While most of WARBRINGER‘s fans had yet to be conceived, these metal masters were carving up cities with sheer volume, speed ,and intensity establishing the blue print for countless imitators to follow, and now some 20 years later, little has changed with each band showing the up and comers how it’s done with a night of shredding thrash. To celebrate the 20 year anniversaries of two of the more important thrash records of the 90’s (arguably two of the best in metal/thrash ever in my humble opinion) SLAYER and MEGADETH would be performing the classic Seasons in the Abyss and Rust in Peace albums in their entirety, much to the delight of the fans who caught the bands on the Clash of the Titans Tour back in the day, as well as those who missed that historic tour.
As the sun went down, a decent crowd slowly filled in to witness the arrival of TESTAMENT, who got the evening off to an explosive start with “More than Meets the Eye” from their latest, The Formation of Damnation. As an opener, the band was given a limited of time (unfortunately, The Legacy or The New Order would not be getting the same treatment as the headliners). But they made the most of it, mixing up classics, “Into the Pit” and “Sins of Omission,” with the near-death metal stylings of “Dog Faced Gods” and “D.N.R.” before closing out with the title track of Formation delivering a short, but killer set to get the get crowd started.
Dave Mustaine immediately arrived after a short changeover to launch in to the scorching “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.” Seemingly effortless in their performance, the band delivered spot-on renditions of the entire album with drummer Shawn Drover and former JAG PANZER/NEVERMORE shredder Chris Broderick filling in admirably, almost as if they had played on the album all along. Dave Ellefson marked a welcome return with simple “Dawn Patrol,” which led into Drover‘s tom pounding of the rarely heard “Rust in Peace (Polaris).” The band could have left after that since they had just delivered a pyrotechnic display of technical speed metal that challenged any guitar virtuoso band in the world in terms of technicality, while still retaining that cutting thrash edge. Luckily for the crowd, MEGADETH offered up a mini encore featuring “Trust,” “Head Crusher (the sole new track from Endgame),” “A Tout Le Monde” before Ellefson unleashed that all too familiar bass line from “Peace Sells.” Normally after such a set, it would time to split, and what band would want to follow such a charged performance?
The band that inspired everyone from HATEBREED, WATAIN, PUBLIC ENEMY, as well as a countless glut of thrash, death, grind, black, and hardcore bands…the mighty SLAYER that’s who. Getting down to business, SLAYER delivered “World Painted Blood” and “Hate Worldwide” from their newest album, quickly clearing the new material out of the way so the fans could hear the coveted “old shit.” The blistering “War Ensemble” got the pit swirling with bodies and beer crashing in to one another with reckless abandon. I’ve always found it amusing how often any number of black metal, death metal, and hardcore bands desperately try to demand that fans “get a pit going” while SLAYER simply unleashes flurries of double bass, evil, sinister riffs and twisted bizarre guitar solos that their fans need no encouragement to cave each other skulls in. As a fan favorite, many of the Seasons in the Abyss tracks have never been performed numerous times, so it was great to catch the band whip out rarities such as “Expendable Youth,” the piercing “Hallowed Point,” and the plodding, possibly slowest song in their catalog “Skeletons of Society” – which while slow, rumbled through like a tank plowing through the crowd. The catchy, but little played “Temptation” also delivered, setting up the headripping “Born of Fire” and the ominous closing title track. For the encore we had “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood” and a classic from the first album, “Aggressive Perfector,” before “Angel of Death” did what is does, which is crush everything in sight. Hands down one of the best shows of the year thus far, and felt more like an event as opposed to “some bands playing.” Witnessing veterans who helped create a genre nail it in their prime is always rewarding, so if you haven’t already, get tickets ASAP and witness three headliners deliver at the height of their powers before time runs out.