Testament / Sylosis
25 March 2009
Islington Academy, London

With little promotion of their appearance and barely room to swing a cat on stage Sylosis did a great job in grabbing the attention of a packed Islington Academy. Sylosis play a modern take on thrash metal which could be lazily filed under metalcore. However, the melodic twin guitar work and Alex Skolnick-like soloing gives the Reading band an edge that makes them more than a match for many overhyped US bands. In fact it’s a sad fact that if they were from the States they’d probably have a higher profile in the UK.

With a great sound Sylosis cherry picked songs from their Conclusion Of An Age album and delivered them tightly. The available space meant it was a fairly static performance with frontman Jamie Graham looking particularly shackled by the circumstances. Six songs was a brief taster but long enough to turn a fair few heads tonight.

Sylosis set list:
Conclusion Of An Age / ? / Reflections Through Fire / Stained Humanity / The Blackest Skyline / ?

Personally this was something a bit special. The first band I ever saw live was Testament, supporting Anthrax in 1987, touring their debut album The Legacy. If you’d told me I was going to see the whole album played live nearly 22 years later with four-fifths of the same line-up, I doubt I would have believed it. That disbelief had me grinning from ear to ear throughout tonight’s show.

Rock DJ and journalist Malcolm Dome stepped up to introduce the band, though with the crowd hungry to see Testament his lengthy introduction was drowned out by jeers and a chant of the band’s name.

With a quick “Alright” from Chuck Billy, Testament strode onto the stage and played some brief chords as a prelude to the first half of the main set, The Legacy. With the exception of switching the order of C.O.T.L.O.D. and Raging Waters the album was played faithfully from start to finish. The band looked up for this event with Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson trading solos centre stage during opener Over The Wall. Pausing for a brief moment Chuck asked us “Are your ready?” A resounding roar from the packed crowd answered that.

What really came across was how fresh and relevant The Legacy sounds 22 years later. The rarely played Do Or Die was a joy to hear but it was the refrain from Alone In The Dark that had the crowd in full voice. Full credit must be given to Paul Bostaph, the only member who didn’t originally play on these albums and he put in a tight performance locked to the bass of Greg Christian.

On to 1988’s The New Order and here things were mixed up a bit. I have to confess a “convenience” break but I’m pretty sure we got an excerpt from Musical Death (A Dirge) by way of introduction. Two definite omissions however were the short instrumental Hypnosis and the Aerosmith cover Nobody’s Fault. Though I can forgive the latter, as it wasn’t on my vinyl copy of the album. Instead it was replaced by a brutal and very welcome Reign Of Terror.

Shifting the albums running order it was Disciples Of The Watch that brought The New Order segment to a triumphant close.

Returning to the stage an impromptu brief rendition of Judas Priest’s Rapid Fire is eventually stopped by Chuck Billy. The evening is then topped of with two tracks from the band’s latest album The Formation Of Damnation.

I had been concerned that this gig might mot live up to my expectations since I was looking forward to it so much. In the end it will be one I remember for a very long time.

Testament set list:
Over The Wall / The Haunting / Burnt Offerings / C.O.T.L.O.D. / Raging Waters / First Strike Is Deadly / Do Or Die / Alone In The Dark / Apocalyptic City / Musical Death (A Dirge) – excerpt / Eerie Inhabitants / The New Order / Trial By Fire / Into The Pit / The Preacher / A Day Of Reckoning / Reign Of Terror / Disciples Of The Watch / Rapid Fire (jam) / More Than Meets The Eye / The Formation Of Damnation