Go and see your heroes at least once before they are gone. I say this once a week to friends of mine. I hear all the time that “I can’t believe I missed so and so and now they are done”. For some of us, that list is long. Luckily, I have seen almost everyone on my bucket list, minus a few glaring omissions (AC/DC with Bon Scott, Queen). I’ve seen Slayer in all their iterations. Every lineup and era since 1991, which was my very first time. All of them ruled. However, when they announced their start of this farewell tour, it wasn’t a question to me if I was going or not? It was a question of how many times will I get to go? How many times will they come around? That number is up in the air as of this writing, but I am tickled that I got to go to see them at Mohegan Sun Arena in Montville, Connecticut. Thanks to my brother for life Dan Christian for hooking me up with a ticket and the great hangs. I saw a bunch of my metal brothers and sisters at the show and everyone was damn happy to be there, even if it also felt like a New Orleans funeral march at times with grave, sweaty faces.
Thanks to abysmal traffic from New York City, I was late getting into the arena to see Testament who went on at 5 PM sharp. If you are going to any shows on this tour, do yourself a favor and get there hella early. At least I got to see and hear Testament in a great arena setting straight crush old-school songs like ‘Into The Pit’, ‘The New Order’, and ‘Disciples of The Watch’. That made up for my lateness a just a little bit. Obey!
Behemoth was up next with a full stage at their disposal for their theatrical blackened metal. The band has undergone many sonic changes in their career, but since hitting the sweet spot on The Satanist (Metal Blade) in 2014, they see no need for them to mess with the winning sound. They are just so much more phenomenal now and no less heavy than they used to be. The tracks from The Satanist were great, and the new song ‘Wolves Ov Siberia’ was equally compelling. I cannot wait for their new album to get here.
No one does as much with a short set as Anthrax. The thrash veterans know how to work a crowd with precision, getting in and out quickly. Although I long to see this band headline again and pull out all the deep cuts I have been missing, the band still kills it live on the tried and true favorites like ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘Antisocial’ and ‘I Am The Law’. I was especially excited to hear more the recent song ‘Evil Twin’ from For All Kings (Megaforce). A killer set by a band that still plays like they are in their prime and have something to prove.
Lamb of God always puts in work. They never rest on their laurels and always crush it. In fact, the crowd seemed really spent after their set. Opening with the surprising grooves of ‘Omerta’, the band proved song after song why they deserved to go on before the mighty Slayer. They played a nice assortment of tracks both classic and more recent tracks. I really enjoyed ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and ‘512’, which frontman Randy Blythe dedicated to local hero Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed. Closing with ‘Laid To Rest’ and ‘Redneck’, if anyone modern can rise to the mantle of some of these veteran bands, it’s these guys.
Slayer, man. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen them, the intro gets me amped. With a giant curtain blocking the stage until they are ready to strike, it’s kind of a harbinger of what is to come. Slayer dropped that curtain, literally on a long set list of favorites, deeper cuts, and more recent songs from their 2015 album Repentless (Nuclear Blast). The band had an elaborate stage set up with all kinds of impressive pyro and the best lighting design I’ve ever seen the band have. They blasted through almost half a set before talking to the crowd. People were shouting “I love you” and “please don’t go” to frontman Tom Araya, who seemed amused at the notion. When he poignantly said all “all things, like this band, must end”, we drew some boos, but also some respectful begrudging cheers. See the fans don’t see the miles, and the 1000s of shows and the toll it takes on your family when you operate at a level like Slayer. To their credit, the fans are not ready to give up this band either, and won’t let their favorite band go without a fight.
At the halfway mark of the set, the band played ‘Dittohead’ from the forgotten gem of an album Divine Intervention. (American). After that, it was ‘Dead Skin Mask” and a rain of hits all the way until the end of ‘Angel Of Death’. The band was in tight form, especially Kerry King and Gary Holt.
The band said their goodbyes and departed the stage, but the fans stuck around a while, just soaking in the atmosphere. Like most fans, I understand the end is near, but it’s hard to let go. This show was great and if it is indeed the last time I ever see Slayer, it’s a great cap on the last 35 years for this band and my fandom.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
PHOTOS BY HILLARIE JASON