The was a show featuring 3 of the best thrash bands the world has ever known. But it would also highlight the differences in the way each band plays their kind of thrash. To some, they would hear nothing difference between the 3. To the trained ear, the difference would quite noticeable.
I was there to see Anthrax. They have always been my favorite thrash band. They play with an in your face style. Loud, gutteral guitars, with a mosh riff in most songs. A sound that gets you moving. It quite simply makes you want to mosh, to move around, flailing your limbs about. It is no wonder guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello move around the stage so much.
They have "gang vocals" in most songs which encourages the crowd to be part of the show. There is a good amount of crowd interaction. During the mosh portion of Indians- the War Dance- they stopped because Charlie the drummer thought the mosh pit was gay. Yes, they said the mosh pit was gay. The riled up the people on the floor- I was in the balcony- to a frenzy as the shoved each other around. The band left to thunderous applause. They are quite loved in Milwaukee.
Megadeth was quite a bit different. They have been celebrating the 25 year anniversary of the Rust in Peace album by playing the entire thing. RiP is not my favorite Megadeth disc so I found it a bit disappointing. I would rather hear them play a mix of what they have released over 25 years. I wanted In My Darkest Hour but got Hangar 18 instead. They played a couple other songs after the finished the album- Peace Sells, Symphony of Destruction- but not much more.
Megadeth's stage presence and sound is quite different from Anthrax's. Though loud, the guitars are more technical. Instead of crunching out chords, they are more melodic and faster. The band does not move around the stage much either. Guys are planted in front of the microphones, bobbing their heads to both sides. They sounded great but their isn't much of a show. The most you get is Vic Rattlehead coming out in a suit and walking around stage. It reminded me of a Boston show I saw at Alpine Valley many years ago. There was nothing to see on stage so people just laid on the hill and listened as they stared at the stars.
Slayer was kinda like a combination of the two. Hard guitars that blow you off your feet. Furious drumming and lyrics about blood, Satan, and death. The sound is both technical and in your face. Like Megadeth, some of the guys didn't move around much. Guitarist Kerry King was the exception. He was moving around the stage at times.
It really didn't matter. The capacity crowd was there to worship at the altar of Slayer. I was excited to see them. I didn't really begin to appreciate their music until about 10 years ago. Put aside what the lyrics are and you have some thrash that gets the blood flowing. I was happy to hear my favorite song, Skeletons of Society. Slayer played what they wanted, from the opening of World Painted Blood through War Ensemble and South of Heaven. They delivered what the crowd wanted. Heavy metal like none other.
I left the venue completely satisfied. Got to see my boys Anthrax and experience Slayer. Maybe Milwaukee will get lucky and have these come around again in 2011.