SAP Center, San Jose
August 26, 2018
Photos by Raymond Ahner.
There was a sense of finality in the air as Slayer began their headlining set at the SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday night. The legendary thrash metal band is currently in the midst of their final tour and Sunday’s stop was the final date on the second North American tour leg. While the band has stated that the tour will continue until 2019 and that they may return to Northern California, for many fans, there was a feeling that this may be the last time they get to witness the intensity of Slayer in concert. Backed by a literal wall of flames, Slayer rolled through each and every song with power and intensity.\
From the opening notes of “Repentless,” Slayer was intent on crushing the audience with a blinding flurry of lightning-fast drum beats, screaming guitar solos, and the ever-powerful vocals of lead singer Tom Araya. The band ripped through a lengthy nineteen-song set with very few breaks, with the set covering their entire discography including some pummeling old cuts such as “Mandatory Suicide.”
As has been the case ever since he stepped in for founding member Jeff Hanneman, Gary Holt was a force on stage, dishing out wild guitar solos and frenetic riffs to match fellow guitarist Kerry King. One of the most surprising moments came when Slayer pulled out a seldom-played song from their mid 2000’s comeback album Christ Illusion, the stunning “Jihad.” The song began with a bit of clean-toned guitar before the tempo and intensity got cranked up, with drummer Paul Bostaph delivering an incredible rhythmic foundation and the rest of the band pummeled the audience.
While Slayer shows are always known for their wild mosh pits and crazy fans, on this night it seemed as if the whole crowd was upping their game. The mosh pit continued to churn as the set wore on and the more well-known Slayer songs started to get played. One of the biggest moments came in the form of the all-time classic “Raining Blood.” As the song’s intro blared over the PA, the crowd started to lose their collective minds, exploding in a mass of flying bodies.
Slayer closed out the evening with a blistering version of “Angel of Death” and then said their collective farewells. Araya seemed to sense the importance of the moment, thanking the fans for all the years of support before walking off stage.
While Slayer may be hanging it up, they will leave an enduring legacy in the music world. The band showed once again that they are going out on top, with all of their impressive musical skills still intact.
Lamb of God had the arduous task of being the band on directly before Slayer, and it seemed as if the group used that fact as motivation to deliver a powerful and gripping set. The band started off with the menacing stomp of “Omerta” before turning the intensity up for the crushing metal of “Ruin.”
Frontman Randy Blythe was in fine form as he worked the stage, daring the audience to match the band’s intensity throughout their set. The band played a short set that included plenty of other memorable songs such as the wild singalong “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For.” Like all great Lamb of God songs, the track is driven by the bone-crushing guitar of Willie Adler and Mark Morton, with John Campbell’s deep basslines anchoring the song.
Despite being slotted third in the order, Anthrax delivered a headliner-worthy performance, tearing through a short but sweet set of their classic material. The band wasted no time as they started off their performance with their most well-known song, the anthemic thrash of “Caught in a Mosh.” In a tribute to the recently-departed Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Anthrax did an impromptu version of the Pantera song “Cowboys from Hell” to open and close the set. It was a touching tribute to a legendary figure in the metal community and it really got the crowed pumped up and energized. Anthrax ended their set with the swaggering mid-tempo grind of “Indians,” a pulverizing blast of catchy melodic hooks and a crazed outro that really got the crowd going.
Testament made a statement early on in the night, with the five-piece rolling through a powerful eight-song set that contained plenty of classic songs. As usual, lead guitarist Alex Skolnick was on fire, smoking through plenty of mind-blowing guitar solos and making even the most advanced runs look easy. This was particularly evident during the mid-set scorcher “The Preacher,” which featured all kinds of awesome guitar harmonies between Skolnick and Eric Peterson, with bassist Steve DiGiorgio dishing out plenty of impressive runs of his own.
The band finished their set with the scorching “Over the Wall,” a relentless thrasher that was delivered at full force and intensity.
For those fans that showed up early to the 6-hour metal extravaganza, they were treated to a brief but brutal performance from U.K. grindcore legends Napalm Death. For a band like Napalm Death, the objective is to pummel the audience into submission with a non-stop whirlwind of razor-blade guitars, guttural vocals, and impossibly fast drum beats.
The politically-minded four piece charged through plenty of classics, ending their set with a surprise cover of the classic Dead Kennedys song “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.”
Here’s a slideshow with more photos of all four 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
Find out more about Slayer here.
Lamb of God:
Setlist: Omerta | Ruin | Walk With Me in Hell | Now You’ve Got Something to Die For | 512 | Engage the Fear Machine | Blacken the Cursed Sun | Laid to Rest | Redneck
Check out Lamb of God on their website.
Setlist: Caught in a Mosh | Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover) | Madhouse Be All, End All | Evil Twin | Antisocial (Trust cover) | Indians
Find out more about Anthrax here.
Setlist: Brotherhood of the Snake| Rise Up| Dog Faced Gods| The Preacher| Practice What You Preach| The New Order| Into the Pit| Over the Wall
Get more info on Testament here.
Setlist: Multinational Corporations| Instinct of Survival| When All Is Said and Done| Smash a Single Digit| Standardization| Suffer the Children| Silence Is Deafening| How the Years Condemn| Scum | You Suffer| Dead| Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)
Everything you need to know about Napalm Death can be found on their website.