Splice Magazine

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40th Anniversary Of Anthrax Comes To The House Of Blues Orlando With Black Label Society and Hatebreed

Orlando, Fl. (August 12th, 2022)

Forty years. Four decades. Nearly half a century. For some that is more than their entire lifetime, and if you are a musician it’s rarified air to be in a band that long. Precious few have ever accomplished that, and those that have are at the top of the food chain. Among the groups that have climbed that summit is the legendary Anthrax. In honor of reaching this lofty goal, the band decided to do what they do best, hit the road and melt faces. But this wouldn’t be just any tour, they would bring along some powerhouse bands that normally headline. So joining them on their trek of sonic destruction would be Black Label Society, and Hatebreed. And just like that the hottest metal concert ticket of the year was formed.

When Hatebreed hit the stage they wasted little time and went straight for the crowds jugular with “Proven”, the lead song off of their 2002 release Perseverance.  If Jamey Jasta and crew were looking to make a statement, the message was clearly received. Within seconds the House Of Blues erupted.  They quickly followed it up with “Destroy Everything”, which had the sold out crowd screaming Destroy Everything when Jasta hit the chorus.  By the time the band played “Stroke Of Red” and covered “Bonded By Blood” by Exodus the amped up crowd was in full mosh pit mode.

With a career that has spanned almost thirty years Hatebreed has plenty of music to satisfy everyone of their hardcore fans in the venue. If there was one thing they were hell bent to do was to leave everyone satisfied. Whether they were playing “Looking Down The Barrell Of Today” or “Perseverance” they performed with a singular ferocity that thrilled the crowd. No matter what point in their performance Jasta had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Whether he was talking to the crowd and saying how many of the tours this year have ignored Florida, but Hatebreed will never ignore Florida, or telling everyone how the band was offered the spot on the tour and how could he say no to this opportunity it always got window rattling cheers. If there was ever a reason to get to a concert early, it would be to catch Hatebreed’s powerhouse performance.

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If there was ever one band that is fearless and powerful enough to follow up what the fans had just witnessed it is Black Label Society that’s fronted by the guitar god himself the almighty Zakk Wylde. With a curtain adorned with the Black Label Society emblazoned on it, the tension was running high in the crowd as everyone was waiting for the show to begin. Just as the curtain dropped, the stage lights lit up and the band instantly launched into “Funeral Bell”. The crowd cheered wildly as there was Zakk on a riser in his patented power stance wearing his kilt and his hair flying. They followed things up with a new song “Destroy & Conquer” off of their latest album Doom Crew Inc.

Speaking of the doom crew, Father Zakk’s crew of bassist John DeServio, drummer Jeff Fabb, and rhythm guitarist Dario Lorina were laying it down hard and heavy. DeServio and Fabb may very well be one of the best rhythm sections out there and Lorina is the perfect foil for Wylde as not only does he provide some of the crunchiest rhythm guitar work out there, but he also can pound out some killer solo work too. It didn’t matter what Black Label Society performed, whether it was “Overlord”, “Heart Of Darkness” or “A Love Unreal” it was delivered with a level of sonic brutality that only they can create.

While a Black Label Society show is known for bone crushing guitar work, one of the highlights of the show was when it came time in the set to perform “In This River”. Pictures of Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell were placed on the speaker cabinets and Zakk took to the keyboards to perform this tribute to his fallen friends. Another highlight of the set came during “Fire It Up”. Wylde and Lorina would have a guitar duel that cumulated with both of them on the center stage riser facing each other while shredding away with the guitars backwards behind their heads. As they finished up their night with “Stillborn” Zakk laid the still reverberating guitar on stage hopped up on the riser and held up his BLS vest for all to see as everyone cheered wildly.

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For most hard rockers and metal heads the show up till now would have made for a great night. But there was still one more band to go, one of the most influential bands of the last forty years that has affected genres from rap to rock to metal, yes Anthrax would be taking the stage next at the House Of Blues Orlando. A white curtain was raised in front of the stage as the changeover was happening. When it got close to showtime, a montage of rock luminaries was played on the curtain. One after another, musicians, and celebrities such as Keanu Reeves, Lady Gaga, Henry Rollins, Gene Simmons, and Dee Snider all heaped praise on the band and spoke of just how influential the band is.

When the curtain finally dropped everyone was in place and they immediately blasted through “Among The Living” under a sea of swirling lights. Guitarist Scott Ian was the picture of intensity as he churned out brutal riff after brutal riff. Bassist Frank Bello was energy personified running around the multi-level stage. Of course singer Joey Belladonna sounded great delivering the lyrics while prowling the stage. With forty years under their belt there would be no shortage of songs to play. If anything the problem was more like which one of their hits would be left off the setlist. Either way this would be a murderers row of songs.

With an unrelenting pace they ripped through many fan favorites like “Caught In A Mosh”, “Metal Thrashing Metal” and “Antisocial”. When Scott Ian started playing the whammy bar drenched opening to “Madhouse” it was like a bomb went off with all the energy being released by everyone. Just like the lyrics said, “It’s a madhouse or so they say”.  While the band was giving it their all the fans played their part too. Between the mosh pits and the crowd surfing there wasn’t a fan in the place that wasn’t having an epic time. After forty years of existence, the guys showed no signs of slowing down at all. What they did show was just how polished they are and the quality that they delivered live.

In a rare treat for ardent Anthrax fans, they pulled out one of their gems that hasn’t been played live since 2011. Yes, tonight the band performed “Only”. Without question for many getting to hear that one was goosebumps moment.  They kept up moments like that when Joey Belladonna yelled out to the crowd “does anybody have the f*cking time?” Frank Bello immediately started pounding out the iconic bass line of “Got The Time” the song originally done by Joe Jackson. Then the rest of band joined in on a rollicking version of it.

In what had to be the statement that summed up the night, Scott Ian said “No matter what your feelings, beliefs, emotions, whatever that is. Tonight Anthrax, Black Label Society, Hatebreed and all of you under this roof are here for one reason and that is metal” which got everyone cheering loudly. He continued on saying “F*ck the politics, Orlando can you BRING THE NOISE!”. With that perfect segue they launched into the first song to bridge the gap between rap and metal “Bring The Noise”. What a wild experience it was watching Scott Ian rap while the capacity crowd joined in with him. After the first verse was done, Joey Belladonna rejoined the band onstage wearing an Indian headdress. That could only mean one thing, it was now time to play “Indians”.  They may have saved the best for last as the band threw everything they had into it and left nothing in reserve.

For metal fans this tour and night were a dream come true. It’s a rare treat to get bands of the caliber of Anthrax, Black Label Society, and Hatebreed all in one venue without it being a festival. Of course shows like this are rare as precious few bands have had a forty year career like Anthrax. They continue to sound as great as they ever have and tours like this one with Black Label Society, and Hatebreed will only add to the legacy they have earned.

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Black Label Society: