Orlando FL. (April 25, 2022)
In the eighties when the thrash metal scene was at the height of its power, the epicenter was the bay area of California. The biggest bands of the genre had come from this part of the world. While times have changed and different styles of music have come on the scene, many of these bands have endured. Well, the time has finally come for the bay to strike back. Three of the biggest thrash bands have decided to tour together. Yes, Death Angel, Exodus and Testament have hit the road together and give their fans a taste of the bay area’s finest thrash metal.
With the Hard Rock Live Orlando absolutely jammed packed, seemingly every metal head had descended upon the venue to get their faces melted and all the bands would be more than happy to oblige. The first band to hit the stage was Death Angel. With the stage bathed in red light, and police sirens blaring through the house PA system, the whole band made their way out. Immediately guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar started rapid firing off riffs to the first song ”The Ultra-Violence”. Throughout this instrumental song singer Mark Osegueda struck a menacing pose on the drum riser and thrust his arms out as to summon every ounce of energy out of the packed venue.
As the band started on its second song “Evil Priest” Oseguenda jumped off the riser, grabbed his mic stand and held it over the audience to capture their cheering. The moment he started singing mosh pits opened up. With the band having formed back in 1982, the forty some on years they have been around showed just how polished and powerful they are. Halfway through their set Oseguenda thanked everyone for coming out to support thrash metal. He went on to say that they knew what they came here to do, and said he wanted the audience to prove to him that they knew what they were here to do and to get out all the pent up aggression from the last two years. When the band started playing “The Dream Calls For Blood”. Judging by the head banging, moshing, and crowd surfing everyone did their part to show the band they knew their part and were willing to do it very well.
As this was a busy night with three incredible bands on the bill, Death Angel was able to carve out a quality setlist. Over the course of the hour they were on stage, they played songs from across their career. They went from their early work on the Ultra-Violence Album all the way to their most recent effort Humanicide. As they wrapped up their last song “Thrown To The Wolves” the crowd was cheering wildly and had horns raised in appreciation for Death Angel. Under most cases, this band alone would have been worth the price of admission, but there were two more bands to go.
After a quick change over of stage equipment, it was now time for Exodus to do their thing. Widely considered one of the top five bands in the thrash genre as well as a pioneer of it in the bay area, their reputation for a brutal show is a draw in itself. The band members took to the stage and were all business. There would be no gimmickry or manufactured drama. The band kicked things off with “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Moral Improves)” off of their latest album Persona Non Grata. There was absolutely no drop off in energy from the previous band, if anything they kicked things up another notch.
Without missing a beat, they started in on “A Lesson In Violence” off of their seminal release Bonded By Blood. If there was ever a question of whether they have mellowed over the years, everyone in the venue would in unison scream hell no. Time has only honed their edge. Guitarists Lee Altus and Gary Holt continued to spit out brutal riffs while the rhythm section of bassist Jack Gibson and drummer Tom Hunting locked down the low end with authority. Lead singer Steve “Zetro” Souza sounded great, and he brought it hard. Whether they were playing “Blacklist”, “Piranha” or ”Bonded By Blood” The intensity and energy they displayed was the perfect fuel for the crowd.
Towards the end of the show Souza took a minute to talk to the crowd saying we are all fans of heavy metal and there is no other form of music that has the same family vibes. He continued on saying the bands are here for you, and you guys are here for us. Then he asked everyone if you’re ready for more violence. Which of course the packed house cheered wildly. He told the crowd I think it’s about time we waltz it up. The members of the band threw a curve ball and played the introduction to the Pantera hit “Walk”. They quickly shifted back to “The Toxic Waltz”. At that point, the floor turned into a giant mosh pit and the crowd surfing really picked up. They closed out their one hour set with “Strike Of The Beast”
It’s two bands into the night and the fans were covered in sweat and smiles. So far, this show was going so far beyond anyone’s expectations. But there was one band left on the bill, Testament. With everyone excited for their arrival the energy level in the Hard Rock was palpable. Finally, the guys made their way to the stage. Lead singer Chuck Billy gave the crowd the horns and asked are you ready, and with the fans cheering wildly they started their performance with “Children Of The Next Level” from their latest album Titans Of Creation. With guitarist Eric Peterson taking the first solo of the song, you couldn’t help but get caught up in the energy and musicianship displayed on stage. When it was guitarist Alex Skolnick’s time to show his stuff, it was easy to see why he is considered one of the greatest guitar players on the planet.
After a rip roaring performance of “The Pale King”, Chuck Billy said to the crowd its been too long, but it feels good to be back up here. He welcomed everyone to the bay strikes back, then said if anytime heavy metal comes to your area, you practice what you preach. What a perfect intro to “Practice What You Preach”! They absolutely killed it live. The band was incredibly tight. Longtime fans of the band might have noticed a strange face behind the drum kit. Long time drummer Greg Hoglan had departed the band just before the tour kicked off. The band managed to recruit a member from years ago that had gone on to play in another well known band that has since gone into retirement. Who was that player? None other than Dave Lombardo of Slayer.
The rest of their set was filled with some of their top songs. If you were hoping to hear “Electric Crown” You wouldn’t be disappointed. Guitarist Alex Skolnick played a particularly inspired solo all while encouraging the already rowdy crowd to cheer even louder. Bassist Steve Di Giorgo played an ultra-cool solo to lead into “Souls Of Black”, and his thundering bass work could be felt all through the song. On the second to last song of the night Chuck Billy looked out into crowd. He said “let’s play this next one for all you crazy mother f*ckers in the house tonight, you know what to do. This next one is “Into The Pit””. As the band started in on it, it seemed like half the venue turned into a giant mosh pit! They ended the night with “Disciples Of The Watch”.
With the hard and heavy music scene splinted into many different genres these days, Death Angel, Exodus, and Testament have done something that is sorely needed. They have put together a proper heavy metal concert. With all bands playing a solid mix of their classic hits as well as their latest material. They have shown they are just as powerful as they were back in the day and maybe even more important now. Indeed, the bay has struck back, and they have struck back hard.
Hard Rock Live Orlando: