Many have argued that since the inaugural Big Thrash Four show in Sofia Bulgaria that ‘certain’ bands that started in the early 80’s cementing the classic sound alongside Metallica and Slayer should have been included or at the very least be included in the ‘big 8.’ Overkill and the nights thrash legends Exodus and Testament have been debated by many as definite contenders for the Big Four stage. The fact that both bands are still together, making new music and touring to a diverse audience of the ‘grown up’ kids of the 80’s to the kids of the kids of the 80’s.
On May 2nd, Bogarts was the final stop on the second Dark Roots of Thrash tour with Exodus reunited with former rasping screecher Steve “Zetro” Souza, promoting last year’s Blood In Blood Out and Testament playing an old school set from the first three albums. While Exodus gave a few lessons in violence, Testament gave a very loud and brutal early history lesson.
New blood Shattered Sun opened the show. With four EP’s to their credit, promoting their debut full length Hope Within Hatred, on Victory Records the six piece from Alice, TX brought forth the attitude and noise with the fierce, furious eyes and delivery of singer Marcos Leal. Their first national tour opening for two of thrash’s forefathers was a daunting trial by fire indeed but they played the final night like true warriors in the fight to win the Cincy crowd over. They didn’t look like they were gonna take the Alice in Chains/ Clash of the Titans tour treatment anyway. Though the banging heads in the crowd signaled they were into it, plus Zetro, later endorsed them as the future of metal. Formed in 2005, their metalcore meets thrash sound was intertwined with melody and a stage presence that said ‘we earned this and we’re just starting.’
The hair flew with the dark notes and hard melody of “Awaken” into the pit worthy, panic paced “Waging War,” complete with mid-song chug throw-down. “Victory or Death’s” battle attack bass and drums both counteracted and complimented the battle plan math guitar notes. “Hope Within Hatred” the most radio friendly of the bunch carried on with some classical keys, poppy guitar strings and soloing with catchy vocals along with the roar.
“The Ultimatum” was a song written from passion, with instruments, vocals and the almighty pen dripping with furious dedication in sacrifice for the dream. The keys and drums on “Reign over Me” gave it, it’s onward to victory feel. The band will be playing the Victory Records stage on all dates of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival.
The badass’s from the Bay Area opened, going for blood from the start with “Black 13” and “Blood In Blood Out.” Zetro’s high pitch rasp has defied time with its range and power. He informed us that unfortunately Gary Holt was not there due to his schedule with ‘that other’ thrash band. They pulled out two Atrocities from Exhibit A as he screamed “Iconoclasm“ will set you free and we’re all “Children of a Worthless God.” They went back to the beginning and gave everyone in the room and pit “A lesson in Violence” to sink their teeth into.
They took one more pound of flesh from the new record with “Salt the Wound,” then brought out everyone’s favorite Fabulous Disaster and the “Last Act of Defiance.” They’re masters of keeping the Tempo of the Damned, putting everyone on their “Black List.” Zetro waxed philosophical for a moment talking about mainstream media’s blacklisting of metal, what MTV once was and sadly is now and the snubbing of the Grammy’s. (Not to mention the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame committee.) With the exception of That Metal Show, our music doesn’t get the respect or props it deserves. That’s what makes us all stronger, that’s what makes us all “Bonded by Blood.”
It was time to talk about war, “War is My Shepherd.” It had been 10 years since Souza had played Bogarts with Exodus and took a moment to thank the behind the scenes people and crew for making this shit happen every night. Even the merch girl Robin Mazen, bassist for old school death metal Gruesome got some love.
With a grin it was time to fuck shit up in the middle, get toxic and thrash like an athlete. They ended, where they began 35 years ago with Souza ordering separation for a wall of death so everyone inclined could feel Bonded and the “Strike of the Beast” head on.
Bay area thrashers Testament went on in a radiant sea of spotlights and strobes, draped in old-school Legacy with the demon’s head and glowing eyes spewing steam throughout the show. With the majority of the first record played and thrash classics from The New Order and Practice What You Preach spread throughout, it was a throbbing, reverberating lesson in the early chapters of the book of thrash. Legendary drummer Gene Hoglan bashed the skins that night as Alex Skolnick played with emotion and dizzying perfection.
Burning through the first four tracks of The Legacy, Billy bellowed out “Over the Wall” and “The Haunting.” Bogarts became their house of séance on “Burnt Offerings” and losing all hope in the “Raging Waters” of the devil’s triangle.
They gave out the first command of The New Order; don’t follow “The Preacher.” Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to survive in life, Billy explained, because you either have to “Do or Die.” A nasty back alley meeting with the devil turned deadly. First strike you’re gone. ‘A Day of Reckoning” went back to The New Order then they revisited “Apocalyptic City” and watched it burn, again.
The cold hollow wind blew through the speakers as haunting notes tangoed in the icy blue light awaiting the “Eerie Inhabits.” For the past it was too late, “The New Orders” here. The crowd roared hearing the first notes of their first video and Headbangers Ball mainstay “Trial by Fire.” It was time for their version of the toxic waltz and welcomed everyone “Into the Pit.” They said goodbye and goodnight to The Legacy on “Alone in the Dark” and “Curse of the Legions of Death.”
They returned, finishing with “Practice what you Preach” and the last of The New Order, “Disciples of the Watch.”
Images by Mike Ritchie