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TESTAMENT at the Phoenix, Monday, February 18. Rating: NNN
For those of us as excited (or more) to see Overkill as headliners Testament, disappointment was the name of the game at the Phoenix on Monday night. The New Jersey thrash legends pulled out of the show - and entire tour - just hours before they were set to take the stage, due to lead singer Bobby Ellsworth's walking pneumonia.
Testament did their best to make up the loss, overwhelming us with flashing lights and fog, speedy virtuosic mayhem and crushing double-bass-drum footwork from legendary drummer Gene "the Atomic Clock" Hoglan, who worked with the band in the mid-90s and appears on their well-received 2012 album, Dark Roots Of Earth.
The Berkeley thrash metal vets current lineup closely resembles their classic late-80s one, but with a few differences. Longtime guitarist Eric Peterson now solos almost as much as the band's one true rock star, Alex Skolnick, and Chuck Billy's formerly high-pitched vocals have given way to a deeper growl that got buried by the din.
Still, seeing the hulking singer continuously play air guitar on his cut-in-half mic stand helped make up for that.