Opening this exclusive UK show were Sylosis, from Reading. Having acted as supports for various extreme metal bands including Necrophagist and Zyklon over the years, the five-piece continued to promote their debut from last year. Their set initiated with the melodic metalcore number ‘Conclusions of an Age’, the title track from their full-length. With five sweat-soaked men on stage, the band’s presence was limited to obligatory headbanging with just frontman Jamie Graham significantly moving around much. Although the band offered a dosage of metalcore, the death metal influence wrought throughout their music is undeniable, Decapitated and Nile sounds being quite apparent. These heavier moments in their music excited the crowd and ostensibly won over a good few converts. After six barrages of abrasive guitars, meandering solos and complimentary melodies, the band vacated the stage for the thrash metal legends.
Wednesday 25th March 2009
Islington Academy in London, UK
Fresh off their tour with Judas Priest and Megadeth, it is clear that Testament are approaching another optimum of success. Despite the lack of promotion this show received, it was completely sold out. This can probably be contributed to the fact that these Californians would be playing their first two albums ‘The Legacy’ and ‘The New Order’ in their entirety. Such a prestigious occasion was made all the more so by an introduction from highly respected metal journalist Malcolm Dome who proceeded to inform the restless crowd with some background information regarding the metal scene at the time of Testament’s debut releases to underscore just how ground-breaking they were. Unfortunately, the crowd were not exactly desperate for a history lesson, even a metal one, and demanded that Testament come on stage sooner rather than later. Dome saw how undesired his knowledge was and gave way to the American thrashers. When the opening notes of ‘Over the Wall’ burst into the Islington Academy, at least a number of people spontaneously combusted. Guitars were razor sharp and drums were like bombs as Testament summoned a frenzied audience into nothing but sweat and hair. The devastation continued as the band ploughed through each track from their debut in chronological order. ‘Burnt Offerings’, ‘Raging Waters’ and ‘First Strike is Deadly’ all saw the fanatics raising their voices in unison to frontman Chuck Billy who strode around on stage in genuine enjoyment of the spectacle Testament were providing. ‘Alone in the Dark’ probably employed the biggest sing-along moment of the show, with Billy getting the less enlightened of the audience to sing along to the chorus. ‘Apocalyptic City’ signalled the end of the first half of the set - to say ‘so far, so good’ would be an understatement. A section of ‘Musical Death (A Dirge)’ played over the PA system as an intro but soon enough ‘Eerie Inhabitants’ broke through and the mayhem resumed at a frenetic pace with ‘The New Order’. ‘Into the Pit’, one of Testament’s most loved anthems, saw tidal waves of crowd surfers keeping the security busy and the sound of Testament’s 1988 release was sharper than ever, with the only non-original band member drummer Paul Bostaph honouring it sublimely. The instrumental ‘Hypnosis’ and the Aerosmith cover ‘Nobody’s Fault’ were omitted from the setlist, despite being on ‘The New Order’. Nonetheless, they were replaced with the rarity ‘Reign of Terror’ from the ‘Trial by Fire’ EP. Needless to state, the order of ‘The New Order’s tracklist was disrupted, with the muscular ‘Disciples of the Watch’ acting perfectly as a closer. When Testament returned for their encore, they launched into an impromptu half of Judas Priest’s ‘Rapid Fire’. The venue eventually returned to present day with Testament playing ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ and the title track ‘The Formation of Damnation’ from their latest album, greeted with just as much an ovation as their classic songs. Testament have proven why they are still talked about today and how they helped progress the thrash metal scene at its ‘80s peak. This concert was an excellent tribute to metal history and will not be forgotten by its attendees anytime soon. Expect Testament to be playing in much bigger venues next time round.
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Reviews Elena Francis; photography by Graham Hilling
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