T’was a warm and somber day in our fair city (technically off an island in Laval of all places). The ritual of mourning began as I approached Place Bell for what would surely be a night of absolute sorrow. I entered and heard the whispers of the deadly departed name. By whispers, I mean every drunk in the building belting out “SLAYER!!!” as if playing some twisted game of marco polo with each other. A night of absolute brutality was ahead as ten thousand plus die-hard metal fans settled in. The first of the mighty big four declared they were closing shop, and contrary to my satirical introduction, not a mother fucker had a tear in their eye, just beer. Lots of beer.
Sadly, this working stiff had to miss the mighty Testament as I schlepped my ass over to the venue. Rest assured; however, this wasn’t the only set the drum titan Gene Hoglan played on this evening. I will say that lubing myself up with a little bit of Testament would have been appreciated before Polish Black metal legends Behemoth prison fucked my face publicly. You can’t possibly imagine or describe the darkness and incredible perfection of a band like Behemoth without seeing it yourself. What I can tell you is this set was a fantastic foreshadowing of sets to come as already I could tell that whoever was behind the soundboard had brought their goddamn A-game. Pair flawless Eastern European musicianship with flawless sound and you’ve got a recipe for “I really hope nobody notices this uncomfortable erection of mine.” Banger after banger and “O Father O Satan O Sun!” rounded out this brief clinic on stellar Satanism.
What more could I say about the New York City thrash metal forefathers in Anthrax that I didn’t get to say four months ago (Probably a fucking ton, starting with the fact that I want singer Joey Belladonna to be my real daddy. The only real difference here was a bigger venue and a lot more bodies getting fucking down for classics like “Madhouse” and “Indians.” Every moment was a reminder that this act sports easily the best vocal section in Thrash metal, but that wasn’t the only thing a keen eye would notice, as Gene Hoglan masochistically climbed right back into the drum throne for another set. All this jerk-offery aside, I’m still not bored of this band, no matter how many times you stuff them in my face in a year.
Being the filthy metalcore kid that I am, you can only imagine my excitement as Richmond, VA’s preachers of pissed off, Lamb of God crept their way on stage. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen these cats live, and with that, I ask myself how they continue to blow me the fuck away every time. What could possibly be different this time? Well, opening with “Omerta” is a fantastic way to get me to shut the fuck up about that shit. Follow it up with eight more relentless bangers, lead by “Ruin” and I won’t dare ask such a question again. True greatness lives in this band, most notably with drummer Chris Adler giving every legend he was contending with on this tour a run for their fucking money. In the spirit of not everything could possibly be perfect, I will say that frontman Randy Blythe has most definitely seen more impressive performances. Does this mean he wasn’t good? Fuck no, but is there a chance he hasn’t been keeping up with his warm-ups? I dare you to ask him yourself.
You may have been ready for it if you were there, but I sure as hell wasn’t. I’m not going to pretend to be some diehard fan, but I am going to say that this last act counts for a solid number of notches in my belt and scars on my liver when it comes to memorable performances. needs no introduction, just a head to bang, a throat to ruin, and a body to SACRIFICE TO YOU GOD! This being the legendary thrash metal quartet’s last run as they’ve declared it (yes I can feel you rolling your eyes), it can only be expected that a rich set choice and A-list performance value was to be delivered. You can stuff your expectations up your ass because even I didn’t expect the kind of ruthlessness to come. Touching on the aesthetics first, these dudes spared no dollar in terms of their stage setup. Stunning backdrops and honestly impressive pyrotechnics are just the starts of what was truly a set to take home to your parents for dinner. This may have been one of the last times I’ll get to see “War Ensemble” or shit myself to the sinister swell of “South of Heaven,” but there wasn’t a moment of this nineteen-song banger where I felt like these dudes were worn out. Most impressive of all was frontman Tom Araya.For a dude that has endured the physical wonders that he has over the years, he brought every word like it was his first. Even the neck-less wonder of the world Kerry King somehow outdid himself in this last hurrah, which shouldn’t be humanly possible. Last ride or not, this sore neck and hoarse voice of mine is well worth the wear.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Mike Milito