This was one photographing and review opportunity I could not miss! Testament playing at a local O2 Academy in Oxford.
I've been a massive Testament fan from my younger years and still to this day rank them up their with the legends of Heavy Metal, I've seen the band many times and very lucky to meet the guys in the band at past show's, to which they have always stood out to me as absolutely brilliant each time I've seen them, but could tonight top that?
Getting the fans ready for the arrival of Testament was Savage Messiah, once the lights dimmed the band made their way to the stage the night of Thrash was to begin!
Savage Messiah a British Heavy Metal band were formed in London in 2007, the band consists of Dave Silver on Lead Vocals and Guitars, Sam S Junior – Guitars and Backing Vocals, Andrea Gorio on Drums and Míra Sláma on Bass.
Once Savage Messiah played the first riff, they proved why they was the main support for this tour. They offered old school metal and thrash riffs in a young fresh outfit, which is very refreshing and exciting for the future of metal.
Many fans in attendance not only had Testament shirts on but quiet a few loyal Savage Messiah fans came to show their support wearing the Savage Messiah colours, for this young band which has only been going for less then ten years.
The band played various songs from their 3 albums, all to which gave the loyal fans and new fans alike, several opportunities to mosh and headbang and to soak up all the metal goodness which Savage Messiah provide.
I was really impressed with Savage Messiah, they delivered the goods for what is expected at a thrash gig, while converting myself into a fan of themselves and by the loud cheer and the chant for one more song after they finished their set it was apparent that they would be leaving with more fans then when they hit the stage.
Just wished the band did actually come out and play one more song as their set was too short for my liking, left me wanting more!
So if you like good'ol British Metal, give these guys a listen, you won't be disappointed.
After a big stage swap round and the stage prop's where setup the mighty Testament was inbound to lay waste to the patiently waiting Testament fans in attendance, as the lights dimmed, Testament hit the stage.
Thrash Legends Testament are from the Bay Area of San Fransisco; a famous scene for Metal, was formed back in 1983 (under the name The Legacy; then later changed it to Testament).
Testament is made up of some true Metal Icons, Vocalist Chuck Billy, Guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, Bassist Steve DiGiorgio and Drummer Gene "The Atomic" Hoglan.
Testament wasted no time in hitting out a classic and notable thrash song Over The Wall. By the time that Chuck Billy got to the first chorus, I knew from that point that Testament was bang on and sounded absolutely tight, Chuck was on note if not better then the studio recording, Alex and Eric's guitars sounded more raw and crisp then ever, with Steve and Gene giving the bass and drums the sound of thunder coming from the PA system.
Throughout the opening song while I was taking photo's, I was mesmerised by the speed that Eric and Alex was playing at, when it came to the solo's Alex proved why he is regarded one of the best metal guitarist.
As Over The Wall came to a close, Chuck Billy wasted no time in commanding the fans to Rise Up, which is taken from the current Testament album, Darks Roots Of Earth.
Testament certainly made sure that if you was tired or worn out by the music from early on, that the 3 open songs would shake the cob webs from inside your head.
Following on from Rise Up was The Preacher which was taken from their most popular album which put them amongst the big names in the mid 80's that was The New Order. This song was a great crowd participation song, as the mid break involves a sing along with the duelling solo's of Eric and Alex, which is helped by Chuck, though for only a short period as to his surprise and the rest of the band, the fans was able to match or better the volume coming out the PA system.
With a loud roar and cheer from the crowd at the end of The Preacher, Testament blasted into Dog Faced Gods, from their heavier album Low, this showed why Chuck is a Metal Icon singer as he can really have different vocal travel from melodic singing to the growling and deep sounding vocals which is accustomed to Death Metal bands.
Next up on the set was Native Blood After a passionate speech by Chuck Billy about the meaning behind the song, the crowd replied with a loud applause, in no time Eric opened the song with the crushing open riff. This song very quickly showed the fans what the mighty Gene Hoglan is capable of doing behind the drum kit with his blast beats and double bass pedal work.
After a gear swap round the band played Legions Of The Dead, Practice What You Preach and The New Order, which myself and the crowd soaked up all the energy that Testament gave up on stage and gave it back wether that be by singing along to Practice What You Preach or the heavy head banging mid section in The New Order, yet again the guys did not disappoint.
Throughout the night Chuck maintained his high level of fan communication and made sure everyone was having a great time and that this Sunday night would be like no other, to which he dedicated the next song to all the moshers and pit starters, Into The Pit was once again opened by rhythm guitarist master Eric Peterson. Right at the mid section of Into The Pit, Oxford fans gave Testament the mosh pit that they had asked for and did not disappoint.
Just before Testaments encore the band played D.N.R (Do Not Resuscitate), 3 Days In Darkness and More Than Meets The Eye; which are all crowd sing alongs, with all the crowd participation, myself and the others in attendance had only just warmed up to the delight of Testament.
As Testament exited the stage for a 5min break, myself and others chanted "One More Song, One More Song", with a loud cheer, Testament returned.
As the night and set came to a close the band ended with their heavier song and the title track from their album The Formation Of Damnation.
This was to be the final big mosh pit of the night and after a drum introduction by Gene, the last mosh pit of the night began. As the moshing came to a close, Alex greeted the people exiting the pit with a blistering solo, with Eric providing the raw sounding riff of rhythm.
As the song came to a close, myself and the fans yet again gave a louder cheer then the another and last "One More Song" chant began, as we did not want the band to leave the stage.
As Testament took their final bow, every single person in the O2 Academy raised the horns, applauded and cheered Testament as they exited the stage.
My highlight of the night didn't come in the form of a song or moment, but was the bass legend Steve DiGiorgio. I've been fortunate to see Steve perform before at a Festival and was able to meet him, he's a really talented bass player. He has performed and recorded with Testament before but this was my first time seeing him perform with Testament.
What makes Steve so unique to the metal world and to me is the ability to play a fret-less bass guitar for a metal band.
The time that Testament spent on stage during changes of songs, Steve DiGiorgio received various "Steve" chants from myself and the other metal fans throughout the night.
At the begin of the night I wondered could Testament top all the other times I had seen them, well they certainly did and have placed themselves at the top of my best gigs of the year to date!
Savage Messiah 4/5
Review By Robert Knight