When the announcement of the Slayer North American Tour was announced, it may have seemed, to some, that a mistake was made. Slayer with Anthrax and Death Angel? Three thrash powerhouses who have stood the test of time performing on the same night? It’s no wonder Stage AE in Pittsburgh was sold out last night, filled to the brim with raucous metal fans chomping at the bit. All three bands put on killer performances and showed no signs of slowing down, regardless of their ages and band time span.
As far as openers go, well it’s tough to call Death Angel and opener, they have been around since ’82 in one incarnation or another since their landmark hit, “Bored”. Also, Death Angel is in all essence a subset of the Big 4 thrash bands, emerging from the San Fran scene. Since their last Pittsburgh visit a fe Halloweens ago, Death Angel has been busy touring their latest The Evil Divide and even producing a “thrashumentary”. Released last year, the film tells the story of Death Angel from inception to the present day (get it here). Singer, Mark Osegueda, was as lively as ever and spot on vocally. Guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar spew out axe pyrotechnics, while Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) kept the brutal low end so important to the genre. The new material may be some of their best and is worth getting in the doors early to witness.
Anthrax was in Pittsburgh last January with Lamb of God and put forth one of the best classic Anthrax laden sets that this writer has ever witnessed. This night Anthrax played just a bit more of their excellent new effort For All Kings, but definitely played some of their best including, “Caught In A Mosh”, “Got The Time”, “Antisocial” and “Indians”. Two of those songs (“Got The Time” and “Antisocial”) are cover songs that the band has so uniquely made their own, most people do not know that Joe Jackson and Trust, respectively, actually wrote them. Scott Ian (guitar) was once again a model of thrash and was, as usual, showing what a guitar god can do and really have a good time doing so. Singer Joey Belladonna was in excellent singing condition and has breathed new life into the band since his return. Newcomer, guitarist Jonathan Donais, is fitting in and also breathing fire into the bands material. He proved his worth in Shadows Fall and is absolutely killing it as Rob Caggiano’s replacement since 2013. Charlie Benante and Frank Bello were completely synced in (after all they are family) and a pleasure to watch, although it was tough to get a glimpse of Frank’s face as his hair was in constant motion as he powered through the set. It’s incredible that this band just keeps getting better after all these years (1981) and is not only producing top level records, but also matching that with high energy shows.
It took all of 35 seconds upon entry before one heard the infamous call, “SLAAAAAAYYYYYEEERRRR!” The band has been in high gear as of late, pumping out a trio of videos for Repentless and just starting this N.American Tour. Like their counterparts and tour mates Death Angel and Anthrax, they have been around since the inception of thrash (1981). Their material is as fresh and brain damaging as ever and their live show is tough to top in terms of sheer onslaught of power. Kerry King, massive chains and tribal tattoos and all, stays in the pocket and just rips from there, always a jaw dropper to watch. Tom Araya was dead on vocally as well and of course his bass playing is underrated. The addition of Exodus guitar player Gary Holt since Jeff Hanneman‘s illness and eventual death has added a different layer and dimension to the band, the material on Repentless really showing his influence in various ways. Paul Bostaph’s return on drums is also a different layer, replacing his replacement who he replaced originally (huh?), Dave Lombardo, who is now behind the kit for The Misfits reunion shows. To sum it up, Slayer was Slayer, they were impressive, loud, fast, and like Conan, crushed their enemies before them. An awesome night for metal and for Pittsburgh for sure, and one tough to beat. Maybe Clutch, Zakk Sabbath, and Kyng can try on October 1 when they hit Stage AE.
All photos AWeldingphoto © 2016 .