KillThax Tour: Anthrax & Killswitch Engage Blow Roof Off Wellmont Theater
Montclair NJ, 3/29/17
Review and photos by Robert Cavuoto
Tonight was the first show of the KillThax Tour featuring Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, and special guests The Devil Wears Prada. If the KillThax Tour was on a mission to level the theater and crush the metal heads; consider the job well done!
The Devil Wears Prada opened their 30 minute set with “Daughter” and continued with seven other songs including; “Evergreen,” “Planet A,” & “Dead Throne.” Singer, Mike Hranica may be a soft-spoken guy off stage but on stage, he is a force not to be reckoned with. He impressed the crowd with his endless energy and deep guttural screams. The band’s aggressive songs were just what the fans needed in anticipation of Anthrax and Killswitch Engage.
New York’s Thrash Metal Kings; Anthrax took the stage next. Last year was the band’s 35th anniversary and they are not showing any signs of slowing down. In 2017, they are still relevant and playing as if they have something to prove. Their songs continue to yield a powerful combination of heavy riffs, driving bass, killer vocals, and machine gun tempo drumming.
I asked Frank Bello if he and the band feel re-energized with the release of their two stellar new CDs? He replied, “That’s an understatement to how we all feel. We are hungrier now as a band than I can remember being in the 80s. What you want to do, as a songwriter is to feed that fire in your gut. You want to connect with fans and For All Kings and Worship Music are connecting really well.”
The band is using their monster two-tiered stage with the ramps and a giant For All Kings backdrop. The light show was spectacular to accent the mood of the songs and allow all the members to shine when their turn came to be in the spotlight. Anthrax played 12 songs that spanned their formidable career including “Madhouse,” “Among the Living,” and “Caught in the Mosh.” Ravenous worshipers rocked back and forth raising their fists and banging their heads in submission while others moshed. They put on a grueling 90-minute set and the applause that followed was clearly heartfelt.
Joey Belladonna’s voice continues to sound great live with the same quality and range that you have hear on all their CDs. He is premier frontman and true entertainer.
Jon Donais owned the right side of the stage and Scott Ian the left, together they traded riffs and interacting with fans while Charlie Benante and Frank Bello laid down the backbeat like an unflinching freight train. Frank was a maniac whipping around his head and running up and down the ramps of the stage while never missing a beat. All ten fingers constantly flying.
Towards the end of the set, Scott screamed, “Do you love fresh metal?” then launched into “Evil Twin.” It was one of three new songs off For All Kings that included “Breathing Lightening” and “Blood Eagle Wings.” It was great to hear the band play their new material as it holds up extremely well to their classics. The band closed with “Antisocial” and “Indians.” These metal veterans never took their foot off the gas the entire show and had more energy than bands half their age.
As the Anthrax crew were tearing down their stage, Killswitch Engage (KSE) fans pushed up hard against the stage barricade causing it to lunge forward. Fans were packed shoulder-to-shoulder as Security looked on nervously from the pit.
Adam Dutkiewicz appeared first on stage dancing to the intro music wearing running shorts, a knee brand, and white sweatband that said, “Thrash” then all hell broke loose when they opened with “Hate by Design.” Crowd surfers began coming overhead in steady succession. With a blinding light show, the band played 17 songs across 90 minutes.
KSE was on fire and eager to give this hungry crowd what they had been waiting for. The band hit the audience with a barrage of smoldering tracks like, “Vide Infra,” “My Last Serenade,” and “The End of Heartache” from their earlier albums. They also played “Alone I Stand” and “Quite Distress” from Incarnate. It was a nice mixed bag of tunes.
Jesse Leach performance was powerful as he commanded the stage and led the crowd to sing with him. Adam’s stage antics and funny facial expressions were a nice contrast to the thrashing songs. Mike D’Antonio on bass, Joel Stroetzel on guitar, and Justin Foley on drums crushed the crowd with an outstanding pyrotechnic performance.
Not many bands today truly embody the spirit of a metal, many try, only a few succeed but KSE always hits the mark. Their style of crushing metal riffs, death metal growls, and infectious melodies help create something fresh that only KSE can do.
It was truly a great night of metal music for everyone that was in attendance. By the end of the night The Wellmont theatre was barely standing as the KillThax Tour gave it one Hell of beating. This is a must-see event whether you are a causal metal fan or a diehard, you won’t be disappointed!