Recently Testament’s original lineup reformed and got back on the road. October first was one of those dates, one of the last two for this year. I am glad to have gotten the opportunity to see these guys up close doing what they do best, turning out some great metal.
The night started when I arrived at the The Chance Theater around 8:30, there was a small line filing in. I got inside and found a good place to watch the show from. That’s not hard to do as the club is small and wherever you are you can get a good view of the stage. I sat there chatting with friends until the lights went out signaling the show was about to start.
The first band hit the stage at 9:00. They were the metal act Downfire. They were pretty good, delivering a tight sound with good chunky riffs and good singing. They played for about half an hour, getting the crowd warmed up for the rest of the night. I had never seen these guys before, but would definitely be interested in seeing them again. The music wasn’t terribly original, but they did it well. The only real problem they had
Next up was Eradicate. Not a terribly good performance. It was announced early on that they used to be a 5 piece that was being re-invented as a trio. I can’t help but think, and hope, that they were better with those extra two members. The music, frankly, was not all that good. Fast guitars, thunderous drums, and screamed vocals do not good metal make. I was actually bored during their 30 minutes of stage time, I couldn’t wait for the set to end. Thankfully it did, now I would like to put it behind me.
10:30 rolled around and the finally warm up act started their set. This band has been on the circuit for a long time, and doing a good job of it. Unbalanced took the stage and tore it up. This wasn’t one of their best performances, the singer’s voice seemed to be a bit off, as if he may have had a sore throat going in. Still, that wasn’t too bad and the rest of their performance was excellent. They turn out some fine hardcore metal. Did a good job of getting the crowd going too, the pit was nuts, bodies flying everywhere, bouncing off of the railing surrounding the pit. Now we were ready.
The time was 11:45, the curtain was lowered almost all the way, smoke machine working hard filling the club with a cloud of the stuff. The curtain went up and we came face to face with the mighty Testament. This was the first time, in a long time, that this lineup has been touring together, but this is the first time I have seen them. I cannot claim to be a big fan of Testament, but a few of their albums have stuck around in my collection, most notably Practice What You Preach and Souls of Black. Since this was the original lineup, we did not get any of the newer stuff, so no “Low,” “Dog Faced Gods,” or “Demonic Refusal.” Everything they played was from that early era. They proved they could still bring it with a vengeance. They have not missed a beat. Heavy, loud, fast, it was all there. I didn’t recognize a few of the early songs, but we got “Electric Crown,” “Practice What You Preach,” “The Legacy,” “Souls of Black” and “Into the Pit.” Alex Skolnick showed just why he is considered a great guitar player. He was up there making it all look so easy, shredding solos and lead breaks, dual riffing with Eric Peterson, great stuff. Louis Clemente holding court over the drum kit, while Greg Christian keeping the bass low and solid, displaying a great degree of shyness when Chuck tried to get him to talk on mic. Finally, there is Chuck Billy, an absolute mountain of a man, with a voice to match. At one point, he asked if anyone had a joint he could have, to which someone threw one up there for him. The set came to a close with “Alone in the Dark” and “Over the Wall.” During that last song, Chuck invited those in the pit up onstage to do a little stage diving, which they were more than happy to oblige. One guy got up there and did a flip back into the crowd, only problem was, there was no one there to catch him! He repeated this another 2 or 3 teams. All the while, Testament was tearing it up on stage.
After that, they left the stage, lit up the aforementioned joint and returned to the stage, claiming the joint was a stunt joint that was planted with a guy in the front row. They then went on to give a two song encore. They led of with “Raging Waters” and closed the show “Disciples of the Watch.”
They are a great live band. It is great to see these old school metal acts still taking their show on the road, keeping the soul of real metal alive. Even more encouraging is the fact that there are still lots of people who go out and support the metal, spreading the love. If you get to see these guys, go see them. Keep metal alive!