Starting off the night was Hatebreed. Now, for those that don't know, I'm not a fan of Hatebreed at all. It's not that I have anything against their music, although it's not my cup of tea, and I do enjoy a couple of songs. It really boils down to Jamey Jasta's personality on his podcast that left a sour taste in my mouth, and I'll leave it at that. It goes without saying that their set is the one I enjoyed the least out of the three. The only standout moment of their set that seemed to have my attention the most was when they covered Exodus' "Bonded By Blood". While Jasta had no problem getting a pit going, he did have a bit of a hard time getting the entire crowd to participate. Now I'm not saying that to be ignorant, it's just what I truly witnessed. I did find his overuse of his term "mosh pit retirement" pretty cringe-worthy. A majority of their set consisted of old songs from the first three albums. The only songs where a bit more of the crowd was active were on "Looking Down The Barrel Of Today" and "I Will Be Heard". At the end of the day, I respect Hatebreed for what they do, but don't count on ever seeing me at a headline show.
Next up was Black Label Society. This marked my first time seeing them since 2013, and my third time seeing them overall, and this was definitely the best I heard them sound. Father Zakk Wylde and the boys kicked off the set at a chugging pace with "Funeral Bell", and they doomtrooped their way through new songs and classics such as "Destroy & Conquer", "Overlord", "Fire It Up" and "Suicide Messiah". The vocal harmonies between Zakk and John "JD" DeServio were as potent as the riffs between Zakk and Dario Lorina. The drums however seemed a bit buried in the overall mix. A couple of stand-out moments were a full-band performance of "In This River", while showing two banners of Dimebag and Vinnie Paul on either set of amps as a dedication to the brothers, and when the crew threw a bunch of beach balls into the crowd. We all know how much of a goofball Zakk is, and he even made a joke regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs being the greatest hockey team, which got the crowd booing (we all know the reality). Closing out the set with "Stillborn", the crowd was begging for more, but the show must move on.
Now, it was time for Anthrax. Before their set, a celebratory video played from a projector, which featured so many of their peers in the business, such as Dee Snider, Robert Trujillo, Kerry King, Dave Mustaine, Slash, Gene Simmons, Brian Posehn, Rob Zombie, Phil Anselmo, Chuck D, Norman Reedus, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Lady Gaga and John Carpenter just to name a few, sharing thoughts and stories about the band, and sending out congratulatory messages on their remarkable milestone. Starting off the set was the opening one-two punch of Among The Living with the title track and "Caught In A Mosh". It's also worth noting that Among The Living is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year as well. Their 12-song set spanned their entire 40 year career, with at least one song from all their big albums, with the exception Stomp 442, Vol. 8: The Threat Is Real and We've Come For You All, but I found it rather surprising that there wasn't a song from For All Kings in the set. That being said, they tore their way through many of the standard classic setlist staples like "Madhouse", "Antisocial", "I Am The Law" and "Got The Time", while also including a couple of nice surprises like "Only", "Metal Thrashing Mad" and "Keep It In The Family". They even did a quick version of "Bring The Noise", in which Scott Ian did the rapping parts, before closing out the set with "Indians".
Anthrax may be 40 years into their career, but this tour proves that they found the Fountain Of Youth along the way, because all of them haven't lost a step. They're still playing like they're in their prime. Usually with bands that are 30-40 years into their career, you can kind of notice a few cracks starting to appear, even if they're really minor, but that's not the case with Anthrax. Joey Belladonna is just a freak of nature with the way he looks and sounds for his age. Him, along with Scott Ian, Charlie Benante and Frank Bello are more active and energetic than people half their age, and Jon Donais is a master in his own right. They all still look great, and they still sound great. When you see them on stage now, it truly seems like time stopped, and it seems like this 40-year ride isn't going to stop anytime soon. Long may Anthrax continue!
Photo credit: Rob Singh / (C) 2022 MetalMasterKingdom.com
* We don't have pics of Black Label Society or Hatebreed. Apologies.