The Bay Strikes Back Tour Crushes the Showbox Sodo

Testament at The Showbox SoDo for the Bay Strikes Back Tour
Michael Baltierra Testament at the Showbox Sodo (Photo:PNW Music Photo)

Who would have guessed that three acts who helped spawned the Bay Area Thrash scene back in the 1980’s would be still creating new music and touring forty years later? These pioneers of Thrash Metal – Testament, Exodus, & Death Angel – made a stop in Seattle at the Showbox Sodo towards the tail end of this leg of their Bay Strikes Back 2022 Tour, which ends in Sacramento. The tour then heads back to Europe for the summer and then the second leg of the North American Tour runs through the fall.

The show started earlier than the advertised 8pm start time, but the crowd came out early and were in full force when Death Angel – Mark Osegueda (vocals), Rob Cavestany (guitar), Ted Aguilar (guitar), Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) – took the stage. The band is touring in support of their latest release, 2019’s Humanicide. Death Angel’s set always spans their entire catalog, which is great when they play a mixture of new material as well as classics. No time was wasted in getting the crowd worked up into a frenzy, opening with “Evil Priest” and moving into “Voracious Souls” and “Seemingly Endless Time”. Osegueda thanked the room for coming out early, saying he knew Seattle loves their trash metal and asked everyone to turn up the intensity as the band played “Claws So Deep” and “The Moth.” The latter had the crowd not only moshing and surfing in a huge circle pit. The set ended with “Thrown to the Wolves”.

One of the first bands of the thrash metal genre, Exodus – Steve “Zetro” Souza (vocals), Gary Holt (guitar), Lee Altus (guitar), Jack Gibson (bass), & Tommy Hunting (drums) – were next to take the stage. To say that this band is legendary is an understatement. Every show is always on point, and this evening was no exception. Exodus’ latest release is 2021’s Persona Non Grata, and the band got their set started with “The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves).” They then proceeded to go back their ground breaking album Bonded By Blood, ripping through “A Lesson In Violence”. The crowd was rabid – moshing and crowd surfing intensified to the beat of “Blood In, Blood Out”, “Deathamphetamine”, and “Prescribing Horror”. The loudest response and hardest moshing was during “Piranha”, “Bonded By Blood”, “The Toxic Waltz” – where guitarist Holt teased the audience with intro riffs to Slayer’s “Raining Blood” – and the “Strike of the Beast”, which had Souza telling the crowd to split the room in two like the parting of the Red Sea and get on either side. He proceeded to count down and the audience charged at each other, creating a “wall of death.” Holt and Souza saw a young fan in the crowd with a sign saying that it was his birthday, and that fan was brought on stage to strum a few bars with the band during “Strike of the Beast”.

Testament needs no introduction. They are certainly one of the more popular bands to come out of the Bay Area Thrash scene. The hardest job they probably have on this tour is following Exodus. Testament’s latest release is 2020’s Titans of Creation. Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was playing over the PA system as the crowd grew impatient waiting for the band to take the stage. The house lights went down and “Catacombs” – the closing instrumental track off of Titans of Creation – wafted over the PA system. One by one, starting with Dave Lombardo (drums), followed by Eric Peterson (guitar), Alex Skolnik (guitar), Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and Chuck Billy (vocals), the band opened their awesome set with “Children of the Next Level” and launched straight into “The Pale King” and “The New Order”.

Billy, with his huge persona and stage presence, prowled around the stage, continuously interacting with the crowd. He is also a consummate air guitarist, jamming along while Skolnik or Peterson shredded their way through solos.

Lombardo, famously known for being the original drummer in metal icons Slayer, recently rejoined Testament after over two decades. He was a recent replacement for drummer Gene Hoglan. Testamant focused their set on releases such as The Gathering, The New Order, and Titans of Creation. The band touched on many fan favorites such as “WWIII”, “Eyes of Wrath”, “Legions of the Dead” and “Night of the Witch”.

The beginning of “Souls of Black” saw DiGiorgio take center stage and play a few riffs from Metallica’s “Orion” before launching into a bass solo.

One would think that after nearly three hours of heavy thrash metal, the crowd would be low on energy, but that was not the case. The room was a sea of head banging, fist pumping, and moshing bodies that only let up between songs. This was starkly evident during “Into the Pit,” which is dedicated to those who love to get into the circle pit.

The Bay Strikes Back in Seattle came to an end with “Disciples of the Watch”. The crowd chanted for more as the band made their exit, tossing drumsticks, drumheads and guitar picks to the crowd. Steve Wonder’s “Superstition” played over the PA, signaling the end to one of the better and heaviest shows to come through in a while.

The second leg of the North American Bay Strikes Back tour starts in Phoenix, AZ on Sept 9 and runs through Oct 15 with the final stop being in San Jose, CA. This is a must see show!

The Bay Strikes Back Tour

Testament Set List
Catacombs (Intro)
Children of the Next Level
Pale King
Practice What You Preach
The New Order
Eyes of Wrath
D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
Legions of the Dead
Electric Crown
Souls of Black (preceded by Steve DiGiorgio bass solo)
Night of the Witch
Over The Wall
Into The Pit
Disciples of the Watch

Exodus Setlist
The Beatings Will Continue (Until Morale Improves)
A Lesson in Violence
Blood In, Blood Out
The Years of Death and Dying
Prescribing Horror
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast

Death Angel Setlist
The Ultra-Violence (Intro)
Evil Priest
Voracious Souls
Seemingly Endless Time
Claws in So Deep
The Dream Calls for Blood
The Moth
Thrown to the Wolves