Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, Testament
Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento
May 13, 2018
Photos by Raymond Ahner.
There are few musical artists out there that can deliver the kind of raw, visceral power as Slayer. It is why the group is one of the most beloved in all of metal and music in general. So, when the band announced that this world tour would be their last before retiring, they knew they would have to go out with a bang. If their recent Sunday night show was any indication, this is going to be one hell of a farewell tour.
Despite technical difficulties which pushed the start time of the show back by nearly an hour and a half, causing all of the other acts to have to cut their sets short, Slayer bludgeoned the sold-out crowd with their fiery brand of thrash metal, churning out an impressive 19-song set that spanned their entire career.
Backed by a literal wall of flames, Slayer hit things fast and heavy with the opening song, the furious stomp of “Repentless” from their most recent album of the same name. Anchored by a pummeling drum groove from Paul Bostaph, the track featured plenty of razor-sharp guitar riffs and tough vocals from Tom Araya, who sounded stellar throughout the night.
Next up was a deep cut from the legendary Seasons in the Abyss album, the grooving “Blood Red,” but that was just a warm-up for the following song, the fan-favorite “Disciple.” Driven by a complex series of guitar riffs from Kerry King and Gary Holt, the song was the first indication that Slayer was not messing around on this night, as they had their sights on pummeling the audience with heavy metal fury. A few songs later the band finally cranked into high gear, rolling through “War Ensemble.” Like many classic Slayer songs, “War Ensemble” features non-stop speed and aggression, and it was no surprise that five separate mosh pits opened up simultaneously in the audience once the song picked up steam.
Slayer alternated between new songs and classics for the next couple of songs before slowing things down for an inspired rendition of “Dead Skin Mask.” A grizzly take on the notorious serial killer Ed Gein, the track is a more down-tempo piece, though that does not make it any less powerful as the band’s trademark dissonance gave the song plenty of dark and evil undertones.
Of course, Slayer saved the best for last, closing out their set with the unmitigated fury of “Chemical Warfare” and the all-time classic “Angel of Death.” “Chemical Warfare” began with a rhythmically complex guitar riff from King, with Holt joining in as the piece picked up speed.
“Angel of Death” was a fitting close to the night, with its intoxicating blend of double bass drum fury and overwhelming guitar work another showcase for what Slayer does best. The sheer physicality of their show was something to behold and was yet another indication that while the band may be calling it a career, they are going out on top, playing at their absolute best.
Lamb of God may have had to cut their set down, but that did not stop them from whipping up the crowd into a fury with their caustic blend of slamming grooves and blistering thrash. As the spoken word intro into the first song, “Omerta,” began, fans knew they were in for something special as Lamb of God strode onto the stage, with frontman Randy Blythe urging the crowd to get moving and move they did.
While the band only played five more songs, they made each one count, particularly the seething rage of “Laid to Rest.” Riding a slithering guitar groove from Mark Morton and Willie Adler, the song cracked open a particularly vicious mosh pit.
Anthrax delivered a powerful and impressive set, culled from their legendary 80s period. The band started off with “Caught in a Mosh,” a rollicking piece of thrash metal that revolved around Frank Bello’s precise bassline and the crushing down-picked guitar riffs of Scott Ian. Next up was the driving “Madhouse,” a song that relied on the soaring vocals of Joey Belladonna and a wild guitar solo from Jonathan Donais.
Anthrax closed out their abbreviated set with an inspired reading of “Indians,” one of their most well-known songs. While the song primarily mined a rolling mid-tempo groove, eventually it picked up steam for the closing “war dance” section. However, a few bars into the section, drummer Charlie Benante stopped playing, voicing his dissatisfaction with the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm. Ian took to the mic, urging the crowd to get it together and start moving around. The tactic worked as the mosh pit erupted from the center of the audience, with a mass of bodies flying around as the band finished playing.
As the most extreme metal band on the bill, Behemoth more than lived up to their name, as the band ripped through plenty of piercing black metal, including a new song from their upcoming album, which is set to be released sometime later this year.
The band began the set with the bruising “Ov Fire And The Void” a song based around the guttural vocals and atonal guitar riffs of frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski. Behemoth was clearly out to prove they belonged at this show, bludgeoning the crowd with plenty of intense guitar work and slamming blast beats courtesy of drummer Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński.
For those fans who braved the mile-long lines to get in early to the venue, Testament opened the show with a tight, yet focused set that showed their power and might as a live band. The group began with the warp-speed “Brotherhood of the Snake,” a song that rode a powerful drumming performance from Gene Hoglan, who made each complex drum beat and drum fill seem effortless. Likewise, for bassist Steve DiGiorgio, whose nimble bass work gave the song another sonic dimension.
After an inspired rendition of the anthemic “Rise Up,” Testament finished out their set with four of their most well-known and powerful songs. The standout among them had to be the surging “The New Order.” The guitar tag-team of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson stood out the most on this song, with the incredible lead playing of Skolnick blowing minds and melting faces. Few musicians have the sheer musical dexterity and chops as Skolnick, who roared through the mix throughout the set.
All in all you had one of the finest gatherings of some of the best bands in metal, with each one delivering an incredible set, making this tour package one of the greatest in recent memory.
Here’s a slideshow with more photos of all the bands by Raymond Ahner:
Setlist: Repentless | Blood Red | Disciple | Mandatory Suicide | Hate Worldwide | War Ensemble | Jihad | When the Stillness Comes | Postmortem | Black Magic | Payback | Seasons in the Abyss | Dittohead | Dead Skin Mask | Hell Awaits | South of Heaven | Raining Blood | Chemical Warfare | Angel of Death
Check out Slayer on their website.
Lamb of God
Setlist: Omerta | Ruin | 512 | Walk with Me in Hell | Laid to Rest | Redneck
Find out more about Lamb of God here.
Setlist: Caught in a Mosh | Madhouse | I Am the Law | Antisocial (Trust cover) | Indians
Everything you need to know about Anthrax is here.
Setlist: Ov Fire and the Void | Demigod | Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer | Wolves ov Siberia | Chant for Eschaton 2000 | O Father O Satan O Sun!
Get all the dirt on Behemoth on their website.
Setlist: Brotherhood of the Snake | Rise Up | Practice What You Preach | Into the Pit | The New Order | Over the Wall
Learn all about Testament here. :