Slay Bells Ringing As Christmas Comes Early For Thrash Fans
Slayer‘s farewell tour rolled into Tyneside and Rushonrock will be sad to see them go…
Christmas came early for fans of old school thrash metal and this relentless, repentless Slay ride delivered from start to finish.
In the week Newcastle switched on its festive lights, tis already the season to be merry according to Tom Araya and co. – just as long as that Season’s In The Abyss.
And as Huntington’s finest raced through a riotous back catalogue for one final time all that was missing were the Reindeers In Blood.
As a reassuringly destructive set gathered pace, Slayer’s decision to call time on their 37-year career appeared increasingly premature. Founders Araya and Kerry King played with the passion and zeal of men half their age as they plundered bruising anthems from the band’s punishing past and capitalised on a full arena production.
Rarely has Slayer’s criminally underrated musicianship been afforded such an opportunity to shine with King and Gary Holt cutting through the familiar noise to rain down landmark riff after landmark riff within a pin-sharp mix.
Set opener Repentless revived those sweat-soaked, blood-spattered pit dwellers already encouraged to let loose by support bands Obituary, Anthrax and Lamb Of God and the obvious call to arms left those present in no doubt that this long goodbye to one quarter of thrash metal’s Big Four would take no prisoners.
Araya – for all his vocal angst – appeared genuinely touched that so many devotees of a genre in flux had thought it appropriate to grant Slayer the most rabid of send-offs. The moments when he took to the mic to express his heartfelt thanks only served to heighten the sense that the band’s decision to step down from ear bleeding duty was misjudged.
But the dye has been cast. The verdict passed. And, as always, Slayer’s resolution is unbreakable.
There’s no doubt the passing of Jeff Hanneman – Slayer’s very own Angel Of Death – hit his band mates hard and perhaps it has become too difficult to plough on without the much-missed shredder. Or perhaps Araya and King simply want to bow out on a high. If that’s the case this was job done – and then some.
In fact such was Slayer’s unflinching focus and array of metal classics that main support Lamb Of God came across more Lamb Of Plod. Sandwiched in between Anthrax and the headliners, the Virginian quintet sounded out of sorts and out of their depth. Randy Blythe will always command the respect of the metal community and drummer Chris Adler is a class apart but this was strangely subdued fare from a band that could do better.
But following Anthrax was no easy ask and, by rights, the New Yorkers should have been second on the bill to their Big Four brethren. A rapid-fire set ignited from the get-go on the back of party-starter Caught In Mosh and Joey Belladonna’s cute decision to reference Geordie metal royalty Raven and Venom won the pint-sized battler a bagful of brownie points. Seven songs didn’t suffice but set closer Indians was truly triumphant.
Those who missed Obituary’s early set missed out. The furious Floridians belong on the big stage and this high profile tour could yet spark long overdue critical acclaim. But Obituary Don’t Care either way and John Tardy was quick to make his mark as an adrenaline-fuelled floor began to fill.
But this was a night that belonged to Slayer – pure Black Magic from start to finish. And When The Stillness Comes for one last time the world of heavy music will be a poorer place. Slayer are calling time on their career far too soon.
Images By Adam Kennedy
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.