The Bay Strikes Back Tour
with Exodus, Death Angel
Wed, September 28, 2022
Doors: 6:00pm - Show: 6:50pm - all ages
$35 day of show
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The time has arrived for TESTAMENT to unleash new thunder to the masses and reveal their thirteenth studio album: Titans OF Creation. Just as the elements of this planet thrive within all living creatures, each musician in TESTAMENT represents a necessary component of this latest musical endeavor. Still filled with a massive and unstoppable energy since their last release, TESTAMENT has taken their style to the next level and present an album that is loyal to the roots of traditional thrash metal while still bringing alluring, brilliant, and progressive ingredients to the table. Bass is showcased, new vocals are introduced, and as expected, the guitarwork of Peterson and Skolnick is greatly complex and mesmerizing.
Eliran Kantor stepped up once again to create a new piece of artwork for the cover of this release. His classic, almost Renaissance style of painting melds beautifully with the ancient, psychological, and enlightened subject matter of the songs. Three monstrous titans stand in the place where the planets are formed. One pours molding liquid which the others hammer into human DNA, twisting and turning into the ring of a newborn planet. Each titan has the flame of a dying star burning in their chest; the origin of the atoms making up the bodies that are bubbling and boiling on the curves of the spiraling helix.
Titans OF Creation has many moods and material contained within; all of which somehow tie into a common philosophy of creation and its necessary counterpart: destruction. “Children Of The Next Level” smashes through the gates as the opening track with a flood of sound that prepares the listener for an abundance of violent thrash. Meanwhile, the lyrics rage about the outrageous philosophies of the Heaven’s Gate cult (founded in 1974).
Songs like “Dream Deceiver” carry more old school sound that will tickle the senses of any common TESTAMENT fan. The lyrics describe being trapped in a dream by an otherworldly female force who is slowly working to degrade the mind. Dreams are part of existence, but when we are asleep we are entirely vulnerable; one of the many mysteries of being human. “Someone’s haunting you and won’t leave you alone; the only time they pick at you is at night when they can control the way you sleep,” describes vocalist Chuck Billy.
“Night of the Witch” features frightening and captivating vocals from Eric Peterson. Carrying a vibe far more akin to Black Metal, Peterson swoops in with a power that melds perfectly with Billy’s ground shaking, guttural growls. Taking some influence from Robert Egger’s 2015 horror masterpiece “The VVitch: A New England Folktale,” the song carries with it a magical quality that directly reflects the mood of the film. At the very end of the track, a theremin howls through the air much like witches rising towards the moon; setting the final tone. “The album has a lot about it that’s fresh to the ear,” explains Peterson.
Written by guitarist Alex Skolnick, “Symptoms” is filled with detailed with intricate guitar work that well represents the complicated and spellbinding journey that comes along with handling depression, mood swings, and a countless list of mental health frustrations. The lyrics in this song discuss a sad truth: that mental illness is more common than we all think, and than many of us are willing to acknowledge. On a lighter note, a vibrant track entitled “The Healers” swings back and forth between waves of death and thrash, heavy and melodic, light and dark. The words are spiritual, and extremely personal. They describe Billy’s own experience dealing with all natural medicine men; the elders of the earth, and how they managed to help him pinpoint and heal his past illness. “City Of Angels” comes bearing an entirely new sound for TESTAMENT. The creeping sludgieness and slow, stalking tempo, walk hand in hand with the almost unbelievably gruesome tale of the Nightstalker Richard Ramierz, all combining to form another stand-out track on the record.
In 2020 the days of writing an album all together in one room are far gone, but to be able to take advantage of technology allows for TESTAMENT to go about a very similar writing process to what they always have. Basic songs are molded, structures are added by everyone in the group, instrumentals are highlighted, and finally the lyrics and vocals are created to finalize the sonic story. Facetime and human on human contact still remain crucial elements to TESTAMENT’s song writing process and at some point throughout, every member physically interacts and writes with one another. In between writing this album, the band toured relentlessly which allowed for less stress, more time in between, and greater inspiration for this album cycle. There was also plenty of anxiety-free and level-headed time for pre-production and the initial recording process with Juan Urteaga of Trident Studios. Andy Sneap was then able to tweak, mix, and master this album to his usual perfection.
TESTAMENT’s process of creation has evolved and progressed yet they’ve remained steadfast over the course of literal decades. While always managing to present the genuine aspects of thrash metal that solidify their existence, they spread into unique horizons through developing crisp and fascinating sounds.
For thousands of years the word EXODUS has been used to describe a massive human migration; embarking upon an epic journey and change filled with such power that the earth itself shakes upon its commencement. All such grand exploits begin with a soft awareness for what truly lies beyond, yet 4 decades ago EXODUS had no way of knowing the extent to which their band would rise, conquer, trip up, and rise again. The formation of the beast we now call EXODUS began in Richmond California 1979, and although many started their journey as fans a few years down the line, there is no debating that the early 80’s was a time for major growth in the world of Thrash Metal, especially in the Bay Area of California. Being only kids at the time, all just learning to use their instruments, Tom Hunting, Kirk Hammett, Tim Agnello, and Keith Stewart began covering classic rock, punk rock, and Iron Maiden songs at backyard birthday parties. The less technologically inclined, music sharing, tape trading ways of the 70’s were still in full force and it was this striving for the acquisition of new sound that fiercely fueled the band’s tenacity to learn, play, and eventually write.
Although Kirk Hammett famously left the band before their genre defining debut, “BONDED BY BLOOD,” Guitarist and lead writer Gary Holt had become a deep rooted foundation in the band, in 1982 EXODUS added the unparalleled, and infamous voice of the now tragically deceased Paul Baloff, solidifying their sound and putting what would become one of the most infamous Thrash albums of all time, on the map. “We were living for heavy metal, it was rad. It was a great time to be alive” remembers Gary Holt. With a new and semi-solid line up of Hunting, Holt, Baloff, Hunolt, and McKillop, “BONDED BY BLOOD” was finally released to the world in 1985. The importance of this album, and its influence on all the heavy metal composers that we have grown to love and respect today, can never be understated for both fans, and the guys in the band. “A lot of bands hit their peak a couple albums in, we busted right out the gates with this face melting, thrash masterpiece,” Holt recalls, “that first time when the shipment came in, and I opened the box, and I was holding that BONDED BY BLOOD vinyl in my hands… that’s a feeling you’ll never replicate. That’s pretty amazing.” In 1987, the release of their second full length album “Pleasures Of The Flesh” was preceded by Baloff leaving, and current lead vocalist Steve Zetro Souza joining the band and solidifying his place as the voice of EXODUS. 8 more studio albums would follow, and through more member switches, time off, family illness, and even death would try to interfere with the progression of the band, they still exist, write music, and garner respect as true royalty in today’s kingdom of heavy metal.
Now celebrating 40 years as a band, truly looking back and reflecting upon the massive history of EXODUS can reignite some wildly significant memories. “What stands out most to me was getting to play our first tour with Venom in 1985, and then going to Europe with them afterwards,” reflects founder and drummer Tom Hunting. “Being 19-20 years old with a double decker bus, traveling the world with no real concept of time or budget, we were just like ‘wow, this is awesome.’” This small town California band saw an entirely new world when they began networking and globetrotting with their idols. They came into opportunity and experience that would forever catapult their career. “Over in Europe, playing the Dynamo Festival for the first time in 1989 in front of what must have been 20,000 people watching us… that was life changing,” says Hunting.
Currently, the EXODUS lineup is comprised of: Tom Hunting on Drums, Gary Holt on Guitar, Lee Altus on Guitar, Jack Gibson on Bass, and Steve “Zetro” Souza as lead vocalist. All these years and EXODUS still boast a similar writing process to what they started out with. Although technology has made it so that the recording and mixing processes are less time consuming, the main change is really just that “[they] respect what [they] do a lot more,” states Hunting. “We’ve humbled ourselves to the journey and consider ourselves lucky to do what we do, but our creative process is still the same. Basically drums, guitar concepts; those are the starting point. After the music begins to take place we all process it and write together. When we were kids it was about the party. Now that we’re men, we’re in it more for the journey.” “To this day I still write a riff the way I did in the beginning,” explains Holt. “I write to make myself happy and I’m still always looking for that sick, brutal ass riff; it hasn’t changed. I kinda stick with my guns on how I do things.” With Holt just finishing up his world famous final run with SLAYER, the supportive network of friends and musicians that is EXODUS patiently await fully re-submerging themselves into a new record. With new ideas and riffs already in the works, not only can these masters of metal assure us upcoming new music, but an abundance of world-wide touring is inevitable. “I can’t tell you how long it’ll go on,” says Hunting, “the fuse is definitely shorter. We’re obviously closer to where it ends than where it started… but we’ll take it one record at a time. As long as we feel good about what we’re doing, there’s good things happening right now in this genre of music, and we want to be a part of that. A lot of bands want to retire but that’s not us. The potential for our next record could be career defining. We’re taking our time and not rushing any songs.”
Regardless of how us metalheads may see it, Heavy Metal will forever be one of the more niche genres in the music industry. Longevity is the key here; to have reigned for over 40 years and created 10 unique, game changing, full length albums amidst the even smaller bailiwick of Thrash Metal. EXODUS not only remain unwavering in their delivery, but in their strength and progression as a successful and unique sonic endeavour that make your every bone rattle and your blood churn in the best of ways.
Ascending from the depths, the almighty DEATH ANGEL return to offer their latest, energy fueled masterpiece: »Humanicide.« A return to the wolves alongside a survivalist pack mentality are what fuel the powerful themes erupting from these fresh metal anthems. In a modern capitalist society where selfishness reigns and communal help and survival are things of the past, DEATH ANGEL produces sounds and symbols that point out the truths of attempting to exist safely in the present day. The title itself describes a plain in which humans, after generations of violence, regression, and hate, have finally extinguished themselves into dust. The wasteland they left behind is populated only by those creatures that passionately depend on their pack for survival: the wolves. Gnashing their teeth and struggling to survive in an abandoned world, the wolves are back and galloping fiercely across the cover of the album. Adorned in the war skins of their enemies and the creatures they’ve killed together in order to survive, the powerful messages of the songs can be seen in Brent Elliott White’s fantastic piece of art.
Much like the beasts on the album cover, the writing process for DEATH ANGEL has remained airtight and continued to amplify throughout the years. The fundamental structures of the songs are created, and it’s through the ultimate feel of these vibrations that emotions and lyrics eventually begin to adhere themselves to specific sounds. The songs are then massaged and encouraged until a complete record is conceived. “I have a system as far as songwriting goes,” explains guitarist Rob Cavestany, “I’ve just sort of evolved to what works best for me these days. It starts with riffs and various ideas I’ve compiled as I feel creative here and there, lots of notes; musical, lyrical, conceptual you name it. I start it out, catch a vibe, see what I like, and just start crafting away. By the time I give skeletons of songs to Mark to work on vocals, they’re pretty close to what they’re gonna be. If I really feel strongly about something I’ll write the lyrics to the song. After creating the initial demo of a song at my home studio (Spiderville in Oakland) then I get together with Will to work on beats & grooves and record live drums. Then, record Damien who comes up with most of his own bass lines. After that is when Mark gets the ‘demo tape’ to work out lyrics. All this is part of ‘pre-production’ that I do myself before the producer even hears a note. Then we do it all over again including Ted throwing in some solos of his own. It’s an old school process of recording demos as a ‘rough draft’ and making the appropriate improvements on the actual album.” After so many decades in the game, it’s no surprise this band has crafted a songwriting technique that still requires sweat, blood, and tears, but that is entirely efficient. “Absolute trust,” says singer Mark Osegueda, “we’ve grown, and there’s a duality to our respect… we’ve become tighter than ever as writing partners, for sure. There’s a connection with us that just works.”
For the 4th album cycle in a row, DEATH ANGEL returned to their producer and friend Jason Suecof of Audiohammer Studios for the recording and mixing, along with the mastering of the legendary Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound who added the final touches and brought it all to life. Working closely with Jason throughout every step of it, the band is able to make sure that the finalizing of the music’s sound is closely intertwined with every idea that went into its genesis. “We love the sound he gets. With his style of production and our organic style of thrash… that marriage [is] visceral. He’s very contemporary, but still raw,” explains Osegueda, and “he pulls the heavy out,” Cavestany affirms.
As usual, DEATH ANGEL has maintained their throne in the universe of thrash while still managing to remain progressive in their style. They apply a wide variety of different elements to their music, always pushing to add newness to their sound. This time around they’ve included everything from acoustic bits, to guest musicians, to even (for the first time) the notes of a piano. All 10 songs flow seamlessly yet each leaves its own distinct impression. The first single and title track ‘Humanicide’ triumphantly represents the entirety of the album, immediately energizing the listener. Osegueda remarks: “I wanted to write something that metal fans could really grasp onto. Something dark and intense, that still makes sense. Right now I think it’s so apparent that the earth is in a sickened state.”
The track entitled ‘The Pack’ flows through with an uplifting mood. Its positive lyrics are a tribute to DEATH ANGEL fans everywhere. With a loyal fan club of the same name, Cavestany thought it was important to write a song not just for their fans, but for heavy metal and music lovers the worldover. “The song has a very anthemic feel, it’s a fist pumping-festival type of vibe,” Cavestany explains. DEATH ANGEL, like any artist, are a creative entity with their own particular place in the world, but one of the most momentous influences behind it all is the love and admiration they carry for their fans.
To round it all out the band reflects some of their many inspirations in songs like ‘I Came For Blood.’ Its thrashy, punky, rock ‘n’ roll type of vibe keeps the album’s invincible energy on path to an insanely enjoyable cycle of music. Osegueda explains: “It’s about the power of music and how the right something gives you that feel; that me against the world ideal. You have to be willing to fight for your beliefs, and take no prisoners when pursuing your dreams!”
To say ‘being busy’ is in DEATH ANGEL’s future is a grand understatement. With over three decades invested in their substantial career, the band is ripe with vigor and ready to perform their new offerings to the world. North American tours, European tours and festivals, and eventually more records are assured, with the loyalty and solidity of their pack truly unwavering. DEATH ANGEL designed »Humanicide« not just for listening pleasure but to awaken the mind and fuel positive ideals. In a world where societal pain is often times too great to stand, the most potent defense we have is to hold fast to our convictions, defend the weak, and open our minds to sensibilities that will be the true key to our survival in this era of the damned.