Tom Araya of Slayer performing at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 16th, 2018
Tom Araya of Slayer performing at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 16th, 2018

Live Review: Slayer + Lamb Of God + Anthrax + Behemoth + Testament @ Pacific Coliseum – May 16th 2018

American thrash metal legends Slayer brought their farewell tour through Vancouver last night, and it was a balls-to-the-wall, diesel-veined effort in pure brutality.

In January of this year, the Slayer camp announced they would be embarking on one final outing. A farewell to their fans as they hang up their horns and enjoy some years off.

Now, historically, many bands that have ventured out on “final” tours have returned a few years later because they just can’t give it up.

There are also some rumours that at the culmination of this round of concerts, the world could see a renewed Clash Of The Titans tour featuring Slayer, Megadeth, Sepultura, and Testament. On top of that, there are additional rumours that the Big Four could reunite for at least one final bone-crushing outing. The Big Four, for those who may not know, are Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax.

With all the possibilities floating around, I guess we will just have to wait and see if this truly is the last hurrah for the Huntington Park metal messiahs.

Chuck Billy of Testament performing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 17th, 2018

Last night, Berkeley-native thrash outfit Testament started off the festivities with powerful set. Lead singer Chuck Billy was a great commander, working around the stage like an eager bull ready to charge, he built steam through the groups seven-song set and stirred the masses into a chaotic frenzy. The entire five-piece faction were solid and animated. None of them just faded into the back and acted complacent to their role. Each committed and served up solid musical mastery. Steve Di Giorgio on bass just couldn’t be pinned down, he stalked around the stage with aggression and a certain poise.

What a solid way to start the night off.

Testament setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Over the Wall

Adam Nergal Darski of Behemoth performing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 17th, 2018

Polish extreme metal band Behemoth soon came to control the stage. Their performance was more theatrical and dramatic, but even more devastating. Each member had their face decorated with black and white demon paint and their garb consisted of these cleric-esque tunics. The stage was mostly dipped in darkness or dark red glows, with the occasional strobe or white cone light cutting through and granting a moment of clarity for the crowd. The band belted out bombastic bass lines and grunting, crunchy guitar with haunted, hell-hailing vocals.

The audience started to grow in size and in reciprocating energy. The occasional crowd surfer rolled along the music-fueled mass, and dropped into the pre-stage pit. Things were heating up.

Behemoth setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian of Anthrax performing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 17th, 2018

New York City metal pioneers Anthrax grabbed the reigns and kept things moving.

Scott Ian stood menacingly before us with his Jackson King V in hand. He brought a contagious energy to the stage which made him a great focal point during the set. His face directly connected to the rhythmic riffs he willed from his guitar.

Lead singer Joey Belladonna just wouldn’t stay still. He jogged across the stage in continual motion while using his portable mic stand as a sort fo conductors stick to direct the crowd. The first two bands may have stirred up the crowd, but Anthrax had them swept away. A combination of nostalgic overload and solid inter-band musicianship had the attendees collectively losing their minds.

Charlie Benante on drums was systematically destroying our guts with his precise and purposeful wailing on his kit. He somehow manages to achieve near-robotic timing while adding emotion into every beat.

I was left in awe by their set. Holy fucking shit did they rock.

Anthrax setlist
Caught in a Mosh
I Am the Law
Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)

Randy Blythe of Lamb of God performing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 17th, 2018

Prior to the Virginia-bread metallers, Lamb Of God, hitting the stage, I saw lead singer Randy Blythe walking from his trailer to the venue with a skateboard in his hand. Perhaps he was out taking in the rare sunshine Vancouver was experiencing, either way, he looked pumped and pie-eyed, ready to go.

I have seen Lamb Of God a number of times. In fact, prior to this night, they were the only band on the bill I had ever seen. Which made this a great night to cross four bands off my way-too-long bucket list. Having seen them before, I thought I knew what to expect but they exceeded my expectations.

Randy was somehow more alive then I had seen him the past. I mean, he was always a high-flying, aggressive front person, but last night he was on another level. He jumped from his podium across the stage about a dozen times, he just kept spitting clouds of water into the air via mouthfuls of water from his bottle, and he headbanged continuously throughout the set. He was a man possessed and it further inspired the already ravenous audience to stomp deept into chaos.

Streams of crowd surfers began to rise and fall.

Slam dance circles opened and closed.

Things became a little more sweaty, and you could even smell the feint scent of blood in the air.

The band just grows better with age. They are cohesive and refined.

They bring brutality and a punk essence that keeps them unique from most other bands.

Lamb Of God setlist
Engage the Fear Machine
Walk With Me in Hell
Still Echoes
As the Palaces Burn
Inherit the Earth (The Accüsed cover)
Laid to Rest

Kerry King of Slayer performing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC on May 17th, 2018

It was Slayer time.

The set started out with a curtain covering the stage. The trashy guitars of “Repentless” kicked things off, as balls of fire illuminated the curtain from behind.

Before the fabric fell, the audience swarmed around like eager bees.

Once the band was revealed, and that fabric hit the ground, things were fucking mental.

The security could barely keep up with the crowd surfers pouring over the rail.

Flames and smoke filled the stage as the legendary band brought visceral brutality to the night.

Looking across the audience, a sea of pumping fists extended into the air as they screamed back the lyrics of the song to the band.

Tom Araya was poised and cool as a cucumber. He stood stoically behind his mic stand and squeezed every lyric from his chest.

Kerry King shredded away on his B.C. Rich V Generation 2, a wicked scowl on his face as his fingers fired around feverishly.

Gary Holt was a live wire, he laid the most miles while moving around the stage. Watching his fretwork was mesmerizing, but he also did it while pouring out charisma and character. This man loves his job and he brings that with him in his performance.

Paul Bostaph, on drums, was tucked away in the back. His arms and drumsticks and hair were about the only thing you could see. His deep-stroked beats were the backbone of the night. Every time a fist pumped or a head banged, it was in time with his beat. He added the punch and some might say that is the most important thing.

I watched these pioneers of thrash blow away the crowd. They played with the fervor and vigor of musicians half their age.

We all hope this isn’t the last tour, but if it is, they are going off on a high note.

The band is at the top of their game, playing shows they want and not shows they have to.

Thank you to all the bands on the docket, we hope to see you again really soon.

Slayer setlist
Blood Red
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
Black Magic
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Photos © Jamie Taylor // Cryptic Photography