» Blog Archive Thrash Titans Testament Bring Tour To NJ -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

DSC08324 (2)This year is quickly shaping up to be a year of thrash shows that are unbelievably stacked. We already went through Overkill and Nile, and we still have Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold this year, Slayer and Lamb of God, Megadeth and Meshuggah… There’s a lot coming out way and it’s only April. In midst of this, Testament and Sepultura have teamed up for a run across the states in support of Brotherhood of the Snake, an album that I enjoyed and, them being Testament, surely meant great things were in store, right? Especially with Sepultura opening, this hardly seemed like a show to pass up on.

Explaining my relationship with both bands, I came across them around the same time. 8th grade thrash metal phase obviously lead me to them, but Practice What You Preach and Souls of Black really stuck out to me. Alex Skolnick became a musical hero to me with him not being just a tremendous guitar player but also a formidable and talented jazz guitarist. Greg Christian handled the bass at the time of those albums how I was trying to play bass myself. Testament helped fuel the fire for me, which undoubtedly (Along with others) was a stepping stone to more sinister bands. To say I had some expectations for the band’s live act would be an understatement.

DSC08203 (2)Before we could get to that point, however, there were two bands leading up to Testament: both Prong and Sepultura had work to do. Prong were first up to bat, of which I really didn’t know what to expect. I heard them prior, with “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” being the lingering memory from 1994’s Cleansing. So imagine my surprise when Prong actually came out, guns blazing, and put on an incredibly enjoyable set. The groove-thrash band wasted very little time addressing the crowd and go straight forward into “Disbelief.”

It was soon after, in “Beg to Differ” that the set got incredibly interesting. Exchanging the fast paced opener for the mid-tempo follow up, lead vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor jumped from one of the stage risers and fell backwards into his own live rig, knocking over the amp head and his pedals placed back there in the process. As Victor and the techs scrambled to fix the damage that had just been done, bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Art Cruz broke the song down and kept the focus on them, transforming it into tasteful a bass and drum groove that fit into the song almost perfectly. Prong showed professionalism on all accounts, of which they automatically get a seal of approval from me.

DSC08258 (2)Sepultura followed up soon after, the room becoming remarkably more crowded. Give the band’s legacy and influential albums, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see everyone arrive for them. Sepultura took to the stage, ushering in music from Machine Messiah. “I Am the Enemy” and “Phantom Self” opened the set up at a high level, with strobe lights being a nearly blinding force on the stage. In particular in “Phantom Self,” the strobe lights became so overpowering that in mid photo I would end up looking away to shield my eyes.

That one massive takeaway, Sepultura managed to keep the momentum going, even if the crowd themselves were weak. Vocalist Derrick Green even took to an on-stage floor tom to contribute additional drum work, of which made the set memorable in seeing him change things up instead of just singing the entire time. The true star, however, is drummer Eloy Casagrande. Casagrande, out of any band I’ve seen recently, gave 110-percent throughout the entirety of the set, combining the precision of a professional musician with the primitive rage that comes with Sepultura. Quite honestly, while I enjoyed hearing “Refuse/Resist” and “Inner Self,” Casagrande’s drumming was where I was fixated for the entire set.

DSC08323 (2)Clearing the stage of Sepultura’s gear and props, Testament’s full live rig took to the front and, soon enough, after filling the room with smoke machines, the band took to the stage in dramatic fashion, various shades of green and purple lighting the room and adding an ominous atmosphere to the venue as they opened up with the title track from Brotherhood of the Snake. Owning the entire stage, with all members getting appropriate amount of time to shine, Testament were practically on fire as they got things rolling. Across 17 songs, firing on all cylinders, very few bands could consistently play at this momentum.

DSC08346 (2)If one had an idea in mind that Testament were a formidable, high-tier live act with a production to match the intensity of their musicians and were incredibly well rehearsed, you’d be far from wrong. Testament delivered in every way, and the crowd sprung to life once the first body was over the barrier. Well into their set, the band showed no signs of slowing down and still had the energy going from the beginning of their set, in particular when playing “First Strike Still Deadly” from The Legacy

Testament are still a novelty act and prove that just because a band is eleven albums into their career that you don’t have to slow down. They’re in great shape, their shows are well attended, and they deliver exponentially. Along with an appealing tour package of Sepultura and Prong, who proved to hold their own during the night, any thrash lover would have been right at home with on the Brotherhood of the Snake tour.

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