Practice What You Preach
Out of all of the big thrash bands of the 80's Testament have suffered the most in regards to the band member merry-go-round and illness. Chuck Billy's cancer, James Murphy's brain tumour and even Eric Peterson's fall down the stairs have all hindered the band's progression as they tried to find a place in the post grunge era. With Chuck Billy making a full recovery the band have finally brought the original members back for a reunion tour (and new album 2008). There was a quiet fervour amidst the bloodstock crowd as the once kings of thrash were to pay a visit to a field in the middle of English nowhere. I for one was quietly excited as I had always preferred Testament to the likes of Metallica and Anthrax.
The 50 minute wait however, did its best to piss off the waiting crowd. Aching limbs, backs and knees don't take too kindly to sound issues especially when the sound is total dog shit when the band hit the stage, which was the case for Testament. Bad sound or not this didn't stop the front half of the crowd from going mental. Chuck Billy was in fine voice sounding like a fucked off lion at times especially in such songs as 'Low' and the awesome 'D.N.R'.
It was good to see Alex Skolnick back in the fray, the years have been kind to him and his guitar playing is still as superb as is was twenty years ago (is it really 20 year? Jesus! I'm getting old). When you've not listened to Testament for a while you tend to forget what a full to bursting locker of great tunes they have at their disposal. 'Sins of Omission' was a fabulous treat, 'The New Order' is a thrash classic and 'Practice What You Preach' is one of the best tunes ever created containing one of the greatest solos in metal history.
The atmosphere was chaotic as the band chocked out classic after classic, but the highlight of the set was the brilliant 'The Ballad'. Whereas the band has a tendency to rush through their music, as highlighted in their 1995 Live at the Fillmore release and was evident tonight, 'The Ballad' was perfect from start to finish. It reeked of class and proves you don't have to go hell for leather from start to finish to create a reaction from metal lovers.
'Into the Pit' caused a frenzy as did 'Over the Wall' and 'Disciples of the Watch' finished things of superbly. But the inclusion of Electric Crown was a strange choice. It's highly melodic overtones seemed to stick out amidst a dark and venomous set. A good song in its own right perhaps needed a few more from 'The Ritual' to really feel at home. Also, the band played almost all of the set in silhouette as the lighting rig was set behind the band meaning the lights weren't actually on any of the members. Add a plethora of smoke and all you could see was 5 ghostly images blazing like a metal fury. Although it fitted the atmosphere of the occasion, it would've been nice to actually see the faces of our heroes.
A late finish, but worth it as Thursday thrashed to a close. Testament were great but let down slightly by the sound and lighting. I can only hope they tour again, hopefully in a more controlled environment.