The Bay Strikes Back Tour – Testament, Exodus, and Death Angel – brought a massive dose of thrash to the edge of the Ohio State University campus on Wednesday night with their stop at the Newport Music Hall. The tour celebrates the origins of thrash metal stretching back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is incredible that these three bands are still standing on the stage and belting out their music for long-time and new fans alike.
The venue is a great place for heavy music. It is arranged with a generous open space in front of the stage for a pit, and there are two balcony levels if you want to hang back and bang your head a little more peacefully. The crowd ran the gamut from teenagers to old metal heads (like me). Every band mentioned they were glad to be back after two years of COVID-19 interruptions and delays. Indeed, this show is rescheduled because of the pandemic from an earlier date. There have been shows, of course, in the meantime here and there in the past few months. Full-on tours like the Bay Strikes Back with many legs and dozens of dates are just now coming back and everybody involved is more than ready for them.
It was good to be at a metal show that day especially because we were all just hearing about the untimely passing of Trevor Strnad. Every band mentioned the sad news of the death of The Black Dahlia Murder singer. Each called for a fond remembrance, dedicating songs and the show to Strnad. Being at the show helped a lot, but it is going to take a while to get through and deal with the loss of such an important member of our community.
First up on Wednesday was Death Angel, bringing the heat early in the evening to get the crowd roaring. Touring on the strength of their album Humanicide, the band also chose many songs from other albums in their impressive catalogue to mark the day. The band that goes first has the job of kicking off the festivities and firing the fans. Death Angel was definitely up to the task. The twin guitar attack and Mark Osegueda’s powerful vocals were just the ticket.
Exodus rolled on to the stage after the quick change. Their latest album came out just a few months ago, Persona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast) They hit a number of tunes from the new one, naturally, and also played the song I was waiting for, “The Toxic Waltz.” Frontman Steve Souza was his usual charismatic self, and Gary Holt laid down the law on the guitar. “Strike of the Beast” was the show stopper at the end.
I have seen Testament more often than I have seen Exodus or Death Angel, and they always bring the speed and the heat. Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is the lead-in music and, as weird as that might seem when you hear about it, it makes perfect sense when you are at the concert. Titans Of Creation is their most recent album, and they opened with “Children of the Next Level” from that set. After that they played one hit after another with no respite. The crowd knew all the songs, and they were all in for Testament.
I had not seen these bands since Aftershock Festival in October last year. This night in Columbus renewed my allegiance to the triad, just like I knew it would. Excellent show.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY WAYNE EDWARDS