Live at the House of Blues

San Diego, CA

July 19th, 2018

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

San Diego International Comic-con is the pinnacle annual geek soirée and nerdfest extraordinaire. It also has become one of pop-culture's biggest events with fandoms of all types converging on the sunny Southern California city every July for five days of unabridged artistic mayhem.

Nuclear Blast have long had a presence on the con floor and have steadily gotten more involved with the fans and the bands by offering comics, toys, special in-booth events, and yes... top-tier after parties. This year, in conjunction with Court of the Dead, Sideshow Collectibles' premiere undead property, they host the legendary Bay area Thrash Titans, Testament.

Taking over the House of Blues in the Gaslamp Quarter, mere blocks from the heart of the Comic-con action, Testament played to a packed crowd with even more local metal-heads present than Comic-con attendees.

The band took to the stage and immediately broke into "Brotherhood of the Snake", the title track from their latest album. The audience went into a frenzy and the pit took off without any coaxing from the band.

Front-man and vocalist, Chuck Billy welcomed the crowd and commented on the special event. He said that they were pulling out some tracks that they have not played for quite some time in honor of the convention but were also doing some of their material from the last few albums such as "Rise Up" from "Dark Roots of the Earth".

Joining Mr. Billy on stage were Testament's two incredibly skilled guitarists, Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick along with Gene Hoglan on drums, and Steve Di Giorgio on bass guitar. They played one more off of "Brotherhood" with the awesome "Pale King".

Testament did a fan signing at the booth at the convention earlier in the day and Chuck commented on how they got to meet so many great fans and see so much cool stuff on the show floor. He also joked that he expected more of the audience to be in costume.

For the next song they went back to 1994's "Low" album for "Dog Faced Gods". Die-hard Testament fans took the mosh pit to new heights as the older material began to flow. Keeping it going in the old-school vein, they did "The Preacher" from "The New Order" release circa 1988.

As promised, the band delivered songs that they normally do not play while touring such as "Electric Crown" from "The Ritual" album and "DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)" in between fan favorites that they do every show like "Low" and "Practice What You Preach".

The main set culminated in two more of these classic Testament crowd-pleasers with "The New Order" and fittingly, "Into the Pit". A huge portion of the main floor did exactly that, but no one was ready for the evening to be over.

The band took a really quick break and came right back to the cheering and clapping to give the fans what they wanted. "Over the Wall" lead into the final song of the night, "Disciples of the Watch".

It was a great show with the stellar sound that the House of Blues have been known for. The crowd was in a great mood whether they had partaken in the Comic-con festivities or were here solely to see a classic thrash metal act do what they do best.

A stand out of any Testament show is getting to see Eric and Alex do their thing. Extremely talented artists, these guys are some of the best guitarists out there and they never disappoint.

Testament have been out on the road as part of Slayer's farewell tour including Behemoth, Anthrax, and Lamb of God and still have some shows to do with that line up so they will be playing for a lot of cities through the rest of this year.

At the end of the year, those of us in Los Angeles will get to see them headlining the LA Beer and Metal fest which is touting them playing a couple of their older records straight through. I recommend seeing them where ever the opportunity arises.

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