LIVE RECAP: Killthrax (Killswitch Engage & Anthrax) – 04/03/17 – The Fillmore Silver Spring – Silver Spring, Maryland

Review by Greg Maki
One of the most anticipated metal tours of the spring—dubbed the “Killthrax” tour—brought together bands—and fans—of different eras. On one hand, there was Anthrax, one of the “big four” of thrash and possessing a history of more than 35 years. On the other, there was Killswitch Engage, one of the pioneers and leaders of metalcore, but also with a lengthening history of its own—its seminal, subgenre-defining album, “Alive or Just Breathing,” turns 15 this year. It’s all metal in the end, though, and ultimately the bill, which also featured The Devil Wears Prada and Jasta, was a testament to how this powerful, empowering, often misunderstood style of music has shifted and endured through the years.

Jamey Jasta

First up, at the early time of 6:45 p.m., was Jasta, the side project of Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. Though the band recently released its second album (“The Lost Chapters”), this was my initial exposure to it, and I was pleased to hear a sound that leans more toward metal than the hardcore of Hatebreed. The 25-minute set flew by, and the stage was readied for The Devil Wears Prada, which has a metalcore foundation but adds keyboards and chaotic structures that made it difficult to tell when one song ended and the next began. I’ve seen TDWP multiple times in the past at festivals, but this was a far different experience. Playing in almost total darkness punctuated by the occasional blinding strobe light, it was 40 minutes of pure intensity of aggression. If you’re a fan, TDWP surely brought the thunder.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA SET LIST: “Daughter,” “Sailor’s Prayer,” “Planet A,” “Outnumbered,” “Worldwide,” “Assistant,” “Dead Throne,” “Evergreen,” “Mammoth”

Scott Ian of Anthrax

With the co-headliners alternating slots from night to night, Anthrax came next, playing on a stage featuring steps and a raised platform that brought a big-show feel to the Fillmore. The old-school thrashers came out of the gate with classics “Among the Living,” “Caught in a Mosh” and “Madhouse,” but what stood out was how well the newer material—”Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” from 2011’s “Worship Music,” and “Breathing Lightning,” “Evil Twin” and especially “Blood Eagle Wings” from 2016’s “For All Kings”—fit in alongside songs that have been giving metalheads sore necks for decades.

Rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante gave the songs their speed and power, while lead guitarist Jon Donais took them home with searing solo after solo. Vocalist Joey Belladonna ran around the stage sounding better than he ever did years ago, during what would have been most singers’ prime, smiling throughout and clearly having more fun than anyone else in the building. Anthrax was an absolute beast, a five-headed monster that no band should have to follow.

ANTHRAX SET LIST: “Among the Living,” “Caught in a Mosh,” ”Madhouse,” “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t,” “I am the Law,” “Breathing Lightning,” “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.),” “Evil Twin,” “March of the S.O.D.,” “Blood Eagle Wings,” “Antisocial,” “Indians”

Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage

A noticeable portion of the crowd left when the lights came up after Anthrax finished—though, to be fair, I would guess the same happens on this tour after Killswitch Engage when Anthrax closes. Killswitch is no slouch, however, and those who stayed, which was the vast majority of the audience, saw why this band has existed for nearly 20 years. Frontman Jesse Leach’s impassioned vocals gave the songs real heart, while guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz pranced about the stage, virtually a show unto himself. Highlights of the set included newer songs such as “Hate by Design” and “In Due Time,” and old favorites “My Last Serenade,” “A Bid Farewell,” “Rose of Sharyn” and “The End of Heartache.”






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