Testament, Exodus and Shattered Sun at the West Hollywood House of Blues, April 2, 2015
There’s little you can do to prepare yourself for a night of metal when it comes to the masters of Thrash in the forms of Exodus, Testament and promising newcomers Shattered Sun. The West Hollywood House of Blues is still standing for now, but these three bands did their damnest to destroy the venue before the planned upon date.
Recently signed to Victory Records, Shattered Sun is a metal band from southern Texas that got the attention of management firm Breaking Bands, which includes Megaforce Records’ founders Jon and Marsha Zazula, metal publicist Maria Ferraro and Testament’s Chuck Billy. Their debut album Hope Within Hatred shows the band willing to include some accessible melodies, clean vocals and breakdowns inside their thrash metal core. On the House of Blues stage the young band tore it up and performed with as much enthusiasm and sweat they could muster, thanking the quickly packed venue for coming early and supporting them. They shot fireworks out of their guitars, traded clean and clenched vocals, got our heads banging with breakdowns, melodic segments and powerhouse percussion in their thrilling yet short set. Shattered Sun is a band to watch on the metal scene!
Exodus was up next, Steve “Zetro” Souza back in the fold to amaze the audience with his powerful clenched vocals, and from the first minute of Black 13 there were crowd surfers, moshing and mayhem as the band ripped into the first song off their latest (and in my opinion, greatest) album Blood In, Blood Out, the title song followed the first in quick succession, Exodus intent on causing sore necks and deafness. Children of a Worthless God was up next, Gary Holt pounding a circular guitar riff, Souza joined by the band singing “I you fear, seeing through your lies/ You I fear, raping of innocent minds” followed by stunning leads from Holt and Lee Altus. Barely giving the fans a second to catch their breath, Exodus hit us with a slower pace at the beginning of Tempo of the Damned, segueing into the speed metal second half as Holt and Altus scrambled our minds with more astounding guitar work.
As featured on their merchandise, 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of debut album Bonded By Blood, the band showing no signs of slowing down as they attacked our ears with some classick thrash metal on the title track, Souza chanting “Bang your head as if up from the dead/ Intense metal is all that you need” and the masses went wild, bodies flying to the foot of the stage. After that we did the Toxic Waltz, the band’s mighty groove causing more good-natured violence, slamming bodies careening off each other in the pit, fists raised as we sang along “Everybody’s doing the toxic waltz/ Kick your friend in the head and have a ball.” Exodus left us in pools of sweat, closing their set with the breakneck Strike of the Beast, the chaotic bass and drums barely holding the song together as Holt and Altus tortured their guitars into spouting more and more intense and evil licks and solos.
After a short break to mop the floors and chug more beer, Testament began their set with Over the Wall, from their debut The Legacy, released in April of 1987. In four short minutes the band demonstrated why they are still today one of the originators of the thrash/speed metal genre. The Haunting followed, with rapid fire vocals and Alex Skolnick’s twisting guitar leads, the rhythm section winding us up and up and up until Skolnick hit us with solo after searing solo. The Preacher began with Skolnick’s amusing guitar riff, the band setting into a fast groove, Chuck Billy spitting the lyrics “In 1906/ Like the future predicts/ The city will crumble to the bay/ Then what’s in store/ When the worlds go to war?“
The band continued with more songs off of The Legacy, leaving me wanting to hear something more contemporary, evidence that the band has continued to make music, especially anything off their latest album Dark Roots of the Earth from 2012 or The Formation of Damnation from 2008. But the fans seemed sated by the set from the late 80’s. Ears ringing louder than they had in years, I left the fans to watch the rest of the set as I staggered out into the warm Spring air, eyes dazed by strobed lights, head full of slashing guitars and super-fast drum beats.
(Review by Bret Miller – Photos by Jack Lue)