After all the waiting and back surgery and more waiting, how can I best sum up the experience that was the American Carnage tour? Well, with the help of a free (and possibly unreliable) internet translator, here are a few simple phrases in a whole slew of languages:
It kicked ass!
Es war toll
Det var awesome
Ito ay mahusay na
E 'stato eccellente
Det var utmärkt
Ez remek volt
Testament was first up, and kept the crowd warm with their classic hits like “Practice What You Preach” and fan favorite “Into the Pit.” They were sharp, perhaps even more so than in their most recent tours. Still, as enjoyable as watching Testament is, you can also detect that certain something that kept them from being on the same page as the Big Four. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe nobody can, and that’s why it is the way it is. Either way, there’s a certain inexorable quality to being top dog, and even though I enjoyed Testament’s set, they were easily the third best band of the night.
With Chris Broderick in tow and David Ellefson returned to the fold, Megadeth is stronger and more compelling than they have been in years. Maybe in a decade. Dave Mustaine seems completely rejuvenated in working with Broderick, and Ellefson’s cool demeanor and practiced musicianship give the band the kind of calculating ferocity that has always been the hallmark of true Megadeth. Playing “Rust in Peace” to commemorate its anniversary, Megadeth tore through the tracks at a healthy clip, never stopping to give the crowd time to catch their breath. The end result was a sonic assault, a sheer euphoria of thrash and speed metal in its pinnacle form. “Hanger 18” hasn’t sounded this good in a long time, and with Broderick leading the way, many of the tracks breathed deeply of a fiery new life. “Poison Was The Cure,” dripped with guitar virtuosity, and “Rust in Peace…Polaris” sent the crowd into a frenzy. Couple those with a few add-ons like “Symphony of Destruction,” “Headcrusher” and a thunderous, chanting “Peace Sells,” and the crowd was witnessing a classic band born anew.
What can I say about Slayer? I’m about to do what no reviewer should ever do, and basically make this part about my experience more than the experience itself. Knowing that Slayer was playing all of “Seasons In the Abyss,” I was amped. I have waited eight years and several concerts to see them play “Temptation” live, and I was not disappointed. Slayer continues to maintain their preeminent dominance as metal’s scariest, harshest, fastest band, and in opening the set with “World Painted Blood,” did nothing but reinforce that conception. After that and new single “Hate Worldwide,” Slayer launched into “Seasons” with the screaming, brash “War Ensemble.” From there the stops were pulled out, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a four song set as much as I was euphoric over “Hollowed Point,” “Skeletons of Society,” “Temptation” and “Born of Fire.” Over however many repeated listenings, I have internalized so much of that album that to hear it end to end was like reliving so many late nights of term-paper writing in college, using Slayer to stay awake and keep the blood flowing. Once the album was over, they followed with the usual spate of classics, “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood” and naturally, “Angel of Death.” As a side note, Tom Araya looks good after back surgery. He looks a little stiff on stage still, but I think everyone in the arena was just happy to see him standing and playing.
The crowd was a solid mix of fans of young and…well, let’s call them less young. It was a celebration of metal’s old and new guards coming together into a single place to do some worshipping of two metal gods. If this tour is coming to your town, see it. Do whatever it takes. Just be there.