Anthrax, Testament & Death Angel Light Up The Palladium
Band Photo: Testament (?)
It was Veteran's Day, Friday, November 11, 2011 and a perfect fall day in New England. As if by fate, it was also National Metal Day. It started with Black Sabbath making it's return official - they wouldn't just reform, but create a new album and tour. The icing on this cake was the arrival of one of the most prolific tours that thrash metal could ever assemble: Death Angel, Testament and Anthrax. That is a staggering 84 years of combined metal experience in the building. This was three bands that defined a genre and still to this day put out material that is as relevant as the classics we all know them for.
The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts is a perfect place for an event like this, a haunted theater turned music club. The crowds come from all over New England and they are a knowledgeable metal crowd too. You don't get a lot of punks or wannabees or curious fake metal types. These crowds can rival those in European clubs, making this a location one that most bands play when in the area. Imagine an old style theater with the levels still there but seats removed, the rails of each level still present dividing the crowd. For shows of this caliber, the club opens the balcony section, which does have seating, however beaten and torn those seats may be. The view from this area is a unique one, providing a respite for those beaten in the pit and metalheads who are "heightenly challenged." The club had its years where it banned moshing, but fortunately they eased up and now really allow the crowd to be themselves within the realm of safety and the security team doesn't seem overly dickish.
Death Angel was first up. The San Francisco quintet was more than just your mere warm up act. This is the band who created one of the most iconic and classic thrash metal albums of all time "The Ultra Violence." It was nice to see the crowd in full swing from the start with the pit swirling as the boys erupted into "Choose the Sky" followed up with "Evil Priest."
The unfortunate side effect of playing first at a show like this is that Death Angel's sound was muddied up a bit and the band's ability to move around was strained a by Testament's gear. In any event, they played around 40 minutes of brutality adding new tracks like "Relentless Revolution" and "Claws So Deep"with the older, albeit abbreviated, "The Ultra Violence" and "Seemingly Endless Time." A worthy "warm up" indeed.
The band of the night, Testament, was up next. I have had the pleasure of seeing Testament on grandeur stages than The Palladium, but after this performance, there is no question that Testament are best seen in the more intimate club settings. For one, Chuck Billy is a beast both vocally and physically. He is a frontman the size of the band and he commands respect and his presence demands a lively crowd response.
The band went on to play a punishing set, knowing exactly what the crowd wanted to hear on this night of all nights, starting off with "Preacher" and following up with "New World Order." Fortunately for your author, Testament granted times of much needed rest from the relentless attack by mixing in "Envy Life" and "Electric Crown" in between favorites "Over the Wall" and "Into the Pit." The 1.5 hours of straight full non-stop neck snapping glory can only bring yours truly a week of pain felt after seemingly surviving a five car pile up.
The sound was perfect, with Gene Hoglan's brilliant drumming shaking the ground and reverberating directly to my black metal heart. Chuck broke out the neon glowstick half mike stand for playing of "D.N.R." and the band wrapped up an amazing the set with "3 Days of Darkness" and an all time classic "Disciples of the Watch." The crowd was whipped into a fury, most looking brutalized as the band sounded its final note and signed off. It was a majestic form of classic thrash that was as much beautiful as it was brutal.
Anthrax took the stage as the night's headliner, knowing full well that any one of these three could have headlined this event. For this portion of the show, I took to the balcony to rest a broken body and witness one of metal's best drummers Charlie Benante with no obstructions. With Joey Belladonna back at the helm, the band seemed more invigorated than ever. Even though I am not a huge fan of Belladonna, he seems like a really nice guy who truly cares about the fans and the fun they were having during the set.
Not surprising, the band's set consisted of new and old with a complete absence of the John Bush era material. Openers "Earth On Hell" and "Fight'Em 'Till You Can't" sounded excellent live. The rest of the set was an Anthrax greatest hits album with "Caught In A Mosh," "Indians," "Efilnikufesin," "Among the Living," and "Metal Thrashing Mad," providing the best representation of the band's strong catalog of thrash greatness. During the "war dance" portion of "Indians," Ian stopped the performance unsatisfied with the crowd and demanded that all people "whether you are 5 or 52" either headbang, mosh or scream. On the replay, the crowd rose to the demand.
Just before the final track, the band played an abreviated version of Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist" after first duping the crowd with the opening riff to "I'm The Man," as Belladonna stood behind Charlie Benante to "replace him" on drums. What Joey did do was provide the very cool tribal percussion sound from the Sepultura classic as Scott Ian sang vocals. The band then closed the night with "I Am The Law" leaving the crowed throughly satisfied at how this night turned out.
On this day, a special one for so many reasons, we celebrated those who served our country and gave us the ability to have a day like this. We celebrated the countless bands that laid the ground work for this musical movement that stands tall and is now memorialized with National Metal Day. We celebrated the band that started it all as they chose this day to reform and begin again. We stood as brothers united by the thing that brought us all here, the music that makes us strong. It was indeed a night to remember, National Metal Day.
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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