Slayer have embarked on their *gasp* FINAL North American headlining tour. Yes, the icons, the legends, the masters of thrash metal are wrapping up their illustrious, Slaytanic career. It's a bummer, but at least they’re going out with a bang! The lineup for the band’s final tour is literally insane. Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament, all supporting Slayer on their fiery, last hurrah.
Even if this wasn’t the end of the road for Slayer, you’d best believe a lineup that solid would be selling out venues like hot cakes. Factor in the farewell party, and it’s no surprise the band’s show in Irvine, CA this past weekend sold out in milliseconds. 12,000+ metal fiends descended to FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine to watch Slayer sport the war one last time.
Testament warmed up the early birds, some who journeyed close to two hours from the Los Angeles mainland with their infectious thrash metal assault. Fans filtered through the security checkpoints while the band ripped through classics like “Into The Pit” and “Over The Wall” prompting those stuck in line to wish they could do both.
The mighty Behemoth conquered all [eh, eh?] during their spellbinding early evening set. The crowd on the floor/grass pit area was packed by now, which meant the band had more eyes/souls to corrupt with their Satan-approved masterclass performance they put on. Only Nergal and company could rock corpse paint and cast spells from the stage while the friggin' sun was still out and make it all seem legit. The second the band marched out and went into “Ov Fire and the Void,” the FivePoint Amphitheatre belonged to Behemoth.
How do you follow such an intense heavy metal juggernaut like Behemoth? You get the NYC thrash masters in Anthrax to hit the ground running with a hit filled, high energy set. Every time Anthrax plugs in and plays, it’s a party. Every time. Headlining, supporting, playing a fest with technical delays and just rocking the hell out of a super short set. You just gotta wind Anthrax up and let them explode onstage and they’ll kill it. Since this was the sayonara gig for their pals in Slayer, the Anthrax boys went extra hard on this night. “Caught In Mosh” “Madhouse” and “I Am The Law” back to back to back, right out the gate! It’s like Anthrax were trying to end the show early, that’s how fired up they were playing in the rain.
Ah yes, the rain. Southern California isn’t known for its multifaceted weather patterns or varying climate. We don’t really have seasons here, it’s mostly summer, and summer junior round these parts. That being said, Slayer proved correct when theorizing that God Hates Us All, because wouldn’t you know it, on the band’s final SoCal tour stop, at an outdoor amphitheater, it rained. It started with a fine mist during Behemoth’s set which turned into a solid drizzle for most of Anthrax. By time Richmond, VA’s heaviest sons took the stage, it was raining.
Of course Lamb Of God didn’t become the global kingpins and rulers of the modern metal realm by letting a little rain stop them. Once the intro to “Omerta” rang through the speakers all the rain on Earth couldn’t stop the crowd from losing their goddamn minds. Lamb of God are such a well-oiled machine at this point in their career, it’s ridiculous. Randy hollers, Willie and Mark shred, John pulverizes and Chris chops it up behind the drums. They pull all the right sonic strings and the fans dance like possessed marionettes, even up in the grandstand seats. Perhaps the only thing more fascinating to see was how quickly the band could turn things around. Toward the end of their set someone down on the floor got injured and with a Thanos snap, Randy stopped the band, and by extension the crowd, right in their tracks. Once the medics got the fan to safety, the band went back to business and finished the song like nothing happened. The way Lamb of God jumped on stage and took command of the sold out crowd with such surgical precision is nuts. Many fans on the floor were left begging for “one more song!” Of course, as much as we’d love for Lamb of God, for Anthrax, for all the bands on the bill to play every riff in the book, tonight was really all about one band.
Slayer were fuckin’ Slayer. They were the same fine-tuned thrash metal attack squad they’ve consistently been for the past 37 years. In a way, Slayer has sort of transcended beyond the walls of metal. There’s a solid chance you’ll hear “SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYER” shouted at pretty much any concert, or public gathering you’ll attend, genre be damned. Guaranteed there’s Slayer shirts at every school, every gym and every mall in the country. There’s a national Slayer day, they’ve got their own Mario Lopez meme, Slayer have become bigger than metal…because they never stopped being so fucking metal.
Accolades aside, this was their last big tour and yeah, they went out guns blazing. Thanks to their red stage lights, it looked like it was actually raining blood from the lacerated sky during the beginning of their set. From the opening notes of “Repentless” to the final moments of “Angel of Death” Slayer ripped with rather new and pristine FivePoint Amphitheatre a new asshole. The 12,000+ fans who came out for this farewell gig were a dedicated bunch of Slayer disciples to say the least. Rocking out in the rain, screaming along to “Jihad” and “When The Stillness Comes” just as hard as “Postmortem” and “Black Magic” these people love them some Slayer. The band always gives it their all, Slayer haven’t become SLAAAAAAAAAYER by half-assing things, but tonight it was clear that they were definitely trying to put on a show for the ages. As Tom Araya said before “War Ensemble,” it’s all about making memories. After almost four decades in the game, they’ve got a lifetime worth of Slaytanic stories in their CPU, but it was an honor to carve out some fresh ones with Kerry, Tom, Gary and Paul [and Jeff, Jeff forever!] one more time.
Click here to view the entire photo gallery from this show
How stoked/bummed are you for Slayer's final tour? Are you going to mosh and cry at the same time? Did you get your tickets already?
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