Now this was a show that couldn’t be missed. Anthrax with a couple of other bands is always an enjoyable way to spend the evening, even when New York’s finest rarely seem to get their deserved headline status (tomorrow night at the Cathouse a rare UK exception).
Openers Kvelertak were very much the youngsters here. The Norwegian sextet’s heavy yet bouncy sound was almost a blend of the two bands who were to follow and they’d certainly brought some fans with them. Sadly, the sound for their set was simply dreadful.
I’ve seen them play before – at the smaller Stereo venue a year or so ago – so I know how good they can be, but they were let down by an incredibly poor mix with the bass drum absolutely obliterating the guitars and vocals for the majority of their set. The final two songs, including the breakthrough single “Bruane Brenn”, finally got the crowd really moving and they left to a well deserved round of applause. I hoe the sound was better for those elsewhere in the venue as Kvelertak really are a good live act.
An impressively swift (10 minutes) set change followed before Anthrax strolled on stage for another support slot at the Academy. As with Motörhead a couple of years back, they were the main reason I was there and their fifty minute set didn’t disappoint.
Opening with “A.I.R.”, they didn’t take too long to talk to the crowd, preferring instead to cram in as many tunes as they could. New track “Evil Twin” got an outing, and a lot of the back catalogue was raided to create a varied, fun and energetic set. Frankly it would be impossible to pick out a highlight and the only real downside was that they had to finish after fifty minutes. This did mean, of course, that they didn’t play everything that a fan could have wanted. Surprisingly omitted (and not for the first time from what I can recall) was “I Am The Law”, though we did get the superb “Indians”, “Got the Time” and “Antisocial” amongst others.
Leaving a bruised and battered audience to guzzle water, Anthrax took a well earned bow before heading backstage. Credit to the superb Jon Dette for covering so ably for the injured Charlie Benante, too.
As Slayer’s slot approached, curtains were drawn over the stage and used to project suitably evil imagery. After a lengthy intro tape, the curtain dropped and the foursome launched into “Repentless” from the current album. Like Anthrax before them they had no hesitation in digging through their entire back catalogue for songs. Also, like Anthrax, the only issue would ever be the songs that they didn’t have time to play.
Slayer’s strong point is their blend of the slow and evil with high-intensity furious thrash and they used this mixture well throughout. “Dead Skin Mask” and “Mandatory Suicide” rubbed shoulders with “Chemical Warfare” and “Angel of Death”.
Tom, as ever, came across as one of those nice guys who – if they weren’t singing about serial killers and nazi mass murder – would be someone you could introduce to your mother. With only a couple of breaks to talk to the audience, he ensured that the security staff (including our own Pit Troll) got a well deserved mention as well as a very short but pertinent statement relating to changes in the world as a result of the Paris attacks.
Obligatory whinge, though… That bass again. During tracks like “Dead Skin Mask” when Tom strummed his bottom string, the bass reverberated around the hall and completely obscured any other sound until it died out. I don’t know if it’s the building at fault, or sound engineers who don’t prepare well enough for it, but it’s a common issue at the Academy. Mind, you, it was the only thing to mar an otherwise superb set.
Finishing up just before eleven o’clock, the band left a seriously battered crowd smiling, hugging and fighting over guitar picks. As it should be.
All pics by Mosh except Slayer’s setlist, courtesy of Pit Troll.