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Dark Roots of Thrash Tour 2
Phoenix Concert Theatre
April 15, 2015

Testament/Exodus/Shattered Sun

The last time I saw Testament raging the waters in these parts was on the ambitious Dark Roots of Thrash tour – in what was supposed to be a culmination of classic thrash celebrations with the likes of 4Arm, Overkill and Flotsam and Jetsam supporting the band. In my mind it seemed like a no brainer concert to attend, but unfortunately the tour was fraught with troubles. Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth got sick, forcing Overkill to drop off the bill and even Chuck Billy was feeling a little under the weather that night.

I dare say I left the concert feeling a bit disappointed, but I was optimistic going into this show – aptly titled Dark Roots of Thrash 2. This time around Testament was bringing Exodus and Shattered Sun along for the ride, so expectations were high and rightly so. Exodus are Bay area legends and need no further introduction to the thrash brethren, so coupled with the idea of Testament playing the ‘classics’ only – this was indeed going to be a special night for an old geezer thrash fan like me.

The doors to the Phoenix Concert Theatre opened up around 7:30pm and about a half hour going in Shattered Sun (hailing from Alice, Texas) took the stage. I can’t say I enjoyed the set but obviously this is a young band complete with all the trimmings – extreme vocals, blast beats and thrashy guitars. The band did their best to run through a quick set, priming everyone up for the main course and for that I give them credit. It’s not easy for a young band to be put into that spot, but hopefully touring with these legends from the Bay area will be the ‘special rub’ to help gain the band some notice.

It didn’t take long after for Exodus to storm through the gates like they were just leaving hell itself and man was ‘Zetro’ ever on fire. Of course I am talking about the one and only Steve Souza who was making his triumphant return into the fold, ripping into 12 songs, never missing a beat in the process. They began with “Black 13” from their latest offering and followed that with the title track from that said album – “Blood in, Blood Out”. On a surprising note, they dipped slightly into the Rob Dukes era with “Iconoclasm” and “Children of a Worthless God”, before introducing bassist Kragen Lum (Prototype, Heathen) who was stepping in for Jack Gibson. Apparently, Zetro explained that Jack had some trouble getting across the Canadian border, so Kragen was tapped to fill in for him. I must say he did an admirable job!

Eventually the band settled into the classics, fueling the moshpit to insane heights and inadvertently knocking this reviewer down in the process. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but I digress. Now going back to the classics – we got a bevy of thrashers like “A Lesson in Violence”, “The Last Act of Defiance”, “Bonded by Blood” and “The Toxic Waltz”. At least I felt a bit redeemed after getting knocked down, when the band tore into a rousing rendition of “Black List” from Tempo of the Damned. Arguably, this is my favorite modern era Exodus song and boy did the band not disappoint. They ended the hour long set with “Strike of the Beast” and I was left completely blown away, along with every other thrash fan in attendance!


"...fueling the moshpit to insane heights and inadvertently knocking this reviewer down in the process."

Perhaps another half hour passed before Testament came out to a rabid ovation and began thrashing into “Over the Wall” as their opening salvo for the night. The band sounded tight and raring to perform, so I knew that this was going to be a far superior performance than the one I got with the last tour. I won’t list every song here, but they dove into the first 7 tracks from The Legacy album to get things started, but moved the order around a bit with “Alone in the Dark” and “Apocalyptic City” – preferring to push those two numbers deeper into the set.

The second half of the set started the moshpit to brew up again, and once more I was caught off guard and took a hard shot to my right side! I am not into moshing, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the hysteria when you are trying to desperately to take notes and enjoy the show at the same time. While all this was going on, the first 4 tracks from The New Order was the reason why the moshpit became so rabid again. When they got to “Into the Pit” everyone went nuts and I thought the band was going to cause the crowd to start rioting. Thankfully everyone remained in the Phoenix, headbanging and fist-pumping dutifully to the music.

Testament looked great on stage and utilized a throbbing light show to give the performance some pizazz. At times the audience was bathed in a combination of red, green and bright white, while the music soared through, proving Testament to be one of the preeminent thrash bands from the Bay area. They elected to skip over some cuts from The New Order, but managed to squeeze the ever popular “Practice what you Preach” in before closing the show with “Disciples of the Watch”. That song never fails to stir up the moshpit and boy was everyone going crazy when this number assaulted your senses.

On a whole though, this was truly a better performance from the last time I caught the band on the inaugural Dark Roots of Thrash tour and I left the show feeling good about headbanging and fist-pumping to a solid ninety minute set from the band. I didn’t care much for being knocked down a few times, but that’s all part of going out to a thrash show and this tour definitely lived up to its namesake. Dark Roots of Thrash 2 was definitely a rousing success.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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