Review by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala / Pics by Marko Syrjala
The legendary thrash metal patrol Slayer has been crisscrossing the planet on their farewell tour. Slayer announced about calling its quit earlier this year. The Slayer fans and metal fans, in general, couldn’t accept the news easily. The world without Slayer would be like a mandatory suicide for many. However, the massive tour package arrived in Finland on a rainy, cold, windy December day. The long line was circling outside the godforsaken and ancient Ice Hall when thousands of people were waiting to get in on time to testify for the first opening band. The whole venue was packed entirely as all 8000 tickets had been sold out in advance. This meant a grand celebration of the four metal giants in front of the Finnish audience. All bands performing tonight have enjoyed loyal and even fanatical following here for years, if not decades. Seeing now these four bands together in Finland was indeed a fabulous Christmas present for the Finnish metal fans.
The death metal veterans Obituary from the Swampland of Florida got the prestigious privilege to kick the night off. The 30-minute set of the old school death metal got started by “Redneck Stomp” and was followed by “Sentence Day.” Despite the extremely short playing time, the Floridian death metallers played seven songs, though “Chopped in Half” and “Turned Inside Out” were partially played. That isn’t much, but the band pleased its fans and gained some new ones. Obituary was without any doubt the first-ever death metal band playing in IceHall of Helsinki. Although the stage was huge, it seemed to be a good place for the band to perform. Obituary sounded good despite some mic problems in the beginning. Being an opening band for several other bands is sometimes quite rough. However, Obituary received a good response from the audience, although the majority of the people were getting it at the same time when the opening riff echoed in the hall. The doors should have been opened much earlier as more people would have been able to see Obituary.
Chopped in Half / Turned Inside Out
Straight to Hell
I’m in Pain
Slowly We Rot
When the gear and backdrop of Obituary had been carried away, and the Anthrax stage gear had been set up, the NY thrash veterans arrived on the stage. The opening riff was surprisingly the “Cowboys From Hell” tune by Pantera. That was quite logical as the 8th day of December was when Dimebag Darrell was shot, and these two bands were close to each other. After the short Pantera reminiscence, the band opened up with”Caught In The Mosh,” and a set of typical Anthrax classics followed it. The band was indeed on fire during the 40-minute set. Joey Belladonnas’ voice was pure magic, and he sounded fabulous. His voice is basically the key to several known tunes of Anthrax. He kept running all around the stage and even grabbed a camera from some photographers and took some pics. Scott “NOT” Ian and super energetic bassist Frank Bello kept the momentum going through the set, whereas the “new guy” Jon Donais stayed more aside. Surprisingly or not, Charlie Benante wasn’t sitting behind the kit. As several times before, he was replaced by Jon Dette. There’s no doubt that Dette is the right man chosen to fill in Charlie when needed, but the truth is that it’s already been several years since we have seen the “real guy” behind the kit in Helsinki. Even though the set and the playing time were relatively short, Anthrax indeed shredded and offered the most intensive, energetic, and above all, a tight gig.
Cowboys From Hell / Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
Be All, End All
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Antisocial (Trust cover)
LAMB OF GOD
Richmond’s groove metallers Lamb Of God definitely divide opinions of people into two distinct camps for sure. LOG is either loved or disliked. The Finnish audience loved the Lambs as the pit’s response, and the frontline was totally insane. “Omerta” opened the 50-minute set and was followed by “Ruin.” The frontman Randy Blythe displays all the influences from his hardcore/punk roots. His performance on the stage was aggressive and hyperactivate by moving all around the stage and doing huge jumps. His grunt approach is a mix of hardcore/metalcore styles. LOG’s known songs such as “Wall With Me In Hell” caused the floor’s ballistic reaction. The circle pit kept growing and growing all the time. The band did a damn well show indeed. Chris Adler isn’t a part of the touring band, and Art Cruz (Prong, Winds Of Plaque)) who killed it. Finally, a white Christmas tree was dragged to the show, and several touring members from other bands joined LOG on the stage. Although LOG doesn’t attract every metalhead of the older metal generation, it is obvious they always put a great show as they did now.
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
The kings of thrash – Slayer – is a construct and pioneer of the brutal and extreme metal genre. That band paved the path for other bands to create the most furious and vicious metal. The scepter can’t be taken away from Slayer – never. Even though the band has undergone dramatic changes in the line-up during the past years, it hasn’t faded their glorious at all. Instead, Slayer has managed to maintain their brutality and aggression thru these years. As stated above, the legendary four-piece thrash metal squad is on their last hooray to tour around the globe on the farewell journey. As far as their European tour’s last leg is concerned, Gary Holt was forced to sit out of the rest tour days because of a family issue. The now-former Machine Head guitarist, Phil Demmel, was alarmed to do the last four days of the tour. He had to learn 19 songs in a few days and hit the stage. Helsinki was the final gig place of the massive European tour and Demmel’s fourth and the last show with Slayer. A curtain had covered the stage with logos of all kinds of inverted crosses and pentagrams reflected on it. The opening intro, “Delusions of Saviour,” burst out of loudspeakers and was followed by “Repentless” and a huge amount of new and old classic songs. The sounds in the early stage of the set were unbalanced, but they improved during the show. Slayer is a slayer, showing no mercy and offering no gimmicks. The massive fire effects and pyrotechnics were significant and made the audience feel like being barbecued. Tom Araya sounded splendid but also looked surprisingly skinny. His way of starring at the audience made some kids lose their minds. Kerry King focused on taking care of his slot without showing any unexpected move. As for Phil Demmel, he crushed through the entire show. He definitely brought the vibe and new vitality to the whole Slayer clan performance. Even though he had got a few days to learn all the songs, he nailed all of them. Playing with Slayer was a dream-come-true experience for him after the Machine Head era.
For obvious reasons, the setlist included all important Slayer classics, but there were a couple of surprises. If some songs should be picked up, “Dittohead” and “Payback” were the welcomed choices for sure. Especially “Dittohead” is a tremendously brutal and fast song that should have been set more often. However, the set equally consisted of the more recent and older songs. The 90 minute set of the classic thrash metal was concluded by “Angel Of Death,” the floor area turned out to be one hell of a colossal warfield, where hundreds of kids were rioting in the insane-looking circle pit. Was it the real farewell gig by Slayer in Finland? No! The band will be returning to Finland for the Tuska show in 2019. In general, it could be assumed their farewell journey may reach out for 2021 when Slayer will be having the 40th anniversary, and then the world is more miserable when one of the greatest bands has pulled the plug – permanently.
Delusions of Saviour
When the Stillness Comes
Seasons in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death