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Anthrax - November 17, 2011 - Stage AE, Pittsburgh

By: David E. Gehlke

Anthrax last hit Pittsburgh in 2003, playing the much smaller Metropol, which in contrast to the spacious (and really LOUD) Stage AE, is quite the jump. Of course, having Joey Belladonna back out front and a monster of an album to support in Worship Music is a sure-fire way to bring fans back out in droves, and they were on this night. Heck, an Ozzy Osbourne/Gene Simmons doppelganger was in the house, and even he looked like he was having a good time…

In support was Death Angel and Testament, two bands cut from the same thrash cloth, making this as spotless of a bill as one could find this year. Death Angel were up first, relying heavily on cuts from their classic The Ultra-Violence and Frolic Through the Park albums. Singer Mark Osegueda and his mile-long dreadlocks were in full effect, as the band’s highly-energetic stage presence got the crowd moving early with “Mistress of Pain” and “Seemingly Endless Time.” Afforded only 30 minutes, Death Angel did what they could, wrapping up with the dicing “Thrown to the Wolves.”

On their last touring round before next year’s The Dark Roots of Earth hits, Testament wisely kept to their cadre of thrash world-beaters, opening with “The Preacher,” heading right into “New Order.” Singer Chuck Billy busted out a lighted stage mic, resembling that of a Star Wars light saber, much to the delight of the throng of nerds in attendance, including our own Dan Barkasi. On the drum throne this night was John Tempesta (Rob Zombie, The Cult) and his effortless handling of the band’s brutal and zippy set was commendable, if not remarkable given whom the man has been playing with. In fact, he might even be better than the oft-injured Paul Bostaph, who was sitting out this tour with…another injury.

No real surprises from Testament’s set, with “Envy Life,” “Practice What You Preach,” “3 Days of Darkness,” “Over the Wall” and “DNR” (among others) being played at ear-shattering loud volume. In fact, the band was too loud for their own good, with the usually crystal-clear leads of Alex Skolnick getting buried in the mix, which is a shame. Nevertheless, Testament should have a nice head of steam going into the release of their forthcoming tenth studio album.

Having the benefit of an album designed to go over with ease in the live setting, Anthrax was smart enough to mix in cuts from Worship Music with songs from the Belladonna-era, eschewing any John Bush-sung songs. Benefiting from a much clearer sound than Testament, Anthrax was firing on all cylinders once opener “Earth Is On Hell” hit, which segued perfectly into another new song, “Fight ‘Em Until You Can’t.” Belladonna is on top of his game, like he has been all year, able to hit the screechy highs on crowd-pleaser “Caught In A Mosh” and “In the End.” If there is a better singer in classic thrash right now than Belladonna, then point him out to us.

Suitably, the crowd went bonkers when “Antisocial,” “Got the Time,” “Indians,” and “Among the Living” were aired, and the inherent catchiness of strength of these songs in the live arena gives credence to the notion Anthrax is very capable of taking out the rest of the Big 4 onstage. Think about it: Mustaine can barely sing anymore, Tom Araya can’t headbang and forgets the words, and Metallica has long underperformed their mainstay songs. Anthrax has no flaw the present time in their live presentation. In what was easily one of the best shows Blistering has seen in quite some time, Anthrax on this night, looked unbeatable.



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