So when I first heard that Slayer was going to be in town I was excited. I have missed their shows in the past thanks to travel or last minute or it was a sold out show – much like the concert tonight. I knew I needed to make it out to their show this time around and I HAD to shoot it. I know what you are saying ‘But I thought this was a Testament write-up not a Slayer one?!?’ I hear ya, and trust me I will be talking about Testament but let me set the stage – as it were – and give a little background to my approach to the night. Ok, so I was excited about Slayer and started the groundwork for getting in to cover the show. It was when I looked into the details of the show that I got extra excited, that was when I found out that Testament was touring with.
Time for a quick Testament and Joshua history lesson.
My older brother was into metal a few years before me, he is three years older so that makes sense. So when I would start to expand my music likes I would ‘borrow’ some of his tapes (yes kids in those days we not only used vinyl (before liking vinyl was cool and hip … no that doesn’t make us hipsters just older) but we used tapes. Anyway, I say “borrow” because I would sneak into his room and grab a tape or three and listen to them for a few days and then return them and get a few more – a lending library that didn’t know was a lending library. I started off with Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Ratt, etc. Some made impacts on me and others just left me with a ‘eh, its ok.’ One of the albums I remember was Testament and I liked it – ‘The New Order’ was the album. When I moved out on my own and started to buy CDs I started off the heavy metal portion of my collection with Testament’s ‘The Ritual.’ I wanted something I hadn’t heard but from a band I knew. So Testament was my first metal CD purchase because of ‘borrowing’ my brothers tapes.
With that said, finding out Testament was playing with Slayer I was stoked. Even better, when I got the greenlight to cover the show I couldn’t wait to pass that news on to my brother. “You suck” was his first response, and a perfect one at that.*
Ok, back to the show which is why you are here, and for the pics.
The guys hit the stage and sent a wall of sound as they blasted out DNR (The Gathering 1999). And then kept us in 1999 with “Legions of the Dead.’ The crowd was ready for the band and damn if the band wasn’t ready for the crowd. They spent almost an hour tearing up the stage bouncing through history making stops in 1988 with ‘The New Order’ tracks – ‘The New Order’ and “Into the Pit’ – and 1989 with the title track from ‘Practice What You Preach.’ We also got some 1994 action with ‘Dog Faced Gods’ from ‘Low’. We really only got one track from their latest release ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ with “Rise Up.’ But I don’t think the crowd minded. We were transported to mainly 80’s and 90’s Testament metal for their set, ah the good ol days (and it pains me to type that phrase BTW).
There weren’t elaborate visuals and a lot of crazy things happening on stage, it was just 5 guys slamming out some of the great tunes that showed why heavy metal lasted through the hair metal, grunge, and alternative music eras. They roamed the stage playing and headbanging their way through their set – I felt like I was transported back to the 80’s and early 90’s. These elements don’t change much and for good reason. They jumped from song to song and kept that energy and excitement flowing and didn’t let us really catch a breath until they left the stage.
Chuck was in his element in front of the Fillmore crowd. You could tell he was not just going through the motions. Between belting out the songs and playing a hell of a mean microphone stand guitar he was on fire. Hell, no one on stage that night looked like they were phoning it in. Alex was unstoppable in his playing showing just how incredibly talented he is and I’m glad that his departure from the band years ago is all history now. Eric, the core of Testament was on fire and was amazing to watch song after song. Steve, well, Steve was really into the crowd it looked like. He was constantly reaching out one way or the other to everyone. It was almost a competition between he and Chuck as to who was engaging the crowd the most. It was tough keeping an eye on Gene drumming upstage as he was surrounded by the kit, but let me tell you, I was able to feel all his bass hits. Sometimes drumming at these shows can get lost or a little muddy but his playing was clean and clear. How he does that night after night, damn man.
I guess that is one thing that is great about a metal show, you can’t just leisurely pound out these songs. These are aggressive and energetic songs and if you aren’t moving to the beat and ‘feeling it’ then I don’t think the songs would work. These guys busted their ass on stage while the crowd was with them every step of the way.
Back in the pit (shooting pit not the PIT pit) I was having to watch where and how I was standing while shooting because from the first few notes when Testament took the stage people were crowd surfing and you know where they end up, yup in the front where we are shooting. With security pulling them out and sending the surfer back to the crowd it was like running an obstacle course. Someone throwing the horns smacking the back of my head or a foot knocking my shoulder, just all part of the action and to be expected.
So there you go a little pro-tip in preparation for shooting your first metal show, be prepared to get knocked around a little even on the security side of the barricade.
Unfortunately it was after our three songs were up and I had to put the cameras away when I watched a crowd surfer reach out to Chuck for a fist bump. Chuck leaned over as much as he could extending his arm and was able to comply with the metalhead’s attempt. After hitting the ground again that metalhead was thrilled. And that is the thing I think is great about these shows, a lot of the bands, the loud, angry, ones do dig their audience when they are on stage. I’m not saying that all bands are this way but tonight they were fully engaging the crowd and that energy came through their music and their interactions.
Testament is another band that shows these long-haired metalheads can improve with age. I was ready for another set once they finished. Just like Carcass proved that night, these guys need to be seen live to truly enjoy and experience who and what they are about.
Tonight was a night my teenage self wouldn’t have imagined as he (I) was sneaking in and out tapes from my brothers collection wondering who ‘Testament’ was.
*Once I got the pictures online from these shows he was the first person I sent the links to.
Testament – Fillmore