i.e. the shutter button no longer performs that function in addition to taking the photo. The primary benefit is that if it’s a challenge to get the focus right (see metal shows, low lighting, etc) then you don’t lose that focus as soon as you let off the shutter. You can keep going until you press the back button again to refocus. Anyone who has shot in low light knows the stress of continually re-searching for focus. This feature is clutch; as long as you don’t hold the button down the whole time like me.

I swear I developed this habit with video games as a kid. A big jump or a hard boss usually required me to be holding down one button really hard in order to effectively use the other buttons. I think it helped with my concentration. So perhaps, out of muscle memory, I’m holding down the button to “help” me concentrate while I’m shooting. I suppose the why doesn’t really matter, I just need to figure out how to stop doing it.

The only way to do that is to practice, and while October won’t be as crazy as September was show-wise, I’ll still have plenty of opportunities. Catch you at the next one!

INCITE
Incite Setlist Irving Plaza, New York, NY, USA 2023
EXHUMED
Exhumed Setlist Irving Plaza, New York, NY, USA 2023
CALAVERA
Cavalera Conspiracy Setlist Irving Plaza, New York, NY, USA 2023, Morbid Devastation Tour