Slayer at Armory Poster
06/01/2018 Mohegan Sun Uncasville, CT
06/02/2018 PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ
06/04/2018 Santander Arena Reading, PA
06/06/2018 Riverbend Music Center Cincinnati, OH
06/07/2018 Blossom Music Ctr Cuyahoga Falls, OH
06/09/2018 KeyBank Pavilion Burgettstown, PA
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06/23/2018 "Secret Solstice Festival"
07/26/2018 Bank of NH Pavilion Gilford, NH
07/27/2018 "Impact Music Festival"
07/29/2018 Northwell Health Wantagh, NY
07/31/2018 Pavilion At Montage Mountain Moosic, PA
08/01/2018 Times Union Center Albany, NY
08/03/2018 Darien Lake Arts Center Darien Center, NY
08/04/2018 Lakeview Amphitheater Syracuse, NY
08/06/2018 Budweiser Gardens London, ON
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08/09/2018 Hollywood Casino Maryland Heights, MO
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08/21/2018 Ford Idaho Center Amph Nampa, ID
08/23/2018 Sunlight Supply Amph Ridgefield, WA
08/24/2018 "KISW Pain In The Grass"
08/26/2018 SAP Center At San Jose San Jose, CA
If their reign of blood is soon actually to be over… it’s definitely not going out quietly –
Thrash metal kings Slayer have embarked on their Farewell Tour, quickly and easily selling out The Armory in downtown Minneapolis and saying goodbye to the fans, via a festival-like lineup with support acts Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, and Testament (each headliners in their own right), for a six-hour thrash-a-thon that fittingly sends the band out raging.
It was a little surprising to see these thrash legends (part of the so-called Big Five- along with Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer) open the show at an early 5pm, playing a too-short half-hour set. The band’s last release was 2016’s Brotherhood of the Snake (Nuclear Blast Records) but front man Chuck Billy has promised the band will go straight-ahead into the studio for new material, once this current tour ends.
The band’s core line-up has remained steadfast, and evidence of that showed, beginning the set with the latest album’s title track (playing in front of a large snake head backdrop) and the ease with which guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson traded riffs throughout, ending with three tracks from their classic 1988 album, The New Order. “Tell me something, you guys ready for some thrash metal?” Billy said before ‘Into the Pit’, full well knowing the answer from all the metal horns hand gestures already in the air.
Though the concert was held indoors, you could almost feel the sky blacken and rumble as the Gdansk, Poland black metal band took to the stage, with new album expected this fall (live DVD Messe Noire was released this April). With each member in black robes and face paint and a stage set to look like a demonic church, the sound took a much darker turn, though at times, was just as fast as the thrash from the other bands.
“Behold my brethren!” vocalist Nergal Darski commanded before a pounding ‘Demigod’, though the crowd was already mesmerized by the band’s look and sound. “It was a privilege to be here with you today” Darski said before a propulsive ‘Chant for Eschaton 2000’, “we are Behemoth from Poland and we shall return”, both introducing the band to the unfamiliar, and also letting fans know they would be back.
“Ok, let’s go!” vocalist Joey Belladonna shouted as Anthrax took the stage for their forty-minute set in front of an Alex Ross-painted backdrop from latest album, For All Kings (Megaforce/ Nuclear Blast Records) “Anybody out there got the time? Belladonna then asked, the band jumping straight-ahead into their version of a Joe Jackson classic that frothed the swirling audience pit into a collective mass of jerking and jumping bodies.
The band noted their love for the local crowd, remembering they were just here in late February (as part of another sold out show), and were happy to be back so soon- “you guys know how to bring it!” Belladonna shouted. Fans responded to the new ‘Evil Twin’ as much as the older classics, which speaks well for the veteran NYC band of over thirty-five years, and the crowd reveled in singing back “Antisocial’ and ‘Indians’ to the band as they played those late ‘80s classics.
LAMB OF GOD
The Richmond, VA band represented the next generation of the thrash genre, the “newest” band of the evening… having formed in 1994. The band’s latest release, Legion:XX (Epic/ Nuclear Blast Records) is actually a covers album credited under their original name, Burn the Priest, though for this shortened fifty-minute festival set, they just kept to more familiar LoG songs, beginning with 2004’s ‘Omerta’.
Vocalist Randy Blythe stalked the stage, often jumping about with his long dreads in motion as guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler kept riffs heavy and bassist John Campbell and drummer Chris Adler kept beats thumping. Blythe even gave a local shout-out, dedicating ‘Walk With Me in Hell’ to recently reunited local hardcore band, Disembodied as well as fittingly dedicating 2004’s ‘Laid to Rest’ to the headliner of the evening.
After four previous bands over four-and-a-half hours, the table was finally set for the main event, a no-holds, unapologetic, crushing ninety-minute set from one of the genre’s originators and main influences. Anchored by vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and the always imposing Kerry King on guitar, it was clear from the opening riffs of 2015’s ‘Repentless’, the band is determined to bow out on only its own terms.
Changing backdrops, flashing lights, and an abundant use of pyro couldn’t take the attention away from the real focus- some thirty-seven years of genre-defining music that rolls mercilessly like a Tiger tank, blasting anything in its path, and taking no prisoners. The band has never said much in-between or even moves around much on stage (somewhat the result of Araya’s 2010 back surgery and King’s laser-focus on his own playing), but it’s never mattered as the songs are plenty moving on their own.
The pit could hardly catch its collective breath as one banger followed another, 1988’s ‘Mandatory Suicide’ with exemplary King riffs, speeding the swirling of the pit even further, followed immediately by the even faster tempo of 2009’s ‘Hate Worldwide’.
The back-to-back of ‘War Ensemble’ and ‘Jihad’ seemed to echo themes in modern times and their song about karma, ‘Payback’ led into the dark forest that is 1990’s spanning ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. The crowd (mostly male, in black t-shirts) easily found additional energy for the closing fourth of the band’s set, with 1985’s ‘Hell Awaits’ beginning their final swing through. ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Raining Blood’ were direct body blows with 1983’s ‘Chemical Warfare’ and 1986’s ‘Angel of Death’ landing the final knockout punches.
“Four words and they mean so much- Thank You Very Much” Araya said, against the loud audience chants of “Slayer”, “Hope you guys had fun tonight” he humbly said, waving as they left a Minneapolis stage for likely the final time.
There may be mere months left in this thirty-seven year season of the abyss, but what a season it has turned out to have been – Slayer has helped define a musical genre, became a main influence to countless bands, crossed generations, and is leaving a legacy sure to be long withstanding. Long live thrash.
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