Recent Music Reviews
Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel: Round Two, Wish There Was A Round Three
So yeah, if you're keeping up, I just went to this same show a couple of months ago. And oh yeah, I would most certainly go again if I were able to. Pound for pound, this is the best metal package on tour right now. You have three classic thrash bands touring together and it doesn't get any better. Since, I believe, in the last review I gave a pretty good monologue about how I came to be a fan of Anthrax, I'm not going to bore y'all with that again. I think I'll revert back to my old method of just telling the narrative of the nights events.
My usual partner in crime Roger wasn't able to join us this time, but I had Blake and Laura with me. This was Laura's second concert, having joined us for the Judas Priest show last year. Meeting us at the venue were Mike and Brooke (yes the Mike from Final Curse.) For tonight's show we had to travel a little extra distance to go to The Orange Peel in Asheville. Hadn't been to this place in a while. Not since moving last June now that I think of it. Granted, it's only a couple hours away, but with gas prices skyrocketing the further the place, the less likely I'm going to want to drive. For this show, it was a cinch I was going. Laura met me at the house, and we made our way to pick up Blake, then we headed up the mountain.
For the record, it wasn't my fault that we took the wrong exit. That would be Blake with his, "Oh, I looked online I know it's this exit," bullshit. Of course, it was an easy fix, but still, not my damn fault for a change. We arrive at our pre-show destination...McDonald's, of course. But not your average, run-of-the-mill McDonald's, no! A fancy schmancy type with a piano. Of course Blake picks a table right next to the damn piano, and of course, it's not playing fine selections from Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. We did get a good laugh at "Desperado" followed by a very cheerful attempt at "Hotel California." Food eaten and time to spare, we make our way to The Orange Peel. At this point we learn that our usual parking lot is gone thanks to construction on a parking deck! We finally manage to find a suitable place to park, and prepare to make our way. Of course, as is customary, we get accosted by some drunk moron asking if we were going to see Anthrax. No idiot, I'm wearing an Anthrax t-shirt in the mountains in the winter time by sheer coincidence down the street on the same night that Anthrax are playing. Duh! He follows this with asking if we could spare a couple bucks so he can get a beer. I'm thinking, "Buddy, the last thing you need is another beer," but I'm ignoring him because I'm trying to load my back pocket up with paper strainers because yes ladies and gentlemen, your buddy is trying to piss tiny rocks out of his penis again. WOO HOO!! Drunken moron finally realizing he's talking to people broker than he (well, I had money, but I ain't sharing with a total stranger) and leaves us be, so we head on to the club.
After checking out the shirts and stuff, we stake claim on our small plot of land we're going to reside on for the night, and wait. I had texted Mike, but not heard anything from him. I had received an email from the club stating that the show would start earlier than planned, so we had made sure to adjust accordingly. We'd also heard that due to his Mom being very ill, Charlie Benante had left the tour (Anthrax drummer) to be with her. Right on schedule, Death Angel took the stage at 7:20 and it was on!
I like to cheat. Thanks to the site setlist.fhm, I always make sure I get a good feel for what the bands are playing if I can. Because of this luxury, I was able to learn that Death Angel had altered their setlist some. The crowd was pretty thick for this early on in the night, but there didn't seem to be any initial anticipation for Death Angel prior to them taking the stage. After their set was done, the crowd was chanting for more. They truly are an incredible band, and are the perfect opener for this tour. With fast paced songs and a high intensity approach, they really get the crowd fired up. As before the set was predominantly newer songs since they reunited, but they did toss in "Mistress of Pain" to satisfy this old school fan.
Next up was Testament. Prior to them taking the stage, Mike and Brooke managed to track us down. Mike and I shot the shit about the upcoming Final Curse CD I had just reviewed. I provided him a copy of it to read since he isn't on Facebook. He was pretty shocked I "got it" from a lyric stand point. He was very appreciative of everything I had said. Then we took our usual discussion to music and life in general. After a heated debate on the sad downfall of the once mighty Metallica, the lights went down, and Testament took the stage. This band are truly seasoned professionals. The musicianship is bar none. Alex Skolnick alone would be more than sufficient to cover the guitar chores, but then you toss in Eric Peterson and you have a guitar duo matched by none. On top of that you have the human drum machine Gene Hoglan filling in for an injured Paul Bostaph, and it's simply incomprehensible the level of metal musician prowess you have on one stage. They stayed fairly true to their original set from the last time, though they did some shuffling towards the end, and added another track. Due to Charlie having to leave the tour, Gene stepped up to fill in for Anthrax as well. You would think that he would've held back some during the Testament show, but he was on fire.
I remained fairly reserved for the show in comparison. With being not up to par lately because of the kidney stones, this was the first night I felt half way human. And basically, though I love Death Angel and Testament with all my heart, I was there for one band, and that band was Anthrax. Like I mentioned, with Charlie out and Gene in, I was kind of curious to hear what would happen. Benante's drum work, for me, is fairly integral to the band. His beats are the heart of the band. Not that I didn't think Hoglan wasn't up for it, just wasn't sure if the sound would be altered any. As soon as they tore into "Earth Is On Hell" I knew right away that this was going to be a different Anthrax show than I had ever seen before. Right off the bat the music was heavier than they usually are. Add that with the aggression and emotion I'm sure the band was feeling for their brother and what he was going through added to that aggression. I can't speak for the rest of the crowd, but the intensity and ferocity that they were putting out, I was giving right back! I've said it before, and I will say it again.I fucking love Anthrax!!! More so now that Joey is back with them. I can't praise the new album Worship Music enough. It's just phenomenal and gets better with every spin. The double shot of "The Devil You Know" and "Indians" was just about more than this old man could take. Mike being the young'un of the group, was trying to get me to war dance during "Indians." With my bad knees, I knew there was no way in hell I would be able to, so I banged my head furiously to make up for it. Paying for it today, but it was well worth it. Mike even got Laura banging her head, which brought much laughter to Blake and myself. Then we were blown away towards the end of their set when they said they were adding a song to the list by request of Gene. A song they hadn't played hardly at all in many many years. When they started playing "Deathrider" Mike and I looked at each other like we had just found a million dollars. It...was...AWESOME!!! But wait, just like the last time, they snuck in "Among the Living" which was even more incredible!! I'm not prepared to say that the show was better than the last, but it was definitely as good. Though I really am leaning towards it being better than the last. Just an incredible show all around.
Afterwards we decided to hang around in hopes of getting to meet some of the band members. We almost got to meet Gene and Greg Christian from Testament, but they didn't really hang out long by the bus. You would think that after playing two brutally heavy sets Hoglan would've been wiped out, but he looked like he had just woken up. This was proof enough why he was the only singular band member that was selling a shirt with only him on it. He truly is a machine! It was great hanging outside with Mike and Brooke, but it was cold, and getting pretty late. We bid a fond farewell and headed down the mountain. We stopped along the way to get something to drink, but what we found was a 24/7 Subway at a truck stop. I love their sandwiches, but at 2 in the morning, they don't settle so well on the tummy. However the Raspberry Cheesecake Cookies are better than sex. Sammiches eaten and Tom and Jerry watched, we got back in the car, and made the rest of the way back.
I cannot stress it enough: You have got to see this tour if it hits your area. I wish I could afford to hit the Atlanta show in a couple of days, because my happy ass would be right there, I assure you. It gets no better than this. Thanks to you, my faithful readers, for taking time out of their busy lives to read this stuff. You are the reason I write them. Until next time my peep's, always remember: Did I thank you for being the one I would bleed and kill for?