Thrash Domination live report: Californian thrash at its best with Testament, Exodus and Warbringer
With two legendary Bay Area thrash metal bands and one splendid newer thrash metal band from LA, it was an all-Californian affair at this year’s Thrash Domination festival at Club Citta. And what a night of thrash glory it was! Roppongi Rocks reports from the first day of the latest edition of Thrash Domination.
Thrash Domination with Testament, Exodus and Warbringer at Club Citta, Kawasaki, 10th February 2018
Club Citta’s mini thrash metal festival Thrash Domination premiered in 2004 and this past weekend’s festival was the 12th edition. Exodus and Testament have both appeared multiple times and they are always welcomed with open arms by their Japanese fans.
As opening act, LA thrash metal band Warbringer has a 50-minute set and they use their limited time wisely. They perform the 2017 album “Woe of the Vanquished” in its entirety. The eight tracks from that album are terrific and straightforward thrash metal, a perfect opening set for Thrash Domination. They round off their set with “Combat Shock” from “War Without End”, their 2008 debut album. Vocalist John Kevill is the only original member still in the band, but despite a bit of a revolving door with members coming and going, Warbringer has somehow managed to keep it together musically. This afternoon in Kawasaki, the band’s second time playing in Japan, they deliver and they get the respect they deserve from the audience. As long as they can establish a somewhat stable line-up, I reckon this band will continue to grow and become bigger. They’re already a terrific act.
Due to Gary Holt’s commitments with Slayer, Exodus has in recent years been forced to tour with a replacement guitarist. Not so this time. With Slayer having some time off before they embark on a massive farewell tour, Holt was available and joined his Exodus mates on stage. From the very first song he seemed so fired up and eager to perform, one could almost touch his energy. It was so great to see Holt back on stage with the band.
Another returnee is frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza who returned to the band in 2014 for a third stint. Zetro is a great fit for Exodus and he delivers. I’ve said it before and I am saying it again: the current line-up of Exodus is the best ever. They’re working on a new album and no doubt it will be very heavy, fast and furious. They open their set strongly with “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles” before we get the title track from their most recent album, “Blood In, Blood Out”. Then we get the first of several old classics in “And Then There Were None”. We get many of my favourite Exodus songs this evening, including “Blacklist” “Body Harvest”, “Fabulous Disaster” and “A Lesson in Violence”. They close a high-energy set with a trio of classics: “Bonded by Blood”, “The Toxic Waltz” and “Strike of the Beast”. Another solid Japan win for this band who has a very loyal following here.
Following last year’s headline shows in Japan, the Testament men are back once again and they, of course, deliver a great show which they open with “Brotherhood of the Snake”, “Rise Up” and “The Pale King”. This band has several things that make them stand above many other acts. The fine balance in the make-up of the current line-up is one of them. They have a rock solid rhythm section in Steve Di Giorgio on bass and Gene Hoglan on drums. On the guitars they have a perfect combo in two very different musicians: Eric Peterson is a terrific thrash metal guitarist while Alex Skolnick is a rare animal in the thrash metal kingdom. He’s more of a splendid mix of, say, Ace Frehley, Doug Aldrich and Marty Friedman, than your typical thrash metal guitarist. He’s an exceptional guitarist who brings in some great influences from far outside thrash metal into Testament’s music. Combining Skolnick and Peterson works a treat over the solid rhythm foundation. And when topped off with Chuck Billy, one of the best-ever thrash metal vocalists, it is very powerful. Testament now has a terrific line-up that I hope remains in place. A fab evening is finished off with “Practice What You Preach” and “Disciples of the Watch”.
Thrash Domination is always a terrific mini festival with world-class thrash metal on stage. I am already looking forward to future editions.