Metal Alliance Tour At House Of Blues Sunset Strip
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By Jamie Harvey
West Hollywood, Calif.
It was 5:30 p.m. on March 27 and even on a warm spring day the black- and denim-swathed masses were already anticipating a long night with metal's finest.
Opening the Sunset Strip stop of the Metal Alliance Tour at the House of Blues was Los Angeles' Holy Grail, who warmed us up with their soaring guitar harmonies and power metal vocals. With a set list skewing heavily toward their recently released Ride The Void album, the band literally jumped, prowled and flexed their way through the set. Their death metal elements, visually anchored by vocalist James Paul Luna's gauntleted forearms, got the mosh pit off to an early start, which made me wonder how on Earth we were going to last all night.
Next was everyone's favorite party metal band, Municipal Waste. With songs such as "Sadistic Magician," "Headbanger Face Rip" and "The Art Of Partying," the floor started to look like a war zone. Joining for one song was Chris Dodge of power-violence band Spazz. The classic Municipal Waste stage presence of vocalist Tony Foresta sandwiched between bassist Land Phil and guitarist Ryan Waste signaled there were good times ahead. The band's finale produced a shower of streamers and confetti, some of which remained stuck to the rafters as a pervasive reminder of who laid waste to the venue on this evening.
High On Fire were admittedly the misfit in sound on this bill, but they are the band I've seen the most out of them all. Their sludgy riffs always beckon me back. Though I could barely hear vocalist/guitarist Matt Pike's gravely vocals, the riffs were all I needed. "Frost Hammer," "Fertile Green" and "Snakes For The Divine" overwhelmed my ears in the most pleasant of ways. The contrast of their thick and heavy sound calmed me down from what had riled me up in the previous sets. But not for long.
The evening really got crazy once Bay Area neighbors Exodus hit the stage. Every corner of the House of Blues, and there are many, erupted into a sea of moshers. Performances of "Bonded By Blood" and "The Toxic Waltz" were definite highlights of their set. I am always excited to see Exodus since guitarist Gary Holt has served double duty in Slayer, one of my favorite bands. And the last time I saw Municipal Waste and Exodus together, I was on a boat.
The night ended with one of metal's "Big Four," Anthrax, performing their seminal 1987 album Among The Living in its entirety, with a break between the A side and B side. There was a lot of love for Anthrax in the room, and this was perhaps best demonstrated by the special guests that joined them onstage — a top hat-less and Les Paul-less Slash for a cover of AC/DC's "T.N.T.," and Chuck D for "Bring The Noise," a Public Enemy song that Anthrax re-recorded with the hip-hop group in 1991. During the break between album sides, they played the 55th GRAMMY-nominated track "I'm Alive."
Into the show's sixth hour, the crowd still seemed like they craved more as Anthrax left the stage. After a night full of tunes from bands spanning the last four decades, and their dedicated fans, I can definitely say, "Long live heavy metal."
Holy Grail Set List
"Ride The Void"
"My Last Attack"
"Fight To Kill"
Municipal Waste Set List
"Unleash The Bastards"
"The Thrashin' Of The Christ"
"You're Cut Off"
"Thrashing's My Business ... And Business Is Good"
"I Just Wanna Rock"
"Headbanger Face Rip"
"The Art Of Partying"
High On Fire Set List
"Rumors Of War"
"Madness Of An Architect"
"Snakes For The Divine"
Exodus Set List
"The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles"
"A Lesson In Violence"
"War Is My Shepherd"
"Bonded By Blood"
"The Toxic Waltz"
"Strike Of The Beast"
Anthrax Set List
"Among The Living"
"Caught In A Mosh"
"I Am The Law"
"Skeleton In The Closet"
"In The End"
"T.N.T."(AC/DC cover featuring Slash)
"March Of The S.O.D." (Stormtroopers Of Death cover)
"A.D.I /Horror Of It All"
"Imitation Of Life"
"I'm The Man"
"Bring The Noise" (Public Enemy cover featuring Chuck D)
"Long Live Rock 'N' Roll" (Rainbow cover)
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)