It has to be cool to be Anthrax right now because the band has clearly been riding a high for the last few months and was getting more attention than they had over the most recent years. The reunion with singer Joey Belladonna found the release of “Worship Music” as their next CD and the response to the album had been terrific. Many sources cited this as the best Metal album of the 2011 year in case you wondered. So after some amazing tours and that small, unknown and hardly discussed Big Four Tour, the band was doing a co-headlining run with the mighty Testament and bringing Death Angel along for the ride. I wasn’t going to miss a moment of this exciting event, and you can check out all the details and concert photos by scrolling past the logo below. Then I encourage you to scroll on down the blog posting to see some of the other items that caught my attention during the night.
Venue: Best Buy Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Testament & Death Angel
Label: Megaforce Records
I’m willing to bet good money on it having been a really exciting past few months for the guys in Anthrax because not only were they still riding high from the positive reception to their “Worship Music” CD; but they were also now on a headlining trek that immediately followed “The Big Four” event and delivering the Metal Justice with the incredible Testament. The bands had been referring to this as a co-headlining run but Anthrax appeared to be closing all of the shows. Generally with tours like this the bands will swap out on the headlining spot but I had not heard of this happening on this run of shows. Tonight was the final night of the North American Tour and what a way to close it out……being home in New York City. The gigs would be enhanced by the presence of Death Angel and I made sure to get to the Best Buy Theater nice and early to not miss a single note of this killer evening. Here is how it went down.
Death Angel: I had to say that I was really happy to find Death Angel on the bill with these other giants because they have been on a bit of a rise themselves since their “Relentless Retribution” album of 2010 and based on the reaction of the crowd when the band hit the stage, they were very much appreciated by this NYC audience. The band hit the stage like they were on fire. I liked that, and especially since they were the first of three groups. They had a lot to prove to this audience and then again they didn’t have much to prove as the consensus was high on their ass kicking abilities. Singer Mark Osegueda was a flurry of motion and bounded from left to right to left to right on the stage and all the while whipping his lengthy dreadlocks around as he head banged. There was not a lot of time wasted with banter and that was a good thing since the band only seemed to perform for about thirty minutes. Their seven song set featured “I Chose The Sky”, “Mistress Of Pain”, “Truce”, “Claws In So Deep”, “Buried Alive”, “The Ultra Violence”, and “Thrown To The Wolves”. Three of the tunes hailed from the bands most recent album and this is a high recommendation if you do not have it already. This all too brief set proved one thing in the eyes of the New York Metal Republic and that was that Death Angel is welcome back anytime and should visit us again with a headlining set. Now it was time to declare our Testament for Metal.
Testament: I don’t think I need to stress the power and importance that Testament holds in the minds of the Metal Legions of the world but if I do, their 2008 masterpiece “Formation Of Damnation” really planted the seeds of truth into the minds of any that might have been a non-believer in the bands abilities. Even the latter day Testament fans were floored by this monster album and since its release the band has been touring extensively on powerhouse bills with the likes of Slayer and Megadeth that would leave the fans breathless night after night. You saw Testament, and you always wanted more. With this in mind it was fantastic to have them back in New York City on this co-headlining bill. Tonight the band hit the stage in their usual fashion and that was pretty much like a hurricane that was trapped in a small space – as soon as their opening number “The Preacher” began; the floor of the venue started swirling about as the bodies became one mass of humanity. They were a tight machine for sure and a band that demonstrated just how good one can become in the live sense by doing this again and again and again. There was a difference in the lineup of course and that was with the presence of the mighty Gene Hoglan who was now on the drum chair in place of Paul Bostaph. Initially he would suffer and injury and need a stand in but soon after he opted to leave the band. Without meaning any offense to the talents that Paul brought to the band, I had to say that Hoglan was a step up and in the right direction for the overall power of the bands rhythm section. Moving on. As the band rumbled through number after number it was clear that the audience was just as excited for Testament as they were for Anthrax. Who could blame them with guys like their hulking singer Chuck Billy commanding the charge with his LED laden microphone holder. It was like watching the musician brandish a lightsaber as the Metal Forces rallied in front of him.
The bands set was a solid mix of their new and classic material. While three songs would come from the 2008 release they would not bypass their most popular tunes like “Over The Wall”, “Practice What You Preach” and “Disciples Of The Watch”. Through it all the tag-team guitar shredding of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson was without flaw. I love watching Skolnick do his thing on guitar and will make my statement about how I think he is one of the finest musicians in music today. Not only for Metal but for all the other accomplishments as well. I do hope he sticks with Testament and maybe even does some additional guest spots on other band recordings if possible. After the band finished I was drained and we were only 2/3’s done. Thank you Testament for remaining true to the genre and always delivering. If I could make one complaint it would be the omission of “Electric Crown” which I had seen on some of the other reported sets. It’s one of my favorite tunes so I kind of wanted to hear it. Oh well, you can’t always get what you want. Now, let there be Anthrax.
Anthrax: I’ve already said how cool it had to be to be Anthrax right now but tonight would also be a show that while exciting and a feather in their hometown cap, was also one that brought a lot of personal sadness with it. You see it was only a couple of days ago that Charlie Benante’s mother (and Frankie Bello’s aunt) had passed away after battling serious illness. It could not have been easy to get up on the stage for these two but in the spirit and memory of their loved one made sure to be there for their fans. After the intro of “Worship Music” the guys came out all guns a blazing and one could expect nothing less since this was home and the final night of the current North American tour. It was strange to hear “Earth On Hell” as the actual opener since the last time I saw them this closed out the set. I did love “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” which is one of my favorites from the new album. The driving tune is about killing zombies which is perfect for this “Walking Dead” world that we are in today. I’m speaking of course about the hit television show. “Caught In A Mosh” would be the first legacy song and the one that pushed the fans over the brink. I really wasn’t sure where they were all finding the energy as singer Joey Belladonna kept holding the microphone over their heads for additional screams and response. The crowd surfing was pretty awesome during the Testament set but I had to say that during the Anthrax set it was almost non-stop. “Antisocial” got its usual sing along intro with the fans and it’s pretty much become an Anthrax song at this point in Metal history even though it was written and performed originally by Trust. I do like how they do it so will not complain. “The Devil You Know” would be the last of the new numbers that they would deliver tonight and then it was a strict focus to their back catalog. Some of my friends complained about too much of the “same old set” being done when it comes to Anthrax and while I can agree in some sense about this, I can also see the bands point. They left out the song “Only” this time around and that was a John Bush era tune but they would do “Deathrider” which is a Neil Turbin era tune from way back in the day. I really enjoyed hearing this and don’t think I ever saw Anthrax do it.
Belladonna was having a blast and of course so was the rest of the gang. I love the expressions and into the music faces we get from guitarist Scott Ian. He has to be one of the happiest guys in the world up there by the looks of it. So the set really didn’t feature any additional way out of left field surprises but that is because Anthrax seems to be a band that does not want to sacrifice any of the staple numbers. I did love hearing “Medusa” again and “Madhouse” again but perhaps it’s time to put “I Am The Law” on the shelf for a little while along with any trace of “I’m The Man”. We did get a teaser taste of that song, but I don’t think that today’s Metal fans really care about that one at the end of the day. Bring back “Gung Ho” or “Stand Or Fall” if they think Joey still has the pipes for those throttling tunes. I would love to see that happening. There did seem to be some issues with the sound tonight because I watched from several different locations and felt that it was not evenly mixed. Friends at various spots in the room also said that while they were enjoying the gig that the sound was leaving them less than enthused.
So there you have it. The audience left the Best Buy Theater soaked to the bone and some of them were bruised but by their own adventuring. Everyone who performed delivered the best and it showed from the moment this show started. Next up Death Angel will join Sepultura on some dates while Testament will headline in other regions and Anthrax will be seen again as one of the main stage bands for the Rockstar Mayhem Fest with Slayer and Slipknot. Keep the Metal flags flying my friends, we shall see you in the trenches again soon.
Testament Set List:
1. The Preacher
2. The New Order
3. The Persecuted Won’t Forget
4. Practice What You Preach
5. Over The Wall
6. Souls Of Black
7. Into The Pit
8. Henchmen Ride
9. More Than Meets The Eye
10. Disciples Of The Watch
11. D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
12. 3 Days In Darkness
13. The Formation Of Damnation
Anthrax Set List:
1. Earth On Hell
2. Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t
3. Caught In A Mosh
5. Devil You Know
7. In The End
8. Got The Time
11. Among The Living
13. Metal Thrashing Mad
14. I’m The Man (Tease)
15. I Am The Law
As you all know the Best Buy Theater has an amazing marquee that brightly broadcasts the evenings fun out to the wandering masses of Times Square. Well, at least I think you all know. Anyway, here is the visual for tonight’s show and since this was a co-headlining event it was slightly different from the ones I had seen before. Take a look.
Lucky me that they swapped the name for an instance to reflect the Mighty Testament. Remember this was considered a co-headlining run and hence the band deserved equal billing on the marquee.
Lucky for me, the wider visual on the amazing Best Buy Theater marquee allowed me to snare this next shot. I hated not being able to showcase the Death Angel guys in the same manner as the others but you take what you can get sometimes.
Moving down to the merchandise tables. Here is a visual of the cool Anthrax stuff that was available for sale. Lots of shirts and while I didn’t snap a photo of it, the new CD “Worship Music” was also there and for a super cheap price. Don’t have a copy yet? What? Some Metal head you are turning out to be.
Some of the fans in the front against the barricade were wearing these laminates. Apparently these were a part of the VIP meet and greet packages that was offered at the show. Considering many of the front folks had them on I will assume this also gave them an early entry to the show.
The Testament guys had an equal amount of tour shirts and stuff to spend your hard earned dollars on. Take a look.
Moving onto some visuals directly from the stage, I snared these next couple of photos for your perusal. I’ll start out with the drum kit being used by Death Angel.
For sure some pain was delivered on that kit we just presented but it would be nothing when compared to the damage that the one and only Gene Hoglan would do on his kit presented below. Gene recently came to the bands aid as fill in for a then injured Paul Bostaph. While I am sad to report that Bostaph has left the band one can only hope that Mean Gene chooses to remain on board.
Here’s a slight view from afar of the Anthrax stage setup. Nice new album graphics on either side and a monstrous Tama drum set for Charlie Benante to smash for the next hour or so.
Let’s get a closer look at the Tama kit. I am a former/sometimes drummer myself and really love a sweet looking kit. This is a cool one.
And lastly that pentagram element that they were also using on the stage.
Here’s a shot of some of the fans that had gathered at the barricade right near where I was standing as the show began. While they were all there for Anthrax, the shot was taken just as Testament was kicking their collective asses around.
I knew I would not have the time to grab a shot during Anthrax as too many bodies were going to fly so I did my little commercial break thing to make sure they knew what we were all about and here we see them in a modest, calm moment before Anthrax took to the stage. Nice folks the whole bunch of them. They help keep the Metal fires burning.
And now it was……
Oh yeah, I had a little fun with some of the “art projects” that I came home from the show with. Those are the photos that are something far beyond mortal ken (and not the one writing these words mind you). I decided to share them as some closing amusement.
And the “Sound Of White Noise” perhaps? Oh wait, wrong singer. Moving on.