Background: A band that truly requires no introduction. Since their inception in 1981, the Californian thrash titans have maintained their position of the kings of thrash metal and the one of the heaviest bands of all time. This year sees ‘Slayer’ embark on the first leg of what looks to be a long and career defining farewell tour.
Wembley Arena - 03/11/2018:
It is a well known fact, that opening bands can have a tough time getting the crowd going and ‘Slayer’ fans are notorious for giving supports a hard time. However, one of the most talked about topics of ‘Slayer’s farewell tour has been how strong the entire four band lineup is. Despite the venue only being half full, ‘Obituary’ take no time at all to get the crowd going as they charge headfirst into an explosive set of ferocious riffs and savage shredding that only the best thrash bands can offer. They may be onstage at an inconveniently early time and playing a to a half full Wembley Arena, but ‘Obituary’ put their heart and soul in to their performance and their enthusiasm is infectious. It is a tough act to follow, but East coast thrashes ‘Anthrax’ do their best with a stunning three part opening on ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Got The Time’ and ‘Madhouse’ but there is a notable dip in quality during the middle of their set as they move onto their new material. Guitarist Scott Ian, is clearly in his element as he races across the stage and interacts with the crowd, but it seems as though frontman Joey Belladonna is turning more and more into a caricature of himself with every passing day and it is nigh on impossible to understand what he is saying between songs. ‘Indians’ is a satisfying closer made better with the addition of the lead riff from ‘Pantera’s ‘Cowboys From Hell’, but we cannot help but wish that they had swapped out the dreary ‘Evil Twin’ for another old school classic such as ‘A.I.R.’.
One band that certainly doesn’t have to worry about sounding dated though is ‘Lamb Of God’ who could probably headline Wembley Arena in their own right by now. Randy Blythe is on fire as he leaps and bounds across a stage lit to resemble the American flag whilst Chris Adler proves himself as one of the greatest drummers in metal history. Songs like ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’ and ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ sound monumentally huge, but their crowning moment is in their closing song ‘Redneck’ which generates one of the largest mosh pits that Spirit Level has ever witnessed. It has now been three years since their last record ‘Sturm And Drang’ was released and ‘Lamb Of God’ have been relatively quiet recently, but it appears as though they are back in force. Fingers crossed for new material next year.
As great as ‘Lamb Of God’ are, nothing can ever compare to the titanic juggernaut that is ‘Slayer’. From the opening riff of ‘Repentless’ all the way through to the final chords of ‘Angel Death’ there is barely a moments silence to catch your breath. Hammering their way through a staggering 19 song set list, no time is wasted between songs. This may be ‘Slayer’s farewell tour, but they are still playing with a point to prove. Visually the show is captivating as the background continually changes to reveal different artwork from various points in their career and finishing with a touching tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman. Meanwhile, each song is punctuated with more pyrotechnics than most bands use throughout their entire career. ‘Slayer’ have always had a reputation for their ferocity live, but tonight truly feels special. In one brief moment of respite, vocalist Tom Araya speaks to the crowd simply saying “Thank you, we never say that enough” neither do we ‘Slayer’ and we will truly miss you when you are gone.
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