Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
August 9, 2017
All photos by Raymond Ahner.
Metal fans were treated to an exemplary night of inspired performances from Behemoth, Lamb of God and Slayer at The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on a Wednesday night. With the venue filled near full capacity the concert was a demonstration of the raw power present in heavy metal music.
Slayer headlined the show, bringing a wall of flames (literally) and a punishing 18-song set that covered their entire discography. The band opened with the raging “Repentless,” from their latest album of the same name. The song’s quick tempo was the perfect signal for the crowd to start moving, with a massive circle pit opening immediately once the song began playing. From the onset, it became clear that Slayer was going right for the throat, with the guitar tag-team of Kerry King and Gary Holt trading furious riffs and piercing guitar solos.
The next song up was an old classic from their first album, the punishing groove of “The Antichrist.” Driven by a snappy drum performance from Paul Bostaph and an aggressive vocal line by Tom Araya, the track really got the crowd going. After this Slayer tore into the rampaging “Postmortem,” from their legendary Reign in Blood album. Beginning with a crushing series of guitar riffs the song mines a solid groove, a rarity for a band as jacked up on speed as Slayer, but no matter the tempo the track still had all the sonic ingredients to roil the packed crowd. Slayer’s stage show shifted from song to song, alternating between blasts of pyrotechnics, deep smoke, and blinding strobe lights.
After alternating between newer material and deep cuts, Slayer tore through one of the most devastating songs of the evening: “Hell Awaits.” Backed by a wall of flames, the song begins slowly, alternating between stomping riffs from Holt and King before ratcheting up the intensity for the first verse, never letting go for the remainder of the song.
Slayer took a bit of a breather for the next song, the slow, brooding monolithic metal of South of Heaven before they finished out the night with three of their most well-known and captivating songs: “Raining Blood,” “Chemical Warfare,” and “Angel of Death.” “Raining Blood” beings with blasts of guitar feedback until Bostaph’s drums queue the band to launch into the song’s famous opening riff, which then turns into an intense bit of atonal guitar work backed by a blistering drum beat. “Chemical Warfare” followed the same sonic blueprint, mixing rhythmically precise guitar chugging, furious drum work and another strong vocal performance from Araya, who sounded excellent throughout the evening.
To close out the night Slayer rolled through an inspired reading of “Angel of Death,” playing the song’s intro at warp speed and crushing through the remaining sections. What continues to make Slayer such a formidable and lasting band in the metal scene is their commitment to performing at an incredibly high level. While many bands who have been around for 35+ years are content to phone it in, Slayer is not one of those groups.
There was no encore, and very few breaks in between songs, a tactic that really drove home this notion. Slayer continues to be one of the premier metal bands and it appears that they will continue to thrill audiences for many more years to come.
Lamb of God delivered a fast and powerful set that included a great mix of old favorites and new songs. While Lamb of God played a shorter set than they would normally play as headliners, it certainly didn’t seem that way as the band packed in so many high-pressure moments throughout their ten-song set. They got things started off with a bang with the blinding aggression of “Laid to Rest.” Featuring one of the groups most recognizable guitar riffs, the song exemplifies the devastating power of the band, with singer Randy Blythe delivering a particularly caustic set of vocals.
The biggest surprise of the set was when Lamb of God pulled out a deep cut from their critically acclaimed As the Palaces Burn album, the full-tilt thrash “Ruin.” Anchored by a complex bit of drumming from Chris Adler and a precise bassline from John Campbell the song was a furious demonstration of Lamb of God’s style of metal. To close out their set the band roared through the tight groove of “Redneck,” riding a series of interlocking guitar riffs from Willy Adler and Mark Morton.
Behemoth had the arduous task of opening the entire concert, and they did a remarkably good job in winning over the crowd with their caustic black metal sound. Based around the throat-splitting vocals and dissonant guitar riffing of frontman Nergal, Behemoth certainly lived up to their name.
The band opened with the grim “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,” a jagged piece of metal that mixed plenty of hyper-speed guitar runs with Nergal’s demonic wail. Behemoth certainly did not play like a mere opening band, as they packed plenty of intense moments into their half hour set such as the blinding aggression of “Ov Fire and the Void.”
Setlist: Repentless | The Antichrist | Disciple | Postmortem | Hate Worldwide | War Ensemble | When the Stillness Comes | You Against You | Mandatory Suicide | Hallowed Point | Dead Skin Mask | Born of Fire | Cast the First Stone | Bloodline | Seasons in the Abyss | Hell Awaits | South of Heaven | Raining Blood | Chemical Warfare | Angel of Death
Find our more about Slayer on their website.
Lamb of God:
Setlist: Laid to Rest | Now You’ve Got Something to Die For | 512 | Engage the Fear Machine | Ruin | Descending | Blacken the Cursed Sun | Still Echoes | Walk With Me in Hell | Redneck
Learn everything there is to know about Lamb of God here.
Setlist: Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer | Conquer All | Messe Noire | Alas, Lord Is Upon Me | Decade of Therion | Ov Fire and the Void | Chant for Eschaton 2000
Check out Behemoth on their website.