Editor’s Note: A very special thank you to our local photographic gem Alison Haertjens for letting us use her Testament pics! Thanks to her, this article will be a little less smutty! Be sure to check out her other pics on her Instagram page! 😉
In 1981, our genre was beginning to grow a bigger pair of balls. Not sorry at all, glam. Metallica still had Dave Mustaine and brought thrash into full force and Anthrax helped the East coast by giving it a booming thrash scene. Slayer, on the other hand, pushed the boundaries and had more speed, power and aggression. 37 years later, the legendary Slayer has grown a colossal legion, have had multiple Grammy nominations (2 of which were won), 12 studio albums, a comic book miniseries, a limited-edition bicycle collection, and their name carved on some die hard fan’s forearms (and used them as one of their CD face covers). They have even inspired one of the J-OHkah’s favorite drinks at the Brick By Brick, “Raining Blood.”
The biggest news from Slayer this year was the announcement of their retirement. Of course, Ugh Metal and the rest of the metal world was shook but understanding. But in true Slayer fashion, their farewell wasn’t going to be a silent one nor an easy one. They upped the stakes and compiled a dream line up in which San Diego was honored and flattered to kick off their farewell tour on May 10 at the Valley View Casino Center.
The farewell tour was kicked off by legendary Bay Area thrashers Testament. It seemed appropriate given how current Slayer skinsman, Paul Bostaph, was once a part of the band years ago. Most importantly, why not? The collective began by playing the title track from their latest, “Brotherhood of the Snake.” They also performed their current hit from the same album “The Pale King.” Before you begin grumbling that only new songs were performed, the Klown shall retort with “guess again, kiddo!”
They brought out some oldies but goldies before they called it a night. One of the those being “Practice What You Preach.” They also busted out some favorites from their 1988 breakthrough album The New Order such as “In To The Pit” and the title track. Steve Di Giorgio opened with a brief bass solo while prolific guitarist Alex Skolnick struck his opening guitar solo for the unmistakable start of “The New Order,” respectively. They closed their set with “Over the Wall” which would have set off the clown prez in an instant.
As the fervor of the crowd remained, one of the most iconic Poles took the stage BUT before they did, their banner malfunctioned and soon everyone witnessed the unholy union of Behemoth and Anthrax or BeheThrax! The last time we spoke of Behemoth, it was in our humble beginnings, the second article to be exact. *sigh* Memories! Rather appropriate for Adam Nergal Darski and his band’s second Ugh Metal appearance being our sophomore year. Unlike last time, Behemoth returned to San Diego a little over a decade later. Unlike last time, Behemoth’s return was no longer that of an “up-and-comer” and Nergal and company proved why they are at the peak of their game.
As drummer Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński climbed into his drumkit, bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski and guitarist Patryk “Seth” Sztyber followed after to take their respective spots. Nergal would then follow from behind of Orion and carried two flaming torches in each hand. Once Nergal tossed the torches aside Seth, Orion and Inferno thundered the beginning of “Ov Flame and the Void” from their 2009 Evangelion album. The real treat from Behemoth that night was when the inexhaustible Nergal announced a new album. Nergal, the benevolent leader of the vast Behemoth army, generously played “Wolves ov Siberia” to garner more anticipation and excitement for the new album that’s due in the near future.
In the true art of reintroducing the classics to the new faithfuls, Nergal busted out a timeless classic before he’d close his set. The Klown is talking about “Chant for Ezkaton 2000.” For those unaware this song first made its debut in the 2000 Satanica album. Most artists would stash songs and leave them in the annals of time, not Behemoth. Much like the Klown heard it the first time, the song was great and the live performance always feels ceremonious and inclusive. The Polish quartet finished their time on stage with the current hit from The Satanist “O Father O Satan O Son” and donned the notorious blackened devil masks for theatrical emphasis. If you are a fan of Behemoth and hadn’t caught them before, this was just glimpse. The Klown just hopes it won’t be more than a decade before Behemoth performs in his humble abode.
As Behemoth cleared the stage, the second half of BeheThrax took the stage and the Klown was stoked. The New York thrash outbreak known as Anthrax have blessed the Klown’s hometown by playing twice in the last 7 months. Regrettably, Ugh Metal missed the first one when they came to the House of Blues with Killswitch Engage. Pennywise definitely took pity on the Klown and gave him the opportunity to see Anthrax. The quintet made sure we were alive and ready and charged us with extra adrenaline by playing the intro to Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” and The Blues Brothers’ version of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” as an intro.
Once the playback was done, both guitarist Johnathan Donais and bassist Frank Bello struck the opening chords alongside Charlie Benante’s drums to open up with the non-moshers life story, “Caught In A Mosh.” Before Anthrax continued, the charismatic duo, Joey Belladonna and Scott Ian, interacted with the crowd and pumped them up. The Klown didn’t expect to hear their most recognizable song in their music arsenal so early in the night. If you haven’t caught on then maybe you should be in a “Madhouse” for not knowing that. See what the Klown did there? That was then followed by their other hit “I Am the Law.”
Ian used his larger than life persona to be a hype man while he interacted with Benante and traded off riffs with Donais and Bello. The Klown would feel terrible if he didn’t mention the charismatic man with the powerful pipes. Belladonna’s mighty vocals knew no bounds that it even put the Valley View Casino Center’s acoustics to shame. When Belladonna wasn’t blasting his mighty vocals on stage, he ran around interacting with everyone on stage and fans. Even if you were in the boonies of the venue, Belladonna tried and work with ya just so you wouldn’t feel left out. They also played a favorite of the Klown and Jenny Oh’s anthem “Antisocial” and closed out with an homage to Belladonna’s partial bloodline, “Indians.”
As Anthrax cleared out, the metal congregation was beginning to wind down but not for too long. The most teeming faces of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal took the stage and much like Behemoth, it has been many years since Lamb Of God was last in San Diego. This time, Ugh Metal gets the chance to see these Virginians as the co-headliner on the farewell tour. The roadies wasted no time and once everything was set, and Lamb of God immediately opened their set with “Omerta.” Once the narrative playback finished, Mark Morton, Willie Adler and John Campbell struck their chords and were joined by Chris Adler’s thunderous drumming. Once the aforementioned opened the song with their instruments, the dread locked glory known as Randy Blythe joined in.
For those who have never seen Lamb of God live, allow the Klown to just say they are a treat. The real show is Blythe. In the case of that night, if you haven’t caught on or figured out by then, the crowd had been moshing since Testament got out an hour prior to LoG. With that said, Blythe had enough energy for the rest of us. If he wasn’t stomping from either side of the stage, he was jumping off the steps that were set up on stage. Most frontmen would do those type of things a couple of times, not Blythe. He did it throughout the entire set! The band took it back about 12 years and played their first hit from the Sacrament album, “Redneck.” Most importantly, they hit the nostalgia button 3 years further and played the song that introduced and converted the Klown into the LoG flock, “Ruin.”
Blythe, in one of his very few breathers, did the usual frontman task and tried to feel out the pulse from the crowd. Of course, after being grateful and reminding us why we primarily came to the show to begin with, Blythe began to highlight his many loves of the Klown’s city. Some of Blythe’s passions happened to be synonymous with Southern California: surfing, skating and punk. After he highlighted his list of interest, he began to introduce the song off of their current cover album under their Burn The Priest moniker and played a cover of “Inherit The Earth” by The Accused. Not only was the song great live, it brought the crowd back to life. As their time was coming to a close, the collective sent us off with another favorite from their arsenal “Laid To Rest.”
As the metal congregation from Virginia vacated, the main attraction took mercy on us and began the show earlier than planned. This would mark the third time the Klown has seen Slayer and the fourth time for Jenny Oh. In fact, the Klown’s second time just happened to be during the domain’s existence. Why don’t you read their Ugh Metal debut when you get time? 😉 Before the show began, Liquid Metal’s DJ and vox-for-hire Jose Mangin got on stage too not just to hype fans but also do a bit of crowd control. Why? Mangin was trying to avoid the Slayer show being delayed and canceled because of safety concerns pressed by the city’s Fire Marshall. The Klown thought he’d give Mangin a much well-deserved thanks, applause, and credit even if it’s long overdue.
As far as setlists and discographies go, the illustrious Slayer began in reverse and opened their set with “Repentless” from their last album (as if the Klown really has to say what the album’s called) which saw the stage props strategically on fire. They then performed “Blood Red” and “Hate Worldwide” right before the show was briefly halted. Tom Araya himself came out to quell the unrest over the show’s abrupt halt again for the same reason Mangin had made an appearance earlier. Leave it to Papa Tom to know how to talk to his legion and get the show back on track and battle ready. Speaking of battles, the night immediately picked up with Araya commanding his legions by yelling out “war” from the top of our lungs for the performance of “War Ensemble.”
After “War Ensemble,” they took it back to the Christ Illusion album with “Jihad.” This time around, Slayer added a little twist to the classic, “Black Magic.” The twist, that not even M. Night Shamalyan saw coming, was the opening half of “Raining Blood” was used to open “Black Magic.” They played one of the Klown’s favorite songs, “Payback” from God Hates Us All. The classics were played and indicated that the end was nigh. The quartet first continued with “Dead Skin Mask,” then the iconic “Raining Blood” and bulldozed straight to “Chemical Warfare.” As you have already guessed, it wouldn’t exactly be a complete Slayer show without “Angel of Death.”
All the Klown can say is that that show was F’n awesome! The Klown isn’t just saying that because he’s a fan, or because they chose his hometown first, and definitely not because it was their final show. Not in the slightest. The quartet from Huntington Beach have always been a spectacle to behold and had managed to stand the test of time whether thrash was “dead,” members vacating their spot due to disputes, or in the unfortunate circumstance, death. Even though the mighty Slayer is saying goodbye, it didn’t feel permanent in the slightest but they went all out in a big way.
The scene may not necessarily feel the same without them but it will stay where it has been, and will continue to influence hungry and incoming talent. The Klown and Ugh Metal send Slayer their best regards and gratitude for their years of service and the music that they have produced along the way. *cracks open a Heineken* This one’s for you, Jeff.