On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/6/2018, I traveled to the Riverbend Music Center in Ohio to be part of International Slayer Day, also singer Tom Araya’s birthday, also one date of Slayer’s farewell tour. Slayer is one of my all-time favorite bands of any genre, but specifically they are nearly universally regarded as one of the undisputed champions of thrash metal. Alongside Anthrax, Megadeth, and Metallica, Slayer are one of the Big 4 of thrash. Their farewell tour finds them doing something that very few bands do voluntarily. They are going out on their own terms, and at the top of their game. For this, they have my utmost respect. Due to traffic and travel conditions, my friends and I arrived just after Testament finished their opening set. I have seen Testament before, and I am pretty sure they played a tight and killer show. Behemoth were on stage when we arrived, and although I really like their music, I have been underwhelmed the last 2 times I have seen them. Anthrax followed, and played an absolutely ripping set of high energy, fun filled thrash. I hope their own farewell tour is far in the future, because they are kings of metal in their own right. Lamb Of God were the final band before the main event, and they raised the bar just where it needed to be, bringing savage intensity and the roar of Randy Blythe’s vocals, crushing a set of their best stuff. Slayer arrived to a wave of adoration from their fans, some of the most fiercely loyal maniacs in the music world…and it is well deserved. I have seen Slayer in nearly every possible formation, from the original 4, to the final four, which now includes Exodus shredder Gary Holt filling in for the late, great (and beloved) Jeff Hanneman, Paul Bostaph, filling in for the greatest thrash drummer ever, Mister Dave Lombardo (and doing an excellent job of it), and the remaining original masters, Kerry King and Tom Araya himself. Slayer delivered all the classics and some newer stuff as well, opening with Repentless, dipping back in time for Blood Red, hitting the obligatory crowd favorites Raining Blood, Angel Of Death, Seasons In The Abyss, Dead Skin Mask, Chemical Warfare, War Ensemble…on and on South Of Heaven. Tom spoke to the crowd a few times, very quiet, obviously emotional. At the very end he thanked us for 37 years of sharing this dream with them…and then he simply stated, “We’re going to miss you guys!” And then they were gone…

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

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