This is a guest post from the great God King, Joe Koza from koejoza.com/. If you enjoy this post be sure to go check out his site!
After nearly 40 years of decimating crowds across the globe with their punishing variety of thrash metal, the time has come for Fucking Slayer to call it quits. Heralded as one of the most influential bands in metal and in music, Slayer’s career has been nothing short of remarkable. The California thrashers are responsible for some of the fastest, most memorable guitar riffs and drum grooves to ever be recorded, not to mention their ever-controversial lyrics that have sparked outrage among the masses. Their influence is felt throughout heavy music subculture at all times, whether it be musically in the form of sounds from up-and-coming bands or that one guy who will inevitably yell “SLAYER!” in the parking lot at any given metal show.
This summer, Slayer made their way through North America one last time. I had the opportunity to catch the thrash legends on two separate occasions during their final run- once in Holmdel, NJ and again at Jones Beach on Long Island, NY. Both shows saw a similar lineup; Testament, Anthrax, and Lamb of God served as support while Napalm Death would relieve Behemoth for the second round of dates. For any fan of metal both old and new, each bill made for evenings that were nothing short of a wet dream.
Top-notch performances were delivered for both shows, providing experiences that mirrored that of mini festivals. Testament continued to prove that they are only improving with age, smashing through hits from their latest record Brotherhood of the Snake as well as classic cuts such as “Into the Pit”. The same could be said of Anthrax as they mixed older material and new into their set with ease, bringing a familiar infectious energy that is felt whenever they roll into town.
As each show transitioned into sunset, the crowd eagerly anticipated modern metal kings Lamb of God. The band is perhaps the most suitable choice to serve as direct support for Slayer on the entirety of the final run; in many ways, they have taken Slayer’s profound influence and woven it into their own formula that has transcended subgenres. They provide a convenient bridge between generations and undoubtedly increase the energy in any room they enter on demand. Tearing through tracks that spanned the length of Lamb of God’s career thus far, the pits were moving in full force, setting the stage nicely for what would soon follow.
After four bands and about four hours of preparation, the mighty Slayer would take the stage. Each show, the band opened with “Repentless” from their latest record, a track that is a culmination of the band’s creative stages up until this point. Though there has been experimentation and slight deviation, Slayer has remained true to their brand of thrash, arguably more so than any other band. Guitarist Kerry King has shown virtually no sign of slowing down, ripping solos at blistering speeds in signature fashion. Though the passing of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman and the exit of drummer Dave Lombardo have led to a version of Slayer that vaguely resembles the band in its prime, the current lineup is fit for a proper and adequate sendoff. Comprised of previous members and industry counterparts Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, the current lineup complements each other in a variety of crucial ways. Vocalist Tom Araya sparingly addressed the crowd, wasting little to no time between songs. He would go on to thank those in attendance in emotional fashion, extending heartfelt appreciation for the support together with Kerry, Gary, and Paul. While Slayer’s touring career is coming to a close, their profound influence in the word of aggressive music lives on.
The blood forever reigns.