It’s not every day that fans get the opportunity to witness two high-caliber bands join forces on tour. On this night, Atlanta’s Center Stage played host to any thrash-metal fan’s dream pairing: Testament and Sepultura. With a combined 67 years of experience in bursting ear-drums and kicking ass, both bands brought their know-how to exhilarate the packed venue.
Up first, hailing from Belo Horizonte was Sepultura. Founded in 1984, the Brazilian quartet recently released their fourteenth album Machine Messiah. Led by drummer Eloy Casagrande, the boys of Sepultura stroll to the stage and stand tall with an aura of invincibility prior to unleashing a powerful performance of new album single “I Am the Enemy.” Front-man Derrick Green’s growls get the party started, while guitarist Andreas Kisser shreds away as he whips his tousled mane with reckless abandon, much to the awe of their fans. The 11-track performance is a superlative display of quality over quantity, with the band constantly requiring crowd participation in the form of circular mosh-pits and crowd surfing. The highly energetic and obliging crowd only motivated the band to jam harder and take their show to an even higher level of raw metal energy. Having performed standout tracks from Machine Messiah like “Phantom Self,” “Sworn Oath,” and “Alethea,” Green and the gang go beast-mode to close out their set with a riveting and explosive rendition of their most popular track: 1996’s “Roots Bloody Roots.” As the band exits the stage to a flurry of cheers, it seems apparent that after all these years, Sepultura hasn’t lost a step, if anything, they seem to get better with age.
Next up was the night’s headliner: Testament. Founded in 1983, Testament – formerly known as Legacy – are still riding high from the release of their critically acclaimed eleventh album Brotherhood of the Snake in late 2016. Having big shoes to fill, front-man Chuck Billy leads his pack to the stage with his signature handheld glow-in-the-dark microphone in tow. At first impression, the California quintet resemble a bad-ass biker gang straight out of an episode of Sons of Anarchy, however the intimidation factor quickly fades as they greet their fans with kind waves and “hell yeahs” to create a warm atmosphere before jumping into opening track and new album namesake “Brotherhood of the Snake.” Testament quickly live up to their well-earned reputation as thrash-metal icons by putting forth sterling string play from Testament founding-father Eric Peterson, lead guitarist Alex Skolnick, and bassist Steve DiGiorgio, in addition to dominant drum-play from Gene Hoglan; who played from above the main stage in his own ornately decorated mounted deck. Testament’s nearly two-hour, 21-track set was everything their fans expected and more, from renditions of classic tracks from their extensive discography to Chuck Billy looking youthful as he parades around the stage and even a dynamic guitar solo, courtesy of Alex Skolnick. In all, Testament held nothing back, and that’s exactly how their loyal fanbase likes it.