Testament, Exodus and Death Angel – three God-Fathers of Thrash Metal – each band contributed to the architecture of the genre back in the mid-eighties and each remains equally relevant today in 2022 with all three continuing to release new music that is both earth shattering and ground-breaking. These three bands scheduled the North America “The Bay Strikes Back Tour” for 2020 but that was cancelled due to Covid-19 and then re-scheduled again for 2021 and once again postponed as a result of Covid-19 with new dates set for 2022.
Well, here we are in 2022 and “The Bay Strikes Back Tour” at last hit the road and hit hard on Sunday night April 10 at House of Blues Anaheim with a SOLD-OUT show. The anticipation was extreme as the SoCal metal-heads packed the venue early and prepared for a high-octane night of Bay Area Thrash.
Death Angel were up first, still supporting their 2019 release Humanicide, Death Angel opened the show with some old-school thrash classics – “Evil Priest” and “Voracious Souls” from their 1987 debut The Ultra-Violence. What a way to kick-off the night . . . vocalist Mark Osegueda was a man possessed onstage, sounding better than ever. These guys are tight, and the guitar duo of Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar is a sonic assault on the ears. Drummer Will Carroll is back and better than ever after being in a coma from COVID-19 complications in 2020 – one of the hardest hitting drummers out there. And on the low-end bassist Damien Sisson ties it all together.
The crowd was in a circle pit frenzy from start to finish as Osegueda sincerely thanked the crowd for attending and stated how good it was to be back onstage. Death Angel is better than ever and set the bar extremely high for the remainder of the night.
After a 7 year wait, in November 2021 Exodus released their highly anticipated new album Persona Non Grata and they have been chomping at the bit to get out on the road to play the new songs live. They kicked off the night with the crushingly heavy new song “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)” as Steve Zetro Souza led the band through 11 songs of pure Exodus madness. Zetro’s voice sounds magnificent as he commanded the crowd into a total frenzy of moshing and crowd surfing. The band played two additional new tracks – “The Years of Death and Dying” and the haunting mid-tempo track “Prescribing Horror” with several Exodus classics mixed in.
Gary Holt is undeniably one of the premier thrash guitarists in existence as between his thick crunchy guitar tone and his raging headbanging he delivers in every respect onstage. His partner in crime – guitarist Lee Altus is equally as brutal and the in-song riff trade-offs between the two is sonically captivating. The rhythm section of bassist Jack Gibson and drummer Tom Hunting is a force to be reckoned with. It is great to see Hunting back behind the kit doing what he does best after successfully kicking cancer’s ass in 2021 – mid-set he jumped out center stage and thanked everyone for the support and love during his battle.
Exodus ended their set with a trifecta of brutality with “Bonded by Blood”, The Toxic Waltz” and finally “Strike of the Beast”.
Testament released Titans of Creation in April 2020 (read LiveMusicToday.com’s album review here) and due to the pandemic never had an opportunity to play any of it live . . . well on this night Chuck Billy and the boys welcomed Anaheim by starting the set with the total banger “Children of the Next Level” off Titans of Creation and the crowd certainly wasted no time revving up to full speed in the pit. Testament delivered a 90-minute set of pure thrash bliss with classics such as “Practice What You Preach”, “The New Order”, “Over the Wall” and many more.
The guitar duo of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson is flawless with Skolnick’s scorching solos as he leans out over the crowd and Peterson’s galloping rhythms that makes any Testament song easily identifiable. Steve Di Giorgio is the king of fretless bass playing as he adds that low end to the Testament sonic charge. And Anaheim got to witness the “God-Father of Double Bass Drumming” and his return to Testament, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Lombardo was a beast on his kit perched high on a drum riser and proved he is the premier thrash drummer and the perfect fit for Testament.
The hulking Chuck Billy belted out his guttural vocals and stalked the stage throughout the show. Testament played two additional new songs “WWIII” and “Night of the Witch” and ended the night with two heavy duty thrash classics – “Into the Pit” and “Disciples of the Watch”.
The Bay Strikes Back Tour proved to be all you would expect from these three legendary bands and more. For many this show rivals a “Big 4” show as many die-hard thrash fans crave the heavier, thrashier sounds of Death Angel, Exodus and Testament. No this is not a competition it is just a fact that these three bands touring together is a special occasion – Anaheim celebrated to the extreme and the bands in returned delivered a beast of a show.