LIVE PHOTOS: Anthrax, Black Label Society, Hatebreed
By Greg Maki
If someone arrived here from another planet without a clue as to what metal is, I can think of no better way to explain it than to simply drop them into the middle of the crowd at this show. Each veteran act offers a different flavor—from the thrash metal of Anthrax to the heavy grooves of Black Label Society to the metallic hardcore of Hatebreed—while remaining a proud, long-running standard-bearer of the genre.
Hatebreed, led by the bundle of energy and enthusiasm that is Jamey Jasta, warmed up the near-capacity crowd starting at the early time of 6:45 p.m., unleashing one pummeling anthem after another, smashing 13 songs into a 45-minute set. The pits were rocking as crowdsurfers swarmed over the barricade, with Jasta excitedly seeking each one out for a high five. Sporting a different look than we’re used to, with long hair and beard, the frontman was a warm, engaging presence onstage as the band churned out its unforgiving rhythms and devastating breakdowns. Knowing its audience on this tour, the band included a cover of the thrash metal classic “Bonded by Blood” by Exodus in its set list.
HATEBREED SET LIST: “Proven,” “To the Threshold,” “Worlds Apart,” “Tear It Down,” “A Stroke of Red,” “This Is Now,” “Empty Promises,” “Destroy Everything,” “Live for This,” “Bonded by Blood,” “Perseverance,” “Seven Enemies,” “I Will Be Heard”
The Black Label Society Maryland chapter was out in full force on this night judging from the T-shirts and battle jackets throughout the crowd, and Zakk Wylde and company responded with a spellbinding performance, highlighted by the guitar heroics of Wylde and fellow axe-slinger Dario Lorina. With Zakk more than willing to share the spotlight, BLS truly is a two-guitar act now, and Lorina is its secret weapon. Throw in the ultra-tight rhythm section of bassist John “J.D.” DeServio and drummer Jeff Fabb, and the band is sounding the best it ever has. (It’s worth noting that this lineup has been together since 2014, the longest of any BLS incarnation.)
Highlights of the set included the thunderous “Overlord” from 2010’s superb “Order of the Black;” “You Made Me Want to Live” and “Set You Free” from last year’s excellent “Doom Crew Inc.;” the piano ballad “In This River,” dedicated to the late Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul Abbott; and “Fire It Up,” with its extended dueling guitar solos.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY SET LIST: “Funeral Bell,” Destroy & Conquer,” “Overlord,” “Heart of Darkness,” “A Love Unreal,” “You Made Me Want to Live,” “In This River,” “Trampled Down Below,” “Set You Free,” “Fire It Up,” “Suicide Messiah,” “Stillborn”
Celebrating 40 years as a band—one year after the actual 40th anniversary due to COVID—Anthrax closed the night with a career-spanning set of classic thrash metal. The band didn’t remotely show its age, however, as vocalist Joey Belladonna, rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello were as energetic and engaged as they’ve ever been, while drummer Charlie Benante held it all down and guitarist Jon Donais supplied the blistering leads. I feel like I always give a special mention to Belladonna when I review an Anthrax show, but that’s because the man is seemingly ageless; at 61, he sounds better today than he did when the band first was making its name in the ‘80s.
The set list leaned heavily on classic albums “Among the Living” (1987) and “Spreading the Disease” (1985), and three of the 12 songs were covers, though Anthrax made “Antisocial” and “Got the Time” its own decades ago. The most interesting choice was the inclusion of “Only” from the John Bush-fronted “Sound of White Noise” album (1993). Anthrax made some great music in that era—2003’s “We’ve Come for You All” is a personal favorite—so it was nice to see it hasn’t been forgotten. I would have loved to hear more from the band’s two most recent albums, “Worship Music” (2011) and “For All Kings” (2016), but I understand most fans want the classics, and it’s hard to make a strong case against any of the songs in the current set list.
This year and last, there’s been a package on the road calling itself the “Metal Tour of the Year.” And while that tour is indeed quite metal, this bill of Anthrax, Black Label Society and Hatebreed is another strong contender for that title.
ANTHRAX SET LIST: “Among the Living,” “Caught in a Mosh,” “Madhouse,” “Metal Thrashing Mad,” “Medusa,” “Keep It in the Family,” “Antisocial,” “I Am the Law,” “In the End,” “Only,” “Got the Time,” “Bring the Noise,” “Indians”