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TESTAMENT, UNEARTH, LAZARUS AD
Wednesday May 13, 2009       Pop's, St. Louis

As I might have mentioned in the review of the Napalm Death show in the latest print issue, this week took a turn I didn't expect vis a vis shows and the like.  For instance, I learned of this Testament show with its almost classic lineup was coming to St. Louis (okay, across the river in Sauget, IL, but it's still part of that metro area) a while back and knew I wanted to check it out.It was after I got the ticket for this that I learned of the other show and realized I was about to fall into my metal week of sorts.  So, still recovering from the show the night before, I was off to see this one.

I knew absolutely nothing about Lazarus AD before they took the stage to play.  From the first beat, this quartet threw down a set of dual guitar forged speedy thrash metal with a definite vintage feel and plenty of guitar solos.  Expecting stereotypical modern thrash, this band surprised me with the bassist/vocalist's ability to sing with both tone and rasp (not an easy thing to do - I've tried).  Song wise they were fairly typical with influences on their sleeves (the big four and Testament obviously but I swore I heard some Scared Reich in there at a couple of points).  They're talented but still a little bit derivative.  However, Lazarus AD got the crowd up front hyped up and ready for the rest of the night.  Personally I'm still a little on the fence in regards to this band but I'm curious about what will happen to them somewhere down the road.

Holding down the middle slot was Unearth, whom I'd heard a lot about but had actually never heard (I know that sounds strange, but it's true).  These guys have become one of the standard bearers of modern thrash and they brought it on tonight.  Hard driving songs that veered between crunch and technical with lots of scooped death guitar tones and aggression.  Hard and in your face, the crowd tore into an intense pit and refused to let up.  However, we were taken by surprise when the guitar players suddenly climbed up on a bar in the back of the place and started playing.  While I was on the fence in regards to Unearth, that bit of showmanship actually won me over somewhat.  I admit I"m still not that familiar with the band but I am curious and will probably see them again somewhere down the road.

Then, after what seemed to be way too long of a break, it was time for Testament for what I believe was their first time back in St. Louis since the return of guitar legend Alex Skolnick to the band.  Tackling both old and new songs, the band proceeded to rip into a high energy thrash metal set that captured the history of the sub-genre with plenty of in your face lead guitar and some tight powerful songs.  Focusing on their latest album, the crowd seemed into it but really seemed to get hyped up over the old tunes with fast tempos, gruff vocals, and tons of solos throughout.  It was an intense experience for those on the floor.  this was one of those experiences I never thought I'd get the chance to see and I'm glad I took it.  If you're into the heavier side of metal at all, you really need to check Testament out.  

After the show was the usual exhaustion.  I watched the roadies tear down and tried to take crib notes for the review.  Sadly, I didn't take my camera along for this (thus, the lack of pictures).  THat, and Pop's shutting down the balcony for this show (first time I ever saw that closed) seemed the only minor gripes.  WHile the place wasn't packed (the economy played a role in that), those who showed up took in an evening with one of the most intense bands around.  

Eventually it was time to crash and see what the next day brought.  I needed a little time to decompress with all the stress of looking for a paying job, survival, and all that.  

    - Boone

All contents this page  2009, Boone Stigall/The Trouble With Normal