Saturday, April 4, 2015

Concert Review - Dark Roots of Thrash II

Going to a metal show in downtown Scottsdale is a bit unusual and I think that the usual Botox patrons know it. From the mass of pastel colors, booty shorts, and high heels came a small swarm of black shirt, battle vest wearing metalheads. When there is a mass of metalheads converging in an area you know that there must be a concert going on that night. That night was the Dark Roots of Thrash II tour with thrash legends Testament and Exodus, plus newcomers Shattered Sun. The new and modern venue of Livewire is about to get thrashed!

Originally I was supposed to attend this show with my significant other however other commitments for her meant that I had to take someone else. Thankfully I had a friend, Aaron, who was excited to join me for the night. Having met up with him just outside the venue, Shattered Sun was already a couple of songs into their set. I tried listening to them on Spotify but I found them to be unremarkable. What I saw on stage surprised me a bit. These young kids were commanding the stage even though the crowd hasn't had their second beer yet. They were tight and threw out some solid metalcore riffs that are heavily inspired by the usual Sweden fare. I don’t remember the exact song titles but Shattered Sun’s performance was definitely solid and if they were around back in 2004 for the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, I think they would've been one of the top tier bands. Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage are the bands that I would say are closest to their sound. I’m sure Shattered Sun will be featured on more tours, especially after their new album, Hope Within Hatred, drops.

Shattered Sun

We were satisfied with the performance and were talking amongst ourselves when this short, bald fellow in an oversized black suit with a tie and red shirt and a fedora came up to me to strike up a conversation. He noticed that I was wearing a Death – Scream Bloody Gore shirt (it was reprinted by Death to All to raise funds) and commented that he had seen Death back in 1990 on their Spiritual Healing tour. He talked a bit about the scene back then and I remarked that I wish I could have seen Death when Chuck Schuldiner was still alive. This show was bringing out all sorts of interesting people as I'll find out later in the night.

Exodus exploded right out of the gate and immediately a circle pit formed. The typhoon of people would not end until Exodus was done. I don't recall seeing anything like that before. Usually a pit will flow with the music; coming to a near stop during the slow parts and whipping back into a frenzy during the fast parts. But since Exodus doesn't really write slow parts, it was just a continuous cyclone.

I'll be honest here: I’m not the biggest Exodus fan. However, they certainly put on a great show. They are certainly worth seeing live and are better live than on the recording in my opinion. Some of the hits that they played were the Toxic Waltz, War is my Shepherd, and Blacklist. Steve Souza was on top of his game commanding the audience and Jack Gibson was ripping it up on bass. Of course guitarists Lee Altus and Gary Holt were absolutely solid and ripping through the songs as close to perfection as one can while thrashing. Holt even did a cock tease of Raining Blood while Tom Hunting was giving tribute to the longevity of Exodus and metal in general. I wish that they did a full on cover of Raining Blood. You just don’t due the first few bars of that song and stop. It gives the crowd blue balls!


Testament opened up with Over the Wall and continued through the Legacy. They would go on to play the New Order in its entirety as well and played the title track from Practice What You Preach. They may have played another song or two from that album but I didn't recognize it. The sound and performance from the band was absolutely top notch.


While the pit for Testament was not a continuous as it was for Exodus, it was definitely larger in size. It was quite entertaining to see a guy in a yellow Hawaiian shirt joining in the pit and a guy in a gray shirt that would not put his phone in his pocket while doing swimming moves and bad ballet. And of course the pit went nuts when Into the Pit was played.  

Despite both bands being around for a least 30 years they are on top of their game and put to shame plenty of younger bands in their prime. This is just the start of the tour but Testament and Exodus are not to be missed at all.

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