The Austin market never seems to garner the huge shows like the Big four or Ozzfest, but what seems to happen over and over is the appearance of great smaller shows or warm up tours for those big events. In one week we saw the pre tour kick off show for Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan, the concert hall stop for Dream Theater, but the cherry on the top of a week of metal converged on the new Emo’s East for the small club run of Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel.
It sounds like a roster ripped out of 1992, and I think I saw that tour then too, but the revival of old school thrash has been led by young acts doing what these elder statesman have been pioneering for thirty plus years. Being able to see the original bands perform, not the sound alike acts who pirate the thrash sound pleases most every metalhead who knows their history. The recent revival tributes bands, but not many compare to the men who lived through the metal revolution and somehow survived.
The crowd began to party like it was 1988 in the parking lot before the show, trunks popped, tailgates down, metal blaring and beers being swilled in a pregame ritual that predates most of the audience in attendance. Swapping stories of the last times we saw all these bands, how drunk we got and the conquests made while listening to Among the Living all par for the metal course as the gathering of black t-shirts began early on a cool Saturday in October.
You could feel the great vibe and excitement of all these like minded people ready for something they had not experienced in decades and some never at all. Once the doors opened and many who had never been to the new Emo’s East saw how the place differed from the Backroom, which stood on that site so many years ago, the excitement became even more palpable. The merch frenzy overtook the tables, bars were swamped and Death Angel took the stage.
Of all the bands of the thrash era, Death Angel had never received the credit they deserved. A powerful workhorse of a band, mixing their set up with ancient anthems and music from their latest creations, they were well received by the filling venue. It was Rob Cavestanys birthday, so the band celebrated, brought out booze and was a proper warm up for the crowd stoked to see Anthrax.
By the time Testament took the stage, the audience frenzied by alcohol and memories went completely insane. Many were there specifically to see Chuck Billy and company destroy per usual, which they soon obliged and with Alex Scolnick destroying their entire library, from ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ to ‘Into the Pit,’ the mosh pit raged like a true thrash zone of twenty years ago. The only pause being to sing Rob from Death Angel a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ and blowing out candles on his cake.
Sweaty leather clad men and scantily clad women waited eagerly as Anthrax teased from the side of the stage, until they finally released and came on almost a half hour after Testament finished. When the intro began, the push forward felt like it emptied the back of the venue, and then the fury started as they launched into two new songs that sounded like they were straight out of the catalog.
Being the first headlining tour with Joey Belladonna back on vocals and a new record just released, new music was inevitable, but honestly welcomed after such a long spell with out new material, but when they hit the mid set and ‘Caught in the Mosh’ and ‘Madhouse’ were jamming I was teleported back to 1992 when I first got to see Anthrax live, the entire front of the stage whipped into a blood thirsty pit of destruction, a beautiful thing.
Ultimately, their set was well rounded with many of the new tunes playing well with the audience and overall a superb performance, only a few times did Belladonna’s age show through in his voice range, and Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello and Rob Caggiano blasted out the set perfectly, even a partial rendition of Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist.’ I was worried how this crusty crew of metal dudes would hold up, and they blew me away. If this show stops near you, it will not disappoint.