GIG REVIEW: Testament, Sepultura & Prong Live at The Majestic, Detroit, MI
A rocking triple bill was on tap at The Majestic in Detroit, Michigan on April 28th, 2017. I arrived early and thought maybe I was too early or too late as there was no line at the front door. When I walked in, the place had a smattering of fans, most of them congregating around the merch booths. Doors opened an hour earlier than usual but once more people arrived, the place filled up quick. Could’ve been a lot of folks doing what I seen some people doing in their vehicles in the parking lot, getting their pre-concert drink on.
First up was Prong. This group out of New York City, New York has been an influence on many big- name bands out there today. Korn and Nine Inch Nails to name a few. When you listen to Prong, you can hear those bands who were influenced by Prong. Prong’s sound is brash and to the point. Lead singer Tommy Victor’s vocals follow suit with the music. Victor’s crunchy guitar playing stands out and it’s what caught my attention back in the day when I heard their song, “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”, which they played during their set. Prong has gone through a lengthy list of band members ever since they have been around from 1986. Tommy Victor being the sole originator left and keeping the Prong brand of thrash metal alive with him were Jason Christopher on bass and Art Cruz on drums. Prong’s latest album ‘X – No Absolutes’ was released last year and these guys show no signs of slowing down.
Next up and keeping the night running along was Sepultura. Sepultura kicked it into another gear or two as they crushed it playing old and new songs. I was blown away with how good Sepultura was, having a such a different lineup from when I was younger. But it’s been many years and like a lot of bands, lineup changes happen. With that said, my low expectations were shattered and I was delighted rediscovering Sepultura right before my eyes. Paulo Jr on bass guitar is the only original member left and had a cool calm demeanor as he was in control of the back beat. The rest of the guys have been in the band for numerous years and that longevity together shows in their cohesiveness as they play. The biggest change that happened for this Brazilian band was lead singer Max Cavalera departing and American, Derrick Green from Cleveland, Ohio eventually taking over the lead singing duties. Green brings that vocal intensity and even pounds the skins on some songs to provide that tribal touch of drum session. Andreas Kisser on lead guitar has been with the band since near its inception and he was a dynamite as he riffed away on guitar and whipped his long hair around. Eloy Casagrande on drums pummeled the skins, his good physique would have you thinking playing drums can sculpt and chisel the body, maybe I should get back to playing my drums. Eloy was tough to shoot, it felt like we were playing peek a boo as he was behind so many drums and cymbals and the stage is already high up. This group brought the classic Sepultura sound and even played some new songs off their latest album ‘Machine Messiah’. Sepultura is a prime example of how well a group can sound even with major lineup changes. And with songs like “Roots Bloody Roots” and “Ratamahatta”, they will always keep people happy and create new fans.
Headlining the show was Testament, a band out of the San Francisco Bay Area Thrash scene of the 1980’s. Another group who has endured many lineup changes since 1983 when they’ve been around. With rhythm guitarist Eric Peterson being the lone original member, he spearheads the group with his energy and relentless guitar playing. Alex Skolnick joined the band shortly after its formation and solidified the lead guitar duties. Skolnick who learned guitar from axe god Joe Satriani has used those teaching well as he shapes that heavy thrashing sound. Chuck Billy took over the lead vocal role a few years after the band formed and he’s never looked back since. Billy is the driving force behind getting the band to crank out new material and keeping the machine moving. Billy is intense and plays a mean air guitar on his microphone handle. Steve Di Giorgio on bass was enthusiastic and genuinely seemed happy to be jamming out with this group of talented musicians as he was all smiles. High upon his throne of drums sat Gene Hoglan. I never did quite see him while I was shooting pictures from the photo pit. But I could hear him and when I followed a couple other photogs up to the balcony, that was when I finally was able to see Hoglan behind all them drums. This perspective also allowed me to see how packed the venue got. But there was a pocket of space in the middle of the floor where moshing had been circling throughout the night.
Testament offered a concert style I wish more bands would do, having solos from each of the members. This allows fans to appreciate the talent of the members even more. Combine the solos with plenty of songs and stories, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would be disappointed. Testament dished out tons of songs throughout their catalogue with “Rise Up”, “Into The Pit” and ending on “Over The Wall”; seventeen songs in all and over an hour-and-a-half of ear-tingling enjoyment.
All in all, this was an excellent night of heavy metal music. Each band brought their unique brand of sound: Prong with their crunchy in your face style, Sepultura with their tribal thrash and Testament with their classic heavy thrash. It was apparent the fans enjoyed themselves as they head banged and fist pumped through the night, providing the energy for the bands to feed off. I was glad to have the privilege to witness this night of entertainment, I left with the fulfilling feeling that if these bands can still rock this hard after all these years, then I have no excuse to not keep rocking as time marches on.
Also check out our Full Gallery of the gig here!