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Hammersmith Palais, London, England

May 29th, 1986

Dan Spitz (Anthrax)
Pic: Gary Gershoff

Seeing Anthrax play live on British soil was for me, and I’m sure for many others too, the most awaited gig since Metallica first visited these shores a couple of years ago.

But before the metal thrashing maniacs from New York, came Onslaught; the young Bristol thrashers who can already boast two excellent albums to their name.

Opening with ‘Let There Be Death’, Onslaught looked visibly nervous playing before their biggest live audience to date, causing a lack of co-ordination on stage. The situation wasn’t improved by broken strings and technical problems experienced by lead guitarist Nige Rockett during ‘Fight With The Beast’ and ‘Contract In Blood’.

Once the band had relaxed though and the technical trouble had been resolved, Onslaught began to show their true colours and look the force expected of their talents. Climaxing their set with ‘Demoniac’ and ‘Thrash Till The Death’, the band won a deserved encore of ‘Metal Forces’.

Despite their lack of experience on the live front Onslaught are still the best the UK has to offer in the thrash field and I’m sure they’ve learnt a lot from recent support slots with Exciter (at the Marquee) and Anthrax.

Unlike the shambles of the Celtic Frost gig two weeks earlier, thankfully this show was running bang on time and as the Blues Brothers intro tape blasted out of the PA it was time for “The HEAVIEST fuckin’ band in the World… ANTHRAAAXXX!!!”

The band opened with ‘A.I.R.’ from the excellent Spreading The Disease album and it was immediately evident that this was to be one of the great metal gigs.

An 1100 strong audience was turned into a frenzy of thrashing bodies as Anthrax delivered an equal helping of classics from both of their studio albums. ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’, ‘Panic’, ‘Howling Furies’, ‘Aftershock’, ‘The Enemy’, they were all here as the band hurled themselves around the stage like men possessed. And of course there was the aptly entitled ‘Madhouse’ which had the crowd chanting the chorus in unison.

To be honest I found guitarist Dan Spitz’s solo spot a little disappointing – I’d much preferred to have seen another number like ‘Medusa’ included in the set – but as the band closed with ‘Soldiers Of Metal’ nothing was going to take away the quality of this performance.

The band came back to encore with ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Gung Ho’, in between which guitarist / stage lunatic Scott lan began to take a few photos of the audience for the folks back home as vocalist Joey Belladonna conducted a “mosh” chant.

A final encore of ‘Armed And Dangerous’ (an edited speed metal version) and Anthrax were gone, leaving an exhausted audience buzzing with anticipation of a promised return to the UK soon.

Well, I’ve just heard that Anthrax will be supporting Metallica on their European jaunt (including the UK) beginning in September which has got to be the ultimate metal tour! Metallica together with Anthrax live? Yes, be there. The future of metal lies here.

Bernard Doe

Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 18 (1986)

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