“Jeg vil savne jer.” Those are Tom Araya’s final words, read aloud from a piece of paper he holds out in front of himself, before he leaves the stage. “I’ll miss you.” That’s what those words mean. Prior to those softly spoken words, metal music’s arguably most revered front man has spent several minutes walking to both sides and front of the stage, looking at the crowd, taking in the relentless cascades of applause in silence. Perhaps this is the last time he’ll do this in Denmark. Those final words certainly suggest that it is.
In fact, we don’t really know what will happen. SLAYER have announced that this is their final world tour. But what does that mean? Will they continue to record music as a band? Will they do festivals? Araya started talking about retirement ages ago, so, I mean, it’s not a surprise if the thrash metal giants will dampen the activity level. No matter, tonight has a cloak of sadness over it somehow, even if this is really a mini festival with some great fucking bands on the bill.
Four and a half hours before Araya speaks those four words in Danish, OBITUARY are let loose on the stage. Although the Tampa deathers haven’t been in the business for 37 years like Slayer, they are no springchicks either, and they are a combo who have grown stronger and stronger since their comeback ten years ago.
The Tardy brothers, Trevor Peres, Terry Butler and Kenny Andrews all seem extra psyched about being in front of the 11.000 people who have decided to spend their Monday evening with Slayer and friends. And the feedback from the audience is deservedly positive as the characteristic groovy Tampa death metal billows over the crowd with even more crunch and brutally than usual. During the short set, Obituary prove that they’re as relevant now as they were in 1991 as songs like A Lesson in Vengeance and Straight to Hell blend in with classic tracks Chopped in Half, Turned Inside Out and set closer Slowly We Rot.
It’s loud and brutal tonight here in Royal Arena – brace your ears, boys and gals!
A Lesson in Vengeance
Chopped In Half
Turned Inside Out
I’m In Pain
Slowly We Rot
It makes sense to bring along a band like Obituary because their music was so clearly inspired by Slayer when they started out. It also makes sense to bring along one of the Big Four bands, especially the one of the big four that never really became commercial competition for Slayer like Metallica and Megadeth did.
ANTHRAX have a huge space in my metal heart, but they are the under dogs in the club of the big four. The fact that they’re even number two on the billing tells you something. Initially, I was surprised that this was the case, but the way Scott Ian and his boys approach this gig leaves me wondering when the New Yorkers lost the confidence in their own material.
They start out with a taped version of Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast’. Fine, nice tribute. The tributes continue when the band enter the stage, this time it’s the intro of Pantera’s ‘Cowboys from Hell’. Ok, nice touch to pay homage to their mates Dime and Vinnie, I like that.
The real business finally begins with ‘Caught in a Mosh’. Again, I must say that getting Belladonna back in the band was the right thing – the man’s so much better than he was in the old days. Cool.
Hang on, as great a song as it is, here’s another cover song! The Joe Jackson song ‘Got the Time’ is excellent, but, really, another cover? Then follows a crushing version of ‘Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)’. Hard as iron, this one! Next is one of my favourite Anthrax tunes, ‘Be All, End All’ from State of Euphoria. I love it.
“Do you love thrash?” asks Scott Ian at this point, and the crowd loudly agrees to this. The reward is ‘Fight’Em ‘Til You Can’t’ from Worship Music, a fine tune, although not one of the greatest hits.
And then, guess what, another cover song! The one song I never understood Anthrax wanted to expose so much: ‘Antisocial’ by Trust. It was fun during the State of Euphoria era, but for my sake they could’ve left it right there.
As a sort of consolation, the last song is ‘Indians’, one of the best Anthrax songs ever. Even the two punters who are dressed as Father Christmas are moshing like mad in the pit now.
I am genuinely puzzled. For such a short set, Anthrax decide to pull out two and a half cover song plus they spend time on a taped Maiden song. Where is their confidence in their own material? ‘I Am the Law’? ‘Only’? ‘The End’? ‘Madhouse’? ‘Gung Ho’? ‘Keep It in the Family’? ‘Belly of the Beast’? ‘Who Cares Wins’? There are tons of material you could’ve used, Anthrax! Take your own music back!
Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast
Pantera: Cowboys from Hell intro
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Be All, End All
Fight’Em ‘Til You Can’t
Pantera: Cowboys from Hell outro
I remember LAMB OF GOD once being crowned the heirs of Slayer’s throne. This was more than ten years ago, and I reckon this prophecy never actually became reality. Could be that it is different in the States, but here it isn’t, that’s for sure.
My challenge with LOG has always been that their songs on the albums kind of blend into one another and I find it hard to differentiate them from each other. They do great stuff, I really think so, but on the whole, their albums don’t stick.
As a live band, though, Lamb Of God are a force to be reckoned with. Randy Blythe is the perfect front man. Great energy, great communication with the crowd.
Surprisingly, the Virginians start out with two mid-tempo songs, ‘Omerta’ and ‘Ruin’. It feels as if they’re holding back. This holding back comes to an abrupt halt with ‘Walk With Me In Hell’, which is one of those songs where you can tell why they appeal to fans of extreme music.
Still, it’s as if the real party doesn’t begin until the last three songs. After a short break, ‘Blacken the Cursed Sun’, ‘Laid to Waste’ and ‘Redneck’ form a triumvirate of pulverising metal tunes that intices pit upon pit in front of the stage. Perhaps Lamb Of God, afterall, could lift the legacy of the mighty Slayer?
Lamb Of God setlist:
Walk With Me In Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
I saw SLAYER live for the first time when they did the European circuit of Clash of the Titans in 1990. My mates and I went to Copenhagen on the train to see Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, which of course was a huge thing for us. The most insane thing for us was that we’d actually go to a signing session at a local record store and say hello to our heroes.
It turned out that Tom Araya was this amicable, smiling fellow, King and Hannemann were hiding behind sunglasses and Lombardo was fairly down-to-earth and quiet guy. Here’s a couple of pictures from that day:
The very same evening, I’d for the first time experience the fury of Slayer live. I remember how my body reacted when I was struck by the soundwaves of Lombardo’s double bass drums in front of the stage: I felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. It was so powerful! I knew I had to experience that feeling again. Tonight is the eleventh time I see Slayer in 28 years. I know it isn’t as many times as other fans, but I got my fill. On the way back home, I give a guy a ride. He’s seen Slayer 29 times. My goodness!
Anyhoo, as ‘Delusions of Saviour’ resounds over the roar of 11.000 people, crosses are turning upside down on the curtain in front of stage. Cheers grow even louder as fire spurts on stage and Araya, King, Bostaph and ex-Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel appear. Demmel is replacing Gary Holt who’s been forced to cancel the rest of the European leg of the tour due to his father’s illness. This is Demmel’s first night on stage with Slayer, and of course it’s going to be interesting to see how he’ll cope.
It becomes clear that this is a no-bullshit night. No dragging out the time with useless talk, no rockstar crap. This is about the songs, the legacy, the band and the fans. ‘Repentless’, ‘Blood Red’ (yes!), ‘Disciple’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘Hate Worldwide’ roll over us like a tsunami, the sound on the verge of being too loud, but not quite. This is simply crushing.
Then, finally, Araya speaks and encourages the crowd to scream one word on the count of three: War! This triggers a mindblowing version of ‘War Ensemble’. Then ‘Jihad’ and ‘When the Stillness Comes’. It strikes me how different this new song is from the rest of the material, both in expression and sound, but it’s still good. We’re then hit by the two oldschool hammers ‘Postmortem’ and ‘Black Magic’. Even if this song is 35 years old, it’s amazing how fresh the latter still sounds. It doesn’t sound dated at all tonight.
Araya addresses the audience again for the second time tonight. “What is payback?” he asks. “Payback is a biiiiitch”, of course, and on it goes with ‘Payback’, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’, Dittohead’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’ and the ever ominous ‘Hell Awaits’ with massive amounths of onstage fire before a short intermission leads us to the encores.
And what a set of encores! ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’, ‘Chemical Warfare’ and, yes, what better way to end the final (?) Slayer concert than with their most controversial tune, ‘Angel of Death’?
Then it’s over. Araya’s standing there. Hard to understand that it’s possibly the last time I’ll see a band who’s always been there.
We’ll miss you, too, Tom. Slayer’s music and attitude meant the world to some of us out here, and that won’t go away even if this really is the end of the band.
Thank you for the controversy, the fire, the ringing ears, the whiplash, the time when I brought my sister-in-law to your show at Roskilde Festival, and an army boot hit her in the face (and she never even blamed me for it), for the goose bumps, for the many times I’ve discussed your lyrics, shared war stories from your shows, the times I’ve been the target of envy from young fans who were hardly born when I saw you during the Clash of the Titans tour and especially thank you for the music, which crept right under my skin in my formative years. Thank you!
Intro: Delusions of Saviour
When the Stillness Comes
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death