Archived Concert Review
Final World Tour
w/Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death
Times Union Center
August 1, 2018
It was an evening of nostalgia on August 1, 2018, when thrash metal titans Slayer brought their final world tour to Albany, NY. While not the original four members from the group that terrified me as a child, and clearly showing their age (don’t we all), there was no way I was missing this performance. As a teaser, the band brought along quite an enticing package to share in the on-stage debauchery with.
As had been the case on Slayer’s previous tours, the band appeared on stage after the into tape of Delusion of Savior and a climatic curtain drop, which led into the breakneck opener, Repentless, the title track of the group’s final album. Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya showed some signs of wear and tear by strategically choosing which high notes to hit and which ones to lay off from. While he was hardly the same man who pulled off the blood curdling scream on Angel of Death in 1986, Araya’s performance was more than adequate for someone on the backside of his fifties.
Blood Red, Disciple, Mandatory Suicide, and Hate Worldwide followed, displaying a diverse setlist that bounced around from the obscure to more recent to classic old cuts. Slayer in the 21st century has become a band that eschews the tired between-song raps, preferring to segue from one song to the next. The first time Araya addressed the crowd was five songs deep into the set when he introduced, “Waaaaarrrrrrr Ensemble!”
The other original member, guitarist Kerry King, mainly stayed stage right, bobbing his head along to the frantic pace of the band’s material, his braided beard swaying to the beat. King traded scorching guitar solos with Gary Holt, an original member of thrash metal band Exodus, who had replaced the late Jeff Hanneman. Holt has appeared more comfortable in his role in the band, playfully joshing with the audience.
Mid-set found Slayer mixing up newer tracks (from 2000 to the present) such as Jihad, When the Stillness Comes, and Payback, with classics Postmortem, Black Magic, and Seasons in the Abyss. Blinding lights, strobes, and lasers, combined with hot orange flames gave the crowd a visually pleasing stage show that coincided nicely with the musical selections. Things really ramped up during 1985’s Hell Awaits, with flame throwers setting the stage ablaze.
Drummer Paul Bostaph is easily Slayer’s most maligned member, having replaced (twice) original skinsman Dave Lombardo, who is considered by many to be the finest drummer in all of thrash metal. Simply put, Bostaph, himself a talented beat keeper, has little chance to sway most opinions on who the better player is. For what it’s worth, on this night, Paul put on a show, especially during the show closing trifecta of Raining Blood, Chemical Warfare, and Angel of Death.
All in all, watching this version of Slayer is more than a pleasant experience, especially considering the decades the band has been around. That said, I wish I had the nerve back in the day to see them with Hanneman and Lombardo when they were in their prime. That must have been something!
When the Stillness Comes
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death