It was a night of blistering riffs, and alternating operatic and guttural vocals in the Egyptian Room at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis Saturday night. The two headlining metal bands - Anthrax and Killswitch Engage - brought metal to the masses in a redux of their successful Killthrax tour. While they are not part of the same metal subgenre - Killswitch Engage is a metalcore band while Anthrax is one of thrash's Big 4 - upon closer look they have a lot in common and likely share much of the same fanbase.
Both bands emphasize brutally heavy riffs. But unlike many of their heavy metal brethren, they largely eschew the gloom, violence, and gore that have become the stuff of cliches. Despite having some darker overtones, Anthrax is generally considered a fun-loving band, and their most well-known songs have a great deal of humor, pop culture references, and even socially conscious lyrics. Killswitch, on the other hand, typically deals with introspective and angst-filled lyrics, but often with a hopeful and positive spin. Moreover, both bands have classic era vocalists who left and were replaced for a time but have since returned to the fold.
Killswitch vocalist Jesse Leach suggested as much when, about halfway through the band's set, he took time to pay tribute to Anthrax, saying they were one of the first bands to "make metal fun." The band opened with "Rose of Sharyn," and played a diverse set from throughout the band's career, from classics like "My Curse" and "This is Absolution" to the more recent "Hate by Design." They closed with their cover of Dio's "Holy Diver," and they were joined onstage by Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna.
That iconic band took the stage, fittingly, to the opener from perhaps their most classic album, "Among the Living." Their set favored their earlier material, reaching back to "Medusa" and "Madhouse" from the Spreading the Disease era, but also included a couple of songs from albums that have come out in recent years since Belladonna returned to the fold, such as "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" and "Breathing Lightning" from their last album, For All Kings. It's too bad, though, that they no longer play songs from the John Bush era live, since that leaves out a significant part of the band's catalog.