With Gojira and 4ARM
Big Four, Calgary AB
November 3, 2013
Photos and Review by Monika Deviat
The concrete confines of the Big Four building in Calgary Alta., are not the ideal choice for a concert venue – especially for legends like Slayer, a band you would want to hear no matter where you are standing in a venue. However, on November 3, 2013 over 2,500 fans came out to see Slayer deliver an old school set on their first North American tour since the passing of Jeff Hanneman in May this year. French heavy hitters Gojira and Australia’s 4Arm were support for the tour.
It was Australian thrashers, 4ARM’s first time playing in Canada. The Big Four was not kind to this band, and the unfamiliarity with the songs made it difficult to pick out what was going on unless you were right up front near the stage. The musicians were stellar showmen though and got the crowd riled up within the first two songs. 4ARM featured a new unreleased tune called “Dying Time” among older tracks like “We Will Not Bow” and closer, “Spent and Bled”.
Gojira kicked off their set with “Ourobourus” and some issues with the vocal mic made for a slow start. By the time they tore through “Backbone” the heaviness and energy were up to where they should be. Frontman Joe Duplantier dedicated “L’Enfant Sauvage” to Hanneman, saying the band wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Hanneman and Slayer. Although they seemed pressed for time Gojira packed in some of their most expressive and substantial songs, such as “Love”, “The Heaviest Matter in the Universe” and “Vacuity” which ended their set.
Slayer celebrated a legend with a set list that showcased their legacy and highlighted the writing and compositions of Jeff Hanneman. When the curtain dropped to reveal a simple but imposing set of inverted crosses suspended from the ceiling the audience roared for Slayer as they launched into “Hell Awaits”. Gary Holt from Exodus (who stepped in for Hanneman when he developed necrotizing faciitis in 2011 from a spider bite) continues to fill in on those memorable guitar parts of Hanneman’s, and replacing Dave Lombardo on drums for this tour was Paul Bostaph. Tom Araya spent little time speaking between songs, only politely thanking the crowd numerous times and introducing a few choice songs. Kerry King delivered brutally brilliant riffs and shredded through solos with ferocity.
“The Antichrist”, “Black Magic” and “Die By The Sword” off Show No Mercy [Metal Blade, 1983] were rarities that caused the crowd to go insane. Araya kept smiling at the crowd, giving them other classics like “Raining Blood” and “Season in the Abyss”. A surprise for fans in the set list was a cover of “Strike of the Beast” by Exodus. Araya’s orated the chorus of “Dead Skin Mask” like a malevolent preacher giving a sermon before the eerie opening notes swept over the audience. To end the night Slayer ripped through “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death” with a tribute banner to Hanneman unfurled behind them. Slayer played loud, proud and were absolutely uncompromising – it was the best tribute they could have given to their bandmate, one of the most influential musicians in metal.