|» The Bay Strikes Back 2020 02 07||
When it was clear that The Bay Strikes Back tour would make a stop in Stockholm, it was of course obligatory for Metal Covenant to attend. The tour package, comprising Testament, Exodus and Death Angel, marks the first time these groundbreaking thrash metal bands from the Bay Area in California - hence the name of the tour - are on the road together. As expected, attendees in the sold-out arena experienced a special night.
Starting the festivities is Death Angel, who open with the title track from last years Grammy-nominated Humanicide. It is well received just like subsequent thrash classic Voracious Souls. The set continues with some tracks from the last decade which receive a warm response between songs, and the ever-energetic singer Mark Osegueda gives a great speech about this historic thrash tour. There is not really that much action in the crowd though, just a small pit. The sound is also not the best, with the snare drum a bit dominant and the vocals a little low.
The razor-sharp thrash riffs by Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar are intact
though, not least in the snippet of The Ultra-Violence and last number
Thrown To The Wolves which get more in the crowd moving. This is not one
of the more memorable Death Angel gigs, and one more song from the first
albums in the set would have been welcome, but as always they provide
energizing thrash metal and a fine appetizer for their upcoming colleagues.
Performance: 6 chalices
An electric anticipation is in the air even before it is Exodus time to take the stage, and when the first member appearing is guitarist Gary Holt, returning from his service in Slayer, loud cheers break out. Joined by his bandmates, they kick off with Body Harvest which is followed by the great grooves in Deliver Us To Evil. The bond between the excited crowd and the band is strong from the start and keeps building throughout the set, and next number Blood In Blood Out creates a large moshpit. Then frontman Steve 'Zetro' Souza invites the crowd to welcome back Holt, prompting a loud and heartfelt ovation from the crowd, chanting "Gary, Gary, Gary". Fabulous Disaster enhances the atmosphere and moshpit intensity further.
From here on a true thrash party is happening, getting Souza to fittingly express "this is fun, huh?", which is greeted by a roar. As for the bond between band and crowd previously mentioned, it is brilliant to see Souza, whose characteristic raspy voice is strong, seeking contact with fans and smilingly giving high-fives to those going over the front barrier. Just like Osegueda, he highlights the occasion, saying that (legendary Bay Area venue) Ruthie's inn has been brought to Stockholm, and his praising of Sweden as "the land of metal" gets loud approval.
A number which always raises the temperature in the crowd is Blacklist,
and certainly so tonight when it is accompanied by loud singing in the
chorus. Then it is time for a finale with true Bay Area anthems: Bonded
By Blood, The Toxic Waltz and Strike Of The Beast, with the last two including
the usual passionate moshpit and wall of death, respectively. As it turns
out, Exodus' set is without a doubt the one that generates the greatest
energy and response tonight, with a loving relationship between the band
and its fans.
Performance: 8 chalices
The evenings' final thrash metal extravaganza, delivered by the mighty Testament, starts with a familiar intro, and it is indeed Eerie Inhabitants from The New Order. After another unexpected track, The Persecuted Won't Forget, frontman Chuck Billy greets the audience and salutes the Bay Area thrash like his colleagues before him. He also reveals that the band has picked some songs which have not been played in years, and that was what I, and surely many others, was hoping for. The next track, the classic The Haunting, really get the crowd going before a real surprise: Greenhouse Effect from 1989's The Legacy. Later in the set we get even more surprises such as Last Stand For Independence, Careful What You Wish For and The Fall Of Sipledome, the latter two from the heralded The Gathering.
This modifying of the setlist for this tour, with more different songs than what is typical when bands alter their set, must be applauded. It is a treat to hear those songs live. However, it is evident that far from all of the spectators know the songs that well. While Testament get an affectionate response, that special excitement and energy among the audience is not quite there tonight. As the tour has just started the show does not flow perfectly either. But when it comes to the individual performances, they are of course impressive, by absolute premier musicians in the metal business.
As one had guessed, the recently online-released Night Of The Witch from the upcoming album is also played and is received well. When Billy then announces that is time for some classics and calls for action on the floor, the mood in the hall is instantly peaking. Into The Pit starts a big moshpit, maintained in Practice What You Preach, Over The Wall and Disciples Of The Watch. One can argue that one of these gems could have been placed earlier to balance the set better. Either way, it is a finish few bands can compete with, and the moshing, headbanging, smiling and singing crowd is now in heaven. It is a brilliant conclusion of an historic evening with three cherished Bay Area thrash metal bands.
Performance: 7,5 chalices