Anthrax at First Avenue, 4/4/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess

Metal Alliance Tour III
featuring Anthrax, Exodus, High on Fire, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Thursday, April 4, 2013

In the live music world there are two major ingredients: nostalgia and catharsis. There was a heaping helping of both last night in the form of a sweaty, swirling mass perpetuated by this year's Metal Alliance tour.

While the main attraction of headliners Anthrax and their legendary counterparts Exodus no doubt brought the older crowd out on a school night, it was the droves of metallic youth that kept the mosh pit in constant motion all night. With relative newcomers Holy Grail, Municipal Waste and stoner metal staples High on Fire, the variety and spectacle of all five acts quite effectively united the generations of metal fans for an evening of monstrous riffs and spectacular speed-driven music. It was the powerful combination of aggression and volume that treated the sold out Mainroom to an endlessly pleasurable headbanging experience.

See Also:
Slideshow: Anthrax at First Avenue

"We're fucking High on Fire!" grunted a shirtless guitarist and front man Matt Pike ripping right into the thunderous "Rumors of War" that set the tone for the Oakland power trio's abbreviated fiery set.

With echoing howls, mounds of power chords and drummer Des Kensel's propulsive talents and rapid-fire cymbal work, High on Fire cut to the chase and barely took a breather between songs. Leading right into Pike's snaking leads of "Frost Hammer" and the 2/4 punch of "Fertile Green" the singer's Les Paul took much abuse with pounding progressions.

The slow, sludging groove mixed with Pike's signature caterwauling makes High on Fire stand out above the rest of their class and had rows of headbangers in arms and flailing with one another in unison. Pike voiced his appreciation, "Thanks for coming out and thanks to all the other bands!" He then engulfed his guitar with scrambled shredding and the AC/DC-like intro of "Snakes for the Divine," eventually wrapping up their short but sweet contribution for the evening with a squall of feedback.

Thoroughly tenderized after the previous three acts, the room had filled to capacity as inexplicably Prince's "Purple Rain" came through the speakers with the screen rising to show the five current members of '80s thrash titans, Exodus.

Having not seen the band since I was a teenager, it was hard to make out who was still a member of the band. But as would be revealed, long standing original drummer Tom Hunting and guitarist Gary Holt have carried the torch of the Bay Area band's colossal sound three decades running and they sounded rip-roaring amazing.

"Minneapolis, How are you doing? We were like 'Holy shit, this was where Purple Rain was filmed! We got to use that as our intro tonight!" confessed lead singer Rob Dukes. "'Jungle Love' would have been my second choice!"

Brandishing their highly influential twin lead harmonies and intense brand of speed metal, Exodus had the crowd enraptured and moving faster through each of their blistering classics.

"We came here to teach you a lesson in violence!" Dukes instructed as Holt and co-lead Lee Altus exchanged lines amid the precision double bass drums that propelled "A Lesson in Violence." Leaping through Exodus' catalog of annihilating anthems, the band never let up and treated the crowd with "War is My Shepard," "Blacklisted" and ultimately a pair from their signature '85 debut Bonded By Blood with "Piranha" and the title track.

It was the band's MTV near-hit "Toxic Waltz" that had the crowd in a raving frenzy setting up walls of bodies facing one another and slamming face first towards each other in shocking metal revelry.

"You guys fucking rule!" Dukes would sigh as he thanked the crowd and passed out set lists to those taking the most punishment up front closing out the set with "Good Riddance."

Finally as the screen rose to show the enormous and unmistakable Anthrax logo the band fiercely took the stage and delivered an enormous set of their own.

As was anticipated Anthrax have followed the current trend of performing a classic work in its entirety for this tour, playing their 1987 masterpiece, Among the Living. The crowd who at this point had grown to a groundswell with fists and devil horns in the air couldn't be any the more eager to witness the thrash veterans deliver the goods.

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