Raining Blood Over Irvine: Slayer sells out Orange County show on Final Tour

May 11th, 2018, FivePoint Amphitheater Irvine, CA: After 37 long years, 12 studio albums, roughly 3000 concerts worldwide, two Grammy awards, and a plethora of other accolades to their name, legendary titans of thrash metal Slayer are finally calling it quits. Months after first being reported back in January of this year, the day has come for Slayer to play their final farewell tour alongside some of the best supporting acts one could hope for: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, and Lamb of God. All of these bands are household names within the metal community and have led highly successful headlining tours of their own, so to have such amazing bands be openers is truly a testament (no pun intended) to Slayer’s legacy as not only one of the “Big 4” bands of thrash metal but by and far the most aggressive and visceral of those bands. Last Friday’s show at the FivePoint Amphitheater, a sold-out one with 12,000 metalheads of all ages and walks of life in attendance, only illustrates that point even further.

Testament

The first band to take stage was none other than Bay area thrash metal legends Testament, who opened their set with the latest single off of their last record of the same name ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’. The song immediately whipped the gathering crowd into a frenzy, promptly leading to the first mosh pit of the day. Testament maintained this fast-paced, high-energy performance throughout their set, playing new songs and classics such as ‘Into the Pit’ and ‘Practice What You Preach’. Frontman Chuck Billy’s vocals were as great as they have ever been, as was his stage presence throughout their set. Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson traded harmonies effortlessly and played every song to near perfection, as well as returning legendary bassist Steve Di Gorgio and iconic drummer Gene Hoglan. As their set wrapped up and flocks of people gathered into the amphitheater, Testament closed with their thrash staple ‘Over The Wall’ which was very well received by the crowd of fans. Being the first band of a show is generally not the most desired spot on any bill and typically the turnout is low, but Testament proved this notion wrong in every way and were the perfect band to kickstart the show into high gear, paving the way for the next act.

Testament photos:

Testament set list:
1. Brotherhood of the Snake
2. Rise Up
3. Practice What You Preach
4. The Pale King
5. Into the Pit
6. The New Order
7. Over the Wall

Nergal – Behemoth

The only foreign band on the bill, hailing all the way from Poland, were extreme metal legends Behemoth, who upon taking the stage changed the ambiance of the show by mere presence alone: clad in black, tattered garments, signature corpsepaint, and Satanic props set up around the stage. Unlike Testament, who had grabbed the attention of the audience with high energy and bravado, Behemoth stole it with their powerful, seemingly mystical presence. And like a calm before the storm, the band erupted into their opening track of their set, ‘Ov Fire and the Void’, breaking the stillness and silence in the crowd. The band ferociously played their way through their set which was laden with high-tempo blast beats, powerful death/black metal vocals, and menacing riffage, all to the appraisal of the now near-capacity crowd gathered. As the band went further into their set, donning their black horned masks while cryptic back tracks of some Satanic mantra played, the weather itself became much gloomier and colder, as if all the world for that moment was their stage. As the band wrapped up their final song ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’ off of their critically acclaimed latest album The Satanist, the band exited as enigmatic as they appeared, this time though with cheers and applause from the audience.

Behemoth photos:

Behemoth set list:
1. Ov Fire and the Void
2. Demigod
3. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
4. Wolves ov Siberia
5. Chant for Eschaton 2000
6. O Father O Satan O Sun!

Joey Belladonna – Anthrax

Taking the stage next was none other than “Big 4” legends Anthrax, whose markedly much more upbeat and energetic appearance proved to be the perfect counterbalance to Behemoth’s more serious mood. Right from the get-go, Anthrax commanded complete control of the crowd by kicking their set off with their classic hit ‘Caught in a Mosh’, beginning what would be a literal non-stop mosh pit from the start of their set to their final song. Anthrax frontman Joey Belladonna was on his best game vocally throughout the entire set, sounding just like his younger self, if not better. The band’s set list was packed with all killer-no filler songs that catered extremely well to the predominately thrash oriented fans in attendance. The crowd response was truly amazing and you couldn’t help but get the feeling that this is what it must have felt like to be a part of the thrash scene back in its heyday. Anthrax’s live performance was truly something to witness as their music resonated with such a wide variety of fans from all ages, effectively bridging the gap between older generations and new by allowing everyone in attendance be one people connected by their shared love of Anthrax’s music. They were arguably the best band of the night due to the undeniable positive reception they got from the fans from the moment they graced the stage to the second they left and their exceptional musical performance.

Anthrax photos:

Anthrax set list:
1. Caught in a Mosh
2. Madhouse
3. I Am the Law
4. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L)
5. Evil Twin
6. Antisocial
7. Indians

Randy Blythe – Lamb Of God

The time finally came for main support act Lamb of God to take to stage, and when they did they brought with them the intensity and aggression their live shows are known for. Diving straight into their heavy repertoire of songs by opening up with ‘Omerta’, Lamb of God’s fierce energy manifested itself within the audience almost immediately, causing mosh pits to open up in multiple locations instead of just the center of the GA/pit area. During one of these pits, an audience member was badly injured and frontman Randy Blythe noticed and stopped the song ‘Walk With Me in Hell’ midway to get security and the medics’ attention to the injured person. It was in this moment that I felt that everything about metal showed itself, that amid the violence and aggression of a mosh pit we also find such genuine care for the well-being of one another (mostly, although there are some real assholes out there). Throughout the incident, which lasted about 5-6 minutes, Randy Blythe continuously asked members of the audience to make way for the medics and if everything was under control, demonstrating what a real class act the man is, especially given his unfortunate past situations with fans being injured at one of LOG’s shows. As soon as they got the clear, they jumped right back in to the breakdown of the song and the chaos was let loose again, this time uninterrupted. While the band executed their songs with great precision and intensity, I was surprised to hear quite a few moments of sloppiness from drummer Chris Adler, namely during the famous drum solo in their song ‘Ruin’. Even the best have their off nights but aside from a couple slip-ups, Lamb of God pulled off a great show and got the audience riled up for the final act of the night.

Lamb Of God photos:

Lamb Of God set list:
1. Omerta
2. Ruin
3. 512
4. Engage the Fear Machine
5. Walk With Me in Hell
6. Still Echoes
7. Laid to Rest
8. Redneck

Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for had arrived. Packed to complete capacity and undeterred by the rain that come down during Lamb of God’s set and the growing cold that settled in, the crowd eagerly waited with anticipation for the mighty Slayer to take to stage. Coming out to bursting flames and bright stage-lights, Slayer came swinging right off the bat and began their set with ‘Repentless’. The whole pit area in front of the stage came alive in monstrous fashion, creating some of the craziest pits I’ve ever been a part of.

Tom Araya – Slayer

Vocalist/bassist Tom Araya was truly mesmerizing, his iconic shouted vocals echoing all around the amphitheater, people chanting the lyrics along with him, even nailing the legendary ‘Angel of Death’ scream in the beginning of the song. Guitarist Gary Holt’s presence brought newfound vigor in the group when he first joined after founding member Jeff Hanneman’s injury and death, a vigor that he has maintained since brought to the forefront during their performance. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for rhythm/lead guitarist Kerry King, who had some troubles throughout the night playing some riffs clean and in tempo. But then again, these guys have been doing this for nearly 40 years so the years have definitely taken their toll on the band, which leads me to my next point. As much of an amazing experience this was to witness, this was not Slayer at peak performance. Slayer are well past their prime and I hate to admit it but calling it quits is probably the best option for them now. That isn’t to say they played terribly or even badly, but the caliber of their performance is not what was even 4-5 years ago, let alone completely up to par with the supporting acts. But all in all, Slayer put on a wicked fun show that had every element we love about them: fast riffs, wailing guitar solos, frenzied shouts, loud amps, and monstrous mosh pits.

Kerry King – Slayer

Slayer set list:
01. Repentless
02. Blood Red
03. Disciple
04. Mandatory Suicide
05. Hate Worldwide
06. War Ensemble
07. Jihad
08. When the Stillness Comes
09. Postmortem
10. Black Magic
11. Payback
12. Seasons in the Abyss
13. Dittohead
14. Dead Skin Mask
15. Hell Awaits
16. South of Heaven
17. Raining Blood
18. Chemical Warfare
19. Angel of Death

If there was one last thing to take away from this, it’s Slayer’s lasting legacy and influence in the lives of so many people. Slayer not only became an iconic band ingrained in the hearts of so many fans, it also became a lifestyle: growing up and going to Slayer shows then taking your kids to those same shows, devoted fans who get the logo tattooed on them (even on their faces), making new friends at their shows, and variety of other examples. It’s sad to see Slayer take their final bow but I’d much rather see them go out while they can still put on a great show than see them continue for money and watch dismal performances by them. I’ve seen Slayer five times now and each show was amazing in their own right so for me, while it’s a bit bittersweet knowing this is the end for a band that I grew up with and love, I’m glad to have been part of their ride for all these years.

– review by Cesar Villatoro, photos by Robert DeAnda

Slayer photos:

 

Slayer Final North American Tour remaining dates:

First leg (w/ Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Behemoth & Testament)
5/16/2018 – Vancouver, BC @ PNE Forum
5/17/2018 – Penticton, BC @ South Okanagan Events Centre
5/19/2018 – Calgary, AB @ Big Four
5/20/2018 – Edmonton, AB @ Shaw Centre
5/22/2018 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place
5/24/2018 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory
5/25/2018 – Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
5/27/2018 – Detroit, MI @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill
5/29/2018 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage
5/30/2018 – Montreal, QC @ Place Bell*
6/01/2018 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun
6/02/2018 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
6/04/2018 – Reading, PA @ Santander Arena
6/06/2018 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
6/07/2018 – Cleveland, OH @ Blossom Music Center
6/09/2018 – Pittsburgh, PA @ KeyBank Pavilion
6/10/2018 – Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live
6/12/2018 – Virginia Beach, VA @ VUHL Amphitheater
6/14/2018 – Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion
6/15/2018 – Orlando, FL @ Orlando Amphitheater
6/17/2018 – Houston, TX @ Smart Financial Centre
6/19/2018 – Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory
6/20/2018 – Austin, TX @ Austin 360 Amphitheater

Second leg (w/ Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Testament & Napalm Death)
7/26/2018 – Gilford, NH @ Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
7/27/2018 – Bangor, ME @ Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
7/29/2018 – Wantagh, NY @ Jones Beach
7/31/2018 – Scranton, PA @ The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
8/01/2018 – Albany, NY @ Times Union Center
8/03/2018 – Darien Lake, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
8/04/2018 – Syracuse, NY @ Lakeview Amphitheater
8/06/2018 – London, ON @ Budweiser Gardens
8/07/2018 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena
8/09/2018 – St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
8/10/2018 – Atlanta, GA @ Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood
8/12/2018 – Nashville, TN @ Municipal Auditorium
8/13/2018 – Rogers, AR @ Walmart AMP
8/15/2018 – San Antonio, TX @ Freeman Coliseum
8/16/2018 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Zoo Amphitheatre
8/18/2018 – Denver, CO @ Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
8/19/2018 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
8/21/2018 – Boise, ID @ Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
8/23/2018 – Portland, OR @ Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
8/26/2018 – San Jose, CA @ SAP Center

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