Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2019 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 07/28/2019)

The fans at Heavy Montreal will always be thankful to the almighty Slayer for their final and utterly devastating concert in Quebec.

INTRODUCTION: Alive and Kicking 10 Years On

The 10th anniversary of Canada’s biggest and most important metal festival, our beloved Heavy Montreal, couldn’t have been celebrated in greater fashion than what metalheads from all over Canada and from several other countries were able to enjoy at the always beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau. Although this was just my second time at Heavy Montreal, not counting the two editions of Heavy T.O. in 2011 and 2012, I must say the overall organization this year was a lot better than in 2014 (check our reviews for both days of the 2014 edition HERE and HERE), with a better layout, better access and exit, better facilities, food trucks, washrooms and so on, which was reflected in the happiness and good vibes flowing from all fans that were literally burning under a merciless sun in a (finally) scorching hot Canadian summer. As I was only able to attend day 2 of the festival, I’m not going to talk about any of the Saturday attractions, so if you’re curious to know how that day was go check the festival’s official Facebook page. And if you’re a hungry metalhead visiting Montreal for Heavy Montreal next year or any other metal concert, I highly recommend Il Focolaio for a delicious pizza or calzone to recharge your batteries before slamming into the circle pits.

SKILLET

Let’s begin with the first band I saw on Sunday, American Christian Hard Rock act SKILLET, who began their fun but not-so-heavy performance at 4:05pm when the sun and the temperature were hotter than the fires of hell. John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Seth Morrison and Jen Ledger put on a pretty good concert during the 45 minutes they had, with songs like Legendary, Sick of It and Hero receiving a very warm feedback from the crowd. I honestly had no idea they were a Christian band, but who cares? They might not be as heavy as most attractions of the festival (or maybe they’re too heavy for less extreme festivals), but they play with a lot of passion and energy, and I guess everyone who was watching their performance noticed that and showed a lot of respect for the band. Not only John is a great frontman, but the two girls Korey (who’s John’s wife) and Jen kicked ass on the guitar, piano, drums and vocals, bringing an amazing feminine touch to the entire festival. In a nutshell, if a heavier-than-usual (but not too extreme) version of modern-day Rock N’ Roll is your cup of tea, I’m sure you’re going to have a very good time watching Skillet live.

GAMMA RAY

As soon as Skillet’s performance was over, it was time for German Power Metal masters GAMMA RAY to fill the airwaves of the festival with some true old school Heavy Metal, especially because the band comprised of the iconic vocalist and guitarist Kai Hansen, bassist Dirk Schlächter, guitarist Henjo Richter, drummer Michael Ehré and second (or first) vocalist Frank Beck was the only attraction of the entire festival who played that type of music. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Hansen’s music and I was very happy I could witness them playing at Heavy Montreal instead of another Alternative Metal band, but I don’t think most of the attendees had the same reaction when the band hit the stage. I mean, there were still countless fans banging their heads and raising their fists to classics like Master of Confusion, Heavy Metal Universe and Send Me a Sign, but there was something missing to make the show memorable. And to be fair, I still don’t understand why the band needs Frank Beck; he’s a good vocalist, but he doesn’t bring any real value to Gamma Ray’s performance. His microphone was lower than Kai’s, he didn’t sing most of the songs, and the songs he did sing were just OK. I think putting that crazy dude that was all wet dancing samba (and several other rhythms) nonstop on the gray mud to dance on stage would have been a lot more fun than Frank’s performance, don’t you agree?

IN THIS MOMENT

There was no time to breathe as, the second Gamma Ray were over, we were all able to witness a fantastic and very theatrical performance by the stunning Maria Brink and her henchmen (and henchwomen), collectively known as American Alternative Metal/Metalcore band IN THIS MOMENT. The aforementioned Maria, who I dare to say looks and feels like an evil (and of course improved) version of Lady Gaga, together with Chris Howorth on lead guitar, Randy Weitzel on rhythm guitar, Travis Johnson on bass and Kent Diimmel on drums, plus the two sexy masked dancers who worked as some sort of “mirrors” to Maria, delivered a truly hypnotizing concert, with their music being a blend of the blasphemy and anti-religiousness of Marilyn Manson and Cradle of Filth with the insanity of Slipknot and Ghost. The final result was obviously fantastic, with my two favorite songs of their setlist being by far the demented Big Bad Wolf and the closing song Whore, where Maria’s dancers entered dressed up as characters from the excellent dystopian novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, holding sings with the words “SHAME” and “WHORE”. In the end, In This Moment kicked some serious ass without a shadow of a doubt, leaving all fans at Heavy Montreal extremely satisfied and eager for more of the music by metal’s favorite “whore” in a not-so-distant future.

HEAVY MANIA

When the next attraction from the Apocalypse Stage started, American stoner metallers Clutch, I went for a walk as I needed a break and some water. Terror and Demolition Hammer were on fire on the Forest and Garden stages, respectively, but I decided to watch the last wrestling show of the festival in the area called HEAVY MANIA, featuring wrestlers of the International Wrestling Syndicate like The Green Phantom, Sexxxy Eddy and Tabarnak De Team. The name of the fatal-four battle I was able to watch was “Le Cauchemar D’Oppenheimer”, and it was so fun I even missed the beginning of Slash’s concert. Well, it was definitely worth it, with Sexxxy Eddy winning the match amidst some trash talk and a few destroyed tables, just the way we like it in underground wrestling.

SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS

Back to the Heavy Stage, it was time for the one and only SLASH, accompanied by Myles Kennedy on vocals, Frank Sidoris on the guitar, Todd Kerns on bass and Brent Fitz on drums to bring old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock to our avid ears. It was still very hot in Montreal, but because the show started at 7:15pm the sun was already lower and we were able to enjoy the concert without sweating like pigs. Myles Kennedy, who looks like a rocker version of Kevin Bacon, is such a great singer to the point I even forgot it was Slash on the guitar at times, showcasing all his refined skills in excellent songs like Anastasia, World on Fire and, of course, their cover version for one of Guns N’ Roses biggest hits, Nightrain. Slash was precise as usual with his unmatched riffs and solos, not to mention how happy he looked on stage, making me wonder if he’s only playing with Guns N’ Roses nowadays to have enough money to fund his solo career. Well, I’m actually happy he’s in both bands, so I can’t complain about that at all. Anyway, at this point of the festival we had already had several subgenres of heavy music, as you can see, except for our good old Thrash Metal. Guess what happened next?

ANTHRAX

From 8:15pm on, Heavy Montreal became Thrash Montreal, with Anthrax and the almighty Slayer leading us all the way into the eye of the circle pit. First, it was American Thrash Metal institution ANTHRAX who revved up our engines with their punk/hardcore-infused thrash, blasting classic moshing hymns like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time and Antisocial for our vulgar delectation, as well as their already classic tribute to the deceased Dio, Lemmy and Dimebag with the beautiful In The End. Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante were unstoppable during their short but extremely vibrant performance, inspiring all fans to raise their fists and horns in the air and mosh like there’s no tomorrow. Moreover, I don’t know why but the festival organization decided it was a good idea to throw more cold water on the crowd when it was already nighttime, making some people run away from the stage due to that. Maybe they were trying to calm down the more excited fans who were crushing their skulls into the circle pit, who knows. What I know for sure is that I love Thrash Metal, just like Scott Ian asked us all, and I was more than happy to be able to witness one of the bands of the Big Four once again in my life.

SLAYER

Lastly, the moment everyone at Heavy Montreal was waiting for. The heaviest, most evil and most demonic band in the history of music, Thrash Metal titans SLAYER, took the province of Quebec by storm for one final time before calling it quits by the end of this year, which is something I still cannot believe but that makes total sense taking into account their age, everything that has happened to the band in the past decade, and the humongous amount of energy needed to play their music at the required (and insane) level. Although the opening acts might not have been as demolishing as their 2018 concerts in Canada, when Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God opened for them like their pulverizing concert at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph were beyond possessed during their incendiary performance at Heavy Montreal, proving once and for all why you can play Black Metal, Death Metal or any other type of extreme music, but you’ll never be as badass as Slayer.

If their 2015 album Repentless was indeed their last studio album ever, let’s say they’re retiring in style, as the intro Delusions of Saviour plus the frantic thrashing hymn Repentless were everything they needed to set fire to Heavy Montreal. After that insane start it was pure Armageddon, with old school classics such as Evil Has No Boundaries and Mandatory Suicide being intertwined with newer songs like World Painted Blood and Payback (as Mr. Araya said, “payback is a bitch, motherfucker!”), and even songs they haven’t played in a while such as Gemini, Temptation and Born of Fire. By the way, Slayer played nothing more, nothing less than FIVE songs from Seasons in the Abyss, including of course the battle hymn War Ensemble (where Mr. Araya kindly asked us all to scream “WAAAAAAAAAR!” together with him), the serial killer-inspired classic Dead Skin Mask, and obviously the album’s flawless obscure title-track, or in other words, half of their 1990 masterpiece for our total delight. Furthermore, it was absolutely amazing witnessing all fans at the festival screaming “SLAAAAAYYYYEEEERRRR!”, “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!” and even “OLE OLE OLE OLE! SLAYER, SLAYER!” at the top of their lungs before, during and after the concert, showing a beautiful connection with the band as they masterfully played an avalanche of Thrash Metal classics amidst the flames burning on stage, ending with the all-time classic Angel of Death, including Mr. Araya’s famous demented roar at the beginning.

Gary Holt was once again fantastic on the guitar (needless to say, I can’t wait for the next Exodus album), Paul Bostaph couldn’t stop smashing his drums and our skulls, and Kerry King was the usual beast incarnate shredding his guitar chords manically from start to finish while all fans slammed their souls into the never-ending mosh pits. However, it was Tom Araya who stole the show with a perfect vocal performance, and after everything was said and done he didn’t leave the stage until he could thank each and every fan at the festival for our passionate support through the years. We could clearly see he was very emotional, very touched by our love for Slayer, and we were able to read his lips when he said “I’m gonna miss you, guys…” while tears fell from his eyes. Well, we’re going to miss his screams too, if that’s actually going to be the end of Slayer. Kerry King didn’t cry but he simply raised both fists in the air and roared like a wild beast, as the “demonic machine of Thrash Metal” he is. Maybe that’s his way of saying “thank you!” and crying tears of joy? At least that’s what all fans kept doing while returning from the festival on the subway, screaming SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER! nonstop. And that’s what we’ll keep doing forever and ever, even if Quebec, the rest of Canada and any other part of the world never see the band playing live again after this farewell tour is over. Thank you, SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYEEEERRRRR! Heavy Montreal loves you!

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Evil Has No Boundaries
World Painted Blood
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Gemini
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
Payback
Temptation
Born of Fire
Seasons in the Abyss
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Dead Skin Mask
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

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Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Concert Review – Slayer (Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, 09/12/2016)

When you have the iconic Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer playing together in Toronto, you know it’s going to be an action-packed night of demented headbanging, beer drinking and brutal slamming.

OPENING ACTS: Death Angel and Anthrax

img_1784Anytime a concert is scheduled for a weekday that’s not Friday and there are a few bands on the lineup, I believe the organizers should push the whole event one hour later than planned to give more time to several fans that do not live right beside the venue to get there before the first band starts. And when the opening act is a band like Thrash Metal masters DEATH ANGEL, that extra time should be mandatory. The doors at a completely revamped Sound Academy (which will soon change its traditional name to Rebel, the most generic thing you can think of) opened at 6:30pm yesterday, and right after that Death Angel began their concert. Was I there to witness the amazing band led by Mark Osegueda fire their classics and new songs from the superb The Evil Divide? Of course not, nor hundreds of other fans who due to work or school could not get to the venue before 7:30pm. Is it too difficult to take into account the fact that most people do not live only five minutes from the venue, especially on a Monday night? We paid good money for the tickets, we deserved to see Death Angel, but it looks like some people just don’t care if you’re attending the full concert or not, right?

Setlist
The Ultra-Violence
Evil Priest
Claws in So Deep
Thrown to the Wolves
The Dream Calls for Blood
The Moth

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

img_1787And if you arrived after 7:30pm you might even have missed the beginning of the excellent concert by Thrash Metal titans ANTHRAX, simply proving how early the whole event started. Despite playing only nine songs in total, our good friends Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante kicked fuckin’ ass, with half of their setlist being comprised of songs from their latest album, the classy For All Kings. And let me tell you that those new songs worked really well live, especially Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning. Obviously, all fans got really pumped up when they played some of their biggest classics such as Caught in a Mosh, Antisocial and Indians (including a war dance), with Joey and Scott (“Do you love Thrash Metal?”) igniting some flammable mosh pits with their endless energy and unique charisma. I hope they get back to Toronto soon, and next time they have to be the headliners and play their full set, because I lost count of how many times I’ve seen Anthrax as the opening act only in the past few years, always having to cut down their setlist due to time restraints.

Setlist
You Gotta Believe
Monster at the End
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Evil Twin
Antisocial
Breathing Lightning
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums 

SLAYER

img_1796One very positive thing I have to say about the revamp at the Sound Academy is that they fixed all past issues they had with their sound system, turning what once was a muffled and tangled noise into detailed and crystal clear sounds. That, my friends, was what made the cataclysmic performance by Thrash Metal behemoths SLAYER, the most badass and heaviest band on earth, even heavier than what we were used to, in special the demolishing drums by Mr. Paul Bostaph. He sounded bestial the entire concert, louder and heavier than a construction zone working at full force, making our chests pump hard with his beats as if he was using a stone crusher instead of regular drum sticks behind his drums. Simply amazing.

Obviously, the rest of the band also had a fantastic performance, with Tom Araya leading the band with his deranged screams while Gary Holt and Kerry King showed us how a guitar duo should really sound in heavy music. After the devilish intro Delusions of Saviour ended and their new bone-crushing hymn Repentless started, it was a feast of old school classics the likes of Postmortem, Mandatory Suicide, War Ensemble and the demonic Seasons in the Abyss mixed with new material from Repentless (five new songs to be more precise, including the awesome You Againt You and Vices), generating some sick mosh pits and rabid screams from all fans at the Sound Academy.

img_1808A few songs from their setlist hit me like a stampede so heavy, dark and amazing they were played. First of all, it’s always a pleasure to see Tom reciting the chorus for Dead Skin Mask before the song starts, inspiring every fan to sing along with him. As Tom said, we love Slayer’s music and they love to play it, so it’s like a love affair, right? And what to say about the brutal Disciple (I bet you were bursting your lungs out screaming “God hates us all!” together with Tom during the song, just like I did), the chaotic Born of Fire, and the really old school Fight Till Death, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy? This one crushed me like an insect so fantastic it was.

I have no words to describe the apocalyptic aura generated by the last batch of classics played by Slayer, starting with one of the most demonic songs of all time, Hell Awaits, followed by the also obscure South of Heaven, my favorite Slayer song of all Raining Blood (where Paul Bostaph gave a lesson in drumming from the very first beat until the end), the classic Black Magic and finally, paying homage to the legacy of Jeff Hanneman, the unparalleled Angel of Death. That was the last song of a pure Thrash Metal night on a perfect day in Toronto, leaving us all eager for more Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer in a not-so-distant future. Add to all that the excellent Dystopia by Megadeth and the upcoming releases by Testament and even Metallica (at least their new song sounds good, let’s wait for the rest of the album), and you know 2016 is the year of Thrash Metal. And, of course, Toronto couldn’t be left out of such an awesome party.

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
The Antichrist
Disciple
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Mandatory Suicide
Fight Till Death
Born of Fire
Dead Skin Mask
Seasons in the Abyss
Pride in Prejudice
Vices

Encore:
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Anthrax / For All Kings (2016)

A classy and electrifying Thrash Metal album especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.

Rating3

anthrax_for all kingsFor All Kings, the eleventh studio album by American Thrash Metal titans Anthrax, is definitely not just another ordinary Thrash Metal album. It truly feels like a classy and passionate tribute to heavy music and to their longtime hardcore fans, who have never turned their back on these Ney York City metallers and kept flying the flag of old school Thrash Metal high no matter what. Actually, I shouldn’t be calling those people as just “fans”, but as real kings according to Anthrax themselves when explaining the title of the album. “The meaning, to me, for this title is that everybody can be a king.”, said the iconic guitarist Scott Ian. And you know what? We should indeed feel like kings being honored by Anthrax with such a beautiful album.

After the superb Worship Music, released in the distant year of 2011 when Anthrax emerged from the ashes like a metallic phoenix, I had no idea if they would be capable of maintaining (or even surpassing) the extremely high level of quality and energy flowing from now classic songs such as “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” and “The Devil You Know” in their future albums. Especially after the departure of the amazing Rob Caggiano (who joined Danish rockers Volbeat in 2013), being replaced by Jon Donais on lead guitar, that uncertainty grew even more as Rob used to be one of the masterminds behind the band’s unique musicality. Well, I said once to a friend that if they were able to deliver maybe just half of what they did in Worship Music I would be extremely happy, and fortunately for all of us For All Kings is more than that, sounding just as electrifying as its predecessor.

Are you ready to get caught in a breakneck Thrash Metal mosh? This is what will happen in the opening track, the fantastic You Gotta Believe, where after an imposing intro (featuring background noises from probably Anthrax fans during their live performances) we are treated to 7 minutes of the purest and finest Anthrax. Scott Ian and Charlie Benante are already on their beast mode, while “newcomer” Jon Donais does a superb job with his guitar solos providing a nice balance between violence and melody to the song. The following chant, Monster at the End, is not only a melodious ode to Thrash Metal similar to some tunes from Worship Music, but also an irreproachable option to sing along with the iconic Joey Belladonna. And what can I say about the great riffage by Scott in the title-track, For All Kings, especially during the chorus? In addition to that, the thunderous bass guitar by Frank Bello adds a lot of power to this amazing hymn, putting a smile on the face of every fan of old school Thrash Metal.

anthrax 2016You might not agree with me, but in my humble opinion the superb Breathing Lightning is a masterpiece, and I simply cannot wait to see them playing this live. Thrilling and electrifying from the very first second, its classic rhythm is flawlessly complemented by its simple but beautiful lyrics (“You always have the chance to do the right thing / Until the right thing comes undone / And with a thunderclap I’m breathing lightning / And this world has moved on / I look inside myself is this the right thing? / Is this the right thing, I don’t know”). Besides, Joey’s performance is beyond outstanding throughout the entire song, not to mention the soulful guitar solos by Jon. Suzerain is another kick-ass traditional Anthrax chant, showcasing precise beats by Charlie and tons of riffs by Scott and Jon, and sounding as if it was recorded back in the 80’s but with a fresh vibe; while Evil Twin, inspired by events like the 2015 attack on the offices and staff of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and various other mass shootings (Scott mentioned the song is about the actions of people “who feel they have become judge, jury and executioner over their fellow man”, calling this mindset the “evil twin” of humanity), has that perfect rhythm for having fun inside a circle pit with your friends. The band once again shows all their passion for Thrash Metal through the song’s heavy riffs and acid lyrics (“You represent your discontent slaughtering the innocent / Insolence, you’re no martyrs / The arrogance to reinvent / The holy words their meanings bent / Evil twins, you’re no martyrs”), with the riffs and bass lines at around three minutes being fuckin’ awesome.

After so much destruction and shredding, it’s time for some classy and passionate Heavy Metal entitled Blood Eagle Wings (Anthrax surely don’t need to be fast all the time to be awesome), where you can feel the entire band is putting their hearts and souls into the music; followed by the fighting chant Defend Avenge, which despite being heavy as hell it’s still very melodic, with Anthrax demanding us fans to bang our fucking heads nonstop and scream its chorus together with them at the top of our lungs. The good All of Them Thieves falls flat after a while due to its repetitive lyrics, despite the great job done on both guitars and bass, whereas in This Battle Chose Us it feels like Anthrax are paying a tribute to themselves, with Frank kicking ass on bass while Charlie provides his always groovy and pleasant beats. Moreover, it’s indeed incredible how Anthrax still sound crisp and alight after so many years on the road.

for all kings poker edition

For All Kings Poker Edition

Now just grab a beer and head to the mosh pit to the sound of the insane riffs and nonstop adrenaline flowing from one of the best songs of the album for sure, entitled Zero Tolerance. This is the perfect way to close this solid album, with Joey and Scott leading this fiery hymn which will undoubtedly please all fans of good Thrash Metal. But wait, there’s a lot more Anthrax if you purchase the limited edition of the album (or even better, the jaw-dropping POKER EDITION) in the form of four high-octane bonus tracks recorded live in Tokyo, Japan, with my favorite being obviously their most recent classic Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t.

What are you waiting for to keep worshiping the unique music crafted by Anthrax in For All Kings? Featuring a stunning artwork by American comic book writer and artist Alex Ross, this is one of those albums that without even noticing you’ll be listening to nonstop at home, in your car, at work or anywhere else where first-class Thrash Metal is needed to fight our biggest enemies and fears. For All Kings is classy, electrifying and, more important than that, especially crafted for all of us, the real kings of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: You Gotta Believe, Breathing Lightning, Defend Avenge and Zero Tolerance.

Worst moments of the album: All of Them Thieves.

Released in 2016 Megaforce/Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. You Gotta Believe 7:32
2. Monster at the End 3:55
3. For All Kings 5:00
4. Breathing Lightning 6:33
5. Suzerain 4:53
6. Evil Twin 4:40
7. Blood Eagle Wings 7:53
8. Defend Avenge 5:13
9. All of Them Thieves 5:14
10. This Battle Chose Us 4:53
11. Zero Tolerance 3:48

Poker Edition/Limited Edition Box Set bonus tracks
12. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t 6:11
13. A.I.R. 6:38
14. Caught In A Mosh 5:18
15. Madhouse 4:06

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums

Concert Review – Volbeat (General Motors Centre, Oshawa, ON, 05/12/2015)

Awesome bands playing awesome music don’t always translate into an awesome experience.

OPENING ACTS: Crobot and Anthrax

volbeat_na2015I have to start this review by grunting some really unpleasant words about the whole organization of what was supposed to be a great event at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ontario on the night of May 12. First of all, whoever thought Oshawa was a better city for Volbeat and Anthrax to play instead of Toronto made a huge mistake, and I’m not complaining about the distance to Oshawa, as a 1 or 2-hour drive is nothing to worry about. The huge issue was the lack of information and the complete nonsense regarding the sales of the general admission (floor) tickets. I swear to Ronnie James Dio that I tried to purchase those tickets a hundred times online and all I could get were some stupid seats far from the stage. I thought it was going to be a sold out event because of that, but guess what? The floor was not even half full, nor were the seats closer to the stage, which makes me wonder if scalpers had all the remaining tickets for the floor area, or if the venue system is a lame piece of garbage worse than Windows Millenium Edition.

Not only that, the price for the floor or the seats was the exact same shit, so why couldn’t they allow some people that wanted to access the floor area (who most probably had the same issue I had buying their tickets) to actually change their seats for the floor if the price was not a single penny off? That also caused lots of minor incidents between fans and the organization, some even involving physical interactions. Well, that’s what happens when amateurs avid for some easy money try to organize a mini-festival that shouldn’t be held at a venue like that. Shame on you, whoever had the “brilliant” idea of taking such awesome bands as Volbeat and Anthrax to a shithole like that, weakening the performance of the bands to the point it looked like a lackluster and uninspired concert.

The guys in charge of opening the night were American Rock band CROBOT, from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. I’ll be honest with you, this is definitely not my type of music, but the band tried as much as they could to stimulate a very passive crowd, especially the nonstop frontman Brandon Yeagley and the “crazy-frog-legs” bassist Jake Figueroa. If you love Psychedelic Rock, go after their music: they’re very talented musicians who have the energy of the 70’s ingrown inside their spirit and are more than capable of delivering that energy through each of their songs.

Setlist
1. The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer
2. Skull of Geronimo
3. Night of the Sacrifice
4. La Mano de Lucifer
5. Nowhere To Hide
6. The Necromancer
7. Chupacabra
8. Fly on the Wall

Band members
Brandon Yeagley – lead vocals, harmonica
|Bishop – guitar, vocals
Jake Figueroa – bass
Paul Figueroa – drums

IMG_0280When you see a guy with a huge Anthax tattoo on his arm AND wearing an Anthrax T-shirt watching an ANTHRAX concert so passively, barely moving to the point I almost called the paramedics to check if he was still breathing, you know there’s something very wrong going on. The “humongous” space between my seat and the front one was killing me, as well as the somnolence of one of the worst crowds I’ve ever seen in my life. However, even with all those issues, Anthrax kicked ass once again, of course, thanks to their flawlessly executed frantic Thrash Metal. I just wish I could be together with some real fans who were having a good time when they were caught in the rare but exciting mosh pits on the floor area. Well, if people are capable of standing still while Joey, Scott & Co. play masterpieces like Caught in a Mosh, Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t and the best song of the night in my opinion, the heavy and furious I Am the Law, they should rethink paying 50 bucks for a ticket and almost 9 bucks for a beer. Damn, and people keep complaining they do not have money. Stay home and watch a DVD, right?

Setlist
1. Worship
2. Caught in a Mosh
3. Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
4. Madhouse
5. Antisocial (Trust cover)
6. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
7. Soror Irrumator
8. Hymn 1
9. In the End

Encore:
10. I Am the Law
11. Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jonathan Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums, percussion

VOLBEAT

IMG_0300Every single word used above for describing the Anthrax concert can be replicated to Danish Heavy/Hard Rock band VOLBEAT. I cannot believe I witnessed one of the best heavy bands of the modern era playing tons of awesome songs to a crowd that looked like they were at the funeral of their grandmothers. Except for random groups and couples that were truly enjoying the electrifying music by Volbeat, the rest of the “fans” were falling asleep and some even left the venue BEFORE the band played half of their setlist. Again, I don’t care it was on a Tuesday night and you had to work on the next morning, why don’t you just save some money and stay home watching a DVD if you thought it was getting late? At least I was able to move to a better location, as more than half of the seats were empty just like the floor area, and could stand up and dance with my lady to classic such as A New Day, Danny & Lucy (11 pm), Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood and The Mirror and the Ripper.

IMG_0304The badass kids that went on stage during 16 Dollars and banged their heads like most adults at the venue couldn’t do were a breath of fresh air amidst the audience’s stagnant attitude, but the incidents during one of my top Volbeat songs, The Garden’s Tale, with a woman having to be carried out of the arena due to her stupid behaviour (including hitting the poor security guys many times), could pretty much summarized my feeling during the entire night. Not even when Volbeat played part of a brand new still-nameless song of their upcoming new album, which by the way sounded superb, the fans reacted properly. I guess even the band felt the same way, with Michael Poulsen and Rob Caggiano making a lot of mistakes during many songs like if they were “who cares, this audience is shit anyway.”

When Volbeat returns to Canada, let’s pray to the Metal Gods that they come to Toronto instead of Oshawa, and to a much better venue with a professional organization, so that I can purchase my floor tickets and really feel the heat of the music by those rockers. Sorry, Oshawa people, nothing against you. The problem is that you had your chance to show those amazing bands you’re worth their visit, but you screw it up pretty bad. Next time, come to Toronto and you’ll see how you should behave when Anthrax and Volbeat are kicking ass on stage.

Setlist
1. Hallelujah Goat
2. A New Day
3. Dead but Rising
4. Lola Montez
5. Danny & Lucy (11 pm)
6. Sad Man’s Tongue
7. The Nameless One
8. Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
9. Ecotone
10. The Human Instrument
11. The Garden’s Tale
12. Heaven nor Hell / A Warrior’s Call
13. Doc Holliday
14. The Mirror and the Ripper
15. 16 Dollars

Encore:
16. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
17. The Hangman’s Body Count
18. The Lonesome Rider
19. Fallen
20. Still Counting

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, guitar
Rob Caggiano – guitar
Anders Kjølholm – bass
Jon Larsen – drums