The fan chatter fantasizing about the day Max Cavalera would return to Sepultura has been incessant since the frontman’s departure in 1996. With his brother and Sepultura bandmate Iggor out of the band now as well, the hopes of a reunion seemed slim as both sides appear content going about their own business. The consolation prize? Max and Iggor Cavalera’s Return to Roots!

These two names under the same banner wield considerable power, especially in conjunction with one of metal’s most influential and revered records, Sepultura’s Roots. At the Gramercy Theatre in New York City, this might was measured with a sold out crowd that was reminiscent of those bobbing seas of heads and horns seen in blurry YouTube videos from the mid-‘90s, capturing the sensationalism behind a group before the Internet age stripped some of the mystique and magic from the live concert experience.

With the clock turned back to 21 years, the Cavalera brothers, backed by bassist Tony Campos and guitarist Marc Rizzo, immediately turned a stand-still crowd into an eruptive force simply by walking onstage as the fans knew full-well that the introductory music blaring through the PA would give way to the seem-splitting groove of "Roots Bloody Roots.” Max’s microphone was truly of no purpose for these few minutes as the seismic audience drowned him out the entire way through.

Keeping the Roots experience authentic, Max played the berimbau (a single string bowed percussion instrument) to start the album's second track, "Attitude." The song's low slung rhythm gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath following the raucous opening cut and by the next song, Max had them chanting "Cut-Throat" with increasing vigor.

Running through the album in sequential order, fans were treating to other notables like "Breed Apart" and "Straighthate," the latter of which Max introduced by shouting the opening lines "I ask myself why I'm so hateful / Maybe it's just part of my nature / People say I'm f--ked in my mind / Feels like there's nothing left inside" before the song's muted chords and tribal fill began.

When it came time to launch into one of the album's most visceral offerings, "Spit," Max instructed the crowd that he wanted to see the biggest circle pit of the night. It was easy to measure the intensity as the one bright blue mohawk in the pit became increasingly blurry as the crowd followed in step with rising quickness.

With such a legendary album, the set's rage never waned, even when Iggor encountered some difficulties with his kit earlier in the night as his crew managed to stealthily swap one of his drums out. One of the highlights came towards the end when the band brought up guest drummers, Immolation's Steve Shalaty, Full of Hell's Dave Bland and another musician. Max joined in on one of the three drums added onstage while Iggor remained seated behind his kit for a full-on tribal jam.

Returning for the encore, Max and Iggor initially took the stage alone, jamming on some older Sepultura riffs like "Desperate Cry" off Arise, letting the crowd handle the immortal vocal refrain. The rest of the band stepped back out under the spotlights for the final two songs of the night, covers of Venom's "Black Metal" and the timeless Motorhead classic "Ace of Spades." Oh, but wait! They broke out a reprise of "Roots Bloody Roots," dishing out the fan-favorite just a bit more before the house lights marked the end of a legendary night.

Providing direct support were Immolation, playing a home show in New York, proudly declaring their Yonkers residency. Leaning heavily on material from the last seven years, the malevolent death metal blasphemers ripped through five brand new songs off Atonement and managed to toss in an old one, "Immolation," off their Dawn of Possession debut. Frontman Ross Dolan also took the time to thank his parents and other various family members, who were seated behind the general admission pit in the front row towards the back of the venue.

Opening the night were Full of Hell, who play a virulent, caustic brand of crusty, grinding death metal with a table full of pedals to add harsh frequencies, oscillation and swells of volume, kicking off the show with some of the night's heaviest moments.

Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots Setlist — Feb. 22, 2017

01. "Roots Bloody Roots"
02. "Attitude"
03. "Cut-Throat"
04. "Ratamahatta"
05. "Breed Apart"
06. "Straighthate"
07. "Spit"
08. "Lookaway"
09. "Dusted"
10. "Born Stubborn"
11. "Itsári"
12. "Ambush"
13. "Endangered Species"
14. "Dictators--t"
15. Sepultura Riff Medley
16. "Black Metal" (Venom cover)
17. "Ace of Spades" (Motörhead cover)
18. "Roots Bloody Roots" (reprised)

Max Cavalera Plays 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'