The Dark Roots of Thrash II tour brought the colossal sounds of Testament and Exodus to enthusiastic fans at the Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI.
Opening the show were Shattered Sun hailing from Alice, Texas. In a blur of flying hair, the band cranked out a set of music that had elements of Unearth and All That Remains. While the lead was a little buried in the mix, the intricate melodic phrasing came through to highlight each song. The entire band was very animated, but Marcos Leal (vocals) and Joseph Guajardo (bass) stood out as they worked into a frenzy during each tune. The band did a nice job of getting the crowd ready for a great night of metal.
When you are at a metal show and the sound check of the kick drum causes your heart to palpitate, you know it will be loud and a hell of a lot of fun. The sound system at the Intersection was remarkable and Exodus was determined to put it through its paces. They started out with “Black 13” and “Blood In Blood Out” off the new album of the same title. As the tour name suggests, Exodus dug deep into their archive of thrash with iconic metal classics such as “Bonded In Blood,” “Last Act of Defiance,” and “A Lesson In Violence.”
The band was tight and aggressive, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted with blazing guitar solos and neck mangling riffs. The interaction of Lee Altus and Gary Holt showed that they really enjoyed jamming together and trading licks. Tom Hunting is a true master of metal drumming. Combined with Jack Gibson on bass, they pounded out each pit inducing rhythm with unparalleled precision. It was great to see Steve Sousa back in the band. He is an engaging frontman and made the Rob Dukes era tunes “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God” his own. He also thanked all the fans many times for their loyalty to the band. Exodus closed out their set with the mosh pit anthem “Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast.”
With a full blown stage backdrop and enough lighting gear to rival the sun, Testament harvested their roots of thrash for their devoted fans. While it has been nearly 30 years since The Legacy and New Order albums were released, the music was just as vital and powerful as ever before. The band sounds better than they have ever sounded.
Chuck Billy’s visual and aural presence was intense as the band kicked off with “Over The Wall,” “The Haunting,” and “Burnt Offerings.” Billy gotÂ into the music using hisÂ custom mic holder for some stellar air guitar. Testament are truly masters of compelling thrash riffs. This was most evident when they kicked into such songs as “First Strike Is Deadly”, “The New Order”, and the incendiary “Trail by Fire”.
The riff madness was fueled by the fantastic guitar playing of Eric Peterson. With Peterson keeping the song locked down, Alex Skolnick was free to solo with abandon and scream in delight with his guitar. Driving this thrashing freight train of metal was the drumming of Gene Hoglan and bass playing of Steve DiGiorgio. You could barely see Gene behind a wall of drums, but you could clearly hear him. DiGiorgio played an intriguing three string Thor bass guitar. While the guitar may have looked minimal, Steve put it to maximum use.
Testament wrapped up their main set with the epic thrashing masterpiece, “Into The Pit.” They came back to chants of “TESTAMENT!” with an extended encore that included a lighting quick version of “Curse of The Legions of Death” and a monstrously good rendition of “Disciples of the Watch” with the crowd screaming “OBEY!” This was a terrific way to end an outstanding show. Every band gave the audience an intense and intimate metal experience that will last a lifetime.