Testament/Death Angel - LIVE: The Egyptian Room, Indianapolis, IN 2012

USA 2012 Tour
January 29
Capacity 2,000

If a Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer lineup would be the most appealing live American thrash trio for genre neophytes, then surely Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel would be the ideal tour for those a bit more entrenched. Anthrax is the member of the Big Four that never seemed quite at place with those bigger acts, and Testament and Death Angel are two oft-suggested replacements for the New York act. Bringing them together for a U.S. tour – now deep into its second leg – is a true thrash fan's wet dream. Each band is armed with a singer whose sole job is to sing and work the crowd, which is something of a rarity in thrash, and each band's performance at the Indianapolis stop of the tour was nothing short of spectacular.

Death Angel kicked off the festivities with a tragically brief six-song set that focused primarily on recent material but reached into the archives for a ripping rendition of Mistress of Pain. Frontman Mark Osegueda was all over the stage, his meter-long dreadlocks swinging around with the force of a wind turbine, his gruff thrash vocal the perfect accompaniment to the lockstep riffage of his bandmates. Opener I Chose the Sky somehow managed to be even more furious than its already fantastic recorded version, and the intensity the band brought to that first song didn't relent for even a second during their half-hour performance. Death Angel left the stage far too quickly, but no head in the venue went unbanged by the end of their set.

After a quick changeover, Testament took the stage as the first half of a double headliner bill shared with Anthrax. A live Testament set is all about two things: Alex Skolnick's jaw-dropping virtuosity on lead guitar and Chuck Billy's unique and occasionally hilarious stage presence. At this gig, both are in top form, with Skolnick breezing through ridiculous solos and Billy commandeering a mic stand made out of an expensive lightsaber replica.

For various complicated reasons, Testament actually plays a longer set than Anthrax, and they keep the momentum high throughout, hitting all phases of their career. The highlight was Electric Crown, the best cut on the grossly underrated The Ritual record. That song was somewhat of an anomaly in a set dominated by material from The Legacy and The Formation of Damnation, the band's best-loved and most recent albums, respectively. Much of the crowd spent the time after the performance musing on the fact that Anthrax would almost certainly be unable to follow that, so yes, it was a pretty excellent performance.

Anthrax played with Charlie Benante out with a death in the family and Scott Ian out with illness, with Testament's Gene Hoglan filling in for the former and the Death Angel guitarists filling in with the latter, but they still managed to show why they were last on the bill. With a set that focused heavily on the LP that marked frontman Joey Belladonna's return to the band, Worship Music, they successfully reaffirmed their very deserving status in the Big Four. New tracks like Fight 'em 'til You Can't and Earth On Hell stood up brilliantly next to classics like Medusa and Caught In A Mosh, and for a band who on that night faced as much adversity as any band I've seen live, their positivity was infectious.

Anthrax always set themselves apart from their thrash brethren by writing the biggest hooks and having the most ebullient approach to their craft. This shone brilliantly in an early candidate for the best hour of live metal of 2012.

“ no head in the venue went unbanged ”

Death Angel Setlist: I Chose The Sky / Mistress of Pain / Truce / Claws In So Deep / Buried Alive / Thrown To The Wolves

Testament Setlist: The Preacher / The New Order / The Persecuted Won't Forget / Practice What You Preach / Over The Wall / Souls of Black / Into The Pit / Electric Crown / Henchmen Ride / More Than Meets The Eye / D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate) / 3 Days In Darkness / Disciples Of The Watch

Anthrax Setlist: Earth On Hell / Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't / Caught In A Mosh / Antisocial / The Devil You Know / Indians / In The End / Got The Time / Medusa // Madhouse / Metal Thrashing Mad / I Am The Law

Photo(s): Brad Sanders

Written by Brad Sanders
More: 2012, Gigs, Thrash Metal, ,

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