Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/20/2018

So, if you set out to construct an ultimate metal showcase, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a harder hitting lineup than this one.  You’ve two members of the so-called Big Four thrash bands, one of the stalwarts of the Bay Area thrash scene, probably the biggest band to come out of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal and one of the premiere European black metal bands all crammed into one chaotic mess o’ metal.  These are the days that make it worth dragging my creaky ass out of bed in the morning.

So, if we are to take them at their word (and I do…I really think Tom is just tired and wants to go be an old retired fart), this is the final world tour that Slayer is going to embark upon.  And if this is the last time that I see Slayer live, I am completely satisfied.  They brought it hard and loud and they played every single song that you would have wanted to hear.  Slayer live is really just an endurance test for all involved.  There aren’t really any chances to catch your breath.  It’s just pummeling riff after pummeling riff.  Songs about Satan and war and torture and all kind of fucked up shit.  It’s a fucking death march, man.

Oh, and did I mention the fire.  SO MUCH GODDAMNED FIRE!!  Somewhere Beavis is losing his goddamn mind.  I’ve seen fire displays before, but this was just awesome.  They had pits of fire.  They had their eagle and sword shield logo engulfed in fire.  They had these crazy flame throwers all across the back of the stage.  They even managed to choreograph a couple of the flame throwers to throw out an upside down cross flame.  It was creative and over-the-top.  Just a perfect backdrop for their final show.

Slayer.  They were just one of those bands, you know?  They helped create the most important sub-genre within the world of metal (thrash) and the world is a better place because of them.  Metallica was the pioneer and foundation builder.  Megadeth was the rascally little brother using their inferiority complex as motivation to push the foundations further.  Anthrax brought the east coast hard core vibe and raucous sense of humor to the proceedings.  Slayer was, well, fucking Slayer.  No bullshit.  Pure aggression.  Evil as shit.  Perfect blending of hard core punk and the twin leads of the NWOBHM.  In many ways, Slayer was the AC/DC of the bunch.  You always kind of knew what you were getting with a Slayer album.  There wasn’t a ton of diversity.  But, it never mattered.  The sound they created was so unbelievably amazing that the formula always worked.  Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s guitar work (and their sound…that fucking evil as shit guitar sound…no one gets a guitar to sound like that…seriously, go put on South of Heaven right now…I’ll wait) will always stand the test of time.  Tom Araya’s screamed vocals were the perfect foil for the dark lyrics of King and Hanneman.  I can’t imagine these songs being sung by another voice.  Dave Lombardo holding it altogether as one of the true masters of laying down a foundation with classic fill after classic fill.  Major kudos as well to the new guys Paul Bostaph filling in for Lombardo on the drums and Gary Holt of Exodus filling in for Hanneman on guitar.  These two guys are so talented that you can’t even tell that the two original members aren’t present during the live show.

Farewell, Slayer.  You are a national treasure.  Thanks for the tunes and memories.

So, as to the rest of the bill:  Damn.  What a great supporting cast.  These are some big bands playing shortened sets during the daylight hours and they all managed to make their mark on the evening.

Lamb of God just came out and solidified why their stature just continues to grow in the metal world.  I’m just downright goofy for these guys.  I still think Mark Morton and Willie Adler are one of the best guitar tandems to come down the line in a long time.  Random fun moment during the end of their set when the dudes in Behemoth came out in lamb masks (get it?) and proceeded to dance around the stage like idiots.

Anthrax is just all hectic energy and good times.  The band is just hitting their second stride since Joey came back to front the band and he sounds better than ever live.  Seeing Anthrax live is like watching an ADD kid hopped up on Red Bull and pop rocks.  Frank and Joey are in constant motion bouncing all over the stage.  Scott is furiously headbanging and doing his patented little mosh dance.  The band is constantly berating the crowd to cut loose.  This is the very definition of what a rock show should be.

Behemoth was kind of the outlier for the evening.  The four other bands primarily fall in the thrash scale of things.  Behemoth was the only band from Europe and the lone black metal band of the bunch.  Seeing as though it is June in Texas, I was really looking forward to seeing how dudes in corpse paint and black costumes would come across in the hot Texas sun.  Luckily, we had a pretty solid line of thunderstorms in the distance so Behemoth at least had some appropriate atmosphere for their set.  It was a very short, but solid set.  It was kind of hard to gauge exactly how well they were going over with the crowd at large, but it was cool getting to see them on such a large stage and getting exposed to such a large crowd of folks who were probably new to their sound.

Lastly, show opener Testament.  Damn, when you’ve got a band as established as Testament opening the festivities, you know you’ve got an impressive lineup.  They do what they do.  It was nice to see them hit The New Order album hard.

So, all in all, this was a show for the ages.  One to remember for a long time.

Slayer-War Ensemble

Lamb of God-Ruin

Anthrax-Madhouse

Behemoth-Oro Pro Nobis Lucifer

Testament-The Preacher

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