Saturday, August 28, 2010

American Carnage

What's this!? Two posts in one day!? Has the Jolly Metalhead gone mad!? It is quite possible as seeing the combined awesome of Testament, Megadeth and Slayer would have that effect on a person.

The show was held at the Dodge Theater, a place I normally associate with slightly upper class events and for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shows. Basically it's not a venue with metal's best interests in mind. The sound is actually really good. In fact I normally wear ear plugs to shows, but everything except for the double kick bass drums were drowned out. And you can't possibly block any sound of Megadeth or Slayer. I believe that's illegal in 47 states.

The main issue with the venue is the lack of proper standing space. Sure they quartered off a 3x3 space in the front but everything else is occupied by seating. Even though I'm not a moshing sort of guy; I prefer headbanging wildly and admiring the musicianship, there are plenty of people who want to mosh. And if it's at a Slayer show it's mandatory, much like suicide.

During the approximate one hour wait for Testament, the theater slowly filled up. War cries of Slayer were heard and echoed. I do feel that most metalheads are fairly intelligent and Slayer does have some poignant lyrical subject matters, it's just that at a show with Slayer tends to bring the level of intelligence down to pre-civilization levels. I'm really not disappointed by it, rather amused. Where else would you hear someone yell out the band of night and have it called back to them? It would never happen at a Britney Spears concert. Nor a Dave Mathews Band show. Not even an AC/DC show. Most metal shows will have the headliner's name chanted just before they take stage. With Slayer, it's heard constantly. From the moment you pull up to the venue. To the time you depart. It's a war cry. A rallying cry.

Testament put on a great show. This was my first time seeing them and admittedly I'm not totally familiar with their discography. Having only the Legacy and Souls of Black, great classic thrash albums in their own right, I didn't recognize most of their set. Regardless, they were tight and it definitely pushed me to get more of their albums rather than slack off on it. Even my girlfriend really got into them and she's determined now to get them.

Megadeth opened full force with Holy Wars and continued on with the Rust in Peace album. It's really, in my opinion, the best thrash metal album out there. Hell, it's easily in my top 5 of all time favorites for music in general. The odd thing about that album is the style was never really hinted at before and never fully replicated afterward. It was an extremely creative time in Mustaine's drug addled pissed off world. Hearing it live was quite spectacular. The only gripe I had with it was Dave's voice just didn't seem up to the task any longer. That could be attributed growing older or the history of drug and alcohol abuse or even having an off night. Other than that slight blemish, the rest of the set was phenomenal if not predictable.

The line up is Megadeth's strongest since the quintessential Rust line up. Christ Broderick is a fantastic fit for lead guitar and I really hope he stays on for more than one or two albums and brings out the creative juices that Friedman originally did on Rust. He easily nails all the songs and I know he can come up with some creative and brilliant material.

After Megadeth ended their set with a call back to Holy Wars, Slayer opened up with a couple of their new songs, World Painted Blood and Hate Worldwide. The crushed intro of War Ensemble kicked off their Seasons in Abyss full album set.

What was interesting about their set was their minimal stage. Testament had a cool high rise with a gothic haunted mansion backdrop. And Megadeth went from a Rust in Peace back drop to an Endgame after the Rust set. Slayer's was just a wall of Marshalls. With some lights. They've always kept it simple and I think that's one of the reasons why they've endured for so long even if they have been musically conservative.

Musically the band is as tight as ever and Tom really didn't seem to have a problem singing, but then again other than the fast delivery, Slayer songs are hardly demanding. Other than the lack of a ear splitting scream in Angel of Death, he hit everything flawlessly. And speaking of Angel of Death, I don't believe it's ever been out of their set list since they debuted back in '86. And honestly, I don't think it could be a Slayer show without Angel of Death.

Overall it was a great, albeit, predictable show. But then again when you have three heavyweight long lived thrash titans in the midst and two of them are playing on of their classics in its entirety, you know you're going to be in for a great time.

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