The Killthrax tour, starring Killswitch Engage, Anthrax and Havok had its inaugural date in Montreal last Thursday, at Metrop MTELUS, and for a night, the building’s foundations were relentlessly assaulted by thundering drums, bleeding guitars and wailing vocals. With the two headliners bringing full production (according to Anthrax bassist Frank Bello, the two bands will alternate who closes each night), fans in attendance got their money’s worth in decibels, riffs and headbanging.
Kicking off the night was Denver’s Havok, who offered a short but intense set that covered most of their career. Their modern thrash sound resonated well with the fans in attendance, and the venue was filling up quickly despite the 7PM week day start time. From their first song “Unnatural Selection”, to their last, “Intention to Deceive”, it was an unrelenting succession of razor sharp riffs. The evening was off to a great start.
When the lights came down again, Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” blasted through the speakers, pumping up the packed crowd, followed by the Blues Brothers’ “Can’t Turn You Loose”. Then, under the opening chords of their classic “Among the Living”, came the first of the co-headliners as thrash veterans Anthrax took the stage.
Prowling an elaborate stage with platforms and spotlights located all over the stage, the band plowed through a setlist made up of mostly classic material, with a level of energy that was through the roof. Bassist Frank Bello in particular never stands still, while still providing back vocals. Singer Joey Belladonna’s voice is as strong as it ever was as he wailed over the thundering riffs laid down by Scott Ian and Jon Donais, all supported by Charlie Benante’s drums.
The hallmarks were all there: “Got the Time”, “Antisocial”, “Madhouse” and even “March of the SOD”, from Scott and Charlie’s 80’s side project “Stormtroopers of Death”. We got two songs from their latest “For All Kings”: “Breathing Lightning” and “Blood eagle Wings”, the latter a nice addition as it hadn’t been played the last time Anthrax was in town.
Opening nights are bound to have glitches, as the band got lost during the War dance bridge on the closing track “Indians”. Scott Ian joked about it and restarted the mosh pit that was surprisingly a little weak, a trend that would continue all night. Thrusday night blues. He also told the crowd that contrary to the initial announcement, they WILL be playing Slayer’s farewell tour at Place Bell on May 30th. Can’t wait to see them again.
Speaking of opening night issues, the change over to the last headliner, Killswitch Engage, took a really long time. Their stage setup was really minimal, with only light panels at their backs and a backdrop, but the crew had to move all of Anthrax’s gear off the stage first. But the crowd waited patiently for the metalcore outfit from Massachussetts.
The lights went down and AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” blared through the PA system. And oh, how appropriate was that, because Montreal was definitely about to rock. The band launched into “Rose of Sharyn” and “Strength of the Mind”. With the barren stage open to them, the band was free to move about and headbang along. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, sporting a headband with “trash” written in Sharpie, has to be seen to be believed. He’s clearly having fun on stage, strutting around and doing funny poses, while laying down the band’s killer riffs.
Singer Jesse Leach was in fine form too, as he effortlessly moved from brutal vocals to clean melodic segments. The band’s set covered all their records except for their debut LP, and for their first show after a break of a few months, they were hungry and ready to rock!
They finished the night with their excellent cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver”, with some help from Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna. What a way to end a great night of metal!
Check out our interview with Anthrax bassist Frank Bello here!