Magazine: Metal Maniacs / USA
Report: Thrash Of The Titans

Written by: Andrew Sample
Published: February 2002



San Francisco, California-
Most metalheads know that Chuck Schuldiner of Death/Control Denied and Testament's Chuck Billy were both diagnosed with forms of cancer in the last couple of years, and the metal community of fans, musicians and industry reps has been busy ever since raising money through various benefits and contributions. Since the Bay Area in the mid-to-late '80s was the very breeding ground for thrash metal's greatest movement, some promoters and fans along with Chuck Billy himself got it together to have a benefit for the families of each by getting together many of the now-defunct area legends (and some other genre stalwarts) for a one-night only festival at San Francisco's Maritime Hall. Rivaling Jack Koshick's annual Miwaukee Metalfest, the event was set for Saturday, August 11th and almost 2,000 raging maniacs jammed the venue to witness one of metal's greatest nights in recent years. With S.O.D./M.O.D. frontman Billy Milano acting as Master Of Ceremonies for the occasion, a few jokes were cracked and the event got under way about 4p.m.

Kicking off the performances was Heathen, and the crowd was fully satisfied with the start of "Open The Grave" from their Breaking The Silence debut. The band fumbled through the Sweet cover "Set Me Free" (showing that they were probably the least rehearsing band) although they regained their composure with the formidable "Goblin's Blade." Guitarist Lee Altus seemed hesitant at times and vocalist David White-Godfrey (now a born again Christian) looked a tad awkward and out of place, although their performances were definitely credible. Ending with "Opiate Of The Masses," Heathen then left the stage with a heartfelt salute to Chuck Billy.

Flotsam And Jetsam (who were added to the bill after Laaz Rockt pulled out) quickly tore into classics "Hammerhead," "No Place For Disgrace" and "Hard On You" and with their tightness and fluent changes it was evident that the band was fresh from touring. Rumors of original Flotsam and ex-metallica bassist Jason Newsted attending the event were squashed as the band furthered their set ("The Master Sleeps" and new song "Dig Me Up To Burry Me" form the My God release), but the hungry crowd were still very attentive and reactive. As it turned out this would be vocalist Eric A.K.'s last stand with Flotsam, ending his 15 years and eight album career with the band.

Sadus may have been the most unfitting band for the bill, but their technical brand of death-thrash was anxiously welcomed by the Maritime crowd. Guitarist / vocalist Darren Travis and bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Dragonlord, Control Denied) commanded the stagefront as drummer Jon Allen put on one of the more exhausting performances of the night. Running through eight numbers including "Sadus Attack," "Aggression," "Facelift" and crowd favorite "Hands Of Fate" (not to mention some brand new material) Sadus were as intimidating as they were sonically heavy.

Next up were the always underrated Forbidden (going under original name Forbidden Evil), who note for note may have been Bay Area Thrash's most talented act ever. Vocalist Russ Anderson and original Forbidden/ex-Testament guitarist Glen Alvelais may be physically bigger than ever before but still had the fire for their old material (Anderson shied away from a few of his patented Halford-esque wails however). "Forbidden Evil" and "Off The Egde," both from the band's stellar 1998 Forbidden Evil debut, got things started as the band seemed comfortable and very much enjoying themselves. Surprising to everyone, current Slayer and original Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph showed up fresh off the Extreme Steel tour to lend his chops for a few songs as the band plunged into "Through Eyes Of Glass." Ex-guitarist Tim Calvert (who left Nevermore in the last year or so) also showed up to lend a hand (or two) with "One Foot In Hell." The stunning "Chalice Of Blood" closed things out on the perfect note.

Death Angel guitarist Rob Cavestany, singer Mark Osegueda and powerhouse drummer Andy Galeon have been active in their more melodic band Swarm for the last few years, so it was expected that DA were tho show up in great form. Man did they! Playing (and looking) as though they were still in their early 20s, the band jumped in feet first with "Evil Priest" and "Varacious Souls" from their debut The Ultraviolence, and three songs later ("Mistress Of Pain," "Kill As One" and "Thrashers") they had given the crowd over half of the sacred album. Bassist Gus Pepa showed up with mohawk intact, and the Philippine thrash express gave the Maritime an unforgetable 45-minute set (promising one last headlining local show before the end of the year). Cavestany's extended rants to the crowd became a bit excessive, but they proved to be necessary breaks as Death Angel easily blasted up the best performance of the night rounded out with "Bored" and "Seemingly Endless Time."

Following Death Angel is a tough piece of work, and Exodus soon fell victim as they plummeted into "Pleasures Of The Flesh" and namesake "Exodus." Although the band certainly picked the right material for the night ("And Then There Were None," "No Love," "Bonded By Blood," "Piranha") their looseness coupled with guitarist Gary Holt's technical problems gave the entire set a tongue-in-cheek feel. Vocalist Paul Baloff was joined by his old replacement Steve "Zetro" Souza (also Legacy's original vocalist) for a duet on "Braindead" although Zet's vocal mic wasn't switched on for most of his lines (ouch!). Even without Kirk Hammett showing up, as some had mentioned, Exodus was certainly the crowd favorite of the night.


Anthrax and S.O.D. have both been visible in the last few years so their appearances seemed a little less anticipated, although S.O.D. turned in a joyous performance consisting solely of March Of The S.O.D. material (less their take on M.O.D.'s "Aren't You Hungry"). Scott, Danny, Charlie and Billy kicked through "Kill Yourself," "Milano Mosh," "Douche Crew," "Fish Banging Mania," "Milk," "Pussy Whipped," "Freddy Krueger" and more while handing out a few standard ballads to Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Joey Ramone amongst others. Anthrax's opener "Among The Living" quickly raised the crowd's attention and approval, as they followed nicely with "Metal Thrashing Mad," "Caught In A Mosh" and "Indians." The biggest surprise of the set was the inclusion of "Gung Ho" from Spreading The Disease, a thrash whirlwind not performed live in many years.

Vio-lence caused quite a stir a decade ago with their relentless viscosity and lyrical insightfulness regarding corrupt government, harsh reality and blind courage; and fittingly the fans buzzed with much excitement as the band hit the stage with "Kill On Command" and "Eternal Nightmare." Frontman Sean Killian never looked more pissed and poised for revolution as he and the band assaulted the crowd with a total of nine songs including "Serial Killer," "Officer Nice," "Phobophobia" and the stellar "World In A World." Without original guitarist/Machine Head leader Robb Flynn, Vio-lence were well rehearsed and took complete control of the crowd, finishing with the ultra pit-friendly "I Profit."

Guest of honor, Legacy, took the stage at 2 a.m. and the tired and beaten crowd prepared for one last battle as "Raging Waters," "Alone In The Dark," "Burnt Offerings" and "The Haunting" lead the way. Zet Souza gleamed with excitement as did Testament guitarist Eric Peterson, and the crowd couldn't have been any more receptive. Ex-Exodus/Testament/White Zombie and current Rob Zombie drummer John Tempesta joined in the fun as well as Paul Bostaph, while lead guitarist Alex Skolnick (departed from Testament for almost a decade) played as if he had been absent for a only few rehearsals. Legacy/Testament bassist Greg Christian turned the low-end over to Steve DiGiorgio for a couple of numbers, as the set list proceeded with "First Strike Is Deadly," "Over The Wall" and "Reign Of Terror." The man of the hour Chuck Billy then took the mic and thanked everyone for their generosity and metal unity before heading home (as well as saying thanks on behalf of Chuck Schuldiner and his family), and much to everyone's zealousness Billy and the band ended with the Testament classic, "Into The Pit."

The exhausted and bedazzled crowd filtered out onto the San Francisco streets in awe of what was just witnessed, and while everyone could feel good about seeing the event, the real accomplishment was the money raised for both of the Chuck's families. Thrash Of The Titans will be remembered by many for quite some time, especially to all those who had a hand in making it happen...thank you.

Special thanks to Gery Nible for keeping accurate set lists.


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EmptyWords-Published on December 9 2001