True to Anthrax legend and running like a hound from hell, Scott Ian and co. bound onstage amid a rapturous roar of adoration form Dublin and indeed Ireland fans alike. Opening with ‘You Gotta Believe’, ‘Got the Time’, and ‘Caught in a Mosh’, the heads bounce with real fervour. Anthrax don’t play here as often as one would like (and when I say ‘one’, I mean me!) , and frontman Joey Belladonna bellows from the stage that it is in fact 35 years of Anthrax coming to Ireland. “Madhouse” lights up the Olympia, and despite all the years that Joey has been hitting those high notes, he still hits them hard. Ian of course, is his usual animated self, possibly playing a one-man game of “The Floor is Made of Lava”.
As with every time I see Anthrax, they are seriously tight in their delivery, but what do you expect from one of the Big Four? Everyone standing around me is singing at the top of their lungs to a few new releases for the new record “For All Kings”, like ‘Fight ‘Em’ , ‘Breathing Lightning’, ‘Evil Twin’, and the aforementioned, ‘You Gotta Believe’. Ian busts the balls of the sitters above us in the balconies, and asks them: ‘this is a fucking metal show… do you know what show you’re at? Just ‘coz you’re sitting don’t mean you gotta sit!’
Everyone in the pit agrees. ‘Anti-social’ fills the ear-holes and gets the feet stomping, and I really must admit, there are points at this warm-up gig, that I have to remind myself that I’m not at an Anthrax show. I’m here to see the dark lords of thrash. The lads end their set-list with ‘Indians’, and bid us goodnight. But it’s not time for the Indians; it’s time for something much, much more violent. (4/5)
‘Delusions of Saviour’ from the new album Repentless, the first record by Slayer since joining Nuclear Blast in April 2014, breaks the anticipation of this, one of the most eagerly-awaited of gigs of the year. A Slayer show is always an unpredictable night. I’ve seen them at shows where there has been barely any action, all the way through to shows with bones breaking and hospitalisations (myself included in that cohort a few years ago). As Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph eerily emanate from the smoke, the tension is palpable. ‘Repentless’ shatters the atmosphere as the Olympia theatre, a home for many a Thespian stage performance including works from William Shakespeare, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the like, is utterly eviscerated… and I mean cleaved in two with a butcher’s skill.
This is particularly brutal, in the most uncivilised and primal of natures. But this is Slayer, a band well-known for their violent themes, and have a well-earned reputation for a band that you do not underestimate under any circumstances. ‘Postmortem’, “Born of Fire’, and ‘Disciple’ stoke the flames of furious mosh-pit mayhem, and as a bystander (I’m working, remember), I can see already that security are in trouble, being hilariously out-manned and outgunned within the first 20 minutes.
Aesthetically, the mammoth backdrops (of which there are many), are spectacularly detailed. The cover art of their new record adorns the backstage area behind Bostaph’s thunderous drum-kit. There is a lot of stage movement by all three mobile members of the frontline, and King/Holt partnerships spew forth a multitude of face-melting duels on the guitars for the entire night.
Araya takes a moment to address his minions, acknowledging that it is the love of music that has brought us all here together and to take care of each other (he comes across as a seriously intimidating dude, but I think he’s a softy at heart). (It is because of fans like us that later have enjoyed the career that they have (not without a nod to Jeff Hanneman, without whom this career may have taken a very different direction). ‘Time for a love song’, he says, after a few more classic crowd pleaser’s like ‘Mandatory Suicide’ and ‘Hate Worldwide’. We are invited to “Dance With the Dead in his Dreams”, as we hear ‘Dead Skin Mask’ crawl along our skin with sinister malice. There’s always something about that song that sends shivers up your spine, as it is written about Ed Gein – the base of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs movies. No shortage of brutal material there.
A few more new tunes from Repentless make a welcome appearance as well, like ‘When the Stillness Comes’, ‘You Against You’, and ‘Pride In Prejudice’. The new material doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the older stuff, but with a new member comes new direction. Holt has indeed garnered a hallowed place among the elite of thrash, and King is the same as ever – head banging uncontrollably with that beard of his possibly reaching the 3 to 4 foot mark!
Near the start of the show, Araya seems to appear to be just going through the motions, seemingly uninterested, but thankfully that leaves soon enough and he gets more involved. Neck surgery from years of maniacal wind-milling will undoubtedly take its toll and it would of course have a psychological aftermath… much like re-learning how to ride a bike again.
‘Take Control’ is the last song that most may know, but then the big guns come out, like ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ and ‘South of Heaven’. All this time I’ve been watching the moshing take place, and I’m agitated. I want in, badly. But I maintain my composure, making the rookie mistake thinking that I’ll hold my shit together until the end of the night, but I can’t. ‘Raining Blood’ pushes me over the edge and as soon as the deafeningly pressurised drums kick in, I lose it. Head goes down and I run slap bang into the middle of a 20 man pit.
Finishing us off with a hammer blow to the skull is ‘Angel of Death’ as another mammoth backdrop with Hanneman’s name on it descends from the roof and everyone goes for broke. I mean broken bones. It’s dangerous, but it’s fun. The sweaty, pulsating beat of the final outro bring us to the end of a chaotic night, satanically orchestrated by one of the most evil-sounding, kick-ass legends of heavy metal history.
The Dark Lords of thrash metal have once again branded Ireland in blood as their property, and it will remain theirs for the foreseeable future. (4/5).
Delusions of Saviour (Recorded Track)
Born of Fire
God Send Death
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Dead Skin Mask
Words – Shaun Martin
Photography – Down The Barrel Photography © 2016
© OVERDRIVE 2016
SLAYER / ANTHRAX DUBLIN OLYMPIA 14/06/16 PHOTO GALLERY
Catch Slayer and Anthrax at this years Bloodstock Festival. Click on the graphic below for tickets.