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Review: Megadeth @ Wellmont Theater 11.29.13


High adrenaline. Frantic crowds. Testosterone levels through the roof. We're not talking about Black Friday shopping here. A congregation of metalheads ascended to the Wellmont Theater to bang their heads profusely and hopefully burn off that luxurious Thanksgiving meal. This was already a grand week for metal in the New York/ New Jersey area; Slayer, the other fourth of the Big Four, and Gojira rocked out inside The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Eve.

"In case you don't know who we are, we are Korn", joked Nonpoint frontman Elias Soriano after the band opened their set with "Dangerous Waters". The vocalist, who was born in Passaic, felt the Jersey love as his band took the stage around 7:30pm. Nonpoint have a relentless touring schedule which finds them performing worldwide in front of their fervid fanbase. For the alt-metal band, this current trek with Megadeth is easily considered to be one of their biggest highlights since forming back in 1997. Their setlist featured selections from a handful of releases, including Recoil ("The Truth"), Statement ("Hive") and their latest self-titled album ("International Crisis", "That Day"). Nonpoint ended with set with "Bullet With A Name", a track that found Elias playing call and response with the audience.

LA metal act Fear Factory turned the Wellmont Theater into a raging moshpit as they opened with "The Industrialist", the title track track from their recent album. Aided by drummer Mike Heller's bone rattling foot pedals, Fear Factory co-founders Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares turned up the voltage by going into fan favorites "Shock" and "Edgecrusher". This isn't Fear Factory's first time on the road with Megadeth; Burton & Co. toured with the legendary metal act to promote their second studio album Demanufacture back in 1995, 'and the two would hit the road again nearly a decade later on the inaugural Gigantour, a tour which was curated by Mustaine himself. To celebrate being back on the road with the band, Fear Factory stormed through three songs from that release, starting with the title track, "Self Bias Resistor" and set closer "Replica".

The age range of attendees for the evening's show was very wide. Plenty of 17 year olds came in packs, rocking patched up leather jackets and breaking into random Megadeth lyrics. The older crowd, however, were more laid back and reminiscing about the numerous times they've witnessed Megadeth live. The noticeable age difference didn't matter much when drummer Shawn Drover approached his highly perched drum kit around 9:30pm. Both young and old raised their horns in solidarity to one of their favorite bands. The rest of Megadeth rushed on stage to kick things off with the Grammy nominated track "Hangar 18" from their 1990 album Rust in Peace. While there were three mic stands present, frontman Dave Mustaine decided to use all of them throughout the set, sometimes switching between mics during a song.

Megadeth blazed through cuts from Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? ("Wake Up Dead"), So Far, So Good… So What! ("In My Darkest Hour") and their double platinum release Countdown to Extinction ("Sweating Bullets") without any sort of hesitation or fault. Those looking to hear material from releases ranging from 1999's Risk to 2011's Thirteen were sadly disappointed. The guitar duo of Mustaine and Chris Broderick, with bassist Dave Ellefson setting off some grand solos himself, was enough to have guitar enthusiasts banging their heads in approval.

Megadeth's current world tour is named after their new record Super Collider, so it would've behooved the prolific metal band to perform some tunes off the release. Strangely, this wasn't the case; Megadeth only played one song from the new album that night. The track "Kingmaker" didn't get a response from the crowd with the exception of a few jokingly bouncing around. Perhaps it was due to the cheesy lyric video posted on the screen or its seizure-inducing images. Speaking of visuals, Megadeth had various video packages that were very engaging to their set. Whether it was the red and white tornado swirls during "Tornado Of Souls" or the walk-through of an empty house during "Wake Up Dead", it certainly aided in the band's visual representation of their songs. If that wasn't enough, the band also aired movie clips featuring some Megadeath love, including the scene from Wayne's World which features Garth asking the line "Do you have any Megadeth?"

Fans of Megadeth know that Dave Mustaine can easily set a firestorm with his political views, whether it's the controversial interview with Sounds journalist Roy Wilkinson in the late 80s about border patrol or his accusation that president Barack Obama staged the 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin in order to push his gun control agenda. These written words and sound clips from stage banters have alienated many Megadeth fans over the years. Taking the easy way out, the vocalist simply stated, "I promise I wouldn't get too political tonight" before going into set closer "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due". With images of war and those leaders who initiated them presented on the screen, it's safe to say that Mustaine simply let the performance speak for itself that night. -Terrance Pryor