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Slayer, Megadeth and Testament Concert Review

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Testament Vocalist Chuck Billy

Testament Vocalist Chuck Billy

Dave Schalek/About.com
Thrash metal titans of the highest possible caliber converged upon the Long Beach Arena. The American Carnage Tour, co-headlined by Slayer and Megadeth, detonated in the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California, on August 30th, 2010. Providing strong support on this leg of the tour were Testament, Bay Area thrash giants in their own right.

Testament

Testament got the crowd warmed up with a strong 40 minute set of highlights. The riffs, licks and leads were flying fast and furious from the dual guitar attack of legends Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, all very nicely backed up by the pummeling percussive skills of Paul Bostaph. Chuck Billy’s voice and skills as a frontman are as strong as ever, and the Long Beach Arena crowd, already nearly filled to capacity, gave a roar of approval.

Probably the highlight of the set for me was the inclusion of the monstrous “D.N.R.,” arguably one of the best tracks from Testament’s catalog. Other highlights included “Into the Pit” and “Formation of Damnation,” the title track of Testament’s last full-length album. Testament more than got us all warmed up for what was to follow.

Megadeth

Megadeth Vocalist/Guitarist Dave Mustaine

Megadeth Vocalist/Guitarist Dave Mustaine

Dave Schalek/About.com
Wasting no time, Dave Mustaine and company began with “Holy Wars… The Punishment is Due,” the opening track from Rust In Peace. Playing the much heralded, now twenty year old classic album in its entirety, Megadeth displayed flawless musicianship and poise. Seeing Dave Ellefson, once again, on bass guitar was a treat for us all. Sticking to the business at hand, Megadeth did not let up throughout the performance of the album, and did not pause for banter until after the completion of “Rust In Peace… Polaris.”

After a short breather, Megadeth finished up with some strong cuts, including “Head Crusher” from their latest CD Endgame and the set closer, “Peace Sells… But, Who’s Buying?” Graciously, all four band members took a bow at the set’s conclusion.

Slayer

For my money, no band in thrash metal can compete with Slayer for relentless intensity, even after all these years. As Slayer’s set was being set up behind a large, white curtain, a collective hush fell upon the crowd as anticipation built for the band’s appearance. The lights dropped, and various Slayer logos were cast upon the white curtain, now acting as a screen. The light shifted from white to red as the opening riff of “World Painted Blood” was heard, and the curtain fell to reveal the band going all out. The crowd roared in ecstasy. Words cannot describe the sheer visceral feeling of seeing this band fire on all cylinders as if 25 years had passed in no time at all.

After “Hate Worldwide,” Tom Araya addressed the crowd, “Are you ready…….? War Ensemble!” Another roar as Slayer proceeded to play through Seasons In the Abyss without slowing. Even the album’s admittedly weaker tracks ("Skeletons of Society" and "Temptation," in my opinion) dripped with power, and the album’s title track brought the house down.

After a brief respite, Slayer continued to strike with full force for “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” the absolutely not expected “Aggressive Perfector,” and the set closer “Angel of Death.” Slayer can still bring it live.

Overall

Slayer Guitarist Kerry King

Slayer Guitarist Kerry King

Dave Schalek/About.com
Truth to be told, Slayer weren’t quite as tight as they could have been on this night, but, frankly, that doesn’t matter as the intensity was there in full force. Who knows how much longer Slayer will keep going, given Araya’s well known back problems? I simply couldn’t let this tour go by, and neither should you. Slayer are still the Mighty Slayer.
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