Thrashfest Classics 2011 – France

La Bataclan, Paris 27.11.2011

When the line up was first revealed, there were only four bands on the bill and that was more than enough thrash. However, when Australian outlet Mortal Sin were added as an opening band, no one complained. Warming up an already boozy crowd comes with ease and the pits break out early (5pm to be precise) proving that serious stamina is going to be needed tonight.

Sticking to their first two albums, Heathen whip up a retro ruckus, creating a sound so traditional and crisp that a time machine need never be invented. David R White’s shrill vocals stand out compared to the gravelly voices accompanying him on this tour, but the bulk of the crowd who weren’t even born when these tracks were released still lap it up.

La Bataclan proves to be an epic venue, with a crisp sound and brisk changeovers. They leave you unable to gasp a necessary breath of fresh air and allow just enough time to re-energise on beer. Teutonic trio Destruction appear to unleash their European version of thrash metal with classics from ‘Infernal Overkill’ and ‘Sentence of Death’ and with Schmier yelling “circle pit!” at every given chance, the crowd obey willingly. The set-list is faultless with ‘Bestial Invasion’ and ‘Curse the Gods’ completing the assault.

As Destruction leave, you’d think it was time to head home, tired and fulfilled by the bands you’ve seen. However the two titans are yet to play and there is no chance of standing still for that.

Exodus are the first. They’ve been doing this for so long now, it comes natural – Gary Holt melting faces with his solos and Tom Hunting being as nimble as ever behind the kit. Rob Dukes towers from the stage and despite not being in the band during the conception of such classics as ‘Bonded by Blood’, ‘Pleasures of the Flesh’ and ‘Fabulous Disaster’ – he still barks out every favourite like his predecessors. More respect points go out to him as it becomes apparent the bouncers tonight are dangerously pushing crowdsurfers down into the crowd rather than pulling them out. Dukes – a man you would not want to get on the wrong side of – rages and saves the teenage thrashers onto the stage to sing the choruses. As expected, ‘Piranha’ and ‘Toxic Waltz’ leave masochists happily battered and bruised and finished off with ‘Strike of the Beast’.

Sepultura take us back to their ‘Roots’ by avoiding the said song and sticking with a selection from ‘Arise’, ‘Beneath the Remains’ and ‘Chaos AD’. As always, Derrick is an absolute beast of a frontman and new addition Eloy Casagrande is living the dream drumming from an album the same age as him. After Exodus’ set it seemed impossible to top but the headliners manage it. With a tracklist as epic as this, the sheer quality of the chunky thrash sound is flawless. The perfect end to a perfect day falls in the form of ‘Territory’ and ‘Arise’ before we all collapse into a heap after the largest thrash injection of the year.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

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