May 6, 2015 Testament & Exodus conjure Metal fury The Paramount Huntington, NY 4-19-15 w/ Shattered Sun
Since the mid-eighties, Heavy Metal became a driving musical force that spurred the careers of huge names within the Metal genre, as well as music as a whole. With the resurgence of Heavy Metal back into the forefront of Rock, generations of Thrash Metal lovers have helped bring on some of the scene’s most epic tours in recent years, including the Big Four Tour in 2010, Overkill teaming up with Kreator in 2013, Slayer joining with Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies in 2014, as well as the Dark Roots of Thrash tour in 2013 with Exodus and Testament. Picking up the saga two years later, Testament brewed the Dark Roots of Thrash Tour II, with Exodus returning, along with newcomers Shattered Sun. Set for five weeks of pure annihilating Metal, the tour began on April 1st near Testament’s hometown and wound down at Carolina Rebellion May 3rd, but not before arriving at The Paramount in Huntington, NY on Sunday April 19th. Marking the tour’s second trip to The Paramount, the first being February 13, 2013, Long Island’s most dedicated Metal fans made the trip out to get caught in a mosh for the night.
Opening the show was Alice, Texas’ Shattered Sun. Joined up with Breaking Bands LLC, a company managed by Maria Ferrero (Adrenaline PR), Jonny Z (Megaforce Records) and Testament frontman Chuck Billy himself, Shattered Sun is signed to Victory Records and released their debut full-length album, Hope Within Hatred, as of April 21st. Originally formed in 2005, the band has been plugging away for years, configured with Joseph Guajardo on bass, Henry Garza on keys/vocals, Robert Garza on drums, Marcos Leal on lead vocals, along with Jessie Santos and Daniel Trejo on guitars. Playing a rapid-speed, twenty minute set, the band made the most of the time with a varied set including songs like album title track “Hope With Hatred,” “Awaken,” “The Ultimatum,” and “Waging War.” Bringing a refreshing Hardcore feel with the elements of Thrash, as well as Hard Rock, their sound made the set powerful and well worth watching. Be sure to check out this fast rising, diverse Metal act on Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival all Summer long.
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Next up was San Francisco Bay Thrash legends Exodus. Formed initially back in 1980 by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, along with Tim Agnello, drummer Tom Hunting, and bassist Carlton Melson, Exodus are one of the biggest names in Bay Area who gained popularity after the 1985 release Bonded By Blood. Sustaining a variety of lineup changes through the years, the band’s configuration all these years later features founding drummer Hunting, long-time guitarist Gary Holt, bassist Jack Gibson, Heathen’s Lee Altus on guitar, and making his return in 2014 on vocals Steve “Zetro” Souza. Armed with one of their highly rated albums in years with 2014’s Blood in, Blood Out, Exodus seem to be a band recharged for another decade of Thrash dominance.
Moving the evening right along, Exodus took the stage and opened up with “Black 13” before immediately charging into the album’s title track. Highlighting some of Zetro’s best vocal work in years, fans headbanged to the new tunes and took in the beating, asking for more. Going back to 2007, Zetro brought The Atrocity Exhibition… Exhibit A tracks “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God” new life as Holt and company sounded as tight as a band could. Continuing to provide spot- on vocals, Zetro ran across the stage rallying the crowd as he screamed choruses out and they played favorites like “A Lesson in Violence” and “The Last Act of Defiance.” Keeping the adrenaline pumping, the entire venue erupted as Exodus went into “Toxic Waltz,” a song retired from their setlist for a couple of years before making a welcomed return. Hoisting crowd surfers up, the mosh pit was full of old school thrashers running in a circle as if someone flushed a toilet. Closing out the night with 1985’s “Strike of the Beast”, Zetro’s stage presence was a force as he reiterated that, “This is for the old school.” Exodus still prove to be one of America’s Thrash Metal’s most important bands. Their performance set the bar high for the evening and left Testament with rabid fans waiting to see what they had to bring to the table.
The hour had come for the one and only Testament. Formed in 1983, originally under the name Legacy, Testament has been a powerhouse of Metal over the course of ten studio albums, dedicated touring, and a unique sound to that of any other band in the genre. Now, on this second incarnation of Dark Roots of Thrash Tour II, they set out to perform a set covering their first three albums; 1987′s The Legacy, 1988′s The New Order, and 1989′s Practice What You Preach. When asked by CrypticRock, Billy stated, “For us, I think that going back and revisiting the older songs will be great because we have not done some of those songs in such a long time. You get to relearn, refresh, and replay them; it takes you back in time and brings back great memories. It is fun and enjoyable.” Judging by the size of the audience at The Paramount, it was safe to say the enjoyment would be reciprocated by the fans as they waited for the band’s crew to prepare the stage.
Billy walked on with a microphone that looked closer to Darth Vader’s lightsaber than anything else. They immediately opened up with 1987’s “Over the Wall.” Billy echoed Zetro’s sentiments for focusing on the old school material, which the tour was highlighting. The entirety of their seventeen-song set was a hearkening back into memories past with “The Haunting,” “Burnt Offerings,” “Raging Waters,” “The Preacher,” and “First Strike Is Deadly,” just to name a few. Sounding like a well-oiled machine firing on all cylinders, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, along with drummer Gene Hoglan, as well as recently rejoining member Steve DiGiorgio on bass, had the floor rumbling. Their chemistry on the stage was nothing less than flawless and it was easy to see everyone mirrored the sentiment of Billy, that playing these oldies was a blast.
After several songs, Billy playfully called attention to the yellow-shirted security team that he sarcastically labeled the “pit police,” and told the crowd “Let them know who we are!” Moments later, he clutched the mic and yelled, “INTO THE PIT!” and within seconds a circle pit formed with moshing picking up a furious pace. Bodies were thrown on top of the crowd as they hurled themselves toward the stage. The song was non-stop havoc as the venue’s contracted security was literally bench pressing, bear-hugging, and catching people to prevent anyone from getting seriously injured. Directly following, the eerie favorite “Alone in the Dark,” was followed by “C.O.T.L.O.D.,” and “Practice What You Preach.” The finishing touch for the evening was 1988’s “Disciples of the Watch,” from the album inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984. Considering the current state of affairs with federal legislation by many Americans, it was a monumental way to end the show.
Dark Roots of Thrash Tour II was a chance to hear the Thrash classics that many younger, as well as older guard fans, only have a chance to listen to on their records, cassette, and CD players. It was a metaphorical equivalent of tasting vintage Scotch, because it only has grown in character with age and becomes more savory. While this tour may be over, Testament are in the process of completing their new album, and Billy told CrypticRock, “We are more than halfway done with the new songs, but we keep tweaking it. I think that when we all get together and play it, it will start molding into something workable, maybe even change a bit.” So prepare for the new Testament, it is bound to be one for the ages.