This past January, the metal community all over the world was completely shocked to find out that the band SLAYER finally decided to hang up their gloves and go out with one of the most kickass tours seen in the last few years. Considering they’ve already been active for 37 years (which, is about 3000 concerts), and established as one of the most emblematic groups of our beloved genre, the news was so hard to swallow for many of us. At any point in our lives we have to recognize that not everything lasts forever, but this time we got one final shot to headbang to a full setlist of anti-christian songs for the very last time!
Obviously, the ticket acquisition was a total jungle fight, and the fans found out that half of the tour was already sold out during the first week after tickets went out on sale. The show was scheduled to happen at The Bomb Factory, which only holds about 4,000 people so all available tickets sold out within 3 minutes. It was a real survival test to just try to snag one ticket for this show. But things kind of got sorted out and here we are, ready to see SLAYER and support bands LAMB OF GOD, ANTHRAX, BEHEMOTH and TESTAMENT
To start things off for the night, TESTAMENT took the stage at a very early time to give us a taste of their extended repertoire. One of the biggest bands of thrash metal, and one of the most remarkable bands to keep writing better stuff in the second half of their career. It was very surprising for me to hear that some people had never seen these guys before, and they took an awesome first impression away from it, of course! With songs like “Rise Up”, “The Preacher”, “Into the Pit”, and “The New Order”, a metalhead that’s already into SLAYER can easily enjoy this legendary Bay Area Thrash Metal band.
Up next, BEHEMOTH, which is my favorite Death/Black Metal band, finally took the stage! The vibe got much darker, but they did fit pretty well with the crowd at the time. With a set just as long as the previous band’s, six songs were enough for all the fans to go wild and enjoy the show. A definite highlight was that they invited TESTAMENT drummer Gene Hoglan to play the song “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”, which is one of my favorites from The Satanist. Although the intro was a bit off, Gene was able to master the rest of the song to get the fans going on into their favorite metal dancing moves. Other songs in the set included: “Ov Fire and the Void”, “Demigod”, “Chant for Eschaton 2000” and “O Father O Satan O Sun!”.
Following this, one of the Big Four of thrash metal was about to step on the stage one more time. ANTHRAX has definitely turned into one of my favorite bands of all time, not only because of their consistently awesome performances, but also because their shows are just so much fun! Sad thing we only got to see them for about 40 minutes, but that time was good enough to have a blast. The set started with “Caught in a Mosh”, and I can rate this performance as one of their best, simply because from the very first seconds of their music, there was a huge mosh pit forming in the bomb factory, and it did not stop for the rest of the night. They quickly connected with classics “Got the Time”, “Madhouse” and “Be All, End All”, which is very rare for them to play, but it was amazing. “Evil Twin”, my favorite song off their latest record For All Kings also made the cut in the setlist, only to finish with “Antisocial”, and of course, a huge WAR DANCE! with “Indians”.
Lastl up before the big band of the night, LAMB OF GOD was about to step in and play about nine songs for all the fans. After seeing this Virginian band so many times (probably more than 10), I still haven’t been able to stay still for more than two seconds while they’re playing. It looks like everything turns into chaos, and they’re easily one of the most energetic groups in the metal scene today. “Omerta” got people super excited, followed immediately by “Ruin”, which is one of my favorites. Other tracks from different albums that were brought to the set included “Walk With Me In Hell”, “512”, “Blacken the Cursed Sun”, “Laid to Rest” and “Redneck”. All of these sounded extremely well, and looked extremely crazy from the stage side and the crowd side. Up to this point, the night had already been memorable, and now it’s time for the big boys to run the place.
After a very intense session of heavy music, it’s time to see SLAYER for the very last time. With the full setlist being revealed since day one my expectations were already high as the band opted to play a representative song from the majority of their albums without leaving out those that have put them where they are. The view from almost every point of the venue was very solid, and as the curtains started projecting the SLAYER logos and fans started to scream, my goosebumps got more intense until Tom Araya (vocals, bass), Kerry King (guitar), Gary Holt (guitar) and Paul Bostaph (drums) stepped onstage to bring hell to The Bomb Factory.
The show kicked off with “Repentless”, which took me back to the very first time I heard it, and headbanged to the point in which I almost separated my head from my body. This was immediately followed by “Blood Red” with a brutal connection to “Disciple” from God Hates Us All, which is a song that I got into heavily back in 2012 during the Mayhem Fest. After this the band brought things back to play “Mandatory Suicide”, which is an absolute classic. To end the first part of the show, “Hate Worldwide” was chosen off from World Painted Blood.
Tom Araya stepped right in front of the crowd for a few short words. Although he’s never been knowing for giving speeches, his intent was focused on having all 4,000 attendees scream “WAAAAAAARRR!!!” as loud as they could for “War Ensemble”. That song definitely got a bigger portion of the crowd moving around. After that, from Christ Illusion (which is one of the best SLAYER albums, hands down), “Jihad” took over the amps with an excellent combination of lights. “When the Stillness Comes” brought a calmer vibe to the crowd, and it served as a good opportunity for everyone to catch their breath. The second part of the show was finished with a perfect connection between Reign In Blood’s “Postmortem” and Show No Mercy’s “Black Magic”, the latter containing one of the best riffs that the band ever created.
Moving forward, “Payback” was a huge surprise on the set, but brought back all the energy that the fans had spent on doing whatever they felt like doing. From this point on, everything we heard was pretty much focused on the SLAYER classics, starting with “Seasons In the Abyss”, which covers six minutes of infernal music that creates a darker vibe wherever it’s played. “Dittohead” brought it’s punk roots for a short and sweet track before advancing with “Dead Skin Mask”, a very special track that takes me back to Mayhem Fest 2009 when I saw SLAYER for the first time. Shortly after, “Hell Awaits” finally broke hell loose in the venue, just like it did back on their tour in 2013 with GOJIRA. This track never gets old and still makes proud to be a metalhead.
As we’re getting prepared to end the show, “South of Heaven” brought an intense sound for the fans to gather all what was left from their energy and keep the strong vibe going, followed by “Raining Blood”, which turned everybody crazy. The initial riff had everybody moving so hard that it was almost impossible to stay still for the first two minutes of the song. Definitely a memory to keep saved. “Chemical Warfare” was the second-to-last song, only to finish with my favorite SLAYER track of all time, “Angel of Death”. That was almost 90 minutes of a very intense music session, which would probably be the very last one for all the fans, unless they made things work for the second leg of the tour, or heck, an international date.
I have to admit I wasn’t previously a SLAYER diehard, until I saw them live. Since then I’ve always followed them when they came into town. Considering their Mayhem Fest 2015 and Chicago Open Air performances, this very last time also falls into the list of BEST SLAYER SHOWS EVER, and I’m definitely happy and proud to have have the opportunity to enjoy this band so many times and even to bump into Tom Araya on the plane after my body was almost broken courtesy of Chicago Open Air. When I got to shake his hand, all I could say was “Thank you for everything”, and it’s exactly what I want to say now.
Those words cover a history of 10+ years for me, 30+ years for others, and those words might express something very special for a true heavy metal fan. Whether it’s memories from childhood, amazing concerts, breakups, lovemaking moments, anger management sessions, depression overturns, parties, first guitar sessions, etc. Thank you SLAYER for inspiring many young metal bands to continue creating the music that we love, thank you SLAYER for creating lots of kickass songs for us to play whenever we felt the need to, and thank you SLAYER for all the very special moments that you left in each one of our hearts. Until next time.
LIVE IMAGES: ARDENT OWL MEDIA
LIVE WORDS: THE ALCALDE