As thrash gigs go, there are very few bands that are as capable than the pair on this lineup, and they have brought a healthy slab of death metal along for the ride. Finishing off their UK leg of the current tour, Testament have returned to the famed Koko with Annihilator and Vader in tow, each as legendary in their field as the next, it is set to be a night that will end with sore necks all around.
As it seemed with quite a few, we arrive expecting doors to open at 7pm, to already find it well under way, Vader were kicking the show off and despite not being of the same style as the rest of the bill, they have a fan base in force and making their presence known. Our friends in Krysthla had just finished a stint in Europe on the road with them and could not contain how great they were. It is a shame when a band like Vader is opening up, the struggle to get a full venue early is always real, people are still arriving, some still in pubs etc, but celebrating 25 years of the debut album did get them a worthy size crowd that lapped up the tight, disgruntled, hellish sound that they do so well.
Next up are quite probably the most underrated or forgotten thrash metal band going, Annihilator. Jeff Waters is a genius monster of a riff machine, the things he does for younger up and coming bands and musicians to aid them in growing is unbelievable, he is an all-round great person and that doesn’t end when he hits the stage. Forever the showman, his interactions with the crowd were never over indulgent and often with great humour. A great mixed set through the era that led to the ever expected Alison Hell, then the band hold off for a minute as they welcome on a young twelve-year-old guest to play them into it. Cheers and support all around from the crowd, the lad puts out an impressive show, parenting clearly done right! The set seems too short for such a great band, headliners in their own right, they sadly seem to finish all too soon and close the show with ‘Phantasmagoria’.
It goes without saying that Annihilator have got the venue fully pumped up, their Anal Eater banner courtesy of Testament may not have made the trip, but they hadn’t forgotten as we see the stage being prepared for the headliners with a homemade testicle banner hanging high.
Testament kick off a strong into the recent albums title track ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’, it begins an onslaught of massive proportion with such a colossal set. A total of 17 songs fill their time, and even then they find the time for each man to have their own solo performance. The set throws in some special rarely played tracks that have the crowd eating out the palm of their hands, the energy is high and the place never stops moving. Even joking around with security before their set about crowd surfers could not prepare them for the mass of people thrown their way, so much so we are booted from the photo pit to make room just for security to handle to pressure. Even Chuck mentions a conversation had with security before the show on the expected crowd surfers with a sly, sinister smile across their face. ‘Into the Pit’ is then what really picks up the movement. Each solo performance from the band seems to have them play some great leads, notably was Skolnick who seemed to go into a Metal Allegiance ‘fallen heroes’ path with some real classic songs being thrown in.
Filling approx an hour and forty minutes with very little of a break didn’t seem to take any toll on them, and quite honestly if it wasn’t for travelling home, I am more than sure everyone would stay well after curfew just to see them carry on all night. Back 13 years ago they recorded a performance at this very venue, but even that had nothing on tonight. Having been lucky enough to have seen Testament four or five times live now, this has by far been their best and one that will forever be hard to beat. Playing with an energy of 20-year-olds, these dogs haven’t lost their spirit yet. This will go down easily as one of the best live shows this year without a shadow of a doubt.