With one of the heaviest lineups to hit the UK in recent years, the Slayer tour rolled into Glasgow on Monday night with the headliners due to take us down memory road again one final time. Moshville Times had a large contingent of crew there, with all of us having a favourite act from the lineup. So rather than trusting the review to one person, we’ve made this a group effort and all of us are weighing in on the headliners – a special review for a special occasion. After all, there wasn’t a band that played that could really be called “support” with each a headliner in their own right on any other night!
Obituary (by Ricky)
Obituary. The band that has been responsible for breaking my neck for almost thirty years now with no remorse or apology. The band that have released genre defining albums throughout their history. The band that has survived and outfought every obstacle that they have had thrown at them, now stand before me in this 13000 capacity venue in Glasgow ready to smash skulls and stomp on people’s asses.
Ironically, the first song “Redneck Stomp” does just that – gets the heads banging in unison. Obituary have never been a band for playing fast paced and intricate death metal but more of the basic rib-breaking head-banging kind and what better way to open the set than with this song. John Tardy is the best death metal vocalist of all time and with the first of three tracks taken from their self-titled album, “Sentence Days” he summoned his growling finesse from the bottom of his lungs. This certainly got the pit moving as well as keeping the moshers happy further back.
While the sound wasn’t the best for Obituary, this did not prevent Mr Skullface himself, Trevor Peres, from playing his thunderous riffs or moshing in unison to the crowd. Kenny Andrews had huge boots to fill with the guitar solos in particular, but my nerves were settled when he played his first solo of the night in this song perfectly. “A Lesson in Violence” shows off their Celtic Frost influences and was one for giving the punters a rest after the previous track.
“Visions in my Head” certainly was one for this old neck to get snapping again with the band using the stage to their full advantage. While not jumping about the stage, John being fifty years of age now, every member of the band has their presence felt no more so than bassist Terry Butler. Being involved in some of the biggest bands in death metal, this man mountain stood in typical death metal pose with his legs stretched and staring at the crowd, a man not to be messed with!
With the opening growls of “Turned to Stone” being more like The End Complete-era Obituary of old, and with John growling from the bottom of his lungs, I was smiling from ear to ear… but it was the final three tracks that really got this old codger moving his ass. “I Don’t Care” and “I’m In Pain” are astounding death metal songs and the crowd welcomed them with open arms and got the pits started again. Donald Tardy shows what an exceptionally talented drummer that he is, using every piece of equipment with what seems like his four arms and four legs with ease.
The last song of this short set was the title track from their debut album, way back in 1988 called “Slowly We Rot”. A classic song – enough said. I went back to a group of friends who had never heard Obituary and have often slated my musical tastes. Every single one of them became Obituary fans. The only minor gripe was hearing nothing from the best death metal album of all time, Cause of Death, but I am sure Obituary will rectify this when they come back. Don’t leave it too long before you are back, Obituary!
Anthrax (by Mosh)
Foregoing the usual Blues Brothers/Otis Redding opening, Anthrax allowed “Number of the Beast” to play in full before the lights went down and the band strode on stage to the strains of “Cowboys From Hell” (played live, of course). With only a short set length they ploughed through a truncated “best of” which was always going to result in a favourite or two going missing.
The pit was lively and crowd surfers were ably handled by the, as ever, capable security. Sound was good down the front so Joey and Scott were able to communicate well with the audience. Ok, it was the usual schtick (“Who here loves thrash metal?”) but we lapped it up. They managed to get pretty much the entire arena on its feet for the “Wardance” section of “Indians” which would have been the best song of the set if it wasn’t for all the others!
30th birthday celebrant State of Euphoria donated two tracks: “Be All, End All” and the hugely popular cover of “Antisocial”. We got “Caught in a Mosh” at the start with other old tracks including “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)” and “Got the Time” – the current single the very first time I saw them play live. I’m not a huge fan of their more recent output but they picked the best song from the last couple of albums, “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t”.
As I said, with such a short set something had to go missing and I’m gutted it was “I Am The Law”, which they also skipped the last time they toured opening for Slayer. Here’s hoping it’s back on the setlist when they return with the new album!
As ever, a brilliant set from one of the Big Four who I hope continue to put off retirement for as long as possible.
Lamb of God (by Ross)
With the stage now decked out in black, Lamb of God are ready to continue the upping of the ante set forth by the previous bands. As you’d expect, they rise to the challenge with ease, battering through their set and hitting all the numbers you’d expect like “Laid to Rest”, “Walk With Me in Hell” and “Ruin”. Meanwhile, newer gems like “512” and “Engage the Fear Machine” get a look-in before they close, as expected, with “Redneck”.
It’s a dominating performance from them as guitars squeal, grooves that have people dancing, nodding and full-on head-banging. Randy Blythe makes full use of the stage, displaying more energy than frontmen half his age and ensuring it’s an engaging performance. Whilst a small faction commented on the lead up to the tour that it should have been Anthrax as direct support, Lamb of God proved within minutes their place on the bill was well-justified.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Slayer play live many times over the last 25 years, each time always led by eager anticipation. This time was different though as they rolled into town as part of their final headlining tour, my excitement was tinged with a definite hint of melancholy.
By far the biggest Slayer crowd ever to assemble in Scotland packed into the venue to witness the undisputed kings of thrash one last time and as taped intro “Delusions of Saviour” wafted out over the hordes, the anticipation was genuinely frenzied.
Slayer then did what Slayer always do… laid waste to all before them with a tight and energetic set drawn from across their prodigious back catalogue, all accompanied by breathtakingly impressive pyros and backdrops. The choice of tracks probably hit the right mix but it was really the band’s halcyon classics that stole the show. “Mandatory Suicide”, “War Ensemble”, “Postmortem”, and “Dead Skin Mask”, sounded as good as ever. The main set was drawn to a fitting close with the brilliantly haunting “Hell Awaits” but as if that wasn’t enough, the encore could have been taken from an audience poll. The various pits and waves of crowd surfers were driven to delirium shortly after by “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood”, “Chemical Warfare” and mandatory show closer “Angel of Death”.
What a night, what a band, what a journey, what an end (?). The sight of Tom, Kerry, and co. applauding and thanking the exhausted masses will long stay with me as will the sight of a lone Tom Araya re-emerging onto stage later to proclaim he would miss us. We will miss you too Tom, boy will we miss you…
Slayer blast onto the stage for the final time in the UK, a flurry of riffs as they draw from every corner of their career. “South of Heaven” introduces the encore and as “Raining Blood” follows on from it, the realisation finally hits – much like their fellow Bloodstock 2016 headliners, Twisted Sister – they’re going to leave a void in metal that no-one can ever fill. With them being in fine form all night and enthusiastic about performing in front of a massive audience, as bands older than them continue, they’re able not only to end it on their terms but on a high.
I remember back in the day when Slayer were being laughed at for playing an infernal racket and noise that made no sense. Thirty-five years later, twelve albums and after countless world tours, this will be their farewell tour to thank their fans for their loyalty. While I am more suited to their older material, Slayer always knew how to write a song and after witnessing a set list consisting of tracks from their complete back catalogue, it is with a heavy heart I have to say goodbye to a band that has been integral to the survival of heavy metal as we know it today.
Personal favourites “War Ensemble”, “South of Heaven” and “Hell Awaits” are all aired with a stage setup that every band would dream of. It is, though, with closer “Angel of Death” that Slayer will always have a place in my heart. I shall cherish every live memory I have with this band. Hail Slayer!
The first time I saw Slayer was on the Decade of Aggression tour back in 1990-something at Newcastle City Hall. I couldn’t speak at school the next day as I lost my voice from screaming along with the vocals. On Monday I saw them for the last time (headlining their own tour, at least) and… things hadn’t changed. I still go to school, only now I’m a teacher. And on Tuesday I could barely speak from screaming out the vocals.
The venue was packed and the pits at the front were manic. Before I talk about the band, I just have to shout out to the security crew and the audience. Despite the extreme violence, crowdsurfing and toxicity-level testosterone levels I felt completely safe, knowing that if I went down, I’d be helped back up right away. That’s what metal is all about. In fact Tom’s words from Slayer’s Decade of Aggression album ring true from that day to this: “That’s what we’re here to do… help each other out”.
And Slayer. Slayer is what metal is all about. I’ve seen them live more times than I can remember offhand and they’ve never disappointed. Tonight’s show, though. Excuse my French, but fuck me sideways. This isn’t a band going out with a whimper, a “bugger it, they’re here, we’ll play some songs and on to the next one before we head home and put our feet up”. This was a band out to impress, as if they had something to prove. Not a single track provided a chance to draw breath as they pummelled the audience with crushing classic after crushing classic. I’m not even going to attempt to name favourites. It was all of them.
An impressive but none-showy stage setup (backdrops, some cool flames and a couple of statues) were all that was needed. You can keep your animatronic walking puppets, your flamethrowers and your cherry pickers. All a proper metal show needs is a bunch of pentagrams and a bit of fire to back up the brutality.
One of the best performances by any metal band I have ever seen was a hell of a way to round up their touring career. They will be sorely missed from the live scene. All that’s left to say is:
Photos by Gavin Lowrey Photography