Summer Breeze Brazil 2024 Day Three Recap: "C'mon São Paulo, You Guys Sound Like Argentina"!

May 6, 2024, a month ago

Words by Jonathan Smith, Joel Barrios, "Metal" Tim Henderson | Photos by Joel Barrios

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After two days of metal mayhem overtaking the masses under the April sun, the 2nd installment of the annual Summer Breeze Brail festival closed things out on a bombastic note. Seemingly unaffected by the heat, the masses of avid concertgoers continued to equal the intensity of every artist’s output throughout each preceding day in their response, sweat, and human susceptibility to fatigue notwithstanding. 

In like fashion, the sonic cuisine that would be served up on this closing day of festivities would follow the same basic blend of AOR-steeped melodic fodder, traditional heavy metal splendor, high-octane thrashing, and the occasional post-'80s modern attraction. Suffice it to say, this three-day marsh of auditory craftsmanship was an exercise in qualitative consistency on all fronts, and the grand finale that transpired on April 28, 2024, would bring its own unique flavor to the table. 

The start of day 3 over on the Ice Stage at the stroke of 11 AM would reprise the melodic accessibility factor that has been an occasional feature of this showcase courtesy of Sweden’s own modern AOR trustees Eclipse. It was a sight to behold that in spite of unrelenting heat just how many fans had gathered before the stage: cheering, clapping, and singing along to every lyric of songs that were not in their primary language. This had been a consistent phenomenon for every band throughout this event, leaving little wonder as to why South American audiences have garnered the reputation of being the best fans out there, regardless of sub-genre.

Naturally lead vocalist Erik Martensson and the rest of this quartet thrived in this capacity, delivering hook-driven earworm fodder for their expansive back catalog effortlessly while getting the crowd revved up and in full participation mode for what was yet to come. Highlight banger moments from their 12-song set included energy-packed performances of “Run For Cover”, the metal-tinged “Bleed & Scream” and “Never Look Back”; but the entire performance was an exercise in constant elation arising from sonic simplicity, as Erik himself has often been one to note that penning simpler tunes that captivate the ear is no easy task. The set closer was none other than their massive hit “Viva La Victoria”, which Erik announced by changing the track title to “Viva La Sao Paulo”.

Meanwhile, a few minutes past noon over on the Hot Stage, the tides of modern metal bluster would keep the party at a respectable roar with the arrival of British metalcore rompers While She Sleeps. The scream-steeped and lyrically confessional contrast that these blokes brought to the table compared to the lion’s share of acts rocking the stage in Sao Paulo was equally effective in eliciting audience participation, much of it accredit to vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor’s wildly unhinged stage presence. Not a crevice upon the stage was left unexplored as he ran and jumped about, with much of the band attempting to follow his lead without losing hold of their instruments. Though riding high on a newly released studio album, only a resounding rendition of their chunky, groove-steeped title entry from the said album Self Hell would grace a set that was more prone to showcase this quintet’s better-known material, but it shined brightly alongside animated displays of angst-driven odes like “Sleeps Society”, “Four Walls” and their closing hurrah presentation of “Systematic”.

The Ice Stage would become the site where this metal festival truly reached its explosive capacity at around 1:30 PM courtesy of the original wrecking crew themselves, namely New Jersey’s own thrash titans Overkill. Subtlety and nuance were naturally not a part of what would unfold, as neck-destroying riffs and bone-shattering drum beats rang out to the four winds, all the while the original banshee himself Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth showcased the same ear-shattering wail at the ripe old age of 64 that he’s been rocking since 1983. 

Of particular note was the unique rhythm section on display, with drummer Jason Bittner almost destroying his kit while former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson crushed it filling in for D.D. Verni and approximating the latter’s signature glassy bass assault. We would witness a brief taste of the Megadeth classic "Peace Sells" to an adoring audience. Bittner would all but steal the show during a drum section comprised of a medley of intros of “Painkiller”, “Run To The Hills”, “Tom Sawyer” and a Shadows Fall (Bittner’s other band) song, followed by Ellefson took playing the into basslines of “Peace Sells” followed by a roaring audience reaction. 

The bulk of the medley of proper songs was a masterful blend of old and new, with modern thrashing beasts like “Bring Me The Night”, “Electric Rattlesnake” and latest album entry “Scorched” trading blows with 80s stapes like “Hello From The Gutter”, “Elimination” and an explosive final performance of their signature cover of The Subhumans’ “Fuck You”, while Blitz teases the crowd by shouting "C'mon São Paulo, you guys sound like Argentina"! The crowd, with their middle fingers held high, screamed back "Fuck You!" The most comical moment of the entire festival!

Meanwhile, the high-jinks unfolding over on the Hot Stage beginning at 2:30 PM would center on the quirky and the theatrical courtesy of Swedish melodeath attraction Avatar. One had to wonder how this fold from the cold reaches of northern Europe managed to tolerate the South American heat in the carnival-from-hell getup that is their on-stage shtick, but much like the leather-toting outfits that had come and gone the previous days, they made things work and delivered a grueling 13-song show, and the massive crowd that they had amassed loved every second of it. 

Helmsman Johannes Eckerstrom’s frolicking about in his circus ringmaster meets The Crow persona would prove the chief draw as he screamed and wailed in his signature baritone. Live staples like “The Eagle Has Landed”, “Colossus” and “Smells Like A Freak Show” arguably went over the greatest of the pack with the quartet of instrumentalists showcasing an atypical technical flair for the nu-metal style, but one couldn’t help but be captivated by the more intimate display Johannes would bring with mere piano accompaniment on his rendition of “Tower”.

The heaviness factor would reach its zenith back on the Ice Stage just before 4 PM courtesy of death metal icons Carcass. This U.K. staple from the days of early goregrind and one of the arguably progenitors of the death ‘n’ roll and melodic death metal subgenres pulled zero punches despite the simple quartet arrangement and an unconventional mix of stage getups. Ordinarily it might prove distracting to match the visual put forth by guitarists Bill Steer and live guitarist turned new recruit Nippy Blackford, one rocking a ‘70s-styled tight shirt and bell bottoms while the other donned a more appropriately modern attire, to speak nothing for Jeff Walker’s unconventional manner of holding his bass nearly upright while resting on his left thigh, but there was not a note missed nor head in the audience failing to bang as they proceeded to shake the very pillars of Sao Paulo. 

Grotesque offerings from the latter days in the British grindcore scene like “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” were seamlessly mixed with the more sonically refined brutality from their subsequent accessible era like “Buried Dreams” and “Keep On Rotting In A Free World”, and interspersed with recent cuts like “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing” also inspiring the fans to try and crush each other into oblivion in the pit.

The Sun Stage would become the center of attention at the stroke of 4:30 PM thanks to the mighty roar that would be conjured up by Bay Area thrash veterans Death Angel. Much like their New York rivals Overkill, this festival represented the culmination of their South American tour and they rocked a shorter version of their corresponding set like their brand of high-octane metallic bluster was going out of style again. 

Mark Osegueda snarls and growled at the crowd with the ferocity of the ravenous wolves often featured on this outfit’s album covers, often becoming even more loud in between songs while getting the crowd jazzed up for the next offering. The merciless riff assault and wild technical solo displays put forth by co-founding guitarist Rob Cavestany and longtime counterpart Ted Aguilar would be served up with a similarly reckless abandon, all the while the thunderous battery of Damien Sisson’s bass and Will Carroll’s kit work reminded the animated crowd as to why thrash was at one time the most dangerous music around. Newer anthems alternated with classic 80s slaughter sessions from their debut album The Ultraviolence, though on the classic front their balls-to-the-walls rendition of “Voracious Souls” stole the show, though pummeling performances of newer fair like “Humanicide” and “Aggressor” weren’t too far behind.

The metalcore contingent of this festival would get its greatest boost a little past 5 PM with the onslaught put forth on the Hot Stage by Massachusetts icons Killswitch Engage. The reception that they would receive by the South American crowd was no less avid than that of the many thrash and older heavy metal acts that had previously rocked the masses, with no shortage of moshing and crowd-surfers amid the sea of elated souls. As one of the later attractions of the day they commanded a longer set and managed to cram 18 of their signature anthems into it, and apart from vocalist Jesse Leach mistakenly calling out the name of their 3rd song “This Fire” just prior to performing “Rise Inside”, it was an exercise in flawless delivery with the pedal to the proverbial metal, from a band that as Jesse told the audience “love to play their music and doesn’t give a f**k about everyone else thinks about them.”

Vocally speaking Leach would do an apt job at approximating the melodramatic largess of Howard Jones era staples like “A Bid Farewell” and “The Arms Of Sorrow”, and even shined particularly well on their surprising closing rendition of Dio’s “Holy Diver”, but he and the rest of the band hit their peak on the oldest odes that originally featured him in a studio capacity, with the aforementioned “Rise Inside” and “My Last Serenade” taking things into the stratosphere.

At 6:30 PM on the Ice Stage the de facto performance to end all performances was to commence with the arrival of New York thrash and Big Four adherents Anthrax. It can’t truly be stated just how much of a kinetic affair it is to catch this fold live, as even in his mid-60s vocalist Joey Belladonna moves about the stage and works the crowd with the energy and enthusiasm of an Olympic athlete. 

Guitarist and mastermind Scott Ian was not far behind in his animated mannerisms and facial expressions as he banged out one signature riff after the next. That being said, the inclusion of Dan Lilker in a live capacity on bass filling in for the raging stage persona of Frank Bello proved a point of extreme curiosity given his past association with the band during their formative period, but he proved more than up to the task of keeping his both his instrumental and stage performance prominent, banging his head like a madman the whole time. 

Mercilessly fast blazers from the ‘80s like “Caught In A Mosh”, “Metal Thrashing Mad” and “A.I.R.” made waves in the crowd something fierce, while melodic and nuanced fair like “Medusa” and “Keep It In The Family” were greeted with a sea of accompanying voices from the crowd, but it all came to a head with the performance of “I Am The Law”, which was preceded by Ian introducing none other than Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser to play along, noting “Someone from here who you might have heard of, or maybe someone you even love” to the boisterous chants of “Sepultura” from the audience.

When all was said and done, the closing day, and indeed the entire festival that was Summer Breeze Brazil 2024 was a colossal undertaking that could boast no less in the results department. Above all else, it proved a testament of how dedicated the metal masses of South America are to the bands and the art that they cherish, and also presenting an example by which North America ought to take notice. For those that were able to make it into the audience for this 3-day celebration of rock and metal under the punishing heat of the Brazilian sun, it was one for the ages.

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