Live Reviews : Testament (Sydney) – 07/08/2010
w/ Dreadnaught & Contrive
The Manning Bar, Sydney – 7th August, 2010
Over the last few years, US thrash metal legends Testament have been no strangers to our shores. In fact, this tour was their third trip down under since 2007, with these latest shows being the second bunch in support of their latest album, The Formation of Damnation. By looking at the turnout at the Manning Bar, the second tour was definitely warranted as the place was absolutely packed! And with the majority of people being at least in their late twenties onwards, clad in an array of leather and their favourite denim jackets strewn with band patches faded beyond repair, I knew I was in for a classic thrash metal treat.
Due to prior commitments, I didn’t arrive to the venue until after openers Contrive had played. I received mixed reviews of their set from different people, which I’ve heard that it seems to be the norm with their shows. Either you love their stuff or you hate it. I wouldn’t have minded catching them again now that their new album is out and they’re playing new material. I will have to make sure I do next time.
After grabbing the essential thrash gig beverage and catching up with a few mates, Melbourne band Dreadnaught hit the stage. I haven’t caught these guys live since around 2005 and was looking very forward to seeing them, especially now that they’ve got ex-Alarum drummer Matt Racovalis behind the kit. The band put on an extremely energetic show with a very tight performance. I always love watching Racovalis’ drumming style as he still employs the traditional drum grip with his left hand and it makes for great viewing, especially some of the rolls he pulls off. Vocalist Greg Trull interacted with the crowd really well and there were many people in the audience taking it all in and continuously cheering. One of the most well received opening bands I’ve seen at the Manning Bar actually and they suited the bill well. Usually most people just stand up around the edges of the venue until the headliners hit the stage. I can definitely see why these guys got the national support. I will definitely be catching these guys next time they hit Sydney which is actually not that far away (Yarr-Fest with LORD, Voyager and others at the Gaelic Club in October).
And now it was time for Testament to hit the stage. I didn’t really want to be in the pit for this show, so I found a good location on the upper level overlooking the stage from the right side, without any obstructions. I was particularly looking forward to this show as I had only caught them at various European festivals over the last few years and had never had the chance to catch a headlining set. With the dimming of the lights, the opening track from the latest album, ‘For The Glory Of’, played over the PA as the band burst onto stage and kicked into ‘More Than Meets The Eye’. The song made for an excellent set opener and had the crowd chanting along with the ‘Woooaaaahhhhh’ almost louder than Chuck Billy! A great sense of joy rushed over me as I watched them kick into ‘Dog Faced Gods’ and I realised how great it was to see four of the original Testament members, with an added Paul Bostaph to boot, ripping through both classic and newer material from their timeless thrash catalogue. Every member of Testament brings their own amazing presence to the stage, whether you’re watching guitarist Alex Skolnick tear through solo after solo, positioning himself almost on top of the front row crowd, or watching drum legend Paul Bostaph bang his head with every hit, never missing a beat. I’ve got to admit, Chuck Billy has to be one of the greatest frontmen around. The way he interacts with the crowd is just perfect. His custom microphone stand works perfect for him, especially when he starts air guitaring along with the others. If this guy went in an air guitar comp, he’d win for sure! I think the highlight of the night for me was ‘The Legacy’, while it may have been the quietest track of the night, I’m a sucker for the Chuck’s singing in that song.
All and all, Testament absolutely slayed. Why these guys aren’t considered one of the Big 4 is beyond me. One good point about them not being as big as those bands is that we get to see them in more intimate venues which is always my favourite way to truly experience a live band. And while they continue to receive such great loving crowds, I’m sure we’ll be staying a regular on Testament’s tours.
1. For The Glory Of
2. More Than Meets the Eye
3. Dog Faced Gods
4. The New Order
5. Sins Of Omission
6. Electric Crown
7. The Persecuted Won’t Forget
8. Riding the Snake
9. Legions of the Dead
10. Trial By Fire
11. The Legacy
12. Practice What You Preach
13. Into the Pit
14. D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
15. 3 Days in Darkness
16. The Formation Of Damnation