Legendary thrash metal band Anthrax is celebrating 40 years of heavy metal this year, and to celebrate it correctly, they are currently on a summer tour filled with fast shredding and headbanging aplenty. Joining them for this tour are two bands that are no stranger to metalheads worldwide; Black Label Society and Hatebreed, who both have their own massive followings within the metal community. This past week they stopped at the newly opened Hard Rock Casino in Gary, IN and they all made sure to bring the noise.
Starting the night was Hatebreed, who some consider to be the bar when it comes to American hardcore metal. A band that has been around since 1994, and releasing their debut album The Death of Desire in 1997, they are veterans when it comes to making sure the crowd is moving. Vocalist Jamey Jasta would consistently encourage the crowd to move and mosh, claiming that if the crowd did not wake up with sore necks the next morning, that the band did not do their job. Jasta would also exclaim “some rules are meant to be broken” in order to get some of the crowd members out of their reserved nature and let loose in mosh pits.Their set was filled with mosh calls and chugging guitars, which is to be expected and anticipated by fans. Towards the end of the set, Jasta spoke about their history around the midwest, specifically the now-defunct Milwaukee Metalfest, and told the crowd that he has secured the rights to this fest and plans on bringing it back in 2023, which elicited cheers of excitement.
Black Label Society, the band that is a staple among bikers across the nation and led by former lead guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, took to the stage next. The members approached the crowd donning biker vests, chains and studded bracelets, while Zakk’s area of the stage contained a small platform with a microphone atop a pile of skulls with a crucifix attached to complete the gothic appearance. While Hatebreed would chat with the crowd and have brief moments of downtime in between songs, Black Label Society focused on riffs and shredding. Having very little time for talk gave the crowd more time to headbang and look in awe as Zakk Wylde would perch on top of his small platform during solos while erratically swaying back-and-forth with his hair jumping from one side to another. They briefly spoke to their “Gary Chapter” of the Black Label Society and thanked them for coming out and how excited they are to be on tour with Hatebreed and Anthrax.
To finish the night of heavy distortion was none other than Anthrax, the thrash metal legends who helped bring in a new era of metal in the 1980’s filled with fast riffs and blaring vocals.This year they are celebrating their 40th anniversary (well 41st according to Scott Ian) and are making sure everyone remembers what they are all about. Before they play, a small video is displayed on a curtain blocking the stage that highlights all of their accomplishments and feats over the past forty years. This video includes music industry and metal veterans such as Dee Snider, Gene Simmons, John Carpenter, Chuck D and countless others who spoke about Anthrax’s legacy as one of the top bands of the last 40 years. As soon as the video ends after a supercut of all the guests saying the band’s name, the curtain is dropped to reveal the band members who immediately get to what they are best known for: fast riffs, pounding drums and screaming vocals from vocalist Joey Belladonna. While some may think that after forty years the band may not be able to match the high-intensity of years past, the band instantly proved any of those doubters wrong. Belladonna’s voice sounds as if it has not aged at all since the release of their debut album Fistful of Metal back in 1984. His screams were pitch perfect and filled with just as much volume as you would expect to hear on a studio recording from the 80’s. Guitarist, and founding member, Scott Ian hasn’t lost a step as well, he made sure to jump around on stage and pierce concert-goers souls as he would stare at them during intense moments of a song, making solid eye contact until he saw fit to resume running around on stage. Bassist Frank Bello would climb on top of platforms, towards the back of the stage, and strut from one side to the other as drummer Charlie Benante would pound away, keeping the band’s exhilarating tempo going. Lead guitarist Jon Donais would creep in the back until it was time to shred a solo, to which he would then prop a leg onto the front of the stage’s platforms and melt crowd members ears with fast-paced shredding that Anthrax is revered for. Ian talked to the crowd in Gary and spoke about how their first time playing in Indiana was at the now demolished Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana when they opened for KISS in 1988 and how that was a big tour for them at the time. Their setlist was filled with classic songs from their discography including “I am the Law,” “Cry For the Indians,” “Caught In A Mosh,” “Madhouse,” and even a recreation of “Bring the Noise” led by Scott Ian on vocals.
Needless to say, Anthrax proved why they have been around for forty years and counting. Timeless songs, still bringing the energy to each live performance, and they don’t seem to stop anytime soon.