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Concert Recap: Testament

Author: Ryan Bonevitch

Thrash metal veterans Testament and Exodus are no strangers to the famed metal scene of North Jersey. These same swamplands saw the rise of bands like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Anthrax, and even Metallica for a period of time. Just talk to any Metalhead from this region; each has a different story of a legendary show they saw at L’Amours in Brooklyn or even stretching over to the very stage Testament and Exodus took on Friday April 17th 2015 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey.

There was a particular old school feel to this show that metal veterans of this region were bound to enjoy.  Although he previously had three separate stints with Exodus, last year’s return of vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza is something fans have been anticipating since the day he left the band back in 2004.  Souza is best known for his appearance on Exodus classics like “The Toxic Waltz”, “Blacklist” and “War Is My Shepherd” among others.

Steve Souza

Last year also marked the release of Exodus’ latest critically acclaimed LP, “Blood In, Blood Out”. This album was everything Exodus fans could ask for and then some. Alongside the title track, it featured crushing tracks like “Black 13”, “Salt The Wound”, and “Body Harvest.”  Souza’s unique vocal style paired with the fantastic guitar duo of Gary Holt and Lee Atlus ensured a brutal set of old school thrash metal.

The bands’ set on Friday night featured a perfect mixture of old and new.  Gary Holt and company took the stage and immediately got the mosh pit going with “Black 13” and “Blood In, Blood Out”.  One unique aspect of this tour that fans will not forget is seeing Steve Souza performing songs the band had originally recorded with former vocalist Rob Dukes.  Souza did not disappoint as the band ran through crushing renditions of “Iconoclasm” and “Children Of A Worthless God”; both featured on the bands 2007 release “The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A.”

Of course no Exodus show is complete until the band reaches back to their roots to perform songs from 1985’s “Bonded By Blood” and 1989’s “Fabulous Disaster.”  The fans got just that as the band performed classics like “A Lesson In Violence”, “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike Of The Beast.”  Overall, it is clear that Souza’s return has lit a fire under the band and they are hitting their stride once more.

Exodus Set list:

  • Black 13
  • Blood In, Blood Out
  • Iconoclasm
  • Children of a Worthless God
  • A Lesson in Violence
  • Salt the Wound
  • The Last Act of Defiance
  • Blacklist
  • Bonded by Blood
  • War Is My Shepherd
  • The Toxic Waltz
  • Strike of the Beast

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While the fans tended to the bruises that Exodus’ mosh pit inflicted, they prepared for the night’s headliner; thrash metal titans Testament. Metal fans across North America are in for a treat if they decide to attend a show on this tour. Continuing with the old school feel, Testament performed their first two albums, “The Legacy” and “The New Order” in their entirety.  This grants fans the opportunity to hear several rare classics that the band does not perform often including “Do Or Die”, “First Strike Is Deadly”, and “Alone In The Dark.”

This tour also marks the return of former bassist Steve DiGiorgio who appeared on 1999’s “The Gathering”. Watching DiGiorgio’s perform with his unique 3 string fretless bass is truly something to behold from a musical standpoint.  But it’s also hard not to marvel at the guitar playing of Alex Skolnick.  Skolnick, who is also an accomplished jazz and classical guitarist, never seems to hit a sour note and has perfected the sound that made Testament the band they are today.

Alex Skolnick

Skolnick and band mate Eric Peterson have solidified their place as one of the best guitar duos in heavy metal history.  However, the face of Testament has been and always will be vocalist Chuck Billy.  Billy did not disappoint the Starland Ballroom crowd on this night as his voice sounded as powerful and brutal as ever.  The band performed the aforementioned rarities alongside classics like “Into The Pit”, “The Preacher” and “Practice What You Preach” before closing the night with “Disciples Of The Watch”.

Testament Set list:

  • Over the Wall
  • The Haunting
  • Burnt Offerings
  • Raging Waters
  • The Preacher
  • Do or Die
  • First Strike Is Deadly
  • A Day of Reckoning
  • Apocalyptic City
  • Eerie Inhabitants
  • The New Order
  • Trial by Fire
  • Into the Pit
  • Alone in the Dark
  • C.O.T.L.O.D. (Curse Of The Legions Of Death)
  • Practice What You Preach
  • Disciples of the Watch

While neither of these bands is considered a member of the famed “Big 4 of Thrash Metal”, you would be hard pressed not to make a case for a “Big 6” after attending this show.  Both Testament and Exodus sound as heavy as ever and are writing material that most modern bands simply cannot touch.  Whether it was Gary Holts brutally heavy guitar tone, Alex Skolnick’s mind-boggling guitar solos, or Steve Souza’s wailing vocals, this show did not disappoint and will be one that metal fans of North Jersey will remember for quite some time.

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