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SLAYER, LAMB OF GOD, ANTHRAX, BEHEMOTH And TESTAMENT In Cleveland, OH With Photos!

By Geoff Ketler, Cleveland Contributor
Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 8:00 AM


SLAYER Makes It Rain (Blood) One More Iime At Blossom Music Center

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All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography

It is inevitable. All of our favorite bands that we have relied on year after year will all eventually call it a day and ease into retirement. None of us are getting any younger and it is genuinely favorable to see a band go out while still being at the top of their game instead of beating a dead horse all the way back to the clubs, dives and campground festivals with multiple replacements, retirees and generational gaps amongst the members. It was made known earlier this year that the infamous thrashers, SLAYER were going to do just that, after a lengthy tour. Aside from losing Jeff Hanneman way too soon and some disagreements with original drummer Dave Lombardo, SLAYER has been the steady bet, frequently dropping new material and touring extensively to support it without ever really evolving or changing their core sound. They are the only band that is considered part of ‘The Big 4’ that can make that claim – we all know about METALLICA’s Black Album, MEGADETH gave us Risk; a vast departure from their typical selves and ANTHRAX was kind of a revolving door for a while with multiple vocalists. Plus there was that time they made us all wait 8+ years for new material.

Up first was the fellow bay-area thrashers, TESTAMENT. Still supporting 2016’s Brotherhood Of The Snake, the group quickly rallied the metalheads to the pit with the title track off of the recent album. After a few songs, things went straight old school with “Into The Pit”, “The New Order” and “Over The Wall” – a total onslaught of abusive tracks from the depths of TESTAMENT’s storied history. Guitarist Alex Skolnick was especially animated, taking solos front and center, perched up on a monitor with CO2 blasting around him. It was a spectacle and a great beginning for this summer’s must-see metal tour.

Setlist:

  • "“Brotherhood Of The Snake”
  • “Rise Up”
  • “The Pale King”
  • “The Preacher”
  • “Into The Pit”
  • “The New Order”
  • “Over The Wall”
Following TESTAMENT was Polish extreme metallers BEHEMOTH. With TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX and LAMB OF GOD more or less representing the past, present and future of American metal, BEHEMOTH was the odd-man out, but the crowd ate ‘em up, regardless. Vocalist Nergal would periodically make his way out front to the pit to stir things up a bit. The dark, sadistic tone of Seth’s guitars were driven by the humming of Inferno’s blast beats. It was less like a metal show and more like a depressing funeral of your worst enemy.

Setlist:

  • “Ov Fire And The Void”
  • “Demigod”
  • “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”
  • “Wolves Ov Siberia”
  • “Chant For Eschaton 2000”
  • “O Father O Satan O Sun!”
ANTHRAX flat out lit the place up. With a set that could have been pulled straight off of a “Best of…” album, ANTHRAX took Blossom Music Center by storm. Joey Belladonna spent the majority of the set running back and forth, raising his mic to the audience, looking for vocal support. Guitarist Scott Ian stomped and spun around, especially during “Got The Time”. You would have easily guessed that they were headlining with the way that they performed; full of enthusiasm, energy and intensity. Bassist Frankie Bello was a mad man, screaming and carrying on like he was possessed. It was as lively as I have ever seen the bunch from New York. Joey’s voice was excellent and the classics rolled out of the musicians effortlessly, like they were having as much fun as the crowd that was now growing more and more dense.

Setlist:

  • “Caught In A Mosh”
  • “Got The Time” (JOE JACKSON Cover)
  • “Madhouse”
  • “I Am The Law”
  • “Evil Twin”
  • “Antisocial” (TRUST Cover)
  • “Indians”
Since 1994 LAMB OF GOD, from Richmond, VA, has been tormenting stages and eliciting the types of mosh pits you only hear about happening in Europe or some far-off festival. Now considered one of the authoritative metal bands in this day and age, LAMB OF GOD brought the grit, determination and Flair (as in Ric Flair) to the show, most notably due to vocalist Randy Blythe's egregious use of Ric's signature 'wooooo'. Like easing into a warm bath, LAMB OF GOD began the night with “Omerta” – a slow building, grinding kind of song until the roof came off with "Ruin" - a classic romping tempo with an exquisite drum fill courtesy of Chris Adler. Considering the volatility and technicality of LAMB OF GOD's set, it was refreshing to see a metal band perfect difficult material not only in the studio, but in the live setting. In other words, the band was flat out, tight. The venue is a typical "pavilion" style outdoor shed with a small pit down front and seated areas rising up to the lawn - where the majority of the action was at. "Laid To Rest" caused a dust cloud to rise above the violent circle of bodies turning and thrashing about on the lawn. The occasional shoe, beer cup or piece of clothing flew up and out as the pit continued to build. It was a beautiful sight to behold and gave reason to believe that metal is alive and well with bands like LAMB OF GOD leading the way.

Setrlist:

  • “Omerta”
  • “Ruin”
  • “Walk With Me In Hell”
  • “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”
  • “512”
  • “Engage The Fear Machine”
  • “Blacken The Cursed Sun”
  • “Laid To Rest”
  • “Redneck”
The stage was draped with an opaque white curtain as the intro music rang out. The instantly recognizable SLAYER emblem circled about on the back drop like the bat signal calling out SLAYER fans in the night’s sky to make their way to the stage. With all members positioned, SLAYER unleashed “Repentless” – the title track off of the 2015 release. Excessive pyro highlighted the massive stage. From the pit, I could feel the heat on my face as the flames grew. A massive sword outlined the drum riser all the while Paul Bostaph unleashed hell behind the skins. Front and center stood bassist/vocalist Tom Araya, now mostly clean shaven. He looked great – like he shed a few pounds and a decade by losing the “father time” beard, although he is still unable to really thrash that mop of hair of his since his neck surgery in 2010.

SLAYER has never been known for lengthy, progressive tracks - even still the group was poised for a 19-song send off as concertgoers bade farewell to one of the most historically significant metal bands of our generation. The setlist featured selections from 11 of the 12 releases from the group; a cornucopia of thrash that satisfied the hordes that had gathered. Tom wasn’t much for talking, it was just 1-2-3 go! Guitarist Kerry King spent most of the night in his usual position, behind arched monitors, just grinding away on his BC Rich. Hit after hit bellowed through the night air. As I began the long walk back to the lots, I saw people of all ages drenched with sweat and tears with a look on their face of accomplishment, like they just completed a long, painful task. Love them or hate them, SLAYER is undeniably one of the most important pieces of this music we love called ‘metal’. Although it is a shame to see them go, it is nice to see a band go out at the top of their game, with all of the fire and fury that they are known for still brewing. Don’t miss your chance to catch SLAYER one last time. It is an experience that all metalheads need to endure.

Setlist:

  • “Repentless”
  • “Blood Red”
  • “Disciple”
  • “Mandatory Suicide”
  • “Hate Worldwide”
  • “War Ensemble”
  • “Jihad”
  • “When The Stillness Comes”
  • “Postmortem”
  • “Black Magic”
  • “Payback”
  • “Seasons In The Abyss”
  • “Dittohead”
  • “Dead Skin Mask”
  • “Hell Awaits”
  • “South Of Heaven”
  • “Raining Blood”
  • “Chemical Warfare”
  • “Angel Of Death”
Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography


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