I had the honor of covering Slayer’s farewell tour last weekend in Vancouver B.C. The spectacular line-up of Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb of God took care of the crowd for hours before Slayer hit the stage. Due to tight security, I was only able to catch the first three songs of each bands set while photographing them. I got to hear Testament’s and Anthrax’s complete set for the most part from just outside the arena by the stage. I managed to get back in for a few extra songs from Slayer, as well. This review will cover what I got to hear in person and a little from outside. One thing that really impressed me on this night was how great all the bands sounded. All these bands have been around a while, but you could not tell that from what they delivered on stage.
First up was Testament, who got their start in 1983! I have seen Testament once before, but it had been a long time. What a great way to start the night. Long-time members Chuck Billy (Vocals), Eric Peterson (Guitar) and Alex Skolnick (Guitar) where in fine form. Billy’s vocals are strong as ever, and the twin guitar attack of Peterson and Skolnick was rock sold all night. Testament’s last album release in 2016 was “Brotherhood of the Snake” and should definitely be checked out if you have not heard it. The first three songs were, Brotherhood of the Snake, Rise Up and Practice What You Preach. They closed the set with Over the Wall. It was awesome to hear one of my favorites, Practice What You Preach. The whole band sounded great and they really left us wanting to hear more. Hopefully Testament comes back and does a headline show soon. They were perfect to get the night started and the crowd was fired up for more.
Next up was Behemoth, a black metal act all the way from Poland. I will admit I have not ever listened to Behemoth. They were all decked out in corpse paint and looked quite creepy. They were a very tight band, and definitely had a much heavier sound. Their first three songs were Ov Fire and the Void, Demigod and Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer. They ended the set with O Father, O Satan, O Sun. Nergal (Vocals), the founding member of the band in 1991, is still going strong. They had quite a stage spectacle with the corpse paint and the elaborate mic stands, plus their background. I understand after us photographers left they spit blood all over the crowd in front, and you could see it all over people. This had brought the crowd to a frenzy.
Next up we had Anthrax, one of the big four who brought thrash metal to the forefront in the 1980s. Anthrax amazingly has been around since 1981 and is still going strong today! Joey Belladonna (Vocals) and Scott Ian (Guitar) are still going strong after all these years. They also sounded great since the last time I saw them about ten years ago. They opened with Caught in a Mosh, Madhouse and I Am the Law. I loved hearing I Am the Law which was a great song all the way back from 1987. They ended the set with Indians, also a hit from 1987 and another fantastic song. By this time the crowd was pretty much out of control. The crowd surfing had started in force and those of us in the photo pit had to watch our backs. Kudos to security for keeping us well protected from the insanity. Anthrax also sounded just like they have all these years and did themselves proud.
Next up on this insane night of music was Lamb of God. They were the young band of the night, having only been formed in 1994! This is another band I had not seen before and I knew a handful of their songs. They really blew me away. Lead singer Randy Blythe flies all over the stage. When I say fly, that is what I mean. He jumps off everything he can find on the stage and is routinely flying through the air. Lamb of God opened with Omerta, Ruin and 512. They ended the set with Redneck. Their unrelenting energy was amazing to watch. They also sounded great and kicked some serious ass! They have a nice mix of heavy / thrash metal that sounds amazing. The crowd was really into them. By this point, the place was packed, and the crowd was in very good form. Mark Morton tore it up on lead guitar. This is another band I would like a chance to see headline and catch the whole show. I think it would be quite the treat.
Finally, after several hours of incredible music, we were to the main event. Slayer would be gracing the stage for the last time ever here in Vancouver, B.C. The energy in the building now was enough to almost blow the roof off the place. Slayer had a huge curtain up blocking the stage from view. As we waited at the edge of the pit we could see the pyro show start. Flames were shooting out from all over, filling the stage with smoke. You could feel the heat rising from each burst of fire. The crowd was now chanting for their heroes.
The curtain came crashing down and the fury of Slayer was unleashed. Another one of the big four from the 1980s thrash metal scene, they were ready to tear it up. Slayer also started in 1981, and it is hard to believe that this is the farewell tour. They started strong with Repentless, Blood Red and Disciple. Tom Araya was still in good throat as he whipped through the first three songs. Kerry King on guitar was as good as ever. I swear the first three songs went by so fast. That perfect thrash metal sound you could feel ripping through you. The pyro show kept going on behind them with flame bursts in a couple rows at the back of the stage that burned when fired up.
The crowd surfing now was going on everywhere and the crowd was a mad house. After shooting the first three songs, I got back in to see War Ensemble, Jihad, When the Stillness Comes and Postmortem. It was fun to take it in from the back of the arena and see how crazy the whole scene was. The pyro spectacle, Slayer killing it on stage and the crowd just going nuts. The show ended with an incredible run of South of Heaven, Reigning Blood, Chemical Warfare and Angel of Death.
This is one of those nights of music you just don’t get to see very often. If this show comes anywhere near you, don’t miss it. Even if it has been a long time since you have seen a lot of these bands, you will be teleported back in time and see one of the best shows of your life. I will be catching it again, when it come by Seattle later this summer, and I can’t wait. It was that good. I wish Slayer a happy farewell. Sad to see you go, but what a great ride you gave us all these years. As one of the pioneers of thrash metal, it was an honor to get to see you a few times over the years. You know your legacy is solid when you will be missed. I can say for certain, that metal will not be the same once Slayer has played their final show. I am honored I got to be there and photograph a very special show.
All Photos by ERIC PEFLEY