The Final Tour: Slayer / Lamb of God / Anthrax / Testament / Napalm Death (Atlanta 08/10/2018)

It’s hard to believe that I find myself writing a farewell tour article for Slayer right now. I mean what more can be said about this band that has not already been said over nearly four decades? Since releasing their first LP, Show No Mercy (1983), Slayer has gone on to release twelve (12) LPs, three (3) live LPs, two (2) EPs, and two (2) box sets to fill their discography. If you ask any die-hard Slayer fan, that simply won’t be enough material, especially now, knowing that they are calling it quits after thirty-seven (37) years of bringing the METAL! In order for these metal giants to go out right, they decided on a full scale world tour. The tour’s first leg took place May 10th- June 20th and along for the ride were Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, and Testament. They began the second leg of the tour on July 26th with Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, and Napalm Death, replacing Behemoth. This second leg ends on August 26th in San Jose, CA. Were you lucky enough to see them on The Final Tour?

Over the years, prior to this show, I’ve seen Slayer six (6) times in four (4) different states. Three (3) shows out of those six were the original line up featuring Tom Araya (vocals/bass), Kerry King (guitar), Jeff Hanneman R.I.P. (guitar), and Dave Lombardo (drums). My first time catching Slayer with Paul Bostaph (drums) and, Exodus guitarist, Gary Holt (guitar) was at the now defunct Fun Fun Fun Fest (2013) in Austin, Texas. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did miss Jeff on stage, but hear me out: Gary Holt has been a superb replacement since the world lost Jeff in 2013.

This set from Slayer in Atlanta though, featured nineteen (19) tracks spanning their career (see below) and was quite possibly the best Slayer show that I have ever experienced. Maybe it was because it was the last time? Not sure, but I can tell you that this was the hottest (you’ll find out why later), loudest, and heaviest that I have seen Slayer perform.

Napalm Death kicked off their early afternoon set a little after 5 pm with a blistering onslaught of tracks from their extensive discography. Napalm Death is another “lifer” band forming way back in 1981 in Meriden, West Midlands, England. These grindcore pioneers have always been amazing at merging both death metal and crust punk with lyrics often heavy on socio- and geopolitical issues. Napalm Death played ten (10) solid songs from their massive sixteen (16) LP catalog including a Dead Kennedy’s cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. It was great seeing Mark “Barney” Greenway on stage rocking a peace sign tee shirt and dancing around while growling the lyrics to “Scum” and “Suffer the Children” (two of my favorite songs by Napalm Death growing up).  

Set list for Napalm Death

  1. Multinational Corporations
  2. Instinct of Survival
  3. Smash a Single Digit
  4. Suffer the Children
  5. Silence is Deafening
  6. How the Years Condemn
  7. Scum
  8. You Suffer
  9. Dead
  10. Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedy’s Cover)

Testament was up next on stage, and what a reception by the longtime faithful metal heads in attendance! Testament formed in Berkeley, California in 1983, and are considered one of the most influential thrash metal bands to date. Now Testament might be the one metal band that you think you don’t know, but once they start playing their songs a few, undoubtedly, will sound very familiar. While shooting through the first three songs, there were a couple guys riding the rail who clearly knew all the lyrics. It always makes me happy when I see fellow metalheads letting go and just sing along with the band playing.

Chuck Billy (lead vocals), Eric Peterson (guitars/backing vocals), Alex Skolnick (guitars/backing vocals), Gene Hoglan (drums) and Steve Di Giorgio (bass/backing vocals) performed eight (8) tracks from their eleven (11) album discography. My personal favorite tracks that they played this night were “Rise Up”, “The Preacher”, “Practice What You Preach”, and “Into the Pit”.

Set list for Testament

  1. Brotherhood of the Snake
  2. Rise Up
  3. Dog Faced Gods
  4. The Preacher
  5. Practice What You Preach
  6. The New Order
  7. Into the Pit
  8. Over the Wall

In my opinion, Anthrax has always been an underrated metal band ever since they broke out on the scene with their first LP, Fistful of Metal (1984). I remember first listening to Spreading the Disease (1987) and thinking what in the hell is this that I am listening to?! It was really groovy, very fast, good ‘n’ heavy, and even had elements of thrash. Anthrax hailed from New York City, unlike the rest of the big thrash metal bands of the day (such as Metallica, Megadeth, and the one and only SLAYER).

I felt like I hadn’t seen Anthrax in decades. After the first three songs were over, I can tell you firsthand, that the energy coming from the band was very real. It was like taking a trip back in time to see a young and hungry Anthrax shredding some speedy riffs, while bouncing around the stage for their entire set. When they started their show, I had no clue that “Caught in a Mosh” and “Got the Time” would be two of the songs we were allowed to photograph. Those two tracks, plus “Indians”, were three of my favorite songs by Anthrax growing up. Needless to say, getting to see these fellas do their thing, once again, in front a legion of metalheads enjoying themselves, made my night.

Set list for Anthrax

  1. Intro
  2. Caught in a Mosh
  3. Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
  4. Madhouse
  5. Be All, End All
  6. Evil Twin
  7. Antisocial (Trust cover)
  8. Indians

Lamb of God is the one band out of this lineup that I’ve never had a chance to see live before. Now let me preface this, it was not because I didn’t want to, it was more like being an adult always got in the way. So getting to see them, and do photo on my very first time, made this metalhead very happy! When the PA system began to play the opening monologue for “Omerta”, I knew that this was going to be an incredible experience. Apparently so did everyone else in attendance, because all you could see were people rocking out to their set. After leaving the photo pit when they ended “Walk With Me in Hell”, there was no way I was missing the rest of this set. Lamb of God performing live was everything I thought it would be, and more!

Also, I want to tell Randy Blythe “Thank you!” Why, you ask? Well, while doing photo, Randy was staring down my lens and I couldn’t have been happier. Then he started to point towards me and I’m sure that only made me smile wider. But, then I felt his eyes were trying to tell me something while he was pointing, -my spider sense kicked in, and I turned around just in time to see security was about to grab a crowd surfer right behind me. I had to move quickly to avoid getting kicked in the head by his feet. So thank you, Randy for looking out for me! Damn that would have hurt like hell.  

Set list for Lamb of God

  1. Omerta
  2. Ruin
  3. Walk With Me in Hell
  4. Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
  5. 512
  6. Engage the Fear Machine
  7. Blacken the Cursed Sun
  8. Laid to Rest
  9. Redneck

It was a bittersweet moment when Slayer finally took the stage in Atlanta for the last time, right before 9:30 pm. That was really hard to type because just thinking about it now makes me a little sad. Slayer came out busting eardrums right from the start with “Repentless” after letting the curtain fall and revealing their epic, unforgettable stage set-up. There was so much pyro! You name it, it was on fire! Two pentagrams were hoisted on each side of the stage and stayed engulfed with fire for a majority of the set. Two long cabinets of speakers also lined the stage with fire covering the tops in synch with the stage lighting. Think that is crazy? Well how about some rotating flame-throwers shooting fire throughout the evening right above the band. At times these flame-throwers would send bursts of fire that formed an inverted cross. I told you -just about everything was on fire.

Even the backdrop changed throughout the night showing various Slayer logos from the years and other various images from the band. When the lights would go out, the backdrop even glowed in the dark. For their last show, Slayer brought us to their own private version of Hell. Their farewell. Their swan song.

A nineteen (19) song set list that would span their thirty-seven (37) year career and would include tracks like “Mandatory Suicide”, “South of Heaven”, “Hell Awaits”, and would end with their classic track “Angel of Death”. For almost six (6) hours, the best in grindcore, thrash, heavy, and just plain metal, played for a nearly sold out crowd at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood (Atlanta). Those in attendance will always remember this night: the night Slayer brought one of the best metal tours in decades to our town and completely destroyed our ears and our minds. Thanks for the memories, Slayer! You guys deserve the break.

Set list for SLAYER

  1. Repentless
  2. Blood Red
  3. Disciple
  4. Mandatory Suicide
  5. Hate Worldwide
  6. War Ensemble
  7. Jihad
  8. When the Stillness Comes
  9. Postmortem
  10. Black Magic
  11. Payback
  12. Seasons in the Abyss
  13. Dittohead
  14. Dead Skin Mask
  15. Hell Awaits
  16. South of Heaven
  17. Raining Blood
  18. Chemical Warfare
  19. Angel of Death

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