The Final World Tour – Slayer / Lamb of God / Anthrax / Behemoth / Testament, Santander Arena, Reading, PA, June 4, 2018

The Final World Tour – Slayer / Lamb of God / Anthrax / Behemoth / Testament

Santander Arena

Reading, Pennsylvania

June 4, 2018

Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf

Slayer has long been the metal standard bearer for ferocity and aggression. There are faster bands, heavier bands, sicker bands, but there is only one Slayer! I truly believe they are the greatest live metal band of all time and a Slayer concert is a powerful experience that every metalhead must see, hear and feel. It pains me to say that this is their farewell tour. Well, if any band has earned it, it is certainly fucking Slayer! For 35 years, Slayer has scorched the earth unmercifully with blistering thrash metal. You could count on them touring and kicking your ass every year. For this final tour we get 5 bands! Thrash legends Testament and Anthrax, metalcore kings Lamb of God, and even a little black metal in Behemoth. So something for the old school fans and something for the younger metalheads too. On to Reading for a full metal assault! JESUS KNOWS YOUR SOUL CANNOT BE SAVED!

The Santander Arena is the home of the Reading Royals minor league hockey team. I’ve been here a couple of times, most recently to see Megadeth and the Scorpions. It is a typical small arena that holds about 9,000 people for a concert. It’s got the floor / pit, one section of seats and then some club boxes. Tonight’s show is sold out so this place is pretty fucking packed! Floor is spacious enough that it wasn’t wall to wall people, which meant you could move if someone near you had terrible B.O. or was farting (regular metal show hazards). Stage is good sized and maybe 5 feet off the ground, not terribly high. Sound quality was good and LOUD, I thought that all of the bands sounded pretty good with very little distortion. Lots of ear ringing later that night. Merch for the tour is good, lots of cool designs that are new. Each band had merch but of course Slayer had the most with 4 or 5 different shirts.

TESTAMENT

Bay Area thrash masters Testament were on first, which I didn’t feel was right given the band has been around for more than 30 years and has 11 albums! I love these guys and have seen them 15 times over the years. Testament delivered a short but intense set of classics and newer material. They woke up the crowd with a rousing “Brotherhood of the Snake” and a pit broke out immediately! Everything was chugging – Gene’s blasting drums, ripping guitars from Alex and Eric, thundering bass from Steve, and Chuck Billy bellowing mid-range and low vocals. “Rise Up” from DARK ROOTS OF THE EARTH was next, which always has a good crowd response – WHEN I SAY RISE UP, YOU SAY WAR! “Practice What You Preach” followed, the other night in Holmdel we got “Electric Crown” instead so I guess the band is switching those from show to show. Still promoting the excellent BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE album from 2016, we then got “The Pale King” which featured some intricate solos from Alex and Eric, the song kicks ass on both a heaviness and a melodic level. “Into the Pit” of course brought about some furious moshing, Testament pounded us and we hammered each other. Two classics closed out the set, “The New Order” (THE HUMAN RACE IS NOW A RACE AGAINST TIME!), and “Disciples of the Watch” (OBEY – OR I’LL BURN YOU TO THAT CROSS!). I was hoping for “Over the Wall”, but the set was only 30 minutes. Great set, Testament was on fire, now I need to see them as a headliner again!

 

 

 

BEHEMOTH

Poland’s Behemoth was up next, these guys have done a lot of big tours the last few years with Slayer and Cannibal Corpse, so they have gotten a ton of exposure in the US. Negral commanded the stage ripping off evil riffs while the drums exploded with blast beats. The crowd responded well to “Demigod” and “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”. Band was tight and together, I just thought the drums were a little too triggered. Musically an impressive performance but not my style of metal. I prefer my satanic music to be of the death metal variety (Deicide, Morbid Angel, etc).

 

ANTHRAX

How about some East Coast thrash now? A big change from the ominous Behemoth, Anthrax came out and did what they always do, deliver the ‘80s thrash goods! Joey immediately got the crowd fired up with “Caught in a Mosh”, screaming his head off and sounding great – WHICH ONE OF THESE WORDS DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? Joey’s voice was spot on tonight, powerful and with good range. He didn’t showcase his melodic side though, because the set was all barnstormers! I noticed Charlie was back behind the drum kit tonight (Gene Hoglan from Testament had been filling in) and his presence was felt immediately. The guy can do it all, speed, power, and finesse. Frankie was all over the stage as usual strumming his bass and Scott and Jon just shredded those old school riffs. Scott handled the shouted backing vocals perfectly – STOMP STOMP STOMP! No big surprises with the set. Anthrax are masters at thrash anthems, and the crowd was happy to sing along to the choruses of “Got the Time”, “Madhouse”, “Anti-Social”, and “Indians”. I enjoyed “I Am the Law” the most – RESPECT THE BADGE, HE EARNED IT WITH HIS BLOOD! Only one newer song from FOR ALL KINGS was played, “Evil Twin”, which is much heavier live by the way. Great high energy set, would have loved to have gotten “Among the Living” or “NFL”, but that’s when Anthrax is a headliner. These guys are still a killer live band, set is familiar at this point but it is still a lot of fun! It’s a MAD MAD MAD MAD HOUSE!

 

 

 

LAMB OF GOD

This is the “newer” band of the evening, even though LoG has been around for 20 years or so. Although I don’t care for LoG’s style of music, there’s no denying their abilities as a live act. Randy Blythe is a great, interactive front man and Chris Adler is a wizard on the drums. Crowd response was feral for “Walk With Me in Hell”, “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For, and “Laid to Rest”. LoG got almost an hour and made the most of it. Intense angry set.

 

SLAYER

It’s been building up and now it is here after hours of hearing people screaming SSSSLLLAAAAYYYYEERRR and FUCKING SLAYER in between the other bands! Instrumental “Delusions of Savior” played over the loudspeakers as various images were projected on the curtain, pentagrams, inverted crosses, etc. When the curtain dropped, Slayer exploded into the best, most pissed off version of “Repentless” I’ve ever heard! Pyros shot flames as Tom screamed, Kerry and Gary shredded, and Paul bludgeoned us! It was stunning! On other tours I found “Repentless” to be a flat opener, but the band had more vigor and aggression tonight. Then came surprise track “Blood Red” from SEASONS IN THE ABYSS and it was better than the album version! Without taking much of a breath, a blasphemous “Disciple” followed with a very intense vocal delivery from Tom (I REJECT THIS FUCKING RACE, I DESPISE THIS FUCKING PLACE!). Things were off to a great start!

This farewell tour feels different from the last few tours. Slayer seemed very energized and animated. I think it’s the best they’ve sounded since 2014 when I saw them the night before Thanksgiving at the Sands Bethlehem. Tom was very expressive in a homicidal maniac kind of way and I haven’t seen Kerry solo that fiercely in years! Paul was punishing and Gary was savage. Hard to believe, but Gary has been part of Slayer for 7 years now. Stage set up was the most elaborate I’ve ever seen for Slayer. Rows of flames on either side of the drum riser, burning Slayer pentagrams, and shooting flames during different songs. It was really fucking cool! I kinda miss the rows and rows of cabinets with a big Slayer backdrop in the middle, but this was a killer stage set up and it was top notch.

Set was a great mix that spanned their career, with a few gems. “War Ensemble” was particularly ferocious, faster than it has been in years (WHEN VICTORY IS TO SURVIVE AND DEATH IS DEFEAT!). Good pit action for that one! “Jihad” hadn’t been played in 7 years or so. Same for “Dittohead”, which might have been even faster than the album version.  For me best part of the set occurred when we got two of my all-time favorite Slayer tunes back to back, “Postmortem” (SIFTING AWAY DERBIS OF HATED LIFE!) and “Black Magic” (A FORCE OF SATAN’S MIGHT!). Gave me goosebumps! A pissed rendition of “Payback” followed, hadn’t gotten that one in a while either. “Hell Awaits” was as great as ever, and with all the fire on stage, it fit perfectly (OUR LEGIONS KILLING ALL IN SIGHT TO GET THE ONE CALLED LORD!). After that, Slayer laid waste to the audience and closed out the show with a series of classics that no band can match. “South of Heaven” (THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL IS THE HEART OF A BLACK SOUL!), “Raining Blood”, “Chemical Warfare”, and then with the green Hanneman still reigning banner, “Angel of Death” (PUMPED WITH FLUID INSIDE YOUR BRAIN, PRESSURE IN YOUR SKULL BEGINS PUSHING THROUGH YOUR EYES!). I think every metalhead knows “Angel of Death” by heart, but it never gets old, especially live!

It was an amazing night of metal and everyone went home drained and a little battered but glowing. On the one hand I am happy that Slayer is going out still on top, but I am also very upset that I won’t be able to see one of my favorite bands anymore. Most of the great ones are phasing out. Lemmy died 2.5 years ago, no more Motorhead. Dio has been dead 8 years. Ozzy is doing a farewell tour. Where are we going to be in 10 years? My wife and I will be be 56 years old and there will be no great bands for us to go see, just great memories of seeing legends like Slayer. Calling all metalheads – this is your last chance to see the greatest live metal band of all time! Do not sleep on this tour! REPENTLESS – LET IT RIDE!

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