Sunday, March 27, 2011

Testament, Electric Crown (The Ritual, 1992)

The Ritual followed the early 90s trend anticipated by Metallica of a mainstream thrash-to-rock transition; who knows if there was "something in the water", or whether it was a move motivated by sales. Either way this album was roundly criticized (including from within the band), which I think is ill-founded. Electric Crown is one of my favorite Testament songs and this record takes me back to my freshman year in college. I never even knew there was a video for
this (here it is, song cut short for the format.) Guessing, I think this was filmed at the Water Temple on the Peninsula near Palo Alto.

On posting this I realized I had many gentle Testament moments to share. Share yours in the comments, wontcha?

- Best one: I saw them on my 33rd birthday in San Francisco, an awesome show if ever there was one, with the usual two assholes with whom I go to Bay Area metal shows. These two assholes never read my blog, which is why I can repeatedly call them assholes in total safety. (On the other hand, to all the assholes who do read my blog, my sincere thanks.) There's no better way to stave off the advance of unwelcome maturity than with healthy doses of thrash metal, hence this show was a perfect birthday experience. At one point it was announced that someone had flown in from Beijing specifically to see this show and I believed it. The next day I was setting a group running trail in an awesome Bay Area State Park with not-so-awesome rangers, and because I was still deaf, I couldn't hear the approaching engines of their four wheelers as they chased us down for setting an illegal trail. Fortunately my trail-setting partner hadn't been to the same show and her hearing was intact, which fact kept us from an ugly confrontation. (We got away partly by heading into a canyon where the four wheelers wouldn't fit. The rangers were fat and wouldn't get off their four-wheelers. NICE.)

- I also saw Eric Peterson's Dragonforce several times, once in Alameda, where an earlier incarnation of Cast Iron Crow was opening for them, and got to shake Eric's his hand afterward. At that show he was wearing corpsepaint, which I hadn't been expecting. The corpsepaint tradition has spread from Norwegians to Apaches I guess.

- A few years ago at a Slayer show in San Jose I remember noticing a stunning blonde watching the show from next to the soundboard, which was set up in the middle of the venue floor. During the show I couldn't stop turning around to look at her. It wasn't until the end of the show as the crowd was breaking up that I noticed the large man standing next to her, named Chuck Billy. I saw them together at later shows, including at a Soilwork show in San Jose where both Chuck and Eric played a song with the band. (Eric had clearly rehearsed the part, whereas Chuck needed the lyrics printed out for him.) Later I got to shake Chuck's hand and thank him for enriching my life. He was quite laid back.

- A historical observation: much is made of Francis Drake's well-behaved interactions with the Indians he encountered during his pit-stop along the northern California coast in 1579. Even assuming his account was an honest one in this regard, I'm not impressed that this shows Drake's honor and decency. Why? It's likely that the people he met were Pomo. Chuck Billy is Pomo. Ask yourself this: if you landed a boat with maybe a hundred men in a strange land, and there were a few thousand guys there the size and shape of Chuck Billy, would you behave yourself? Yes, and not just cause you're so nice.

- Saw Alex Skolnick's jazz trio at the soon-to-go-extinct Blake's in Berkeley. He did easily the oddest version of War Pigs I've ever heard.

- Souls of Black was probably the first occult-looking album I bought. Until then I had only bought Justice (as opposed to high-speed dubbed it. Remember that? Tape-to-tape transfers?) and Justice isn't so evil-looking. Souls of Black fixed that.

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