Winter set in this weekend that Testament were playing in Haarlem as the final gig of the Brotherhood of the Snake tour. Snow covered the low lands and as a result traffic on the roads and rails was a mess. Fortunately, by the time I had to leave for Haarlem most of the snowfall had stopped, yet still it was quite adventurous on the roads, and it took me almost twice as long to get there. Anyway, Testament was touring with two classic thrash metal bands that also regularly toured as headliners. So quite a hefty package.
The opening act was the Americans in Death Angel. I only like their material from before the split somewhere in the nineties and haven’t really followed them since the reunion. The however played mostly newer material, which sounded more like modern thrash. The singer took his time for announcing the songs, they could have easily squeezed in a song or even two. Playing 6 songs in 40 minutes is not a lot as these songs are more than 5 minutes. From the first three albums they only played the intro of The Ultra-Violence and Mistress of Pain. It all felt a bit routine, but it wasn’t bad for a warm-up.
The second band was Annihilator. Although Jeff consistently called Anal Eater. Anyway I hadn’t seen them live. I only dig the first two albums they released, which both have a couple of really good songs and after that sort of lost track. Crystal Ann sounded over the PA, and they jumped in to a couple of songs I didn’t knew. They sounded simpler than what they produced on the albums I know with lots of palm-muted riffs. Jeff handles the vocals nowadays again, but he’s a very limited singer and he also had voice trouble. His guitar skills haven’t waned yet and he seemed to play all these songs really easy whilst running around the stage and singing. The new song Twisted Lobotomy sounded quite different than the other newer material. Lots faster and a lot more aggression, actually quite a good song. Then they also popped in few songs I know, WTYD, Alice In Hell – where Jeff let the audience handle the high squeals, and as the final song Phantasmagoria.
Then it was time for Testament. I had only seen them once before, despite that they regularly play in Europe. They opened with the title track of their new album, from which 3 more songs were part of the set. Beforehand I was wondering about who they would bring as rhythm section, but in fact they did bring the album line-up with Gene Hoglan on drums and Steve DiGiorgio on bass. Gene sat up high on his drum throne, while the rest of them were moving around, stepping on a raiser when they played solos and such. They all were having a really good time, Chuck handed out branded sweat bands and Eric’s picks to almost every one. The songs sounded tight, a tad more aggression than on the album, especially the songs from the earlier albums. Each of the instrumentalist got a bit of time to play a solo, which I found rather dull, and would have preferred another song or two. Check said in one of their introductions that they selected songs that they rarely played live and left the once they always played out. So we only got First Strike Still Deadly from the debut, and no less than 3 songs of The New Order. No DNR, no Alone in the Dark or Apocalyptic City. But Eyes of Wrath, Low, Souls of Black and the instrumental Urotsukidôji. Never the less a very good gid and with a set of about 110 minutes quite a good deal. Caught one of Gene’s sweat band after the two encores and got one of Eric’s picks.