Slayer Final World Tour: North America 2018, Five Point Amphitheater, May 11, 2018
The Slayer Final World Tour: North America 2018 made its way behind the Orange Curtain on a misty Friday night, pillaging the SoCal metal masses with an absolutely ravishing show of the lifetime. Landing at the brand spanking new Five Point Amphitheater in Irvine, Slayer would find themselves greeted to a sold out show and a supremely appreciative fan base who did not want to see their triumphant legacy come to an end. And what a terrific collection of support acts Slayer would bring along for this not to be missed tour, featuring the critically acclaimed Lamb Of God, the iconic Anthrax, the black metal devastation of Behemoth, and the thrash metal masters of Testament.
With nightmarish L.A./O.C. traffic, we were only able to hear openers Testament while we were walking up to the box office, and thunderous waves of sounds were certainly greeting the early arrivals. Someone had to open the show, and the legendary Testament did so with a ferocity that could be heard from miles away. Kudos and respect to Testament for kicking off this event with a massive amount of passion and conviction. Chuck Billy and company bring it on like no other!
If the devil hadn’t already been summoned by the Testament legions, Behemoth’s staggering performance was sure to conjure up all things Satanic within the vast confines of the Five Point Amphitheater. Even in the daylight hours, Behemoth unleashes their rapturously visionary dark art that absolutely captivates the senses. Opening with the chilling Ov Fire And The Void and then smashing into the diabolic refrains of Demigod, Behemoth’s black metal entreaties were wondrous to behold. Nergal remains one of the most compelling vocalists on this grim planet, his lyrics and guitar playing setting the imagination in flight. Inspiring musicianship from the rest of the Behemoth horde arrived tenfold, featuring the grand participation of Seth on guitar, Orion on bass, and Inferno on drums.
O Father O Satan O Sun has been a dynamic closing anthem throughout the entire Satanist tour, and what a thrill it was to see Behemoth don the unique masks once more and infuse the quickly burgeoning Five Point metalheads with this hauntingly artistic grand finale. To experience Behemoth in the comfort your own living room, be sure to check out their recently unveiled Messe Noire DVD, now available from Metal Blade Records!
It is always a pleasure to see Anthrax tear up a stage like no other, and at the Five Point Amphitheater, the timeless thrash metal assault force was in top form! Opening with Caught In A Mosh from their landmark 1987 For The Living album, Anthrax proceeded to pummel the O.C, throngs with a short yet thrilling set. Front man Joey Belladonna delivered the goods in a vast and epic way, making sure the capacity crowd was front row and center, experiencing a thrash metal show for the ages. Founding member Scott Ian and newest Anthrax convert Jonathan Donais of Shadows Fall fame dual guitar attack slammed it all into the stratosphere while bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante supplied a tremendously tight and mesmerizing rhythm section.
And the hits kept on arriving, with songs such as Madhouse, I Am The Law, and Antisocial launching rabid singalongs and pummeling mosh pit action. Anthrax also delivered a raging rendition of Evil Twin from their recent For All Kings effort – this song comparing exceedingly well to all of the classic fan favorites being presented. Assaulting the world at large since 1981, in 2018 Anthrax remains a lethal force of metal intrigue hell-bent on delivering their fans an unforgettable live extravaganza! Nothing on this Earth should ever make you miss the excitement and urgency of an Anthrax live show!!!
Lamb Of God
And yes, it was now raining, with SoCal metalhead finding themselves being poured upon by the forces of nature at hand. None of this even seemed to even matter, as the notorious Lamb Of God made their way to the stage and slammed into a wickedly rapturous performance that drenched all within cosmic blast of modern day heavy metal in your face! Opening with the stunning Omerta from their 2004 Ashes Of The Wake album, Lamb Of God preached the metal gospel with an all-out sonic ferocity. Esteemed vocalist Randy Blythe is wildly charismatic, unleashing the lyrics with a magnetic fury while displaying a sharp sense of humor in between the songs. Lead guitarist Mark Morton sent the entire Five Point audience into auditory ecstasy with his gripping axe work. Rhythm guitarist Willie Adler embellished the songs with an ingenious rage and flair. And what a dazzling display of sheer fury the Lamb Of God rhythm section assembled, featuring the precise teamwork of John Campbell on bass and Chris Adler on drums.
One of the most unforgettable moments of the night actually occurred during the Lamb Of God set, as Randy Blythe stopped the show when he saw a fan was injured during an infernal version of Walk With Me In Hell. Blythe then made sure that the audience member received medical attention before proceeding on with the sonic ferocity at hand. The audience would them be treated to powerhouse Lamb Of God entreaties such as Still Echoes, Laid To Rest, and Redneck. With the upcoming departure of Slayer, fortunately we have the Lamb Of God legacy that will continue to inspire the metal masses. For further proof, just check into their just released Legion XX proclamation, reclaiming their infamous Burn The Priest moniker and bestowing upon the congregation the next great chapter from the Lamb Of God metal ministry.
SLAYER!!!! Scream it loud and proud, and even the unconverted can feel the energy and urgency shared within this iconic thrash metal collective and their ardent converts. As fans all across the sprawling Five Point venue called out for the band passionately as the rain fell upon the O.C., one had time to stand back and reflect upon the vibrant Slayer memories of the past. There will always be the tremendous catalog of albums to refer to time and again – titles such as Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood, and South Of Heaven dominating the landscape of heavy metal music. Acclaimed writers (and past Highwire Daze contributors) Shawna Kenney and Rich Dolinger met at a Slayer show, and have their long term relationship sealed for eternity with matching Slayer tattoos. So many friendships and connections were made at Slayer shows the world over. When the horrors of 911 consumed the consciousness of the United States and the world at large, Slayer was there to comfort and remind metalheads all across the planet that God Hates Us All – an ironically titled magnum opus unwittingly unleashed the same day as the terrorists descended upon the East Coast and changed our lives forever.
The passing of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman left an indelible impression upon the metal world and well beyond – those in attendance at Hanneman’s celebration of life taking place a few days later at the Hollywood Palladium will never forget the shared memories of friends and business associates – followed by a fevered mosh pit as the music of Slayer emitted throughout the hallowed walls of the venue. Slayer would headline the final cross country Mayhem Festival a few years later, leaving controversy and devastating within its wake. And with the recent announcement of their retirement, Slayer has given to the fans one last chance to see them in all their live glory – to acquire even more memories to cherish throughout these metal ages. And on a rainy night in May at the Five Point Amphitheater, Slayer enraptured all with a mighty presentation that is sure to be recalled as one of the very best metal shows of 2018 and beyond!
Opening their set with Repentless, the title track from their final studio album, Slayer proceeded to pummel the drenched crowd with an epic catalog of sonic devastation culled from a vast and brilliant career. Mandatory Suicide, War Ensemble, Seasons Of The Abyss – they played all the fan favorites and so much more! Kerry King is an absolutely commanding presence on guitar, persuasively encasing the songs with a mighty wall of shred and mayhem. Tom Araya delivers the lyrics with an fiery conviction, and what a lethally diabolic low end he unleashes with his bass expertise. Gary Holt of Exodus has been in the Slayer camp since 2013, and his contribution to their legacy has been massive – both within a live setting and on their Repentless recording! And then there’s drummer Paul Bostaph, bringing it all home with an unearthly vengeance!
As Slayer raged through their set with passion and skill, it’s hard to even fathom that what we all were witnessing would be the final shows ever! South Of Heaven, Raining Blood, Chemical Warfare – an artillery of metal greatness being performed for perhaps the very last time here in the Southland! A visit from the Angel Of Death would surely cement the end of a concert – and even in spite of Slayer leaving the stage both physically and metaphorically – these celebrated songs and intensive memories will live within us all forever and a day! Because there is nothing like experiencing the mighty sonnets of Slayer with impassioned West Coast metal fanatics outdoors in the rain! Long live SLAYER!!!!!
(Review by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue