After photographing Anthrax on April 13th, I had another phenomenal follow up show to review on April 14th at House of Blues Orlando. This time it was Testament. The band originally known as Legacy formed in 1983 with Steve Souza on vocals. He left 3 years later and Chuck Billy, current frontman, took over. In 1987 Legacy changed their name to Testament and they have been thrashing metal around the world ever since. Needless to say I was beyond excited to review and photograph them that evening.
Similar to Thursday night, it was an early start time at the House of Blues and I ensured I got there to cover all the bands. I picked up my photo credentials, made my way through security, and headed inside. Just as with Anthrax, House of Blues Orlando was already jammed packed. Surprisingly though, I was the only photographer there at the moment covering the show. The lights dimmed and I headed into the pit as The Convalescence took the stage.
The band from Toledo, OH has been around since 2011. The band consisting of Keith Wampler (vocals), Brandon Davis (guitar), Zac Lunsford (guitar), Ronald Buckley (bass), Charles Webber (drums), and Katie McCrimmon (keyboard). The death metal band came out all wearing white face paint with black lined patterns, black painted arms, sleeveless vests, and an attitude to thrash the crowd’s faces off. They started out with “Parasite” a heavy thrash song. Keith, Brandon, Zac, and Ronald lined up and all banged their heads in unison as they played. Keith belted out the song with a deep guttural voice and raising it to some awesome screams. They followed it up with “Gorification” which was just as heavy and thrash worthy. Keith once again put out some great vocals. Brandon, Zac, and Ronald put out music definitely worthy to be labeled death metal and kept up a pace that had a mosh pit going in the back. Charles was an absolute beast on the drums with a hard and very fast pace. Katie blended in some haunting sounding keys that fit beautifully with the song. The crowd was definitely starting to get into this band.
Photographing them was a fun time. When the band lined up and head banged in unison it was a cool sight to see. Keith was getting the crowd engaged, especially when he leant towards the barrier singing directly at the front row. Katie was up on a higgher platform with horned animal skulls attached to the front. And Charles was on stage level instead of a drum platform so I had some very clear view to photograph him. The lighting was primarily reds and yellows, which fit this band perfectly. This was the type of music you expect to be lighted in blood red as they thrashed on stage.
They followed up with “I Dreamer” which was even heavier than the other two songs. I was amazed how Keith controls his vocals from deep sound to scream to fast paced singing. The best part is you could see how much fun the band was having on stage. They love their music and appreciate the support from the crowd. They completed their set with “Scum” and “Blind Victim”. They put on set definitely cementing them as a death metal band and an enjoyable set as well. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.
Coming up next was Prong. The band was originally founded in 1986 by Tommy Victor (vocals, guitar). The band went through a number of members over the years and is now currently Tommy, Jason Christopher (bass), and Art Cruz (drums). They released ‘X (No Absolutes)’ in 2016 and are set to release ‘Zero Days’ during the summer of 2017.
The lights dimmed once again and I headed into the pit (this time with another photographer) as Prong took the stage. Tommy was set up with a microphone on the left, Jason stayed on the right, and Art was set up in the center as they opened up with “Ultimate Authority” from ‘X (No Absolutes)’. The song comes out with heavy bass and guitar with a nice headbanging riff. Tommy’s vocals are hard and fast and the crowd was loving it. They followed up with “Beg to Differ” the title track from the 1990 album. The song was a slower in pace, but still hard rock. Prong was jamming hard.
Photographing Prong was definitely fun as Tommy moves around a lot on stage. And Tommy loves to jump. And he gets some great height on his jumps. Other times Tommy high kicked on stage. It was some great footage to capture and to see the energy and passion Tommy puts into his music. The lighting was very good for Prong with some whites and blues and yellows. Prong played hard during the rest of their set including “Unconditional”, “Who’s Fist Is This Anyway?”, and “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” The crowd enjoyed their performance and you can easily see Prong enjoyed playing on stage. Tommy thanked the crowd for supporting them after their set and the crowd replied with a solid round of applause.
Coming up next was Sepultura. Another band that held a legacy being founded in 1984. Coming out of Brazil they impressed fans with their version of thrash metal with their first few albums. After building such a strong fan base over the years those fans were hit with shock and surprise when vocalist Max Cavalera and his brother Igor (drummer) left the band at the end of 1996. Within the same year the remaining band members brought on Derrick Green as the new frontman and have continued thrashing the world with their music. The current band members Derrick Green (vocals), Andreas Kisser (guitar), Paulo Jr. (bass), and Eloy Casagrande (drums) are promoting the bands 14th studio album ‘Machine Messiah’ on this tour.
When the lights dimmed in the venue the crowd cheered and hollered. Sepultura had many fans here tonight and they did not disappoint starting out with “I Am The Enemy” from their recent album ‘Machine Messiah’. Derrick Green’s screaming and guttural vocals filled the venue while Paulo and Eloy laid out the hard hitting bass and drum line. Andreas ripped into some fast and squealing riffs during the song. The crowd immediately appreciate coming out with heavy thrash. Behind me the moshers who stayed in the back started pushing the rest of the crowd forward so they could get more room to mosh. They followed up with “Phantom Self” also from ‘Machine Messiah’. I enjoyed the Brazilian musical influence in the start and middle of the song. The guitar and bass riffs were very catchy and hard not to want to bounce around while they were playing. I could see the crowd was enjoying it too from the headbanging in the front row.
The majority of their lighting throughout their set was either very dark or very light. They had a lot of yellow, blue, and red throughout. Derrick’s presence on stage is very commanding. He sings to the crowd as a conductor controlling an orchestra knowing when put power into his voice to rile them up and when to lower it to build up the anticipation of hitting those screaming notes the crowd loved so much. Paulo though playing hard hitting bass preferred to keep in one corner or the other on stage. Andreas, on the other hand, was all over the stage playing up to the crowd with his long hair whipping around while headbanging to their music. Eloy sat behind the drum set shirtless and hammering away putting out some thundering drumbeats. One thing was certain, Sepultura was giving their fans exactly what they wanted.
They followed up with “Choke” from an older album called ‘Against’. After that I exited the pit and headed upstairs to get some overhead shots of the band and crowd. With The Convalescence and Prong I had headed upstairs after the 3 songs in the pit for some different views. But, with Sepultura, this was the best shots by far. The crowd below was in a frenzy as Sepultura played “Desperate Cry” from ‘Arise’ and “Sworn Oath” from ‘Machine Messiah’. The circle mosh pit was big, fast, and people were getting faster as the band played on.
They continued the rest of their set playing “Inner Self”, “Alethea”, and “Resistant Parasites” also from ‘Machine Messiah’. They played “Refuse/Resist” from the ‘Chaos A.D.’ album. I enjoyed this one for the heavy bass line and stellar guitar riffs and solo. Andreas and Paulo truly outdid themselves during this song. Derrick had a drum brought out on stage that he began to play along with Eloy’s drumming to “Ratamahatta” from their ‘Roots’ album. It was a cool scene to see Derrick drumming and playing on stage. The band wrapped up with “Roots Bloody Roots” also from the ‘Roots’ album. It was a phenomenal set by Sepultura and the crowd most definitely agreed.
Finally, we would have Testament hitting the stage. I felt myself getting excited to photograph the legendary band and I could see people were also getting excited to see them too. As I waited I wondered what song they would open with. I was hoping it would be “Brotherhood of the Snake” the title track from their 11th studio album. The opening riffs and overall tempo, to me, makes it a perfect opening song. It also happens to be the 1st track on the album. The lights finally dimmed, which caused the crowd once again roar and cheer, and I headed into the pit. It didn’t take long for Chuck Billy (vocals), Eric Peterson (guitar), Alex Skolnick (guitar), Steve Di Giorgio (bass), and Gene Hoglan (drums) to take the stage.
I nearly started pumping my fist in the air when I heard the opening riffs of “Brotherhood of the Snake”. It’s overall a great single with superb vocals from Chuck and a perfect combination of music. And the lyrical story of this serpentine race living among people in the olden days is well written. They followed up with “Rise Up” from their prior album ‘Dark Roots Of Earth’. Another great song for an opening set that had the crowd very engaged. When Chuck sang, “When I say rise up…you say war. Rise up!” the crowd bellowed back “WAR!”. Amazing way to get the fans hooked in.
Their set on stage was stunning. They had the “Brotherhood of the Snake” album cover on a huge banner behind them. A large platform with stairs on both sides with the drum platform sitting in the center. The Testament name laid out in the middle of the stage. And then there was fog. Mix all this with their music it was glorious. It was metal. It was Testament. Their lighting was just as spectacular with whites, blues, yellows, and reds.
And we were only going on the second song in their set when they followed up with “The Pale King” also from ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’. Testament was definitely going to leave an impression on the crowd this evening. After it was over I headed out of the pit and upstairs for more photos. As I made my way upstairs it dawned on me that those 3 songs was probably the longest and best set I got to photo in the pit (Thank you Testament!). The band played on with some great songs like “Centuries of Suffering”, “Electric Crown”, and “Into the Pit” from ‘The New Order’. One of the best parts of this show is each of the members playing instruments had a chance to perform their own solo during the set.
I ran downstairs to get some more shots from behind the soundboard. Testament continued to pull out some wonderful songs from their history including “Throne of Thorns”, “Eyes of Wrath”, and “First Strike is Deadly”. Chuck talked in between songs how appreciative the band was for all the support they’ve received over the years. Chuck also talked about the new album and the song that was so easy to write because it was all written in the Bible under Revelations. That song was “Seven Seals”. They followed that up with “The New Order” before they thanked the crowd and walked off stage.
When they came back on stage, the banner dropped down and behind it was another banner with just the band name. Chuck once again thanked the crowd and they decided to pull some old school Testament out starting with “Practice What You Preach” the title track from the band’s third album. And last, but definitely not least, they finished with “Over the Wall” from Testament’s first album “Legacy”. Afterwards they said goodnight to the crowd and walked off stage.
Overall, this was a phenomenal show with all four bands giving their all and entertaining the fans. The fans looked spent and all of them were smiling. Personally, I look forward to the next time Testament graces the stage because I won’t miss that performance.