The American Carnage Tour - Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer
September 26, 2010 - Houston, Texas
All Access Concert Review: A

Each generation has their festivals and some eventually morph into the stuff of legends. The sixties provided the Trips Festival, the 14-hour Technicolor Dream, Monterey and Woodstock. The seventies offered the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, Knebworth and the Texxas Jam. Live Aid was arguably the biggest festival of the eighties and the next decade saw memorable events such as Lollapalooza and (a muddy version of) Woodstock.

And then there are the genre specific festivals. Jazz has been thriving for decades in Newport, Montreux and The Hague. Punk festivals have been challenged the establishments in England since 1976 and Texas’ own Austin has become an annual global Mecca for alternative and unsigned bands. Whatever your fancy, your crumbled stub to one of these events is a true badge of honor and includes subsequent bragging right.

Such holds just as true in the leather and studded world of Heavy-Metal. The early days of N.W.O.B.H.M. and trash-metal gave birth to the legendary “Aardschok” festivals in the Netherlands (attended by yours truly), Castle Donnington and the annual ‘Monsters of Rock”. Better yet, if there is a genre that has kept the phenomena of day (or weekend) long music events alive; than it is without question the vast legions of headbangers. Thumb through an issue of Metal Hammer, Classic Rock or the before mentioned Aardschok and you’ll find a dazzling array of mostly summer festivals in just about every European country. South-America, Japan, Australia and yes, even the US with its “Rocklahoma” and “Rock at the Bayou” has continued the trend of these marathon eardrum onslaughts.

1990/ 1991 became significant in the history of metal by means of the legendary ‘Clash of the Titans’ tour. The first leg (September/ October 1990) consisted of 17 shows in Europe, featuring Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies. The second leg (May through July of 1991) featured three of the four biggest trash-metal bands – Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. This all-American event contained an impressive 50 shows and after all was said and done, the “Clash of the Titans” tour went down as one of the most memorable metal events in history. Original tour memorabilia such as posters and shirts demand top-dollar among collectors and if your attendance to one of the original ‘Titan’ shows will draw instant respect from your fellow ‘bangers. Metallica, obviously the other ‘Big Four’ was already in a whole different league and was just months away from releasing the ‘Black’ album, which would eventually sell a staggering 15 million copies.

Now two decades later, Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and Anthrax still carry the trash-torch with the same pride, energy, piss and vinegar. And much like 20 years ago, a two-phased ‘Titans’ tour is tearing through the US. Dubbed the ‘American Carnage’ tour, there was initially only one leg planned, featuring Slayer, Megadeth and Testament. Chronic back problems of Slayer bassist/ vocalist of Tom Araya (caused by his decade’s long aggressive style of headbanging) prompted a last minute cancellation and Slayer was replaced by other Bay-Area legend Exodus. Six months later, a second leg was announced, this time with the exact same line-up as the 1991 formation and consisting of Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Confident of drawing sell-out crowds and a new generation of metal heads, Kerry King (Slayer) correctly said prior to the start of this tour “If you’ve got into this kind of music after ’92, you never saw us play together”.

I already saw the first ‘Carnage’ event here in Houston on March 25 and was really happy with my safe seat in the balcony…..and my earplugs. Yeah, yeah, save me the “boos”. I did the mosh pit thing as far back as the 70s. Now, I just enjoy watching it from a distance. By the way, even though Exodus was the opening act, they stole the price for most incredible pit ever by separating the floor in two halves like the red sea during (what else?) “Toxic Waltz”, followed by a massive stampede of body blows by over a thousand crazy kids on the word “go”… that was a sight!

Going in my "box"
Scott Ian of Anthrax graciously invited me last Sunday for the ‘real’ titanic clash, which too became a most memorable event. Pulling exclusively from their “vintage” catalog, Anthrax dished out classics such as ‘Caught in a Mosh’, ‘Indians’, ‘Antisocial’ and ‘I am the Law’. With Joey Belladonna back, Anthrax remains one of the most entertaining, energetic and engaging metal acts around. Megadeth served up a ‘front-to-back’ of their 1990 epic ‘Rust in Peace’ album, with staple songs such as ‘Hanger 18’ and ‘Lucretia’.  Fittingly, they ended their set with their masterpieces ‘Peace Sells’ and ‘Symphony of Destruction’. Slayer is Slayer. Raucous, fast, intimidating. They too offered a full version of their 1990 ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ mixed up with cult classics such as ‘Angel of Death’, ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Raining Blood’.

No Caption Needed
This time, I didn’t have the safety of a balcony seat and in my rush to get out the door, I forget my plugs. Admittedly, I had several scenes of “No Country for Old Men” flashing through my mind. The sell-out crowd was in a 4-hour frenzy, lead by a seemingly never-ending array of stage divers and mosh pit pushers and shovers. But truth to be told, a show like this has to be experienced from the floor. The highly addictive intensity made me stand my ground (for as much that’s possible) and you know what, it felt damn good! OK, I didn’t make an attempt to loose my front teeth on stage (although I did see plenty of “war veterans” who obviously have a lousy dental plan), but it was great to be in the middle of it all. The best part however was to see that next generation Kerry King talked about. At some point, the balcony seat will become my only option but as long as these fresh metal heads keep the pit alive and the floor unsafe, metal will be “Alive and Well”.

This second leg of the tour runs through October 21. If possible, go earn your metal badge of honor…….I can highly recommend a General Admission ticket!

-  Jacques van Gool
Backstage Auctions

Be sure and check out The Rock Gods 'n Metal Monsters Auction - Live on Halloween at Backstage Auctions! The auction will feature the private collections of Al Jourgensen, Rudy Sarzo, Graham Bonnet, John 5, Scott Rockenfield and more! 

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