TESTAMENT. EXODUS. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Titans of metal who, along with OVERKILL belong on the Mount Rushmore of Thrash, and that is NOT up for debate. Last week during The Maestro’s 42nd Birthday Extravaganza, and two days after KAMELOT and DRAGONFORCE (show #4 in seven days, btw) at The Trocadero I was once again back in Philly at, you guessed it…The Troc for TESTAMENT and EXODUS on The Dark Roots of Thrash II Tour. There are a couple of things that made this night special. First of all, the staff. Bartenders Jenny and Bob have to be two of the warmest, friendliest people ever to pour a drink. Their smiles are engaging and they look like they’re having fun back there. I made sure to tell them I would be singing their praises in my review. Loren who handles the crowd outside along with running a lot of events there couldn’t have been nicer, either. He keeps people in line, but does it with a smile.
Secondly, let’s talk about the set choices. TESTAMENT was to perform all the cuts off of The Legacy, seven songs from The New Order (best album, hands down!), and “Practice What You Preach” a song that never fails to rile me up and make me want to lift cars. EXODUS did a mixed bag of old and new over twelve fearsome tracks that we’ll analyze in a moment. Now, as far as openers SHATTERED SUN go, let me just say that I wasn’t really a fan when I got their EP last year. However, live they are a whole different animal. These Texas kids had the really hard job of warming up a crowd that didn’t know them from a hole in the wall, and they more than stepped up and proved themselves worthy of sharing the stage with two giants. So much so that I hope to receive their debut album Hope Within Hatred soon. Congrats guys, you made a fan out of me!
EXODUS came out and absolutely beat the living shit out of everyone in the place, starting with a pair of new ones “Black 13” and title track from latest album Blood In, Blood Out which I still maintain is their best work yet. My buddy Jimmy the Beer Man and I were in the perfect spot to soak it all in and damn if Jimmy didn’t have horns raised their whole set. “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God” followed before we hit fifth gear on the Way Back Machine with “A Lesson in Violence” and then new tune “Salt the Wound”. Singer Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza looked like a kid in a candy store as he took in the sight of a house packed with metalheads. He also made sure to remind everyone in the pit, “When someone goes down, you pick ‘em back up! We’re all friends here!” And on the subject of pits, I haven’t seen them that intense since DECAPITATED last fall in Dallas. Bodies everywhere!
Fabulous Disaster made its first appearance with “The Last Act of Defiance” followed by “Blacklist” off of my other favorite album 2004’s Tempo of the Damned. “Bonded By Blood” practically tore the roof off the joint as did “War Is My Shepherd” also from Tempo. Soon everyone was doing “The Toxic Waltz” before one final “Strike of the Beast” left The Trocadero crowd sucking wind. Our respite was to be short-lived, however because…
…TESTAMENT came to town to fuck shit up! “Over the Wall”, “The Haunting”, “Burnt Offerings” and “Raging Waters” hit like a quadruple punch combination to the body, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick ripping through riffs and leads with gusto, Chuck Billy’s made for thrash vocals slaying on “The Preacher” next.
“Do Or Die” definitely had one of the fiercest pits going, the severity of which bled over into “First Strike Is Deadly”. Two more from The Legacy rolled out with “A Day of Reckoning” and “Apocalyptic City” and then it was time…time for The Maestro to be in his fucking glory. The New Order had begun…
The familiar intro to “Eerie Inhabitants” started and I pretty much screamed myself raw by the time “The New Order” began. Jimmy was also rocking his ass off; how could you not? The double whammy of “Trial By Fire” and “Into the Pit” resumed the pummeling, and before long it was back to the debut for “Alone In the Dark” featuring one of TESTAMENT’S most melodic vocal lines ever and “C.O.T.L.O.D.” one of my favorites since 1988 when I first got into the band.
For the encores it was, like I mentioned, “Practice What You Preach” and my numero uno classic “Disciples of the Watch”, THE greatest song this band has ever committed to tape. It is also THE highlight of their live show every fucking time I see them (seven times and counting!), and that’s simply never gonna change.
When the smoke cleared Jimmy and I were absolutely spent. Thursday Night Thrashing in Philly takes a lot out of a couple of elder statesmen like us. But man, did we have a night for the ages. TESTAMENT and EXODUS, like fine wine, only get better with age, and as long as they keep touring I will be there, horns raised and screaming my balls off!! If you missed this tour shame, shame, shame.
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: BRIAN MATUS PHOTOGRAPHY