with Testament

House of Blues, Orlando, FL • November 1, 2011

Perhaps the only thing more peculiar than the original thrash/speed/hardcore/punk mosh pit phenomenon is observing the same lean, sweaty, teenaged fellows from the 1980s as chunky, white-haired, balding 50-year-olds (still) slamming into each other in the same “Ring-Around-the-Rosie” fashion in 2011. Yes, old-school, speed-metal kingpins Anthrax and Testament are currently out on the road together, and when the tour recently rolled into Orlando’s House of Blues, it was 1989 all over again — monstrous staging, mega lighting, blasting decibels, and of course, moshing galore!

Should metal’s acknowledged “Big Four” (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) ever be expanded, the fifth addition to that elite group likely would be the Berkeley, California-based combo, Testament.

Featuring four of the five members from its classic line-up (all dressed in mandatory speed-metal black), frontman Chuck Billy, bassist Greg Christian, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, along with newer recruit Paul Bostaph on drums, Testament took the stage as their ominous intro tape blasted and their throngs of longtime followers cheered with delight.

Billy set the mood for his band’s performance by immediately apprising the crowd of 1,000-plus fans that they were, in fact, “crazy mother fuckers” (or something of that nature) and then began “playing” his mic stand ferociously like no one else in the rock world — non-stop throughout the show. In fact, Billy even threw out guitar picks to the crowd, C.C. DeVille-style, as he air-guitared with Hendrix-like proficiency.

Known for their impeccable musicianship, the band, particularly Skolnick and Bostaph, delivered a truly masterful 60-minute performance, which included such staples as “Disciples of the Watch” and “Into the Pit.”

Anthrax founder and leader, guitarist Scott Ian, has also brought together most of his band’s classic line-up to tour in support of Worship Music, their first new record since 2003. Along with Ian, longtime drummer Charlie Benante, frontman Joey Belladonna, bassist Frank Bello, and semi-new guy, guitarist Rob Caggiano, gave the type of animated, high-energy performance that diehard fans have come to expect from this legendary group.

In recent years, the greatest concert fear for many rock music fans has become hearing the dreaded, “Here’s something from our new album!” onstage declaration. However, selections from the new Anthrax album, such as “Hymn 1,” “Earth on Hell,” and “I’m Alive,” were (almost) as well-received as their (near) endless classics including “Madhouse,” “Caught in a Mosh,” “Indians,” “Got the Time,” and the show-closing, “Metal Thrashing Mad.”

With the economy in a tailspin, disposable income truly has become a rare commodity. Hence, rock audiences demand and deserve more bang for their concert buck these days. And for fans of the genre, this one certainly delivered.

Anthrax: • Testament:

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