With all the sidewave competition that was on last night, it was relieving to see a full house at the Espy for thrash metal’s unofficial fifth party to the Big Four of thrash. Denim jackets, long hair, jugs of beer and all round smiles were the tender sentiments that graced those hard wooden floors of the Espy’s infamous Gershwin room late last evening. HEAVY’s Issue 8 cover artist, King Parrot, had been added as support days before the show, this only added to the night as King Parrot once again prove why they must be seen to be properly appreciated (and insulted?). Although the crowd took some warming up initially, the usual array of moshpits, circle pits, crowd surfing and hair in the face found their way into the Gershwin room to make for a night of old school induced metal frenzy.
After a lukewarm response from the crowd during the first 4-5 songs, King Parrot’s main man Matt Young, was having none of it. He gestures to the crowd as if to say ‘are you bored? Well so are we.’ Following this, Youngy urges the crowd for a better reaction to the second half of their set. As expected, the group of metalheads towards the front of the stage respond positively to the lead singers instructions. Its difficult to get away with just standing there if you’re near the front of stage at a King Parrot show, inevitably you will get caught in the cross-hairs of Young’s menacing glare and eventually be drawn to the mosh.
Its not all threatening ‘get in the pit’ death stares though as you are likely to end up laughing at Bass player, Slatts, crude and dry humour, at one point remarking “This next one is one of ours”. Even though most of the crowd wasn’t quite ready for the extremity and in-your-faceness of King Parrot, all eyes were on the beak.
As The Faceless’s Autotheism blared across the Espy speakers between sets, Melbournian metalheads were growing anxious as King Parrot had cut their set short and the amount of time waiting for the ’80s thrash titans had been extended. The crowd bunched forward in anticipation and the expected ‘Test-Ah-Ment’ chants slowly began. It wasn’t long after this that Chuck Billy and his crew tore across the stage with the frontman’s trademark starter “Are You Ready?!”.
The opening track of the set, and opening track of latest album Dark Roots Of Earth, ‘Rise up’, showed Testament still had the zazz that keeps bands interesting after 11 studio albums and 27 years. Skolnick’s virtuoso like guitar playing was spot on, even if it was hard to hear at times due to the apparent wishy washy overall sound that was produced. This was the only true low point of the evening. The sound just wasn’t that great for Testament. Billy’s vocals seemed to have far too much reverb, as did the guitars, all whilst the drums slightly overpowered everything. Although this was a bit of a shame, the setlist and on stage energy of Testament was enough to forgive this.
Leaving little time in between songs, Testament plowed through a set of early classics such as ‘The New Order’, ‘Practice What You Preach’, ‘Over The Wall’ and ‘The Haunting’, as well as more recent relics like ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ and ‘The Formation Of Damnation’ and of course a selection of tracks off their latest album including the title track, ‘Native Blood’ and ‘True American Hate’, all which were met with as much enthusiasm as songs from their first two albums. Testament displayed astonishing amounts of energy throughout the entire set, except for Chuck, whose years have seemed to catch up with him more so than the rest of the band.
Still, it was only during the last 3-4 songs Chuck seemed to ease up on the accelerator. Lets not forget though that the man has been through a battle with cancer and has an age of 50+. Considering all things and how well his vocals sounded, I’d say hats off to you Chuck. Another year, another sidewave, another great band seen. After all the shenanigans seen over the last week of Soundwave dramas, it was replenishing to see such a legendary band flaunt their excellence in an enclosed environment. Sure, it will be great to see them at Soundwave too, but if you can manage to catch a bands sideshow at these big festivals, you will always be rewarded.
– Photos by Matt Allen