The grip of Christmas is slowly taking effect as dormant festive lights hang in anticipation for their time to shine throughout the cities busy streets, which today, are infested with army’s of battle-jacket wearing, leather-clad metalheads killing time before the 3Arena opens its doors at the early hour of 5.30pm!
Once inside, it’s clear that this is one impressive turnout for Slayer. Having played in many Irish venues throughout their illustrious career, this is by far, the biggest headline show for the L.A natives and tonight, it’s all about saying farewell to a band that defined the genre as we know it and are regarded as the true pioneers of Thrash metal.
With the arena almost three-quarters full, Floridan Death Metal veterans Obituary set the pace with a skull-fucking performance that has to be one of the most impressive opening slots this writer has seen in this venue.
From where I was standing, the sound was crystal clear, punchy, with warm guitars and a low-end that could be felt from the ground up as they opened up with ‘Redneck Stomp‘ from 2005’s ‘Frozen in Time’ LP before John Tardy joined the rest of the guys and proceeded to tear the venue a new one with ‘Sentence Day‘, ‘A Lesson in Vengeance‘ and ‘Visions in My Head‘.
With a setlist that is criminally too short, Obituary makes use of the 3Arena stage and waste no time in winning over just about everybody that stands before them. We get pummeled with ‘Turned To Stone’, ‘Don’t Care‘, ‘I’m in Pain‘ and the magnificent ‘Slowly We Rot‘ before they bid their farewell’s and the stage techs get busy preparing for Anthrax. 4.5/5
With just about everybody in the Arena deciding to go for a smoke at the same time, the rush to get back inside for Anthrax was almost comedic, to say the least. Grown men galloping through masses of people with shit-eating grins on their faces was quite a sight to behold, as the band announce their imminent stage presence to the soundtrack of Pantera’s ‘Cowboys From Hell‘.
With their full stage production in all, it’s glory, Anthrax smashes straight into the deep end with ‘Caught in a Mosh‘, which included a mini-Freddy Mercury (Scott Ian’s son) who damn near stole the bands’ performance thanks to his impressive dance moves.
Once again, the sound is crystal clear as we move up to the balcony for a clear HD view the band’s performance. As with Obituary’s set, we are treated to a short but atomic set tonight, with Anthrax pulling out the crowd-pleasers such as ‘Got the Time‘, ‘Mad House‘, an unexpected ‘Be All, End All‘, ‘Evil Twin‘ ‘Anti Social‘ and ‘Indians’ as their final strike.
Although I totally understand their decision for tonights’ setlist, it would be have been great to hear the likes of ‘I Am The Law‘, ‘N.F.L.’ ‘Medusa‘, ‘Safe Home‘ (which Belladonna has performed before) or even some more of the bangers off the latest ‘For All Kings‘ such as ‘Breathing Lighting‘ or ‘This Battle Chose Us‘. Either way, Anthrax deliver a powerful set which sees the first real pit action of the night thanks to the irresistible ‘War Daaaaaaaance’ breakdown in Indians before they bid us farewell with Pantera’s ‘Domination‘ providing their exit soundtrack. Cracking stuff! Two down and two to go! 4/5
Yet another impressive stage production gets erected in record time for Lamb of God’s return to the 3Arena. With Art Cruz perched up on a drum riser that bridges the band’s unmistakable black strips and star branding, frontman Randy Blythe skips about the stage with the occasional ‘monitor’ stance as he empties his lungs for the likes of ‘Omerta‘, ‘Ruin‘, ‘Walk With Me In Hell‘ amongst others which whip up a variety of pits throughout the venue’s main floor.
Guitarists Willy Adler and Mark Morton bring the riffs, fast and heavy-as-fuck, which are lapped up as quick as they are dealt out. Being the youngest bands (career-wise) on the bill tonight and second to Slayer, Lamb of God pull off a performance that is loaded with uppercuts and roundhouse kicks to the face.
We get a flurry of brutality towards the end of their set in the form of ‘Blacken The Cursed Sun‘, ‘Laid to Rest‘ and finally, ‘Redneck’ before they wrap things up and clear the stage for the one and only Slayer. 4/5
The anticipation for tonight’s headliners is almost unbearable and understandably so, considering the bands rich legacy and profound influence on an incalculable amount of bands the world over.
What we get tonight is literally a wet dream for any self-respected thrasher, let alone Slayer fan! The stage production set’s the tone for the evening with the band’s emblem awash with red’s and greens, stacks of Marshall cabs, and fuck-tonnes of fire!
Tonight, Slayer rips the very roof off the 3Arena with a setlist that was forged in Thrash heaven. Opening with ‘Relentless‘, followed by ‘Blood Red‘, ‘Disciple‘ and ‘Mandatory Suicide‘, already the place is like a war zone. Bodies float through the air under the swell of thousands of punters, who sway back and forth like maggots amongst the steam, smoke, sweat, and beer and it’s about as metal as you can get.
To this day, I’ll never forget the elongated, ear-deafening moment when 13,000 maniacs screamed ‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaar‘ back at an almost dumbfounded Tom Araya before they launched into ‘War Ensemble’. Just thinking about it now, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand to attention.
No matter how many times you’ve ever seen Slayer, or if this was your first, the one fact of the matter is, they are one of metal’s prized gems and tonight they threw down a master class in just about everything they do.
Very much letting the music do the talking, Slayer takes the capacity by the neck and drag them to the dizzy heights of their career with the likes of ‘Postmortem‘, ‘Black Magic‘, ‘Payback‘ and the fucking glorious beast that is ‘Seasons in the Abyss‘.
Holt and King dominate the stage as they charge through ‘Dittohead‘ ‘Dead Skin Mask‘ and ‘Hell Awaits‘ to which the place loses their collective minds. The clarity of the sound is razor sharp and dripping with the same vengeance and visceral that Slayer branded back in the early 80’s.
What comes next brought a tear to the eye as they unleash ‘South of Heaven‘, ‘Reign in Blood‘, ‘Chemical Warfare‘ and the one and only ‘Angel of Death‘.
Just look at the last four songs there for a moment and take it in. Process the level of unbridled intensity of that encore and try and convince yourself that there could possibly be any other band on this planet that can bow-out with such fire and brimstone because it’s not gonna happen.
The very DNA of what they started out doing back in Huntington Park, California back in 1981, is as pure today as it was intended by Jeff, Tom, Dave, and Kerry when Slayer was first born and will live on forever.
Photos – Down The Barrel Photography, courtesy of MCD Productions © 2018