On Saturday night, I had tickets to go see one of my all-time favorite bands perform their last concert in New Jersey as part of their farewell tour. This band, titled Slayer, falls under the thrash metal genre, which is categorized by unrelenting, fast-paced drumming and guitar riffs, accompanied by singing, or in Slayer’s case, singing and screaming!
I’ve been a fan of Slayer for almost a decade now, and even in this rather short amount of time, I’ve seen the band grow and change. Their newest album Repentless, released in fall of 2015, gave fans a taste of old Slayer instead of the experimental albums they recently recorded. This album was the most well-received since God Hates Us All in 2001. The fast-paced drumming of Paul Bostaph, coupled with the energetic and evil guitar riffs from Kerry King and Gary Holt, topped off by shrieking vocals from Tom Araya made this album an instant hit with their fans
So it was no surprise when Slayer, who was the final performance, opened with the title track, “Repentless.” I was blown away. I’ve seen Slayer perform 2 times before, once a few months after the loss of long-time guitarist Jeff Hanneman and another time last summer, and this opening was by far the most electric. As soon as Bostaph hit the first drum, fire rose up into the air, showing that Slayer, after 37 years of performing, is still the master of stage performance.
After this opening, Slayer jumped into some of their hits through the years, including “Disciple,” which had the crowd on their feet, head-banging to their heart’s content. Following this were other great hits like “War Ensemble” and “Hate Worldwide.”
After Slayer finished up “When the Stillness Comes,” which was about halfway through their setlist, Tom Araya came out alone onto the stage and thanked the audience for their great participation. In my opinion, after attending 8 years worth of heavy metal concerts and shows, Araya was right: to me, this was the most involved I’ve ever seen a crowd. It was certainly because in the back of all of our minds, we knew this was Slayer’s last hoorah, and we wanted to let it all out right here, right now.
To me, the highlight of my night was when Slayer played their first recorded song off of their first studio album. Black Magic is one of my all-time personal favorite thrash anthems and to hear it live was a treat like none other. The next song (now more than half-way through the setlist) was titled “Payback” and to the average Slayer fan, they probably wouldn’t recognize this song, as it isn’t as popular as the others. But to me, it was another pleasant surprise, as I’ve never heard them perform like this live before. The final few songs were straight from a Slayer Best Hits album, going from “Seasons in the Abyss” to “South of Heaven”, which went right into “Raining Blood”, and finally concluded with “Angel of Death”, a song dedicated to their deceased guitarist. The performance of “Angel of Death” was accompanied by a large banner in memory of Hanneman.
Overall, the setlist was everything a Slayer fan could’ve wanted, and more! That being said, I wasn’t too thrilled with the sound setup for the instruments. Both guitarists were too loud, which caused Araya’s mike to barely be audible. This often made it difficult to identify the song until a distinctive riff or lyric came up. Besides that, the concert was very enjoyable, but of course, there was a bittersweet atmosphere, as the entire audience knew this would be the last Slayer tour and that there would be no more to come. However, all in all, this concert experience was pleasurable and lively!
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons