Those of us old enough to remember the genesis of thrash metal dosed ourselves with ibuprofen and headed to Bayou Music Hall in Houston, TX Saturday to see the godfathers of thrash, Anthrax, celebrate forty years. Black Label Society and Exodus joined in the fun.
Last year, Anthrax and Black Label Society, along with Exodus, joined forces and took to the road with a tour that stormed across the US. Reprising that same success, the trio of bands decided to give it another go in Spring of 2023. Stopping by Bayou Music Hall in Houston, TX this past Saturday, everyone proved that they only got better in their forty years.
Already a huge crowd was forming when metal pioneers Exodus took to the stage. Playing that old school metal/thrash, the pit was in full circle. Guitarist Gary Holt delighted the crowd by playing a few bars of Slayer (in case you didn’t know he was in Slayer) before launching into “The Toxic Waltz”. It was an indication to the frenetic energy that would permeate the walls until the end of the evening.
Brief respite came before the crowd massed to the stage as the kabuki drop was raised. Shouts and cheers were deafening as Zakk Wylde came out to video the gathering masses. As the kabuki dropped, guitar god Zakk Wylde was front and center, dressed in his usual kilt and Black Label cut. With a voice that may remind some of his old boss, Ozzy Osbourne, Wylde makes his music his own. It’s a gritty dirty rock that begs to be confronted. From the opening “Funeral Bell” to “Stillborn”, the “fuck it, we’re just gonna play some rock and roll” attitude was in full effect. The moment of the set was when Zakk sat down at the piano to play “In This River” while photos of Pantera’s Dimebag Darrel and Vinnie Paul were projected on either side of the drums was just what was needed to remind everyone why we’re here and why we need to take care of each other. It’s also a good reminder that Zakk and Anthrax’s Charlie Benante will be joining Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown when Pantera reunite this year.
As everyone dispersed to get drinks and a well earned bathroom break, another kabuki drop was hung. As the lights went down, videos of musicians, actors and even great horror director and musician in his own right John Carpenter played where the impact of Anthrax on the music landscape was celebrated. Once that kabuki dropped, all bets were off. Singer Joey Belladonna ran out to center stage and the pit never stopped circling and the crowd never stopped surfing. These guys may have been around for forty years, but the command and control of the stage and their fans is still 1986. Joey’s voice hasn’t aged a day and Scott Ian’s love for what he does is still crystal clear. Even the briefest lull between “I Am The Law” and “In The End”, a song Belladonna dedicated to some of the greats metal has lost, couldn’t dim the momentum of the mosh pit that occupied the entire center of the venue.
There isn’t much time left to catch this tour as its last date is February 19th in Anaheim, CA. If you are in any of the areas in the next few days, get your ass to Anthrax.
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