MUSIC: A Testament to Thrash


    “We’re from the Paleozoic era,” the dude in the sleeveless T-shirt announced, shades of gray flecking his short-cropped hair, which once possessed the girth and density of a heavy metal juniper bush.
    And by that, he meant, like, oh, 1986 or so.
    See, that was when West Coast thrashers Laaz Rockit began to come to power, a time when bands of their ilk were landing major label deals, shoving Reagan-era conservatism right back in its face, penning righteous jams about nuclear annihilation and getting their names stenciled upon the backs of sleeveless jean jackets the world over.
    Friday night at the Canyon Club at the Four Queens, the halcyon days of ’80s speed metal were revisited, turning the packed room into a steam bath of testosterone, perspiration and spilt beer.
    Laaz Rockit sounded just like they did over two decades ago, their frontman blending the gruff growl of a perturbed Orc with a still-intact upper-register howl.
    Chug-a-lug guitars supplied Baconator-levels of beef to the band’s fist-in-the-air repertoire, which culminated with a furious reading of the group’s signature shout-along classic, “Fire in the Hole,” which the crowd belted out with the lusty enthusiasm of a bunch of construction workers ogling a leggy blonde strutting by.   
    And then there was Bay Area heavyweights Testament, reunited after all these years with everyone from their original lineup except drummer Louie Clemente.
    After the Four Horsemen of ’80s thrash — Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax — Testament was the biggest act of the subgenre’s second tier, which they ruled alongside bands like Overkill and Nuclear Assault.
    Fusing blinding speed with dark melody, Testament blended the technical pyrotechnics of classically trained guitarist Alex Skolnick, who also fronts his own jazz troupe, with the tuneful bellows of frontman Chuck Billy, a huge dude who possesses the bulk of a furry Frigidaire. 
    It was some powerful stuff that went down with a burn, like snorting gunpowder.
    And when Testament belted out a blazing “Apocalyptic City” as hair and sweat flew through the air like pungent shrapnel, it momentarily felt as if you were inhabiting one.