Thrash metal kings, Slayer, provide Western New York with final auditory assault.
Review / photos by Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Darien, NY – For the 8000 hard rock / metal music loving fans filling the Darien Lake amphitheater on Friday, there was no other place in world to be on this hot and humid summer night. One of the most popular bands in metal – Slayer were playing, what was being billed as, their farewell tour, and they brought four of the loudest bands in Metal to help them celebrate. Napalm Death, Testament, Anthrax and Lamb of God, all bands which are very well-respected amongst the hard rock/metal community played short, but very well received, ear blasting sets.
Napalm Death, who formed in 1981, kicked off the show right on time at 5:00 pm. Although the crowd was rather sparse at this early time, the band performed to their handful of faithful fans in the audience as if they were in front of thousands. Lead singer, Mark “Barney” Greenway paced the stage with a spastic reckless abandonment. Greenway was accompanied by long time drummer Danny Herrera, plus touring musicians: John Cooke – guitars, and Jesper Liveröd – bass. Napalm Death’s 30 minute set was short, but sweet, and a loud start to the evening. www.napalmdeath.org
Thrash metal pioneers, Testament was next up. The San Francisco Bay Area natives have been going at it since 1983, when they were called Legacy. In 1987, they changed their name to Testament, and released a string of highly acclaimed hard-hitting metal records. The band currently consists of classic lineup members: guitarists Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, lead vocalist Chuck Billy, plus drummer Gene Hoglan, and bassist Steve Di Giorgio.
Testament hit the stage at 5:50pm, even with the early start, the audience started to fill up the amphitheater, not wanting to miss these metal legends. Testament did not disappoint, if anything they left the audience hungry for more. Their 8 song set was simply not enough. “Rise Up” and “The New Order had the audience head banging in unison.
Guitarist Alex Skolnick’s lightning fast, but melodic leads were unique and astonishing. With no disrespect to the other musicians that performed on this evening, Skolnick was the most gifted and talented out of all of them. He is truly the Eddie Van Halen of thrash metal. www.testamentlegions.com
Third on the bill was the legendary, established in 1981, New York City thrashers -Anthrax. They hit the stage, focused and fired up, and quickly proved that they are a well oiled, rock n roll machine. They rocked the audience with a highly entertaining, but again, short 8 song set, which consisted of two covers, including the opener, Pantera’s “Cowboys in Hell,” as a tribute to the recently deceased Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul.
Anthrax classic band line-up members: Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, Charlie Benante – drums, Frank Bello – bass guitar, Joey Belladonna – lead vocals, plus Jonathan Donais -lead guitar, are affable, fun-loving, almost comic book like, metal heroes. Scott Ian’s ability to play guitar riffs with lightning fast precision is a super power that not too many others possess.
Midway through the set, it started pouring, turning the areas on the back lawn into mud pits for the moshers. Anthrax fed off of that, cranking up the intensity even higher and driving the fans into a frenzy.
Anthrax finished the evening with two of their biggest songs: “Antisocial” and “Indians.” Even though Anthrax has been at it for almost 40 years, many believe that the best is yet to come from this still hungry and determined band. www.anthrax.com
The fourth band of the evening, Lamb of God showed no mercy with a crushing and relentless 9 song performance. Vocalist Randy Blythe, was a force onstage, head banging and jumping around as if he was possessed by demons.
Although, some questioned Lamb of God’s place on this bill, mainly because the other bands have been around longer, Blythe and band mates quickly convinced the naysayers to put that notion to rest. www.lamb-of-god.com
At 9:20 pm, the band everyone was waiting for, the iconic thrash/punk/metal band -SLAYER hit the stage with a big and evil, high decibel stage production, which could best be described as a nuclear war in the depths of hell.
Amidst all the satanic imagery, fire and fury, Slayer is a group of really solid musicians. Band members: Tom Araya – vocals, bass, Kerry King – guitar, Paul Bostaph – drums and Gary Holt -lead guitar, have a real chemistry together and could just as easily slay an audience with only a stack of Marshalls.
Slayer’s set list consisted of an impressive, nineteen songs, that included most of all the fan favorites. It would have been nice, however, to hear more than just one from their criminally underrated 2009 release, “World Painted Blood,” which was the last record to feature original guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away on May 02, 2013. www.slayer.net
After Slayer performed, “Angel of Death,” their last song of the evening, the band received a rabid 5 minute standing ovation, in which at times seemed as the audience was going to tear the place down.
They say that this is Slayer’s farewell tour, but after witnessing this EPIC, aggressive and powerful performance, there is no way in hell that Livenation will allow them to quit touring, especially since Slayer is now more popular than ever, with plenty of fuel left in the tank. But, if this truly is the end, Slayer certainly will be remembered for going out in a blaze of glory.
This was a truly entertaining and LOUD event, featuring bands that were stylistically similar, yet uniquely different. It was also refreshing to see that Metal fans are still as passionate as ever, it’s not just music to these people, it’s a lifestyle. Long live METAL !!!!
Slayer setlist 08/03/2018
When the Stillness Comes
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death
Specials thanks to all the great folks at Livenation – Darien Lake for always making reviewing shows, a comfortable, safe and pleasant experience.