Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel Review:
What a night! It’s been rather slow these last few months in the Louevil scene, so this show was exactly what we needed. It was a chance to get out and see a great show and spend some quality time with good friends. Ever since hearing of this event at Expo 5, I’ve been one stoked mofo. I grew up listening to these classic metal icons. I knew it was going to be one excellent show, and I was right. First off – Thanks to my photographer friend/bandmate Chuck Skibo for taking these killer pics for us! Great job!
A Close Call – With Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian sick as a dog and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante having to leave the tour for a family emergency, it was almost looking like this show might not happen. I was scared and my heart skipped a beat! But Scott Ian isn’t no wussy by any means, and soldiered onward through illness to perform just for us and, luckily, Testament drummer Gene Hoglan was able to fill in for Charlie Benante. Two brutal sets of drumming in one night? Gene Hoglan, you are the man:)
Late start … There were a few PA changes that had the show start time running a bit late. But all was worked out. Death Angel might have had to cut their set back a little, though.
Death Angel – I like these guys, but I think I had only one or two albums by them. I’ve never seen these guys, before so I was anxious to finally see them live. They played a shorter set because of the slight delay, but they did not disappoint as they unleashed monsters like "Mistress Of Pain," off Ultra Violence, "Claws In So Deep," off of the newer album Relentess Retribution, "The Art Of Dying," ending with "Ultra Violence" and "Thrown To The Wolves." The band sounded tight as hell, and after their set, they hung out with fans quite a long time, taking pictures and chatting/signing stuff. Vocalist Mark Osegueda is a fireball of energy and a full on metal maniac. He is metal to the max and has his own sound style that I’ve yet to see rehashed. He does the growls, and some higher pitched screams that are out of this world. He has the vocal highs and lows on his roster. His timing was right on and he has a good singing voice, too , with good power. No complaints here. He also seemed like a great guy as he spent a lot of time with fans.
However, a few fans were grumbling about them not playing "Bored," "Room With A View," "3rd Floor." No, "Bored" was kinda a bummer to me. "Bored" was probably their most known song. Oh well, these guys are underground and don’t give a farg what’s the most popular song. I really dug "Mistress Of Pain." The guitars of Rob Cavastany and Ted Aguilar were crunchy and brutal and had great tone. It was a short rockin’ set of some darn good, oldschool metal. One fan told me they sounded much better than back in the day. I’m glad I got there early. Many folks didn’t get to see them because they came too late, and also because of the long line to get in. I knew better. I got there when the doors opened.
Testament – What can you say about these Bay Athrashers? I have loved this band from the get-go. They have been rocking the world since 1983. I’ve traveled hundreds of miles just to see them. Almost got stomped to death in the moshpit at one of their shows at Bogart’s waaaay back in the day. This is the quintessential Bay Area metal band. Not those other Metallica sellouts, whose show I felt like walking out on because I was soooo bored. No. These guys have made their mark and have never sold out or compromised their sound to make more money. They don’t need retarded masks and stage show gimmicks to rely on. Pure talent got them where they are!
As always, Testament came out smokin’, kicking off with some older stuff, including "The Preacher" and "The New Order" off The New Order album, "The Persecuted Won’t Forget," off their newest album, The Formation Of Damnation, plus one the band’s oldest songs, "Over The Wall." Bassist Greg Christian’s classic intro solo to "Souls Of Black" was killer. "Into The Pit," off of The New Order, one of my favorite songs and with some of Chuck’s best vocals. "Electric Crown" and "Disciples Of The Watch" was particularly sick. The band wrapped up with three tunes "D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate)" and "3 Days In Darkness," off of The Gathering and ending the night with the title track from their last album, The Formation Of Damnation.
Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson were in fine form this night! Alex was wailing away and seemed to be getting some serious squeals/pinch harmonics from his Gibson Les Paul. As a guitarist, I really love what Alex Skolnick does on the guitar. It’s very hard to not like this metal guitar duo. Such emotion for such heaviness. Alex has been a guitar fave of mine forever it seems, and Eric Peterson (whom everyone says I look like, someone even asked if I was him at the show!) is the constant rhythmic hammer that keeps everything in order. He is the imperative, sturdy backdrop of canvas to showcase Skolnicks’ bright paints. It doesn’t get much better metal guitar wise!
Chuck Billy is a special metal singer, no doubt about it. No, he is no Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson or Ronnie James Dio. Chuck sings in a much lower octave range than those guys, but Chuck does have equally great singing skills and creativity when it comes to providing lyrics and melodies for songs. That is one of Testament’s high points. Yes, his voice is growl-y a lot of the time, but he still writes where there are actual musical notes to hit and difficult melodies to achieve. In other words, it’s not noise and ‘cookie monster’ vocals all the time like waaaay too many bands do now, but carefully planned singing. It’s a lot more challenging than screaming nonstop. That’s one thing I always admired about Chuck. He put the work in to do it right. Such heavy music with really intelligent, meaningful vocals. Chuck can go from a relaxing beautiful drawn out clean note to a seriously brutal growl in no time. Chuck Billy’s growls are unholy. The lyrics are great too. Chuck is The Man in my opinion, and a big time vocal influence to me, not to mention a good, friendly guy!And he always sounds good in concert. Bassist Greg Christian is always right on the money as well. I talked to Greg before the show for about 10 minutes. He is a super nice guy. Not the average “holier than thou” attitudes that us lowly rock columnist usually get from the rockstars. Drumwise, the band has been touring with drummer Gene Hoglan since former drummer Paul Bostaph left the band in December. Gene is a drum god and can play anything. Testament didn’t miss a beat. Nuff said.
Testament sounded excellent as usual and didn’t look their age at all. They were like psyched little kids. They still felt the spark and haven’t lost the hunger. The out-of-control pit was going nuts for Testament, even on a Sunday night! People were pouring over the barricade one after the other. Those security guards were kept busy.
I was kinda bummed they didn’t play a few of my favorites, like "The Legacy," "Trial By Fire" and "Sins Of Omission."
I wish Testament could have gotten on the 2012 Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Slayer and Anthrax. What an added bonus that would have been! The band does have a new album coming out in April, called The Dark Roots Of Earth. I can’t wait to hear it. Some of the brand new tracks are "The Dark Roots Of The Earth," "True American Hate" and the first single, "Native Blood."
Anthrax – What’s weird is that I love Anthrax just as much as Testament. These guys are neck-and-neck as favorites! To me, these New York hardcore legends, particularly guitarist Scott Ian, invented moshing, and that crisp, tight, punchy, hardcore, mosh guitar sound. Then you have the vocals of Joey Belladonna. Another guy like Chuck Billy who has made a mark in metal history by being himself and being creative and not giving a flying farg whether you like his unusual vocal style or not. I’ve seen them twice since Joey got back with them, and both times were great. Death Angel and Testament got the crowd totally pumped up, so when Anthrax hit the stage it was mayhem.
Anthrax launched into songs like new tunes "Earth On Hell" and "Fight ‘Em ‘Till You Can’t," then they broke into their classic "Caught In A Mosh" off their Among The Living album. Ahhhhhh. The real Anthrax! As I said before, seeing Anthrax back together is like seeing an old dear friend after a long, long time! Anyone growing up in Eighties was bombarded with Anthrax, as if they were a disease or something! I was a fan from Fistful Of Metal. I remember spending my allowance buying it because the cover looked cool.
Then they rocked the popular Trust cover "Antisocial." The crowd was moving as they tore into another new one "The Devil You K," and a song that everyone loves, "Indians," with an extended and super-rocking wardance part. Because some people were not participating, guitarist Scot Ian stopped the show and would not continue any longer until everyone went crazy, which they did. "In The End" is a song dedicated to the late metal icons Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell. The new Anthrax rocks! Oldschool classic metal is alive and well with these unreal bands. Joey’s vocals on "In The End" are darn good. He has incredible stage stamina and range for an older guy. Both times I’ve seem him since returning he really did well. It shocked me to be honest. He has the goods now more than ever. I interviewed Joey during Christmas break and he was so cool. A pleasure to talk to. They then played "Got The Time" off Persistence Of Time, and an oldie that was requested by fill-in drummer Gene Hoglan, "Death Rider," from Fistful Of Metal, which totally shredded and got the fans of the older Anthrax stuff all worked up. It was fast and furious. Then they played one of my favorites, "Medusa." I love Joey’s vocals in this one and it might be my favorite vocal work by Joey. The soaring vocal highs mixed with the uber chunky guitars and heavy groove of "Medusa" made my day. Joey made that song his beeyatche! Nailed it like it was child’s play. Good ole Joey. Joey remarked that this was the coolest Flea Market in the world. Ha! And he was happy with the turnout on a Sunday night! He was like "YEEEEAH!"
Then they played the title track of Among The Living, complete with the cool, spooky, clean guitar intro. Then the show was over. Um…NOT!
The band played an all-out powerhouse and barnburner of a closing triple encore: "Madhouse." which soooo rocked, "Metal Thrashing Mad" and last but not least, the classic "I Am The Law." The packed crowd at Expo 5 friggin loved it. Anthrax was tight, youthful, entertaining and played quite well considering Scott was ill and Gene was thrown in at the last minute. I didn’t hear one mess-up, but a few parts were particularly thrashy in that Gene Hoglan double bass sort of way! Like an Anthrax cranked up on Meth or something! That’s a good thing, though.
Guitarists Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano work well together and I am happy with Dan Spitz’s replacement, although I was a tad skeptical before first hearing Caggiano a few years back. I love Scott Ian’s crunchy guitar tone and powerhouse rhythms. Such powerful memorable groove! What kind of amp is that man using? Enquiring minds want to know. I got to get one of those! Bassist Frank Bello always sounds good and has magnificent bass tone, too. Pounding! You couldn’t hear Frank’s backup vocals that well, though, they should have turned that chit up! Drummer Gene Hoglan tore it up and did a fantastic job of filling in for Anthrax’s Charlie Benante in a time of need. Now that is a good friend. I imagine it was rough to play drums to two long sets of super-shredding metal back-to-back for a guy in his late forties. I guarantee Gene has been sore as heck since he started doing double duty! Strong man!
Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante (who is wicked on drums) left the tour to be with his terminally ill mother. Right on, brother! We don’t blame you there one bit. In fact, we fans wish you our deepest sympathies during this difficult time in your family. God bless the Benante Family. Take all the time you need dude, your fans will be here when you are ready, however long it takes!
Metal is definitely alive. These three bands proved that without a doubt. Expo 5 sold out, I’m thinking. If not it was right on the cusp of selling out. That place was jammed and hot as hell. I saw so many people I know it was ridiculous. Lots of good friends. Overflowing with cool people who love metal music. I saw friends from all over the region there. Many drove a good distance to see this show! Getting to the toilet was a fargin epic journey though, and god help you if you had to pee bad. Louie The Local Guy stated "From the pit….it was one of the largest and most intense pits I have been in a while….surpasses Hatebreed, Five Finger, Clutch, Asking Alexa , All That Remains, Disturbed, Korn, …..going back almost a year including Lou, Indy, Nash, and Cinci." Another big fan, Mark Doss, who was in the pit, said "there were NO slamdancin’ spin kickin’, douchebags there to ruin a good ole fashion moshpit. That is what a true pit should be at any metal show." It was a helluva time all around.
Total props and much thanks to: the good people at Expo 5 (especially the super-cool managers who always treat me well), the staff and security there too – good job! The band’s label and indispensable PR people, Maria, Julie and Brian. Keep up the excellent work:)
And last but not least, thanks to promoter Terry Harper for giving Louevil one of the baddest MF’ing shows we’ve had in a long while. Dude is the Heavy Metal Savior of this Region. Without him we would be screwed.
I hope you peeps enjoy the pictures that my buddy Chuck Skibo took! Check them out, they are cool.
On a local note: I saw a few songs on the second stage by regional rockers Maltese Cross and The Stonecutters and both bands were rockin’. Soundguy Brian Daniels is the man! He ran sound for my band Krosjoint a few months back when we opened for Down, and he is one of the best in town for sure. Brian knows that PA well and had The Stonecutters sounding absolutely thunderous. I was digging it. They have never sounded better with guitarist Chris Leffler on board now! Overload played too, and I heard they rocked, but I didn’t get a chance to see them. These local bands playing on these big bills like this are very cool. I had a blast playing on the Down bill. I hope Terry knows how much we appreciate him making it so that Louevil talent can be heard on a larger scale.