In terms of thrash metal bands, it cannot get much bigger than this trio. Motion in Bristol is a bit off the beaten path, but I eventually located it not long after Polish death metal band Vader had started their set at 18:30. The venue is wonderfully charismatic: an old mill on the riverside with walls of exposed bricks and towering ceilings, and a metal plate balcony surrounding the pit below.

Vader manage to fill the venue with their heinous sound and vicious stage presence, the crowd just seeming to increase evermore. This venue is sold-out tonight, no doubt down to the spectacular billing, but it is still a fantastic achievement considering the size of the place. This is the first date of Testament’s “Brotherhood of the Snake” tour, so it’s no wonder that the venue is literally packed to the rafters with enthusiastic metal fans.

After Vader finish their 40-minute set, it was time for Canadian thrash metal legends Annihilator to come on stage, though unfortunately their set was all-too-brief. However, they have a headline tour coming up, so I will be attending that for the full experience. Jeff Waters was full of energy, even for a frontman that has been the band’s figurehead since the 80’s; his riffs and solos were clean and sharp, accompanied perfectly by bassist Rich Hinks and guitarist Aaron Homma.

The Canadians are big hits with the Brit crowd, and play it safe with a set-list full of their old classics like “King of the Kill” and “Set the World on Fire” – although we were also teased with newer material for the upcoming autumn tour with them playing “No Way Out” from 2015’s Suicide Society and “Twisted Lobotomy” from For the Demented from 2017 – as the two newest, these albums will most likely feature heavily on this later tour. Annihilator are always a band that exhibit such energy and benevolence; Waters makes sure the crowd participate to the max on the well-known chorus of “W.T.Y.D”. So far, two seriously strong support acts to lead up to the main headliner event.

After a slightly longer set up break, it was now Testament’s turn to take to the stage. With a visual assault of strobe lights, they thunder into action with title track “Brotherhood of the Snake”. Whilst I am not as familiar with the headliner as I am with the support, it is hard not to be entertained with the microphone-baton-wielding vocalist Chuck Billy galumphing about the – relatively – small stage, or the guitarists all rocking out behind him. It did seem like Testament did have an extremely long set, so we got a full-on show for the evening considering the early opening time.

Spectacular solos came from guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, bassist Steve DiGiorgio, and drummer Gene Hoglan; there was not a moment’s silence to be garnered from the ongoing aural barrage with these masters of instrumentation. Amongst the pit, crowd-surfers were on form, enjoying the epic show to the maximum, but handled in outstanding order by the extremely respectful security crew. Even though I was not in the pit, the staff appeared to be decent and patient with the revellers, and spectacular bands performing aside, it is also the venue that complete or demerits the experience. They rounded out the night’s quality with their professionalism, along with the stellar trio of bands performing too. What a fab night it was!

Watch the Testament lyric video for their single “Brotherhood of the Snake” here.