Alright! We had a blast at Arsenal Fest! For those of you who don’t know about the festival, Arsenal fest is a music festival located in Kragujevac, Serbia with broad musical affiliations. The first day of the festival was surely the most metal while the rest of Festival is actually about Serbian rock music and some electronic music as well. Man! This time, the biggest act was the Bay Area thrash metal veterans – Testament! But before them, we had to wait and listen some of the local bands. The first one was a Serbian act from Kragujevac- Dead Joker. These guys delivered some groovy death metal. And overall, their music sounds as if you sewed up Gojira and Swedish Bloodbath in one giant monster at let it loose! Modern sounding, but yet, brutal and aggressive enough to keep the mosh pit going! And the crowd was actually supporting the band, handbanging from the beginning to the end of their performance! You could see that the crowd came here for METAL! After a long break, Dead Joker released a single called Out of Forgiveness, and will eventually release a new album in the near future! The next band…well, catch your breath, you’ll need it!
Well, the next band came from the 666th circle of hell and it is called Pero Defformero. Basically, they are the band that mixes heavy metal with the crap called turbo folk (heavily influenced by the sounds of Teheran & Saudi Arabia, I.E. the „music“ that did more damage to Serbia than NATO bombing and communism combined). And their singer is the one that commits all the blasphemy with vocals that leave no one indifferent. The guy is really charismatic but it would be better off if he was growling instead! You should just see the way he dresses! All in white! His stage moves are as shocking and his appearance. They are probably the most awkward band ever to open for Testament. I would really like to see the faces of Bay Area thrashers when they heard Pero Defformero! Vocals aside, these guys have a really talented guitarist, one of the best in Serbia for sure!
The very reason we came to Arsenal Fest was the fact that Testament were playing at the Main stage! The moment you saw those two skulls in a pentagram, chills went through your spine! The concert was opened by Brotherhood of the Snake! And the pits started rollin’! The band’s first two or three songs were fucked up by the sound guy, but then everything came to place. The 2nd song they played was The Pale King. But the crowd went wild when Testament started More than Meets the Eye! The fans were singing along with Chuck Billy! The crowd may seem static on the videos, but in front of the stage, it was pure mayhem! And when D.N.R. started, the fans went insane! I barely survived the mosh that I didn’t even want to be a part of! It was pretty damn brutal and intense to say the least! And the band was killing it! Chuck Billy still has powerful growls after all these years! Gene Hoglan managed to play all the songs from The Gathering album with ease! I mean, Dave Lombardo approves this! And since it is 20 years passed from The Gathering album, the band played a couple of tunes from it. The next track was Down for Life! Another, in-your-face track! Eyes of the Wrath was one of the peaks of Testament’s performance! And that was the first time the band slowed down. Gotta love that Steve DiGiorgio’s bass line! His skills are mind-boggling! Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson delivered a top notch performance as well! These guys are inhumanely talented! What followed next was Legions of the Dead, a merciless thrash metal assault! And after that, we witnessed Low! Alex Skolnick really nailed those leads in his own way and still paid tribute to James Murphy’s playing! Then they proceeded with Stronghold. But the best part of the concert were the last 6 songs Old school fans were more than happy to hear Into the Pit, an iconic track from the 2nd album. It was really nice to see all these people killing each other in the pit! And then, they played their hit single Electric Crown. And even with the commercial stuff, the fans continued with moshing. And then, my teenage dreams had come true, when Testament played Disciples of the Watch! You just can’t have a bad time with these riffs! This song was a big surprise, since I didn’t know they’ve been playing it lately. And as if that wasn’t enough, the band then delivered a jaw-dropping performance of Practice What You Preach! My friend jumped in the pit and lost his shoe in it. And then, he told me, he saw the snatched shoe was thrown in the air, only to realize that wasn’t his shoe. I died laughing when he told me that story. Practice What You Preach was clearly one of the best songs they played that night! The band then played another all-time classic – The New Order! Alex Skolnicik and Eric Peterson are crazy guitar players, I tell you that! The last thing Testament played that night was The Formation of Damnation. Chuck Billy politely asked the crowd to make a wall of death and kill each other! That was a lot of fun! In the end, Testament delivered a top notch performance! The sound could have been better, but it wasn’t their fault. They gave 100% of themselves on stage! Bay Area thrash metal legends played in front of 7000 people that night. You could see a lot of people who were listening to them for the first time. I guess a bunch of them got converted instantly!
After Testament, we heard a local Serbian thrash metal band Alitor. They kicked some major ass! Fans of Death should check them out! To sum it up, Arsenal fest is getting bigger and bigger every year! I hope that they continue with the good work and start calling more big metal acts. The last time they brought Anthrax, this time Testament. Hopefully we’ll hear Exodus in Kragujevac next year! The organization of the festival is pretty neat! I commend the introduction of eco-friendly beer glasses. You buy one for 1 euro, and then you can retrieve the money by giving the glass back, or you can keep it as a souvenir. Those lazy bags and benches came in pretty handy while you’re waiting for your favorite band to play! And the ticket prices for the festival are pretty OK! And what about the downside of this festival? IT NEEDS MORE METAL BANDS!
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