Concert Review – Lamb of God & Megadeth (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/18/2022)

After two years of waiting, Toronto was finally able to witness all the energy and heaviness of “The Metal Tour of the Year”… and it was absolutely awesome!

OPENING ACTS: In Flames and Trivium

Ladies and gentlemen, or whatever way you like to be referred as, what an incredible night of first-class, high-octane, infernal Heavy Metal we had yesterday in Toronto at the unparalleled Budweiser Stage, with IN FLAMES, TRIVIUM, LAMB OF GOD and the one and only MEGADETH showing us all why their tour was named The Metal Tour of the Year! As a matter of fact, last night’s concert was originally scheduled to happen in 2020, but of course due to the shitty COVID-19 pandemic (which apparently seems to be finally over), it had to be rescheduled countless times. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it, as all bands were simply awesome yesterday, putting a huge smile on the faces of everyone at the venue (and the fans didn’t seem to care about the fact the temperature in the city dropped from the mid-30’s to the low-10’s in just a couple of days). Well, I believe Sweden’s own Melodic Groove Metal/Metalcore icons IN FLAMES were awesome as well, as due to work and traffic I wasn’t able to make it to their concert, but a friend that arrived earlier said they kicked ass.

Setlist
Cloud Connected
Behind Space
Everything’s Gone
Where the Dead Ships Dwell
Call My Name
All for Me
I Am Above
Take This Life

Band members
Anders Fridén – vocals
Björn Gelotte – guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar
Bryce Paul Newman – bass
Niels Nielsen – keyboards
Tanner Wayne – drums

I was scared I wouldn’t be able to make it to see Orlando, Florida-based Heavy Metal maniacs TRIVIUM, but fortunately I arrived at the venue around 10 minutes before they hit the stage with their short but extremely powerful performance. Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent were beyond happy to be back in Toronto after almost five years (yes, their last concert in the city was in the distant year of 2017), and add to that the superb tracks from their most recent album In the Court of the Dragon, those being the title-track In the Court of the Dragon and my favorite one of the album, Like a Sword Over Damocles, and there you have a recipe for success (and mosh pits). “Throes of Perdition” and “Feast of Fire”, which were on the setlist in the US dates, were replaced by Strife and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr, and let’s say those new additions to their setlist received a killer feedback from the crowd, who engaged in several mosh pits while the band was on fire onstage. And what can I say about the jumping up and down ignited by Matt during their hit In Waves? That was outstanding to say the least. Furthermore, Matt mentioned this was the biggest show of the entire North American tour, proving how much us Torontonians love all bands involved, and hopefully that will inspired Trivium to return to Toronto for a full-bodied performance on their own in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
X
In the Court of the Dragon
Like a Sword Over Damocles
Beyond Oblivion
Strife
Rain
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Capsizing the Sea
In Waves

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitar
Corey Beaulieu – guitar, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

If there’s a band that knows how to inspire any type of person in the world to slam into the mosh pit, that’s undoubtedly Richmond, Virginia’s Groove Metal horde LAMB OF GOD, who precisely at 8:10pm hit the stage for the total delight of all metalmaniacs ready for a good dosage of heaviness, rage and insanity. Still promoting their 2020 self-titled masterpiece, the unstoppable Randy Blythe and his henchmen put on an unforgettable show, from the opening song Memento Mori, until the very last second of their all-time classic Redneck. It’s beautiful to see the rise of Lamb of God to the status of metal giants, as now they even have fire onstage like what they provided us with in Walk With Me in Hell, which was by the way flawless and one of the top moments of the entire night. It doesn’t matter if they played darker, more introspective songs like 512 or if they exhaled sheer violence like in Contractor, everything was perfect, and Toronto definitely shared their love for the band with all horns in the air, all screaming, and of course the frantic, never-stopping mosh pits in the floor section. As expected, Randy, who seemed possessed throughout their entire set, delivered a couple of Woooooo!’s as his personal tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and dedicated Redneck to the guy who in 2018 tried to swim back to that same venue during their tour with Slayer. Toronto can’t wait to have Lamb of God again in the city, an I can’t wait to slam into the pit to the sound of one of my favorite metal bands of the past decade.

Setlist
Memento Mori
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Resurrection Man
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Contractor
11th Hour
512
Ghost Walking
Vigil
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Phil Demmel – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Art Cruz – drums

MEGADETH

As expected, most fans at the Budweiser Stage were there to witness “MegaDave” Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal institution MEGADETH distill their unique classics in the city again after so many years, and when the clock hit 9:45pm our dreams came true as the first notes from Hangar 18 (right after the intro Prince of Darkness) were played by Dave and his bandmates Kiko Loureiro, James LoMenzo and Dirk Verbeuren. Is there a better way to kick off a show than with such classic, followed by the underrated tunes Dread and the Fugitive Mind and Angry Again? What a brilliant start to their set, winning the hearts and minds of everyone instantly. Dave and Kiko played their guitars to perfection as usual during the entire concert, making our jaws drop and inspiring us to show them the horns during and after each song played. I loved the fact they’re still playing the superb Trust after so many decades, and although they replaced another pulverizing song, “She-Wolf”, with A Tout Le Monde, that didn’t do any harm to their concert. Who doesn’t love to sing such stunning ballad together with Dave, screaming the song’s French words at the top of his or her lungs? In addition, a few different versions of Vic Rattlehead appeared onstage during the songs Conquer or Die!, Dystopia and Peace Sells, adding an extra touch of awesomeness to the show, culminating with their undisputed hymn Holy Wars… The Punishment Due. By the end of the concert, Dave mentioned the band is recording the follow-up to their 2016 album Dystopia and that the album should see the light of day this summer, so all we need to do now is wait for it and for another night of our beloved Megadeth in Toronto… and Dave promised he’ll return to the city, oh yeah!

Setlist
Prince of Darkness
Hangar 18
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
Angry Again
Conquer or Die!
Dystopia
The Conjuring
Trust
Sweating Bullets
A Tout Le Monde
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells

Encore:
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due
Silent Scorn
My Way
Shadow of Deth

Band members
Dave Mustaine – vocals, guitars
Kiko Loureiro – guitars, backing vocals
James LoMenzo – bass, backing vocals
Dirk Verbeuren – drums

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Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums