Monday, August 8, 2016

TESTAMENT live in Milano July 30th 2016

words and photos by marcs77

It took me a life to go and catch Oakland, Bay Area based legendary thrasher TESTAMENT live and honestly I don't have any clues why. Was it that metal shows are too much of big events for me to attend –prefer the no barriers setting at hardcore punk shows? Was it that they weren't on the bill of the few metal festivals I went to? Was it that during the mid 90's when I was a teenager Testament were no longer at their peak of popularity, if they actually got really there any time?    -this band deserved more than what they achieved.
I got introduced to the Californian thrash metal pioneers at some point around the release of "Low" (1994), a record I bought as soon as it was out, and from then I went on looking for their older material that blown me away since the very first listen of songs like "Over The Wall", "Apocalyptic City", "Alone In The Dark", "Into The Pit", "Trial By Fire", "Disciples Of The Watch", "Practice What You Preach", "Electric Crown" and "Return To Serenity" to name but a few. The master thrash riffing by Eric Peterson together with the varied yet trade-mark vocals by Chuck and superb lead guitar work by Alex made the band, in my view, to stand among the greats of the genre, who helped to bring thrash metal to the heavy music fans.
In over 40 years of being a band, the inception of group actually dates to 1983 when they were named Legacy and they had Exodus' Steve "Zetro" Souza on vocals, the five-piece went through its share of line-up changes that, however, always saw great, talented musicians taking over on one instrument or another (drums and bass) -the likes of James Murphy, Dave Lombardo, Paul Bostaph, Kris Kontos, John Dette, Glen Drover played on albums or toured with the band.
Sorry for these side notes to gig report, which I thought to write for the hardcore punk and punk kid who may have not heard of Testament.

Chuck Billy
Tonight's show is held at Circolo Magnolia, a venue by the Idroscalo,
an artificial lake constructed as seaplane airport at the end of the 20's, and TESTAMENT must have hit the stage at 10.00 pm, on dot, since I was standing at the ticket booth a few minutes past 10.00 and the band was already launched into their show.
So I quickly walked up to stage area which was already rather packed to the rafters by a crowd of younger and older fans of the American thrashers and occasional bystanders; you know, a mix of classic black-clad metalheads, more ordinary types and a few hipsters (they're everywhere!). Needless to say, among the attendees the men were the majority while the women sadly were a small number as always seems the case though, I ought to report a few of them stuck out for taking part actively in the pit action.
Testament, like any of the other bands of their lineage, must have quite a hard time when it comes to pick out the songs making up the setlist and tonight the Californians packed up a cool well balanced mix from old historic albums to the more recent stuff from the latest 2014's date "The Dark Roots Of Earth" -the guys left out material from "Souls Of Black", "Low" and "Demonic", all albums which somehow, for some reason or another, failed in getting the reception of former milestones and latest, more recent, acclaimed records.
End of the day (night) the bunch of songs they did choose to deliver satisfied me, and from the looks and their involvement, the kids standing by me either.
The five-some is a slick perfectly running machine where the performance and contribution of each single individual helps making the songs sound tight without losing any inches of sheer brutality and intensity.
Alex Skolnick
At some point in between songs, before delivering "Into The Pit", Chuck offered some background history about the formation of the thrash metal scene mentioning a few of the bands, coming out around the times Testament did, and pioneering the new genre and scene like Forbidden, Vio-lence, Exodus. And I think talking about this he's offered some good hints to look further into for those not in the know. Good job Chuck!
The solo of "Over The Wall", an all-time classic and opening track of their 1987's debut "The Legacy", always get Chuck summoning the crowd to sing along to the 80's heavy metal inspired melody –here it’s kinda like to be at an Iron Maiden concert.
Before launching into "The Formation Of Damnation", last song on the list, Chuck called for a wall of death that saw the pit going berserk for a few minutes –though I still feel the wall of death is a trick that get more on the USA crowds (coming back to the women attendance, I saw a scantly studded-bra clad metal girl boldly standing front line to the opposite mob and launghing head-down in the clash; nice scene!).
The concert come to a close too early to me but after walking out off the stage the band has been called back by the crowd screaming top of their voices the inevitable chant "one more song...".
Chuck introduced the encore as one of those Testament tracks very close to his heart and its roots as a Native American and dedicated it to all indigenes people we have in the world today; the song is "Native Blood" off their latest album, and this has been definitely the right number to wrap this the night up where the crowd could get to sing along with Mr.Chuck during the powerful and empowering chorus "I am warning this world, to stay out of my way, my voice will be heard, I am alone..., I won't be afraid, I got something to say, my voice will be heard, so loud! Native blood".
Eric Peterson
Opening the show there was two Italian thrash metal outfits namely Bullet Proof, from Bolzano and Bergamo based Methedras that I missed because the schedule communicated by promoter said "starting 10.00 pm" but, of course, as I soon realized the time referred only to Testament and not the opening acts. What a fool! It was Saturday night and after the gig there was a DJing night better wrap the metal gig at an earlier hour and give more room to the attraction that draws more people coming there to hang out and drink the night out -that's far more profitable, right?
All in all, a great show that I'm happy to have attended to of a band that doesn't lose its pace with the passing of the years. Indeed, it seems really appropriate to say that, like the good wine, these grown-up guys get better and better as they season.
Testament have announced the title and release date of the band's upcoming 12th album. The new record entitled "The Brotherhood Of The Snake" is scheduled to hit the stores on October 28, 2016 via Nuclear Blast. I can't wait to hear it!

Here a few more snaps I took standing among the crowd

Steve DiGiorgio
Gene Hogland and Eric

A pretty decent sounding clip of the song "Into The Pit" I found on youtube


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