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Testament Live in Portland

By Sefany Jones, Contributing Editor
Friday, January 17, 2003 @ 9:48 AM

Testament, Vio-lence, Exhumed

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REVIEW BY: Chris Slack

When we set off for Portland the weather was pretty nasty here in Seattle with lots of rain and 60 MPH winds. I was worried that this would be a bad omen for what could be one of the best shows of the year. But with a shiny new rental car, turn by turn maps from Mapquest and 2 liters of pre-mixed Kamikazis (no, we were not drinking and driving)… what could go wrong? Not much actually other than the map telling us to turn right to get to the hotel when we really needed to turn left. We settled into our hotel room at 6:30 PM, ordered some pizza and kicked back a few drinks to get ready for the show which, according to the tickets, was scheduled to begin at 9.

We showed up at the Roseland at 8:25 and within a few minutes of arriving Vehemence took the stage. Good thing I insisted on leaving early! Though their set was way too short, the Arizona quintet put on a very tight performance, playing songs from their latest God Was Created” and the debut The Thoughts from Which I Hide. I wondered if they would be able to play their music well in a live setting and was shown that they definitely could. John Chavez and Bjorn Dannov laid down some quality riffage, Andrew Schroeder (drums) and Mark Kozuback (bass) provided a strong rhythm and vocalist Nathan Gearhart belted out some great growls while prowling the stage like a caged animal. For an opener, the sound was pretty good, barring some minor issues with the backing vocals during “She Never Noticed Me.” The only complaint I had was the short set length, hopefully I can see these guys play a full set some time. Vehemence photos from this show can be found here.

Vehemence set list:

Kill for God
You Don’t Have to Be Afraid Anymore
She Never Noticed Me
God Was Created
Whore Cunt Die

Exhumed were next to play on the large Roseland stage. Even though the trademark blood and puking were noticeably absent the Bay Area quartet played a strong 30 minute set of “gore fucking metal” punctuated by cheesy some intros like "This song is about shooting heroin into your neck." I’m not very familiar with their music, but was told that the set was comprised primarily of tracks from Slaughtercult. They introduced a new song called “Death Walks Behind” that sounded pretty damned good. The members of Exhumed all showed good stage presence and the pit showed its first signs of life during their set, a fact that impressed me since the majority of the audience seemed to come for some classic thrash bands. Sound was great for the band and I didn’t notice any technical problems, which is fairly unusual for a support act. Exhumed photos from this show can be found here.

When Vio-lence’s Eternal Nightmares album came out in 1988, it was one of my favorites for a long time. They never made it to Seattle during any of their tours, so I never had the chance to see them in their heyday. While it was somewhat odd to see the majority of them with short hair (I was only familiar with their appearances from old pictures) the lack of hair didn’t prevent them from playing a kick-ass set filled with old classics. Vocalist Sean Killian was all over the stage which, while it did give everyone up front a good view, made it somewhat difficult to capture many good photos of him. Guitars seemed to be tuned down considerable when compared with the way they were original presented, perhaps this was their way of giving the old songs a more modern sound. The pit was pretty furious throughput their set and I found myself putting away the camera quite a few times to indulge in some heavy-duty headbanging. All things said and done, this was one of the most high-energy sets I have ever seen a band put on. The musicianship was spot on and the sound was outstanding, they must have been doing a lot of rehearsing between the few shows they have done since reforming. Hopefully we’ll hear a new album from them before too long and they’ll go a larger scale tour so more people can witness the fury that is Vio-lence live. Vio-lence photos from this show can be found here.

Vio-lence set list (partial)

Eternal Nightmare
Calling In the Coroner
T.D.S. (Take It as You Will)
Bodies on Bodies
Kill On Command
World in a World
Officer Nice

After a quick changeover and a few minutes to completely fill the stage with Metal Fog, thrash legends Testament arrived on the hot Roseland stage to a HUGE pop from the Portland crowd. Even though it had been 2.5 years since they had performed live one never would have known from their set, as they were as tight and professional as any other touring metal band today. They played a good variety of their classics, surprising me with the amount of material they covered from my favorite album, The Legacy. Vocalist Chuck Billy was in fine form -- if his recent bout with cancer hadn’t been so well publicized I never would have guessed he was ever sick. Guitarist Steve Smyth did a great job covering the more technical solos with the only issues being some unwanted feedback at times. Steve Digiorgio was the consummate professional on his fretless bass, laying down complex bass lines while headbanging like a total maniac the majority of the time. I’m not sure if it was nostalgia, the thick fog that covered the stage the majority of the set, or the copious amounts of booze in my system but the band seemed almost larger than life in a way that is usually only achieved by the largest of arena bands. Before leaving they promised a new album and another tour in the summertime. I, for one, look VERY forward to this and hope they will make it to Seattle so I don’t have to travel so far. Testament photos from this show can be found here.

Testament set list (partial):

Over the Wall
Into the Pit
The New Order
Souls of Black
Musical Death (A Dirge)
Eerie Inhabitants
The Preacher
Dog Faced Gods
True Believer
Chasing Fear
Trial by Fire
Raging Waters

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