“Are you going to the Testament show on April 24?” a friend asked me casually. “I wouldn’t miss it,” I replied. And what reason could I have to not come out to see such a stellar line-up, featuring not only Testament, but supporting bands, Sepultura and Prong. Each of these groups have released albums that I’ve cherished as part of my music collection, and I certainly wasn’t going to skip a chance at enjoying those songs live. Despite some miscommunication that delayed my entry to Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore until after the opening band had come and gone, I entered to provide you with these photos.
An Italian musician and friend, Max Usai of Confrontational, turned me on to a number of bands years ago, including Prong, Sepultura, and Sadus (whose bassist, Steve DiGiorgio, now plays with Testament). I thank him a great deal for sharing his musical joys with me and allowing me to make them my own. I’ve enjoyed Tommy Victor and each incarnation of Prong that I’ve heard through the years, and he and the boys were kind enough to come out swinging last Monday. Though only a three-piece, Tommy ripped on the guitar, backed up nicely by Mike Longworth on bass, and Art Cruz, whose energy erupted from behind the drumset. And while only having time for a six-song set, they made the most of it, unleashing several tracks from their new album, X (No Absolutes), then digging back into their catalog for a few classic tunes from Prove You Wrong and Cleansing. The set ended with “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” and chants from fans continued for Prong even as roadies took apart the equipment.
I remember walking through a record store in the outskirts of Dallas, TX years ago and taking home a treasure trove of heavy metal albums. Two of those albums were Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. and Roots. The Brazilian metaller’s style of music has evolved throughout the years, beginning with thrash and diverging into more groove-oriented metal when they reached the two aforementioned works. Now, as the band tours behind its newest release, Machine Messiah, they are rousing audiences with a large collection of songs going all the way back to 1989’s “Beneath The Remains,” but focusing heavily on the new material. They did a great job of keeping the crowd engaged, as fists jutted into the air in time with the rhythm of the drums (with vocalist Derrick Green joining drummer Eloy Casagrande at one point on a separate snare). Bassist Paulo Jr. kept the songs tight with Eloy (who was an absolute beast behind the kit), while guitarist Andreas Kisser sank into his riffs, to the joy of those in attendance. They ended with a 1-2-3 punch of “Refuse/Resist,” “Ratamahatta,” and “Roots Bloody Roots,” which lead the crowd into a frenzy of thrashing delight.
Finally, the band at the top of the docket. Testament has been celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of their debut album, The Legacy, which appeared in 1987. That being said, the majority of their set isn’t pulled from that album, but rather their latest release, Brotherhood Of The Snake. But they did state that they were trying to change up the setlist they usually play on this tour, and dug down for some tracks that may not get as much love as they should. Thus, fans heard songs that ranged over nine different releases from throughout the group’s career, and were ecstatic at them all. Perhaps the most unusual part of their set was not the song choices, but rather the inclusion of a solo performance by every member of the ensemble. The exception, of course, was vocalist Chuck Billy, but the rest of them took to their instruments in the most impressive of ways. Bassist Steve DiGiorgio finished his solo by flowing directly into “Urotsukidôji,” joined by the rest of the cast, which served as something of an extended solo performance for those involved. What particularly stands out in my mind, however, is the band’s song called “Into The Pit,” which resulted in a lot of moshing and quite a few crowd surfers. If I recall correctly, this venue had signs up threatening expulsion if crowd surfing occurred, but dedicated fans ignored those warnings as they floated blissfully over a sea of hands and into the waiting arms of security guards…who immediately let them right back out into the thick of it.
I had so much fun at this show, and I’m sure you will too. The musicians are all very humbled to have such a warm welcome, and pour their souls into the performances. You will not be disappointed.