UG Articles Archive

Monday, October 18, 2010

Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth impress in Milwaukee, 20 years after Clash of Titans (all photos by yours truly)

Three-fourths of thrash metal's Big Four converged on The Rave in Milwaukee on Saturday night, playing to a sellout crowd of the young, the old, and the slightly disturbed.  Mirroring the lineup from 1991's Clash of the Titans Tour, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer were back in Wisconsin on the same bill for the first time in 20 years.  Entering the venue around 6pm, I was very excited, and a little apprehensive.  After all, most of these guys are nearing their 50s, and I wasn't sure they still had it in them to pull off a top-notch live show.  Five hours later as I walked down Wisconsin Avenue in a daze, I felt like an idiot for ever doubting them.
These cute little handouts were dispensed by ushers on our way into the venue, and were swiftly disregarded about 15 seconds into Anthrax's opening salvo, "Caught in a Mosh."  Singer Joey Belladonna is back with the band after a long absence, and he sounded like he was 25 (he's twice that).  My friend Sam and I were promptly, as the song says, caught in a mosh, and Anthrax kept the energy up during their entire punishing set, never allowing the audience to settle back down.  Scott Ian's beard may have a bit of gray in it, but his rhythm guitars and backing vocals showed no signs of age, as Anthrax powered through "Mosh," "Madhouse," "Thrashing Mad," "Indians," (complete with Belladonna running around the stage in a full indian headdress) and their closer, the Judge Dredd-themed "I Am the Law."  Ian noted that the first time they played the Eagles Ballroom in the Rave was in 1985, then shouted that the reason the Rave was sold out again, 25 years later, was that "THRASH METAL WILL NEVER DIE!"  By all accounts, Anthrax gave an impressive performance, and set the bar very high for the bands to follow.

Anthrax's Scott Ian

Megadeth was up next, and spent the first three quarters of their set performing their classic album "Rust in Peace" in its entirety.   Rust is a fantastic album, and with songs like "Hangar 18," "Take No Prisoners," "Tornado of Souls," and "Rust in Peace...Polaris," it is widely considered to be the best that Megadeth has ever released.  Bassist David Ellefson, who played with Megadeth back when they recorded "Rust in Peace," is back in the band, and brought tons of energy to the crowd, stepping up to encourage cheers for guitarists Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick during solos and jamming along to the riffs.  Mustaine's vocals have never been Megadeth's selling point, and my relatively low expectations in that department were well placed.  At times fading in and out, at times sounding a bit flat, Mustaine's vocals weren't totally there, but that's not why you go to see Megadeth; you go for the guitars. 

Dave Mustaine
Mustaine and Broderick were spot-on the entire night, never failing to impress with speedy, precise solos and incredibly intricate riffs.  Still not sure how Dave can play such complicated riffs and still manage any kind of singing at all over them.  After "Rust" the band played a few songs off their newest album, as well as a few hits, including "Trust" and the crowd-pleasing "Symphony of Destruction."  At one point, Mustaine walked out onto the stage alone, to massive cheers.  He continued ambling about the stage, listening to the roar of the crowd, before suddenly lifting his arms towards the roof, which was met with another huge roar from the crowd.  Clearly basking in the adrenaline, he stepped to the mic and said "I really feel like breaking something right now" before launching into "Peace Sells" and closing out the set.  The band was clearly feeding off of the energy of the crowd, and it was great to be able to yell out "YEAHHHH MEGADAVE!" and know that he probably heard me.

Slayer was the night's closing act, and they delivered exactly what their many fans in attendance came for: pure, hellish, unrelenting thrash metal.  Slayer, whose lineup has remained fairly consistent over the years, was playing with the band's original four members: Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King on guitars, Tom Araya on bass guitar and vocals, and Dave Lombardo on drums.  Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their critically-acclaimed album "Seasons in the Abyss," they played the record from front to back, just as Megadeth did with "Rust in Peace" earlier in the show.   In addition, they played a few tunes from "Reign in Blood" including "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood."  Aside from "Raining Blood," I wasn't terribly impressed with Slayer's performance.  Hanneman was downright robotic over on the left side of the stage, King simply did small headbanging motions as he played, and crowd interaction was minimal.  Tom Araya briefly addressed the audience after the first two songs, and really didn't say much in between songs from that point onward.

Slayer's Jeff Hanneman
I've always found Slayer's musicianship somewhat lacking, primarily in the dual soloing of King and Hanneman.  It's cool and all that they trade off playing lead every 10 seconds or so during their solos, but they both sound the same, and neither is capable of pulling off truly memorable solo melodies.  Hanneman mostly screwed around with his whammy bar, and King played a bunch of sweeps and pinch harmonics.  Technically, it was amazing playing, but not memorable at all.  Araya's vocals, consisting of yelling mostly at the same pitch and spitting out lyrics at machine-gun speeds, were initially impressive but quickly became a little monotonous.  Regardless of my criticism, Slayer still put on a good show, and gave their fans what they wanted to hear.  Plus, the mosh pit during "Raining Blood" was the biggest I've ever seen, stretching clear across the entire venue.  

I missed being able to watch the Badgers beat (former) #1 Ohio State in order to attend this show, and it was well worth it.  Anthrax, Megadeth, and yes, even Slayer put on one of the best shows I have ever attended.  I may not ever be able to stand 15 feet away from Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick, 2 of my personal guitar heroes, ever again.  3 hours of driving? $25 in gas.  Tickets?  $50.  Being able to rock out with the godfathers of thrash less than 20 feet in front of you for four hours?  Priceless.

Closed Circuit to Lankey - the host of That Metal Show was the night's MC and made jokes about Brett Favre's dong in between acts.  He was not very funny.  That Metal Show better be really good.


  1. Nice post and some good pics dude! I was giving a little more thought to Slayer, and they were pretty formulaic... but then again that's what Slayer does and they really don't deviate much. I think that was amplified during their live performance. Megadeth was by far the most rewarding from the standpoint of pure showmanship and looking back I was really impressed by Anthrax. I hope Anthrax can keep kicking ass and stay healthy, I'd love to see a full set from them.

  2. 1. Huge fan of the song Seasons in the Abyss, it's disappointing that Slayer didn't impress.

    2. Looks like a fucking awesome setlist from Megadeth...

    3. Eddie Trunk MC'd? I don't watch TMS for the comedy (in fact, most of the guests make me laugh more than the host), I watch because of the guests musicians and the knowledge each of the hosts have about metal which leads to some great and insightful questions as opposed to the bland questions like "Der, do u liek being inn band??/" Don't let this dissuade you from the show, it really is interesting!

  3. I was at said show. I agree that of the three acts, Megadeth impressed me the most as far as rising above my expectations (I've always had a soft spot for Anthrax). However, Slayer (by far) was the best act of the night. Sorry you can't get into the "technically...amazing playing" of Kerry and Jeff. Anyone that was a fan of Slayer going into the show (such as myself) had to have been more than satisfied by both the performance and the setlist. Tom, Jeff, and Kerry have never made clowns of themselves with b.s. posturing and they never will. On the other hand, Dave Mustaine's antics (that you enjoyed so much) were the only downside to Megadeth's set. People playing serious metal are too busy concentrating to jump around the state like Rihanna. If you want a dance show go see 'metal' bands like Poison. If you want your flesh ripped off of your bones by brutal metal, go see f'n Slayer.

  4. I think sometimes bands can take themselves too seriously. They're performers, as well as musicians. Shouldn't a little bit of showmanship and crowd involvement be expected of a good performing artist in modern music? It's not a piano recital, it's a metal concert, show some enthusiasm I say.

    Either way, I respect your opinion and I'm glad you enjoyed the concert. Slayer played really well, they just weren't my favorite act of the night.