» Testament 2009 05 18  
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Reviewed by Michael the MettleAngel
Tourname: "Damnation Vacation"
Headliner: Testament
Special guests: Unearth, Lazarus A.D.
City: Cincinnati, Ohio
Venue: Bogarts
Date: 18 May, 2009
Lazarus set-length: 30 minutes
Unearth set-length: 45 minutes
Testament set-length: 80 minutes

I was so excited last summer to catch and release my live review for the "Metal Masters Tour". I was not aware that it would be less than a year, before I would witness these same bands in a headlining role. The Judas Priest / Whitesnake Tour and Heaven & Hell will both be coming to Cincinnati! I am very excited to see those bands! The new Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad - was one of my favourites of the year, but I've since changed my opinion for Nostradamues. I'm looking forward to hearing - British Steel. However, I'll save those for another live review. This one is about Thrash!

Just under a month ago, before I had a major relapse and illness which totally incapacitated me, again; I had the sheer joy of witnessing a true thrash revival. First I saw Kreator / Exodus / Warbringer, next I saw Testament / Unearth / Lazarus A.D. This was a killer event showcasing new thrash, old school style, and a blend of both. Finally promoters are packaging together bands that fit. Damn, if I did not feel like I was on a permanent vacation, and ready to jump into the pit!

Lazarus A.D.

Standing erect and ready to help out the godforsaken were Wisconsin's own: Lazarus A.D., fresh off the Amon Amarth and Goatwhore experience. This Metal Blade act re-released their debut effort - The Onslaught - this year. It has been completely remixed and remastered by Cancer veteran, the disincarnated: James Murphy.

Lazarus A.D. began the swirling tide of chaos with their opener - Last Breath - which had a certain Lääz Rockit taste for rebellion. The Rigourous immortal - Thou shall Not Fear - for which they released a video, followed nicely. Absolute Power - clearly elucidated their erudite appreciation for early Testament, as the opening riff sounded dead on the song - The New Order.

Lazarus A.D.'s overall sound definitely leans toward the '90s era of Testament. They are what can be described as "New Thrash", because they do have some groove, and a few breakdowns. Fans of Skeletonwitch, Rumplestilskin Grinder, The Absence, And Warbringer will enjoy their sonic revolution.

They debuted a new song, which was not - New Song - by Nuclear Assault, although, there was some confusion, until the drums kicked in. Vocalist and bassist: Jeff Paulick thus announced his love for all things metal, including mass consumption of alcohol; especially beer, and the smoking of chronic cool herbal refreshments.

They ended with - The Onslaught Pt. 2 - Rebirth, the second part of Revolution. Overall, I was impressed with their performance.

7 chalices of 10


Last Breath
Thou Shall Fear
Absolute Power
'New Song' (Untitled)
The Onslaught Pt. 1 - Revolution
The Onslaught Pt. 2 - Rebirth


This was my fourth experience witnessing the piebald stage antics of Unearth, and their ribald humour. Unfortunately, this night they did not have their game faces on, or seem like they were ready to enter the outfield. Ken Susi was just not drunk enough.

John "Slo" Maggard was also missing in action; because, he had to rush home when his wife went into unexpected, premature labour. This left their guitar tech handling the bass duties to the best of his abilities. Meanwhile Lazarus A.D.'s Jeff was put in charge of Unearth's sound, and he made for a lousy AD.

They opened with the heavy guitar laden - My Will Be Done - which is also the first song on their latest release - The March. Then they returned to - The Oncoming Storm to prepare us for - This Lying World.

Derek Kerswill was prepared to strap her down, as he crushed through - Zombie Autopilot - with seamless ferocity. His drumsticks would swerve and circumambulate so fast, they appeared as but a blur, amongst the sweat, and speed. He is definitely their best drummer to date.

I was standing right by the stage, without earplugs, when Ken blasted his foghorn after the crushing - Crow Killer. He later did his onstage push-ups after soloing on the fan favourite - Sanctity Of Brothers. I see now why Mr. Susi has his own signature guitar.

I am always excited to hear - Grave Of Opportunity - but by this time my ears were ringing, so I left the stage front, and headed to the back of the club, so I would be all set for Testament, and yes I put in earplugs, just to be sure.

By the time they played - We Are Not Anonymous - they seemed more pumped and primed, but it was a little too little, a little too late. For their characteristic closing cut - Black Hearts Now Reign - both Ken and Buzz leaped from the Marshall stacks right onto the stage ready to rip and shred.

I was very disappointed to see that not one track from - III: In The Eyes Of Fire was even represented!

6,5 chalices of 10


My Will Be Done
This Lying World
Crow Killer
Zombie Autopilot
Sanctity Of Brothers
Grave Of Opportunity
We are Not Anonymous
Black Hearts Now Reign


The moment of truth had finally arrived! I had heard that there was an option for fans to vote on the set list choice of either: The Legacy, The New Order, or a mix of all their albums. For this show it was definitely a blend of the old meets new; unfortunately, the Low album was completely omitted.

I was really hoping for some older classics like - Raging Waters, Burnt Offerings, The Haunting, Alone In The Dark, Apocalyptic City, Trial By Fire, etc., but sadly those were not to be, this night. Thankfully, the set-list still did not disappoint. I was reminded of the - Live In London - reunion DVD as the songs unfolded.

I was actually quite honoured to watch Alex attempt the late '90s material, which he did so professionally, even adding his own polymathamatical touches, and flourishes. Paul Bostaph was punishing on the drums. I had only heard him once prior, since his brief stint on the - Return To The Apocalyptic City (EP).

As the band hit the stage, Chuck Billy screamed out in ecstasy, "The Preacher!" Practice, New Order, And Over The Wall all led to a frenzy of dutiful disciples attending to the watch.

I was very excited when they played - Sins Of Omission. Sadly, Eric was too entranced by some hot chicks in his eyepath, and he totally flubbed the rippin' ending solo, and it was nobody's fault, but his own! I call this plain ear responsible!

Fans were very thrilled to hear the new songs which began with - More Than Meets The Eye, but then moved to - The Persecuted Won't Forget. "Where were awesome cuts like - Henchman Ride, or The Evil Has Landed?", I pondered.

10, 9, 8, 7, 666...Demonic Refusal - was a throwback to the death style which Chuck Billy boldly invented in '94, thus inspiring countless new thrash and metalcore wanabees. True Believer - followed accordingly.

As Chuck introduced - Do Or Die - as being one of his favourites, I kept thinking, "where the fuck is - First Strike Is Deadly!" After all, the Andy Sneap modern production values on - Still Deadly - really set an updated approach for Testament, which they still emulate. That Alex Perialas polish of the Atlantic albums, is replaced with a more brutal and intense, less melodic jangled force.

This, of course, changed when they played - The Legacy. Yet, once again Eric messed up on the solos. I would not have minded hearing - The Ballad - as well. I'm sure asking them to play - Return To Serenity - is out of the goddamn question. Honestly, I prefer - The Ritual - to Formation Of Damnation. When they played - Electric Crown - I sung along, merrily.

Chuck desperately attempted to get the crowd riled for - Into The Pit - but most stared in befuddled amazement and wonder, some witnessing Testament for their first time. I was more jaded, as this marked my tenth foray. Although, I have enjoyed every show, every line-up, every tour, for which I've been privileged to see them, including with Gene Hoglan, Steve DiGiorgio, James Murphy, and Dave Lombardo.

The burnt out Greg Christian did his trademark intro for - Souls Of Black - always a fan favourite. I spoke with Greg after the show about his absence. He attributed this to his chemical dependency, but was grateful to have played on seven of the nine.

Mr. Skolnick was in full form, professional, and really having a good time. Chuck still pretends to solo on his microphone stand. Hell, he even had Chuck Billy guitar picks for sale, as if!

At times Eric played the songs faster than usual, as if he was on tour with Dragonlord. I'm amazed how he and Alex remain in synch. It was cool, though, to see him shred on his new signature Dean "Old Skull V" axe.

Disciples Of The Watch - finally saw the crowd responding with some circle pitting, one against another, but then the show was over, well at least until the encore.

Choosing two songs from - The Gathering - left many dazed and confused, even I was curious as to why they chose to play - 3 Days Of Darkness, and not - Fall Of Sipledome. Chuck sincerely tried to get crowd participtation, counting on his fingers...one, two, three, but most onlookers were beguiled and bewildered.

Finally, they played the title track to their new album, but that was it! I was wondering when they were going to play - F.E.A.R. or Killing Season - but it was not to be, sadly. All this left me hungry, and salivating for more.

Overall, Testament did what they came to do, level the place, and form a nation of damn loyal souls of black henchman, who practice what they preach!

7,5 chalices of 10


The Preacher
Practice What You Preach
The New Order
Over The Wall
Sins Of Omission
More Than Meets The Eye
The Persecuted Won't Forgot
Demonic Refusal
True Believer
Do Or Die
The Legacy
Into The Pit
Souls Of Black
Electric Crown
Disciples Of The Watch
Encore: D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
3 Days Of Darkness
Formation Of Damnation

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