Chuck Billy of Testament

LIVE PHOTOS: Testament, Sepultura
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Review by Jeff Maki
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It’s been 30 years since the formation of Bay Area thrashers, Testament—30 years since it released its debut album, The Legacy. The band’s current label, Nuclear Blast Records,also is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. And let’s not forget the fantastic new album, The Brotherhood of the Snake (read review). It was the perfect storm for Testament—forever in the shadows of “The Big Four”—to showcase its own impressive discography and different eras of the band. After 30 years and thousands of live shows, this one could have been its last—it was that good!

Not only did the band look and sound great, but they were backed by a huge stage production with risers for the band members. The backdrop displayed the amazing artwork for The Brotherhood of the Snake. Several cuts from the new album were in the set, including “Brotherhood of the Snake,” “The Pale King” and “Seven Seals.”

This was a career-spanning set—which was acknowledged by vocalist Chuck Billy—that featured a few songs the band hadn’t played in years. Hearing songs like “Low” (Low, 1994) and “Electric Crown” (The Ritual, 1992), reminded me that even when the band’s popularity was waning in the early ’90s, it still wrote and released some great material. Other classics sounded just as you’d expect them—classic thrash metal with the hooks only Testament can provide.

Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, bassist Steve Di Giorgio and drummer Gene Hoglan round out the band’s lineup, which could be its strongest yet. Chuck bellowed out the growls and vocal hooks, and played air guitar on his mic stand, while Skolnick—a living guitar god—awed the crowd. I had a front row seat to witness Alex’s playing and soloing, while Chuck also visited my side of the stage frequently.

Seeing Testament absolutely kill it on stage reminded me why The New Order, Practice What You Preach and Souls of Black were favorite albums of my youth that I still listen to today.

Testament Setlist: “Brotherhood of the Snake,” “Rise Up,” “The Pale King,” “Centuries of Suffering,” “Electric Crown,” “Into the Pit,” “Low,” “Throne of Thorns,” “Stronghold,” “Eyes of Wrath,” “First Strike is Deadly,” “Urotsukidôji,” “Souls of Black,” “Seven Seals,” “The New Order,” (encore) “Practice What You Preach,” “Over the Wall”

Led by singer/guitarist Tommy Victor, Prong helped to open the show, with the three-piece putting on a compact, bare-bones set, which included a couple of the band’s staple songs, “Unconditional” and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” along with newer songs like “Turnover” (Ruining Lives, 2014) and “Sense of Ease” (XNo Absolutes, 2016). Prong is another band from my youth, and it was fun to see again (I saw Prong open for Soulfly years ago), yet I couldn’t help but think Victor basically is  opening for the same bands his band opened for 20 years ago. This is a pioneering and influential band, but aside from some big MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball/Beavis and Butthead exposure in the early ’90s, it just never got another break. However, it does show Victor’s undeniable dedication to the music and to Prong.

Derrick Green of Sepultura

Even though Derrick Green has fronted the Brazilian metal tribe Sepultura longer than original vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera, this was my first time seeing this lineup of the band. This incarnation—still featuring bassist Paulo Jr. and guitarist Andreas Kisser—has churned out some solid albums, particularly Kairos (2011) and The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (2013), yet it never has truly lived up to its  previous legacy and classic albums. Max has told me in interviews (read here) that it shouldn’t even carry on with the name “Sepultura” and it’s nothing more than a cover band. But you know what? That would be just fine, as Green led the band through the classics like “Inner Self,” “Desperate Cry,” “Refuse/Resist” and set-closer “Roots Bloody Roots.” Once again, I was brought back to my youth, and the intimidating Green did a formidable job on vocals. Kisser is another guitar god, and ever since the departure of the Cavalera brothers, he has taken over this band. Even here, on this night, he seemed to be the fans’ focus of attention.

Sepultura is touring in support of the release of its latest album, Machine Messiah (Nuclear Blast, January 13, 2017), and played “I am the Enemy,” “Phantom Self” and “Alethea” from the album.

LINKS:
http://www.testamentlegions.com
http://www.sepultura.com.br
http://prongmusic.com
http://www.nuclearblast.com

Jeff enjoys satanic death metal and may still be banned from Canada.

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