What a better way to kick off November, and to follow a night of ghoulish (and very drunken) shenanigans, than sonically (and possibly literally) getting your head beat in to the sounds of 4 of the nastiest names in metal? This was mecca for the thrash and metal enthusiasts of Ireland. Unfortunately, this was going to be Slayer’s final performance in Ireland as the band have their sights set on a well-earned retirement.
For those with short attention spans, allow me to be blunt – this was the show of 2018. The energy was massive, the sheer aggression hit like a bulldozer. If you have not got a ticket for the succeeding dates of this tour, then I suggest you rectify that issue immediately. You will kick yourself for missing it. Tonight’s sold out crowd, cladded in leather, with hair down, and Slayer t-shirts in large abundance reciprocated said energy in their collective mass from the get-go.
Kicking off proceedings was Floridian death metallers Obituary. The band grabbed Dublin by the cajones with ‘Redneck Stomp’. The riffs and drums blasted throughout the large arena. To summate their stage presence in a single word – ‘hairy’! Windmilling fans of hair and headbanging ensued throughout the opening set, with lead vocalist John Tardy prowling the stage. For my first time experiencing Obituary live, they set the tone for the evening’s feast – loud, belligerent and no bull!
Now, I was never a fan of big-four thrash legends Anthrax. I knew the hits and of their collaborations with Public Enemy. That’s it. I walked away from their set in Dublin a fan. For me, Anthrax were the band of the evening. Pure relentless energy and power. To the sounds of Pantera anthem ‘Cowboys from Hell’, Scott Ian and company entered the stage and unleashed the beast with ‘Caught in a Mosh’ followed by a zippy Joey Belladonna bouncing frantically around the stage and striking his signature poses with the cut-off mic stand. Bassist Frank Bello was all over the monitors pulling shapes and dishing out the low-end. This band knew the business when it came to giving the people what they want. Watching the crowd, it was gladly received as they tore into each other in the pits. With songs including a cover of Joe Jackson’s ‘Got The Time’ and staples of a hearty thrash diet including ‘Evil Twin’ and ‘Antisocial’ – this band could do no wrong for the packed out arena.
I last seen Virginia riff-farmers Lamb of God in 2012 up in the (now sadly gone) Mandela Hall. All I remember from that show was two things: sweat and clothes-lining some poor punter amidst the chaos. Tonight was no different from my observations. Opening to the spoken word sounds of ‘Omerta’, bathed in strong red light and signature inverted US flags draped behind – Randy and the wrecking crew sharply injected their aggression into the grooves like a severe punch to the face. Tonight’s set exemplified the band’s destructive sound in full swing from the immediate get-go, with fan favourites ever-present such as ‘Ruin’, ‘Walk with Me in Hell’ and the synonymous riff-laden feasts of ‘Laid to Rest’ and set closer ‘Redneck’. One thing is certain, there are a few sore necks this morning!
The stage was re-dressed and shrouded by a massive curtain. Suddenly came the sounds of ‘Delusions of Saviour’. Projections of pentagram logos appeared on the curtain as the tension built up. The curtain drops. A massive backdrop of the ‘Repentless’ album cover, featuring a melting lord and saviour, was unveiled amongst metal effigies of their emblazoned eagle logo. Slayer, in their unholy glory, appeared to aural bombardment that is ‘Repentless’.
To say this set was anything but pure nastiness is an understatement. Thrash legends Slayer unleashed anarchy upon the 3Arena. With Tom spitting fury, Gary and Kerry shredding to the masses and Paul blast-beating until his ankles break – the band uncompromisingly pursued a 19 song set at unforgiving break speed. The featured set was nothing short of sating the appetites of the 13000+ people present in the venue. For myself, sitting comfortably up the back with my feet up witnessing all fiery hell break loose (literally) – the highlights of Slayer’s final Irish set included ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Payback’ and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ which was incredible to experience in a live setting. A tick on my bucket list!
The band closed their set with essential staples in the Slayer discography with ‘South of Heaven’ leading into the feedbacking and screeches of ‘Raining Blood’, before ‘Chemical Warfare’ guided the set towards its final conclusion. It’s unnecessary to articulate the impact these tunes had on punters, just overwhelming power and anger.
I’ll never forget the sound of 13000 people attempting the high-pitched screams of ‘Angel of Death’ in unison. I can only describe the experience as a poor cat getting its nads crushed in a vice. It was both hilarious and extremely painful. Slayer left Ireland in devastation.
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