The Bay Strikes Back tour roared into Las Vegas on Wednesday April 13th at the House of Blues Las Vegas. Easily the most anticipated thrash metal tour of the year, the Bay Strikes Back tour is taking three legendary Bay Area thrash bands across the country. Death Angel, Exodus and Testament collectively have 122 years experience in the business of head banging, and the HOB show proved why they’re still relevant today. Each band proved its worth by not only playing classic songs from the beginning of thrash, but also promoting brand new tracks from their latest releases. Some artists get mellow with age but if the new songs are any indication, these three just get angrier. Maybe its because they’ve been trapped inside for two years having tour after tour cancelled from Covid, but when the lights went down, it was like the floodgates opened. Sheer musical brutality, unrelenting aggression and yes - a damn good time.
The evening started with the pure explosive force that is Death Angel. The beast himself, Will Carroll, back from his near death covid experience and stronger than ever, beat his drums like they owed him money! There was no shortage of incredible drummers
playing that night- with Tom Hunting and the return of Dave Lombardo, but Will Carroll is truly a force of nature behind the kit. The night kicked off with “Evil Priest” from their much lauded The Ultra-Violence album and I’ll say it- having Carroll and bassist Damien Sisson playing that song kicks up the energy level to 11- way more than the original recording. This isn’t your 80’s Death Angel, this is Death Angel for a more pissed off world. The dual guitar attack of Ted Aguilar and founding member Rob Cavestany reverberated through the packed House of Blues during 1990’s “Seemingly Endless Time”. They play off each other with surgical precision, Ted’s steady rhythms allowing Rob’s solos to soar through the moshing masses.
Speaking of soaring, there can be no mention of Death Angel without talking about its not so secret weapon, Mark Osegueda. Arguably the best voice in thrash metal, Osegueda is the rare vocalist
whose voice is actually better now than it was in the 80s. In recent years, many have realized that truth. His pitch perfect screams and vibrato growls can heard with metal supergroup, Metal Allegiance and the most recent Carlos Santana album. His stage presence is unmatched in the world of thrash, where many vocalists hide behind a mic stand or attempt an Ozzy style back and forth meandering. Mark is in fighting shape and the stage is his ring. He flies through the air, bangs his head like a teenager and still hits those notes. Thankfully, the House of Blues was serving all its drinks in plastic cuz if not, I swear his screams might have shattered the glass!
The highlight of the show was the title track from the now classic album, 2013’s The Dream Calls For Blood. One can only hope that next year, we’ll get a ten year anniversary tour for that thrashterpiece! Song after song, Death Angel had the crowd in a frenzy. Being the first band seemed to bring out their most competitive elements. They weren’t just a warm up act, they were the band to beat that night. Death Angel took no prisoners and left the House of Blues drenched in sweat and wanting more.
With just enough time to grab a drink, Exodus took the stage to the pounding opening beat of “The Beatings Will Continue”, from their newest album, Persona Non Grata.
The rumors that Tom Huntings cancer scare would leave him unable to fulfill his Exodus duties proved to be wildly untrue. Hunting attacked the skins, providing the beat for a huge mosh pit to open up before the guitars even tore through the venue. The pit grew to epic proportions when Exodus ripped into “A Lesson in Violence” from their thrash classic- Bonded By Blood. Bassist Jack Gibson matches the intensity of Hunting and provided the backbone for the dual guitar attack of Lee Altus and Gary Holt. Fresh off his time with the now retired Slayer, Gary Holt is still one of the best guitarists in metal. His distinctive tone is unmatched live. You don’t just hear Gary Holt play guitar, you feel it though every bone in your body. That tone combined with his lightning fast fret work propelled Dukes era classics like “Deathamphetamine” and Baloff era mainstays like “Bonded By Blood”.
The crowd was in frenzy for the entire Exodus set. Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza did a stellar job as a frontman leading the charge of the metal masses. Do I believe Zet is the best singer in thrash? No…I don’t even believe Zet is the best singer in Exodus, but he gets the job done. His skills as a frontman far outweigh any shortcomings he has as a vocalist. His performance was a masters class in working a crowd into a metal fueled hysteria. The climax was the massive wall of death he commandeered during the set finale of “The Strike of the Beast”. A mosh pit of biblical proportions, the packed floor parted like the Red Sea with Zetro being the Metal Moses. Following his cue, the bodies slammed into each other in a synchronized mass of denim, leather and sweat.
By the time the lights came up, a sea of metal maniacs limped to the bar to rehydrate for the upcoming onslaught of the long awaited return of the Dave Lombardo fueled Testament.
- Cip Copriano
Testament took the stage for a powerpacked set of thier most notable thrash standards, backed by the return of the master Dave Lombardo, and it ewas something to see. Frontman and vocalist Chuck Billy commanded the stage as "Catacombs" echoed through the room, and they were off... Alex Skolnick was on fire and shared solos with Eric Peterson while Steve DiGiorgio held down the rhythm end with Lombardo beating the hell out if the drums. The club was packed, the pit was moving, the stage was frenetic and the show was another legendary notch in the Bay Area thrash giants' belt.
TESTAMENT photos Harold Mountain/JustAFanPhotos
EXODUS photos Harold Mountain/JustAFanPhotos
DEATH ANGEL photos Harold Mountain/JustAFanPhotos