At The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., November 10, 2018

SLAYER (Live at The Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., November 10, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel may well have said “How much heavier could this be, the answer is none….none more heavy” and that could certainly be true of tonight’s show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. This was not for the feint-hearted or for the casual fan walking up just to say “I was there”. This was for the hardcore Metal heads.

35 years after their Show No Mercy album shook the foundations of Metal to its very core, Thrash titans Slayer announced that they were hanging up their spiked wristbands for good but not before one final world-wide treck and the chance to hear those iconic songs for one last time.

With a supporting cast befitting of their lofty status Obituary, Lamb Of God and fellow paid up member of Thrash’s legendary Big Four, Anthrax laid the foundations for an intense evening.

Florida Death metallers, Obituary had the unenviable task of opening the epic show but with a 30-year history behind them stepped up and delivered a suitably face melting set with the guttural growls of Slowly We Rot of John Tardy stripping the paint from the walls.

As a member of the exclusive Big Four of Thrash, Anthrax’s position in the lofty halls of Metal is assured. Taking a more tongue in cheek, comic book approach to Thrash, Anthrax were something of a light relief to the evening even bringing in a touch of Hip Hop with their genre busting Got The Time. Never let it be said that Anthrax can’t thrash though as energetic takes on their classics Caught In A Mosh, Efilnikufesin (N.F.L) and Indians, with its incendiary mid-section war dance breakdown were amongst the highlights of the whole evening and high entertaining.

Lamb of God were the you new kids on the block being a mere 20 years old as a recording band next year and that “youthful” energy was prevalent on Redneck and a particularly virulent Ruin as Randy Blythe’s manic growls literally shook the internal organs of the first 10 rows.

With the crowd whipped up into suitable a frenzy, bringing them nicely to the boil for Slayer’s cacophonous entry with Repentless as brutal, fast and uncompromising as its title suggests and backed by huge sheets of flames and billowing clouds of smoke.

For the following two hours Slayer delivered a masterclass in finely precisioned break neck Thrash Metal covering everything from their ferocious debut (Black Magic) right up to their latest release, Repentless (When The Stillness Comes) and everything in between.

Bassist/vocalist Tom Araya struck a striking pose as he spat the venomous lyrics to Dead Skin Mask and Mandatory Suicide, his face contorted with fury while guitarist Kerry King cranked out the biting, rapid fire riffs as he paced menacingly across the stage. He is most definitely someone not to cross paths with down a dark alley.

The passing of fellow original guitarist Jeff Hanneman back in 2013 was a hammer blow to Slayer but it speaks volumes of their stature in the Metal world that they can bring in Gary Holt from Thrash pioneers Exodus to fill the void and he delivered with passion, fury and fire.

Drummer Paul Bostaph too has a Thrash pedigree to envy, also with Exodus as well as Forbidden and the mighty Testament and must be one of the few drummers that can match the relentless barrage laid down by Dave Lombardo, whose drum stool he took back in 1992 for the first of several stints in the band. His stamina and energy was superhuman as his thunderous battery of double bass drums shook the foundations of the Arena.

Whereas fellow members of the Thrash Big Four, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, have deviated from the Thrash blueprint, Slayer have stayed true to their roots with the likes of Hate Worldwide from 2009’s World Painted Blood being every bit as snarlingly brutal as the classics from Reign In Blood and maybe that’s part of the reason why they are so revered.

It’s not all a relentless barrage of lightning fast riffs as South of Heaven and the atmospherically sinister Seasons In The Abyss ease off on the pace but deliver a hammer blow of ultra-heaviness.

Seeing the reaction of the crowd in full flow was an eye opener as swirling circle pits erupted at a moments notice consuming all in its way but despite its apparent ferocity, etiquette demands that fallen comrades are promptly helped to their feet to continue the onslaught together. Even in the chaos, rules prevail.

With a final strait of Raining Blood, Chemical Warfare and a truly battering ram brutal, Angel Of Death brought a 35-year career to a suitably cacophonous close. There will never be another quite like Slayer.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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