Review by Lucy Gliddon and Photos by Lucy Gliddon
With 2008’s The Formation of Damnation, Testament made a more-than-welcome return to the metal scene with an album that had the band’s identity stamped all over it, no doubt in part to Alex Skolnick returning to the ranks. July 2012 saw Testament return with Dark Roots of Earth, a phenomenal album that’s a wall-to-wall showcase of the band’s trademarks and displays thrash at its best. And so, in support of that album, the thrash titans headline tour lands in Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall with two bands in tow.
Openers Xerath showcased an impressive set of orchestral groove metal, with an incredibly tight delivery. This four-piece are extremely proficient musicians and exude an interesting stage presence but they would have been appreciated much more if they had been booked on a more suitable bill. But despite being unlikely to win over many people in a room full of thrash fans, they still managed to hold the crowd’s attention.
Reading metalcore quintet Malefice may have become increasingly popular within their genre and have built up a solid fanbase but as with Xerath, tonight’s thrash-hungry crowd – and a few hecklers – confirmed that they weren’t the best choice of support for Testament. Despite a lukewarm reception, the band completed the task at hand and left the crowd excited for the headliners.
After witnessing a solid performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, anticipation of a more intimate Testament show was high and as the band tore through opener ‘Rise Up’, they weren’t about to disappoint. Looking and sounding good, although the band may have matured since their heyday, they still bear the energy and venom of their youth. Unlike so many other “mature” bands, Testament can still get the job done – and extremely well.
Classics ‘The New Order’ and ‘The Preacher’ went down especially well with those in the crowd who would’ve seen the band back in the day. Virtuosos Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson are particularly impressive; Peterson’s riffs are complimented by Skolnick’s solos and licks to create a perfect guitar partnership. Frontman Chuck Billy sounded great throughout the whole set; his unmistakeable roar clearly audible above the mix as he roamed the stage performing his vintage mic stand air guitar. With the set featuring newer tracks ‘Native Blood’, ‘True American Hate’, ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ and ‘Dark Roots of Earth’, the crowd are treated to a triple old-school blast of ‘Into the Pit’, ‘Practice What You Preach’ and ‘Over the Wall’. And with an encore of ‘D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate)’, ‘3 Days in Darkness’ and ‘The Formation of Damnation’, the evening is topped off with an entertaining and exhausting thrash fix, leaving fans thrashed out and eager for more.
And you can see more photos from the show below: