Before they even crossed the stage, fans were going wild with passion and energy as Delusions of Saviour echoed through the Amphitheater. A blue haze swept over the crowd with flashes of heat and orange fire.
With the strumming of the first chords of Repentless, the crowd moved into a frenzy. As part of the front pit, we were all enclosed together swaying with the masses of power and energy. Hands, fists and horns were flying high as the bass rumbled through us, shaking the very ground we stood on.
Theres no such thing as personal space when it comes to a thrasher metal concert, we all became one mass of energy that loved, rocked, and bled metal; all looking out for each other. I can still hear the cords of War Ensemble echo in my head, still in the early songs of Slayers set-list and the mass of energy was beyond uncontrollable. Crowd surfers were soaring overhead, fists were pumping higher into the air, heads were banging harder, and bodies were moving in every direction.
By Postmortem, I had to step out of the front mass area, being pushed and pulled with that amount energy has its risks and well…It’s not a real Thrasher Metal Concert if you don’t walk away with some kind of injury.
I watched the end of Slayer set as a bystander on the side of GA Pit, the amount of people packed into one area was eyeopening. I was in the heat of the energy fueled by thousands of fellow Thrasher Metal fans, all here for the same thing. To watch history be made.
I was not there for the start of Slayer back in 1981, but they always had a place in my heart growing up. They were one of the first Metal Bands that dragged me into my love for this genre. I felt beyond honored to stand there will all the Slayer fans, old and young as we said goodbye to one of the greatest bands this world has come to know.
Slayer is not just a band. It’s an attitude, and a way of life. The group’s contribution to the heavy metal scene cannot be overstated. There aren’t many bands who can claim that they have influenced generations of fans that are so far removed from one another: from the band’s original 80s following, as the group was ushering the sound and texture of classic Thrash metal, down to the band’s most recent foray experimental with monolithic modern tones (such as on the album “God Hates Us All” or “Christ Illusion,” among others).
It’s bittersweet to see that the band has announced their final tour, biding farewell to their fans with another string of shows after nearly four decades.
As the mighty Bob Dylan used to say, “Times, they are a-changing”, and while the metal scene has changed, morphed and evolved through the years, Slayer is one of the few bands who have managed to stay relevant and remain youthful into a really competitive and shape-shifting genre. In the age of groups who constantly try to manufacture brutality and energy in the studio with plastic-sounding “grid-locked” digital drums and cookie-cutter digital amp sims, Slayer remains a spearheaded of that original grit and pulsating violence that fuels real, honest metal music.
Needless to say, the band’s live show won’t disappoint, because Slayer’s records are exactly what you get: the sound of a band playing their music, and not a quantized, over-processed pop sound masked as heavy, as many metal bands do these days. If you really want to understand what thrash metal is, you ought to see Slayer rip it up on a stage.
The original spirit of Thrash metal actual comes from two different sources. On one hand, early bands performing the genre were inspired by classic “second wave” British bands such as Iron Maiden, but on the other hand, they took a closer look to what was happening at home in America, when hardcore punk broke out and evolved into a faster, more aggressive form, thanks to the contribution of bands like The Misfits, Agnostic Front, Suicidal Tendencies or Sick Of It All.
Slayer was one of the first bands to successful merge the “best of both worlds” and come up with an incendiary sound that hit the music scene like a devastating lightning bolt, ever since their inception in Los Angeles, California, back in 1981. The group’s seminal debut release, “Show No Mercy, from 1983, became an absolute underground classic, while the band’s best-known record, “Reign In Blood” managed to transcend the metal scene and becoming worthy of being featured in the annals of rock music.
Long story short, The cinematic opening of “Reign In Blood” and the blood-chilling shriek at the beginning of “Angel Of Death” are amongst the most recognizable moments in extreme music, and they will be forever etched in the history of the genre. Those two songs alone are a sort of a one-way pass for the band and its undying legacy, but they certainly did not stop there. Among controversies and “urban legends” Slayer have always been up there with the best of them, ready to challenge themselves and their audience with each and every release, tour or public statement.
If you have the opportunity to see Slayer live, you can still feel that energy: you can almost smell the heat from the tube amps pushed to the absolute limit. You can her the bass strings shake as bassist Tom Araya brutally pounds on his instrument with fury and rage. The drums are tight and the kit is abused close to its breaking point by drummer Paul Bostaph, who is able to sustain the pace and huge physical demands of a show that feature songs at breakneck tempos, which most bands today would find difficult to endure for an entire set.
Guitarist Kerry King is a legend in his own right. His guitar tone has often been described as one of the most influential in the whole history of metal, and it has ushered in a more modern approach to guitar recording for extreme music genre. His modified Marshall heads are nothing short of iconic, and his use of active guitar pick-ups to enhance chord clarity and intelligibility even under the loudest conditions really became a game changer. With past drummer Lombardo’s playing, the music wasn’t just loud and aggressive, but also sophisticated and richly nuanced, opening the doors to what heavy metal could be in terms of technical possibilities.
Conceptually speaking, Slayer’s contribution to music has been (and still is) just as important as the band’s sonic legacy. The band has released groundbreaking and thought-provoking records that deal with topics such as the hypocrisy of mankind, the deceitful nature of politics, the oppression of the state and organized religion. In other words, you can say whatever you want about Slayer, but nobody could ever say that they have been shy about speaking their minds, or worried about what sounds “politically correct.” The band’s searing social commentary is just as sharp-edged as the sound of their music, and the group’s themes have always been a trademark for the band, ever since their early days.
Seeing Slayer live today is an absolutely remarkable experience. Seeing them at the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, California, is almost like traveling back in time to the golden age of the genre. I have only seen a few shows in my lifetime with the same amount of integrity and nearly non-stop sonic aggression – the late great Motorhead and The Exploited come to mind, and Slayer definitely can sit right there with those legendary bands, still bringing attitude, filth and dirt to their stage, song after song, with no sign of slowing down.
There is something really galvanizing about leaving a concert space with a ripped t-shirt, a body covered in sweat and a set of ringing ears, and that is a feeling that just can’t be bought, not even with the price of a concert ticket!
Here’s to one of the most legendary groups in extreme music, and to the fact that they are still going strong.
Delusions of Saviour
When the Stillness Comes
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death