San Francisco, California-
Most metalheads know that Chuck Schuldiner of Death/Control Denied
and Testament's Chuck Billy were both diagnosed with forms of
cancer in the last couple of years, and the metal community of
fans, musicians and industry reps has been busy ever since raising
money through various benefits and contributions. Since the Bay
Area in the mid-to-late '80s was the very breeding ground for
thrash metal's greatest movement, some promoters and fans along
with Chuck Billy himself got it together to have a benefit for
the families of each by getting together many of the now-defunct
area legends (and some other genre stalwarts) for a one-night
only festival at San Francisco's Maritime Hall. Rivaling Jack
Koshick's annual Miwaukee Metalfest, the event was set for Saturday,
August 11th and almost 2,000 raging maniacs jammed the venue to
witness one of metal's greatest nights in recent years. With S.O.D./M.O.D.
frontman Billy Milano acting as Master Of Ceremonies for the occasion,
a few jokes were cracked and the event got under way about 4p.m.
Kicking off the performances was
and the crowd was fully satisfied with the start of "Open
The Grave" from their Breaking The Silence debut.
The band fumbled through the Sweet cover "Set Me Free"
(showing that they were probably the least rehearsing band) although
they regained their composure with the formidable "Goblin's
Blade." Guitarist Lee Altus seemed hesitant at times and
vocalist David White-Godfrey (now a born again Christian) looked
a tad awkward and out of place, although their performances were
definitely credible. Ending with "Opiate Of The Masses,"
Heathen then left the stage with a heartfelt salute to Chuck Billy.
Flotsam And Jetsam
(who were added to the bill after Laaz Rockt pulled out) quickly
tore into classics "Hammerhead," "No Place For
Disgrace" and "Hard On You" and with their tightness
and fluent changes it was evident that the band was fresh from
touring. Rumors of original Flotsam and ex-metallica bassist Jason
Newsted attending the event were squashed as the band furthered
their set ("The Master Sleeps" and new song "Dig
Me Up To Burry Me" form the My God release), but the
hungry crowd were still very attentive and reactive. As it turned
out this would be vocalist Eric A.K.'s last stand with Flotsam,
ending his 15 years and eight album career with the band.
may have been the most unfitting band for the bill, but their
technical brand of death-thrash was anxiously welcomed by the
Maritime crowd. Guitarist / vocalist Darren Travis and bassist
Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Dragonlord, Control Denied) commanded
the stagefront as drummer Jon Allen put on one of the more exhausting
performances of the night. Running through eight numbers including
"Sadus Attack," "Aggression," "Facelift"
and crowd favorite "Hands Of Fate" (not to mention some
brand new material) Sadus were as intimidating as they were sonically
Next up were the always underrated Forbidden
(going under original name Forbidden Evil),
who note for note may have been Bay Area Thrash's most talented
act ever. Vocalist Russ Anderson and original Forbidden/ex-Testament
guitarist Glen Alvelais may be physically bigger than ever before
but still had the fire for their old material (Anderson shied
away from a few of his patented Halford-esque wails however).
"Forbidden Evil" and "Off The Egde," both
from the band's stellar 1998 Forbidden Evil debut, got
things started as the band seemed comfortable and very much enjoying
themselves. Surprising to everyone, current Slayer and original
Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph showed up fresh off the Extreme
Steel tour to lend his chops for a few songs as the band plunged
into "Through Eyes Of Glass." Ex-guitarist Tim Calvert
(who left Nevermore in the last year or so) also showed up to
lend a hand (or two) with "One Foot In Hell." The stunning
"Chalice Of Blood" closed things out on the perfect
guitarist Rob Cavestany, singer Mark Osegueda and powerhouse drummer
Andy Galeon have been active in their more melodic band Swarm
for the last few years, so it was expected that DA were tho show
up in great form. Man did they! Playing (and looking) as though
they were still in their early 20s, the band jumped in
feet first with "Evil Priest" and "Varacious Souls"
from their debut The Ultraviolence, and three songs later
("Mistress Of Pain," "Kill As One" and "Thrashers")
they had given the crowd over half of the sacred album. Bassist
Gus Pepa showed up with mohawk intact, and the Philippine thrash
express gave the Maritime an unforgetable 45-minute set (promising
one last headlining local show before the end of the year). Cavestany's
extended rants to the crowd became a bit excessive, but they proved
to be necessary breaks as Death Angel easily blasted up the best
performance of the night rounded out with "Bored" and
"Seemingly Endless Time."
Following Death Angel is a tough
piece of work, and Exodus soon fell
victim as they plummeted into "Pleasures Of The Flesh"
and namesake "Exodus." Although the band certainly picked
the right material for the night ("And Then There Were None,"
"No Love," "Bonded By Blood," "Piranha")
their looseness coupled with guitarist Gary Holt's technical problems
gave the entire set a tongue-in-cheek feel. Vocalist Paul Baloff
was joined by his old replacement Steve "Zetro" Souza
(also Legacy's original vocalist) for a duet on "Braindead"
although Zet's vocal mic wasn't switched on for most of his lines
(ouch!). Even without Kirk Hammett showing up, as some had mentioned,
Exodus was certainly the crowd favorite of the night.
and S.O.D. have both been visible
in the last few years so their appearances seemed a little less
anticipated, although S.O.D. turned in a joyous performance consisting
solely of March Of The S.O.D. material (less their take
on M.O.D.'s "Aren't You Hungry"). Scott, Danny, Charlie
and Billy kicked through "Kill Yourself," "Milano
Mosh," "Douche Crew," "Fish Banging Mania,"
"Milk," "Pussy Whipped," "Freddy Krueger"
and more while handing out a few standard ballads to Jimi Hendrix,
Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Joey Ramone amongst others. Anthrax's
opener "Among The Living" quickly raised the crowd's
attention and approval, as they followed nicely with "Metal
Thrashing Mad," "Caught In A Mosh" and "Indians."
The biggest surprise of the set was the inclusion of "Gung
Ho" from Spreading The Disease, a thrash whirlwind
not performed live in many years.
caused quite a stir a decade ago with their relentless viscosity
and lyrical insightfulness regarding corrupt government, harsh
reality and blind courage; and fittingly the fans buzzed with
much excitement as the band hit the stage with "Kill On Command"
and "Eternal Nightmare." Frontman Sean Killian never
looked more pissed and poised for revolution as he and the band
assaulted the crowd with a total of nine songs including "Serial
Killer," "Officer Nice," "Phobophobia"
and the stellar "World In A World." Without original
guitarist/Machine Head leader Robb Flynn, Vio-lence were well
rehearsed and took complete control of the crowd, finishing with
the ultra pit-friendly "I Profit."
Guest of honor, Legacy,
took the stage at 2 a.m. and the tired and beaten crowd prepared
for one last battle as "Raging Waters," "Alone
In The Dark," "Burnt Offerings" and "The Haunting"
lead the way. Zet Souza gleamed with excitement as did Testament
guitarist Eric Peterson, and the crowd couldn't have been any
more receptive. Ex-Exodus/Testament/White Zombie and current Rob
Zombie drummer John Tempesta joined in the fun as well as Paul
Bostaph, while lead guitarist Alex Skolnick (departed from Testament
for almost a decade) played as if he had been absent for a only
few rehearsals. Legacy/Testament bassist Greg Christian turned
the low-end over to Steve DiGiorgio for a couple of numbers, as
the set list proceeded with "First Strike Is Deadly,"
"Over The Wall" and "Reign Of Terror." The
man of the hour Chuck Billy then took the mic and thanked everyone
for their generosity and metal unity before heading home (as well
as saying thanks on behalf of Chuck Schuldiner and his family),
and much to everyone's zealousness Billy and the band ended with
the Testament classic, "Into The Pit."
The exhausted and bedazzled crowd
filtered out onto the San Francisco streets in awe of what was
just witnessed, and while everyone could feel good about seeing
the event, the real accomplishment was the money raised for both
of the Chuck's families. Thrash Of The Titans will be remembered
by many for quite some time, especially to all those who had a
hand in making it happen...thank you.
Special thanks to Gery Nible
for keeping accurate set lists.