Who would have guessed that three bands that helped spark the Bay Area Thrash scene in the 1980s would continue to create new music and tour forty years later? These Thrash Metal pioneers – Testament, Exodus and Death Angel – stopped by Showbox Sodo in Seattle near the end of this leg of their Bay Strikes Back 2022 tour, which ends in Sacramento. The tour then returns to Europe for the summer, then the second leg of the North American tour takes place in the fall.
The show started earlier than the advertised 8pm start time, but the crowd came out early and was full when Death Angel – Mark Osegueda (vocals), Rob Cavestany (guitar), Ted Aguilar (guitar), Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) – took the stage. The band are on tour in support of their latest release, 2019 Humanicide. Death Angel’s set still covers their entire back catalog, which is great when they’re playing a mix of new tracks and classics. No time was wasted getting the crowd into a frenzy, starting with “Evil Priest” and moving on to “Voracious Souls” and “Seemingly Endless Time.” Osegueda thanked the room for coming early, saying he knew Seattle loved their trash metal and asked everyone to turn up the intensity while the band played “Claws So Deep” and “The Moth.” . The latter not only moshed and crowd-surfed in a huge circular pit. The set ended with “Thrown to the Wolves”.
One of the earliest bands in the thrash metal genre, Exodus – Steve “Zetro” Souza (vocals), Gary Holt (guitar), Lee Altus (guitar), Jack Gibson (bass) & Tommy Hunting (drums) – were alongside take the stage. To say that this group is legendary is an understatement. Every show is always there, and this evening was no exception. The latest version of Exodus is that of 2021 Persona non grata, and the band started their set with “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)”. They then proceeded to return their breakthrough album Bound by blood, tearing up “A Lesson in Violence”. The crowd was enraged – the moshing and crowd surfing intensified to the beat of “Blood In, Blood Out”, “Deathamphetamine” and “Prescriving Horror”. The loudest response and hardest moshing was during “Piranha”, “Bonded By Blood”, “The Toxic Waltz” – where guitarist Holt teased the audience with intro riffs to “Raining Blood” by Slayer – and “Strike of the Beast”, which had Souza telling the crowd to split the room in two like the Red Sea parting and stand on either side. He proceeded to count down and the audience charged at each other, creating a “wall of death”. Holt and Souza saw a young fan in the crowd with a sign saying it was his birthday, and this fan was brought on stage to scratch a few bars with the band during “Strike of the Beast”.
Testament does not need to be presented. They are definitely one of the most popular bands on the Bay Area Thrash scene. Probably the hardest job they have on this tour is tracking Exodus. The latest version of Testament dates from 2020 titans of creation. Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” played over the PA system as the crowd grew impatient waiting for the band to take the stage. The house lights went out and “Catacombs” – the last instrumental track from titans of creation – floated over the PA system. One by one, starting with Dave Lombardo (drums), followed by Eric Peterson (guitar), Alex Skolnik (guitar), Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and Chuck Billy (vocals), the band opened their superb set with “Children of the Next Level” and launched directly into “The Pale King” and “The New Order”.
Billy, with his huge personality and stage presence, prowled around the stage, continually interacting with the crowd. He is also an accomplished air guitarist, playing as Skolnik or Peterson work their way through the solos.
Lombardo, famous for being the original drummer for metal icons Slayer, recently joined Testament after more than two decades. He recently replaced drummer Gene Hoglan. Testamant focused his set on releases such as The Gathering, The New Order, and Titans of Creation. The band tackled many fan favorites such as “WWIII”, “Eyes of Wrath”, “Legions of the Dead”, and “Night of the Witch”.
The start of “Souls of Black” saw DiGiorgio take center stage and play some riffs from Metallica’s “Orion” before launching into a bass solo.
You would have thought that after almost three hours of heavy thrash metal the crowd would run out of energy, but that was not the case. The piece was a sea of headbutts, punches, and body moshing that only stopped between songs. This was quite evident during “Into the Pit”, which is dedicated to those who enjoy entering the circular pit.
The Bay Strikes Back in Seattle ended with “Disciples of the Watch”. The crowd sang for more as the band made their exit, throwing drumsticks, drumheads and picks at the crowd. Steve Wonder’s “Superstition” played over the sound system, signaling the end of one of the best and heaviest shows to come in a while.
The second leg of the Bay Strikes Back North American Tour begins in Phoenix, Arizona on September 9 and ends October 15, with the final leg being in San Jose, California. It’s a must-see show!
The Bay Tour Strikes Back
List of will sets
Upper level children
Practice what you preach
The new order
World War III
eyes of anger
DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)
Legions of the Dead
Souls of Black (preceded by Steve DiGiorgio bass lead)
Over the wall
In the pit
Disciples of the Guard
Blows will continue (until morale improves)
A lesson in violence
Blood in, blood out
The years of death and dying
Bound by blood
The Toxic Waltz
List of Angels of Death
A seemingly endless time
Claws in So Deep
The dream calls for blood
Thrown to the wolves