Written by Johnny H
Sunday, 26 July 2009 12:11
It’s taken me a total of something like 22 years to finally get to see Testament play a headline set in the UK. I’ve never really been able to understand why the band had been so elusive to me in the live environment, but one thing for sure. This time around with a support as cool as Bristol’s very own thrash titans Onslaught along for the ride and the US upstarts Warbringer I wasn’t going miss this chance of getting 'Into The Pit'.
The initial sound gremlins of clicking mics and vocal dropouts didn’t seem to bother Warbringer who had a huge circle pit going by the time I had managed to squeeze into my usual venue vantage point. Warbringer are all over the world right now supporting their new album 'Waking Into Nightmares', and by the amount of windmilling going on around me they are certainly making loads of new friends with their brand of combat thrash.
Onslaught shirts were everywhere and the largest hometown gig for 'The Metal Force' since they played the 'Colston Hall' venue just up the road, was being filmed for an upcoming documentary. But, as the band launched into a frenzied 'Killing Peace' the aforementioned sound gremlins were still wrecking havoc the mixing desk, and the sound until around mid set was flatter than Nicko McBrain’s nose.
But as classics like 'Flame of The Antichrist' and set closers 'Burn' and 'Power From Hell' showed this band are very much up for the task of keeping old school real in 2009.
As the crew unfurled the 'The Formation of Damnation', backdrops a large shout went up inside the venue and I got the old goosebumps, which is always a bit of special feeling. Given their legacy (excuse the pun) 'Testament' really shouldn’t be here, but it is attestation to the five guys on stage that the are delivering the goods harder and heavier than all but one of the so called 'Big Four' these days.
Out front making it all happen is the legendary Chuck Billy the Sadus shirt perma welded to his back, now as much a trademark as his titanic roaring voice. The beaming smile he carries during the likes of 'Over The Wall' and 'Practice What You Preach' speaks volumes for the guys unquestionable dedication to the cause.
Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson are the Downing and Tipton of the Bay Area generation, and their interplay on the likes of newer tracks like 'More Than Meets the Eye' (woah oh indeed) is simply staggering stuff.
The rhythm section of pencil thin bass demon Greg Christian (who looks like he really should be in The Black Crowes) and the ever awesome Paul Bostaph, were tighter than a gnats chuff on tracks like 'The New Order' and 'Souls of Black' and the previous sound gremlins had seemingly been caught and released into the crisp Bristol night air by the time the band tore through a blistering 'Burnt Offerings'.
Ending the nights proceedings with the most enthusiastic 'wall of death' I’ve seen indoors since the heady days of the late Eighties Testament’s set was over all too quick with the powerhouse thrashing of 'The Formation of Damnation', Chuck Billy promising that they will be back next year after the new record is released.
And as Mr Billy’s parting quote proudly stated “Heavy Metal Forever”.