Anthrax and Testament Close Out National Metal Day in Thrashing Fashion
While the stacked lineup of Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel could probably serve as the poster children for National Metal Day, it was pure serendipity that the thrash masters pulled into The Palladium in Worcester, Mass., on 11/11/11, a day they helped forge.
Death Angel hit the stage as fans were still filing in, setting the tone for the evening with a set of face melting metal.
Testament was up next, they’ve stuck to a pretty standard set list throughout this tour of classics mixed with songs from their last album, 2008’s ‘The Formation of Damnation,’ which also marked the return of original guitarist Alex Skolnick. They opened their set with ‘The Preacher,’ from 1988’s ‘The New Order' and the crowd immediately went into a metal induced frenzy. Deviled horned hands raised high hoisting sweaty metal bodies through the crowd and over the barrier to an encouraging Chuck Billy.
Billy, their fearless leader, played a lot of air guitar on his microphone, which in unrelated news, lit up in every color of the rainbow throughout their set. His intense shredding made me think he was actually playing guitar a time or two, that’s how good he was. However, all that air guitaring didn’t really compare to the real shredding guitar duo of Skolnick and Eric Peterson who took center stage a time or two to give their riffage some due credit.
Considering Testament have been churning out some of thrash metal’s best offerings since 1987, you’d never know it by the youthful energy they displayed onstage and the age range of the audience. In fact, there was a young boy holding court in the front row of the pit who couldn’t be older than ten. Metal is the true gift that keeps on giving, getting passed down from generation to generation.
Speaking of gifts that keep on giving, Anthrax took the stage with a vengeance and boy was it good to see Joey Belladonna back in front of the band. Belladonna and Anthrax released their album ‘Worship Music’ in September of this year, marking the band’s first release since 2003 and the return of Belladonna on vocals. The reunion was largely due in part to the ‘Big 4’ shows where Belladonna performed with Anthrax, and soon after he officially rejoined the band.
Anthrax came out of the gates with some ‘Worship Music’ in the form of ‘Earth on Hell’ followed by the song 'Fight 'Em Til You Can’t.’ Interestingly enough, the crowd seemed to be feasting as much on the new material as they did on the old, a true ‘testament’ if you will, to Anthrax and their ability to still connect with their genre at this point in their career.
Their set then broke into some old favorites with ‘Caught in a Mosh’ and ‘Antisocial.’ The band was bouncing off of the walls with as much energy as they’ve ever had -- stomping, jumping, raging -- perhaps that's just a fortunate side effect of playing metal for 30 years?
The set list focused mainly on Belladonna era tracks, old tunes melding perfectly with the new, and the crowd couldn’t get enough. ‘Worship Music’ was definitely on display, powering through the new album with tracks ‘I’m Alive,’ ‘The Devil You Know' and 'Hymn 1'/'In the End.’
During their encore, the band dug deep into their discography with 1987’s ‘Among the Living,’ 1985’s ‘Madhouse,’ along with one of the band’s funniest tunes, showing their ability to blend humor into metal, the rap-tastic ‘I’m the Man’ leading into a treat of the Sepultura cover ‘Refuse/Resist.’ All in all, the set list was meaty and covered a lot of ground.
Walking out of there, one thing was clear, metal is not just one day of the year for some people, it’s a complete lifestyle, and bands like Anthrax and Testament have helped pave the way.