One of the most important bands in heavy metal history has broken the news and the hearts of many a metalhead when Slayer announced the end of their career on stages across the globe. The Slayer logo has been proudly worn, their music proudly blasted, and their members have become legends in their career beginning in 1981. Tonight’s venue The Riverstage in Brisbane is a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater that is nestled in the City Botanic Gardens along the Brisbane river. There are grown men in Slayer shirts on the play equipment with the everyday commuter and exerciser darting through the sea of metalheads.
Intro music begins as security guards look at each other and say, ‘here we go!’ They put in their earplugs because the monster that is Behemoth have taken the stage. The Polish blackened death outfits are a long way from home and boy oh boy are Aussie crowds happy to see them! The members graciously stroll on stage draped in black veils amplifying their already daunting image. Ov Fire and The Void electrifies the crowd into a frenzy as frontman Nergal works the stage like an absolute professional flowing flawlessly into The Satanist. A moment is taken from the onslaught for thank you’s before launching into one of the heaviest songs of the night, Chant for Eschatonn 2000 with Nergal returning in another outfit, a huge headpiece bellowing Hail Satan! The aggression continues through huge tracks such as Bartzabel and Lucifer before closing out the show with O Father O Satan O Sun! All four members return to the stage after a few minutes with black masks and each armed with a drum. They perform a choreographed routine of dark artistry and exiting without a single word, leaving the Brisbane crowd wanting much more.
The Anthrax crew have to be one of the tightest I have ever seen. In no time at all, they have converted the stage into a pentagram clad monastery awaiting one of the Big 4’s acts. Let me ask you a question, What is one sure fire way to hype a metal crowd? Two words, Iron Maiden! The Number of the Beast plays through the speakers filling the outdoor amphitheater and singalongs immediately ensue. The air horn is raised as Anthrax storm the stage with an instrumental cover of Cowboys from Hell by Pantera and the crowd absolutely roars in approval with people (including myself) almost falling over rushing to the pit. Belladonna runs out brimming with energy and they all kick into Caught In a Mosh. They waste no time, cracking into Got The Time with the thrash loving pit, circling! Bassist Frank Bello would have to go and lay down after the show, the amount of energy that man possesses is unreal! He never stops annihilating his ax, head banging, running from one end of the stage to another and connecting with the crowd. It’s hard to take your eyes off him!
Guitar icon Scott Ian takes the mic for a moment to ask the crowd if we fucking love thrash metal, to introduce The Evil Twin to wails of excitement. Antisocial has such a great singalong that has brothers and sisters in metal, arm in arm belting out woah oh’s! With a big drum riser jump from Belladonna and the windmill from Jonathan, this is the ultimate party tune! You have to feel sorry for Charlie Benante’s kit as he relentlessly hammers it into the war dance that is Indians. Anthrax certainly take the award for most energetic band tonight, amazing performance! A black curtain is drawn across the stage denying any peeps at the surprises the mighty Slayer have in store. The anticipation in the crowd is at an all-time high. Standing in the pit I can overhear people talk of the Slayer shows they’ve previously been to and how long they’ve listened to the iconic band. This is an act that is truly adored by the metal community and will continue long after they stop gifting us music. The very sound of Tom Araya’s bass being sound checked is enough for the crowd (which has doubled since Anthrax) to roar. The curtain drops to a sheer one with crosses turning to invert and pentagrams darting across, circling until the recognisable sharp letters of Slayer appear. The unapologetic track Repentless opens the show indicating that they are taking no prisoners tonight! The four-piece charge through songs such as Blood Red, Hate Worldwide and the pyro comes out to Mandatory Suicide to the crowd’s delight! After five tracks are pummelled at us Tom takes a moment to address the crowd telling us that it’s not just the crowd that needs a breather! For a man who fronts one of the most evil bands of all time, he may just be the nicest guy. He commands to the ever-growing crowd to yell our biggest ‘WAR’ before launching into War Ensemble. Tonight’s setlist has been meticulously chosen to highlight many various eras of Slayers monumental discography. Tonight may only skim the surface of their vast amount of hits, we would be here for days to hear all the tracks we love. The backdrop changes from a black and white variation of the Repentless album cover to their classic blood eagle logo with name strewn across. The pyrotechnics explode consistently throughout tracks including Seasons in The Abyss and Dead Skin Mask. It’s not until Born of Fire that they really get serious! You can feel the heat coming off them halfway up the hill. Between songs as the stage lay in darkness, you can’t help but hear the chains clamber which hang from Kerry King‘s pants. Gary Holt and Kerry King never stop headbanging and their guitar work in unison for South of Heaven is monstrous! They perch themselves on stage left and right looking out over the raging crowd while never once missing a note. Tom takes a step back from, the microphone during the chorus to let the crowd sing. If he even had a choice! The voices tower over the speakers. Towards the end of South of Heaven, the crowd look around as we feel a little bit of rain spitting, yet not enough to linger on.
Perhaps Slayers production has raised with a deal to Mother Nature as the drum beats slam to the intro of the legendary track Raining Blood the skies open up and rain pours across the Brisbane audience. Everyone call off the search! I’ve found pure happiness and it’s standing outside with thousands of metalheads watching Raining Blood in the pouring rain. The elements may deter some crowds, but it only elevates tonight’s crowd. We head back to the 80s for Chemical Warfare to make all the long-serving Slayer fans throw their horns up and lean their head back in pure metal ecstasy. The blood eagle backdrop leaves to reveal a tribute banner to our fallen brother in metal and Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman who passed in 2013. There is no time for encores tonight that’s just wasted minutes, just great music for the very last time Slayer will perform in Brisbane. Angel of Death’s intro riff ascends from the speakers to the banshee cry of Tom Araya for the pit to open up for a final time this evening. The circle pit is running as fast as it has all night and looking around not a single person is not singing. As Angel of Death was written by Hanneman it’s a very touching tribute to close the show with it, to the surprise of many it wasn’t Raining Blood! The solo that darts between King and Holt really show off their speed and agility, while it’s drummers Paul Bostaph’s time to shine with an isolated double kick. You can almost hear the crowd hold their breath eagerly awaiting if he nails it. He sure as hell does and sets off the crowd once again for one last chorus. Kerry and Gary spend the next 10 or so minutes throwing out picks to the crowd and waving at the adoring fans who haven’t moved away since they finished playing, only moving closer in the hopes to score a souvenir from the show. With a wave and a bow, they all exit the stage leaving only Tom. He is certainly taking in the night, spending time on multiple points of the stage to peer into the crowd with a humble and gracious smile, hands in pockets. As he moves towards the microphone for the final time this evening, he pours out many heartfelt thanks you’s and tells Brisbane that he will miss them and there is no denying the sound of a lump in the throat. It’s an emotional farewell, one that Slayer or the metal heads of Brisbane will forget anytime soon.
Review Contributed by Megan Milner