UNCOMFORTABLY LONG HUGS, VIVACIOUS PIZZA RECEPTACLES!
Was your week good? Did you make cookies with your spouse? Did you finally get that awkward chore out of the way that has been weighing on you greatly? Did you decide for the fifth occasion that it’s about time to get in shape for summer?
WELL TODAY IS ABOUT IT NOT BEING TO LATE TO GET THAT IMPORTANT THING DONE.
Be it that old, closureless relationship, or that new workout routine, “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today”! My thing as I mentioned last week was finally getting to see a large handful of bands which I may never have the opportunity to see again, and to be very forefront about how that show was, allow me to regale you to the best of my abilities.
TESTAMENT, BEHEMOTH, ANTHRAX, LAMB OF GOD, SLAYER:
As soon as we were through the gate, Testament’s backline was visibly present, clad with the “Brotherhood Of The Snake” banner separating the backstage from the front. I saw the ant-like hustle and bustle of stagehands and roadies pause momentarily as myself and the other first arrivals began to encroach upon the intermittent silence they’d had previously. I didn’t purchase a ticket for the separate overlooking bar as the rest of my companions had, I simply had my floor ticket, cut-off “Mental Funeral” shirt, earplugs, and my felt cowboy hat (many complements). The floor for the show was filled with mostly good folks with the fun exceptions of the few phalluswagons who thought that not only should they actually throw punches, smoke cigarettes, and get mad when someone bumped their five foot nothing girlfriend in the middle of the pit, but fortunately they were not the norm’.
Talk about not getting the recognition they deserve. Testament played about 6 songs, and none of them were incredibly long. Plenty of hits mind you, from “Disciples of the Watch” and “Into The Pit”, Chuck Billy didn’t look a day different than he did ten years ago, accompanied by having some of the best sound out of any act. The solos were screaming, and I don’t think any member missed a beat, especially not the absolute mountain of an individual they had playing drums for them, none other than Gene Hoglan. So yeah, Testament blew it out of the water, and had more energy overall than every other act. Alex Skolnick slaughtered every solo front to back, but died to some of the mixing. Each solo part was far more audibly noticable than the non-solo sections. The performance was sublime and if I had any comments, it would be that for the size of those bands I would have someone on the soundboard who knew how to god damn mix. Testament is still an absolute monster thrash band, unshifted and unphased by time.
Not. One. Corpsepaint.
I expected at least a few people to be wearing the black metal paint and garb of the tribe, but what I saw moreover was Slayer shirts bought that day, or an amount of fabric that vaguely resembled almost being a shirt (it was hot out, so whateve’s). The other side being that as a whole, I would give Behemoth the best overall sound. They were phenomenally well mixed, easily the best. Also fraught with “the hits”, Behemoth had both incredible stage presence, and a solid setlist. Most songs came from albums from 2007 and onward, showing their knowledge that changes in their sound have lead to the audience they now have. You can’t always go full Darkthrone “Transylvanian Hunger” all the time, but Behemoth has evolved their tone into a more “encompassing” sound, basically says “Hey, we do fast and evil, but we also do big and symphonic”. Surprisingly, whilst being supported by thrash-galore, Behemoth did not feel out of place, and nary a corner did they cut.
Something to be said for someone who can throw up before every set and still get a couple thousand people to scream “Cry for the indians!” at the top of their lungs. Joey Belladonna could honestly need to smoke ten cigarettes, two joints, rip a line of coke, do a whippet, and smash ten shots, and I wouldn’t have it in my bones to judge him, so getting a little nervous (even as a metal god) before all those eyes and faces seems legitimate to me. Seeing Scott Ian play songs that little 12 year-old Bear screamed out before his voice-cracked was almost surreal. They didn’t have a substitute legend like Mr. Hoglan, but they didn’t need it. They needed a substitute sound tech. As a matter a fact, if anything could have been done to better all the acts as a whole, it would have been to strangle the sound crew. How do you go this far as bands and not have the most nailed-down sound quality in an indoor venue? I have mixed a singular album in my time, and with that teensy, tiny modicum of experience, I’m presumptuously certain that assorted bugs crawling across the soundboard would have done a better job. I’ll put it this way, hearing Scott and Joey was great, but they were who you heard, and that was Anthrax in their entirety.
LAMB OF GOD:
Randy Blythe is a guy. I get that he had a sad occurrence in Europe and it lead to getting arrested for something that (at least in my opinion) was far outside his power, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT EVERY TIME SOMEONE GOES DOWN IN THE PIT YOU STOP EVERYTHING. WE’VE DONE THIS BEFORE TOO. WE’LL GET ‘EM UP AND OUT. This was the point in the evening where all the dudes who reached twenty and chose to be shitty forever as a whole personality began crawling out of the woodwork. Aside from the “I’m here to look at girls and the floor” archetype, I met one that was at least unique to my experience thus far, and I would call them the “Give Up”. The G-U occurs as a style when a gentleman generally pushing out of his thirties doesn’t even change out of his oil-covered mechanic suit, and forgoes any thought of personal hygiene around hundreds of other people. I suppose (if nothing else) it definitely makes people not want to be within 15 feet of you and your “brand”, WHICH ISN’T POSSIBLE WHEN YOUR ERRONEOUS REDNECK ASS KEEPS TRYING TO SQUEEZE THROUGH A MASS OF PEOPLE WITH LESS THAN A MILLIMETRE BETWEEN THEM.
Lamb of God had great mixing, too long of a set, too many breaks, and reminded me of getting into juvenile scuffs as a tween.
You know, I really, really, really thought that this would be nothing but sung praises and glass raises, but Slayer suffered from the same problem that every one of the other real thrash bands suffered from, and that was that the sound tech could not mix them worth a damn. You could hear Kerry King. That’s it. Tom’s bass came through when everyone else stopped playing, and you might have been lucky enough to catch an audible note out of Gary Holt, that is if you were standing directly in front of him with no ear protection. The most confusing aspect of the whole show happened during the first Slayer song as well. They began by playing the title track song off their most recent offering (“Repentless”, 2017), which begins with Arya screaming like he’s been stabbed. Hearing it on the album was like hearing proof that Slayer still didn’t give a fuck and were here to kill posers,
. . .at least that’s how it starts on the album.
He sung the first few lines with about as much balls as post-op Jenner. Disappointing. If you are going to headline after TESTAMENT, and ANTHRAX, and you come through the gates with a gentle hello, you can get bent. It was like every person in the crowd who had been yelling
might as well have just been saying it with their inside voice. As far as a stage show goes, and the intensity behind it, they were absolutely crushing. I do admit that many of my musical grievances are not things that many non-musicians would pay much mind too, and there is the overshadowing fact that one shouldn’t expect an exact replication of what was recorded for a studio album when it’s played in a live setting. They played backwards chronologically through albums, represented by giant back banners which covered the entirety of the stage. During the final song on whichever album they were playing, they would go absolutely ham on the pyrotechnics, and then on the final note, drop all the lights in the venue, leaving a glow-paint ghost imagine of the album cover. This haunting canvas would waiver for a few moments before quickly being followed by its descent to the floor, revealing a new banner with the art work of the album which came before it.
Suffice it to say, as a whole, it was a hell of a show, and as I’ve heard various levels of love and hate from my friends in attendance, I am willing to set aside my own constant nit-picking and give an overall assessment.
DEAR SLAYER’S “FINAL TOUR”,
You guys are insane. Across the board. Even attempting to replicate an ideal tone for any of the bands on this tour that are similar has got to be a hell of an undertaking. Trying to give Slayer the range of tones they’ve had across all those albums, you had literally zero chance without better back-lining. The amount of work that has to go into the stage show is even less than that of Lamb Of God and it blows my mind that more time wasn’t spend on the sound engineering at a GOD DAMN CONCERT. I saw everyone come out and get all the tuning and tones done, and even have time to mess around while tuning one of Gary Holt’s guitars, which is pretty fucking amazing that he had time to do that, but not one of them had time to see if the levels between Holt and King’s guitars were fucked? ‘Cause they were. The whole time. Did you just decided once they started playing your job was over? It’s their job to play the music, it’s yours to mix it correctly.
– Someone who listened during each set.
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