If you were fortunate to catch Slayer on their final North American tour with Lamb Of God, Amon Amarth, and Cannibal Corpse then you know what an event it was. Though their performance didn’t vary much from any of the other times I’ve seen them they a band that doesn’t need elaborate stage props. The music speaks for itself and being able to see this band one final time on stage – assuming they stop touring altogether and I don’t get to see them at some festival – was something else.
I was fortunate enough to photograph the show for the site, you can see what I captured below. It is without a doubt one of the greatest honors to be granted to a fan. I’d been waiting and waiting to see if I was going to get confirmed and when I got that “OK” it was an incredible feeling.
Unfortunately, I arrived late to the show and was walking to the venue from the parking lot as Cannibal Corpse was finishing they’re set. I try not to think about this as I like to shoot all the bands that perform. Especially when the there is plenty of sunlight and the band is one like Cannibal Corpse, who perform in dark reds. You know what I’m talking about photographers. The day being what it was I got over it because next up were Amon Amarth.
Sometimes I wonder about the future of metal with the old guard, like Slayer, on the way out. Metal isn’t exactly filling up venues the size of the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater unless it’s Metallica, Iron Maiden, and the like but that’s OK. I’ll settle for smaller theaters like the Hard Rock Live in Orlando and clubs like The Ritz or Plaza (also in Orlando). As a huge metal fan I would hate for the scene to be reduced to the smallest of venues. Then, I see a band like Amon Amarth, who are 27 years into their career and just released their eleventh studio album, Berserker (Metal Blade), and I’m reminded of the strength of the scene. Those guys are just incredible, they are much like Slayer in that they release consistently good music. They stage show varies a little more in that they do bring out props but it’s awesome when they do and it doesn’t take away from the power of the music. Amon Amarth is a great all around band that we still have to carry the scene after Slayer call it a day. They were a good choice for them to take out as it brings them much deserved exposure at larger North American venues. If you’ve never seen Amon Amarth live you should, they may not be jumping around all over the place like some others like to do but you’ll have a good time because their music is just that good. Here’s their setlist(s).
Then, they were followed up by Lamb Of God, who counting their time as Burn The Priest, have been active for 25 years this year. You get more energy with them in the form of frontman Randy Blythe, who for the most part cannot stand still. He makes use of the metal boxes placed across the front of the stage, running back and forth, jumping. At 48, it’s pretty impressive. I’m almost 20 years younger than him and I couldn’t do what he does. They powered through a set that featured hits from their albums As The Palaces Burn (2003), Ashes Of The Wake (2004), Sacrament (2006), and VII: Sturm und Drang (2015). A fan injury stopped the show briefly during the track “Engage The Fear Machine”, which makes you grateful for the scene’s respect for one another. Blythe halted the show and the crowd was respectful of the decision and halted until the person was checked by paramedics and removed. Following the pause, the group kicked in to “Laid To Rest” and then closed “Redneck”. They didn’t miss a beat and delivered as ferociously then as the first times I saw them more than 10 years ago. Lamb Of God’s setlist.
Then there was Slayer. After a break following Lamb Of God’s performance we (“we” being the other photographers and myself) were walked down to the stage. The enormous white curtain already draped in front of the stage obstructing it. We remained by the side of the stage where we could peer behind the curtain and got actually spotted the band as they prepared to take the stage. I spotted guitarist Gary Holt and frontman Tom Araya from where I stood. I wasn’t the only one, as fans in the standing room floor caught his attention. Araya smiled and proceeded to toss guitar picks out to them. Not long after the lights dimmed and “Delusions Of Saviour” (the intro to 2015’s Repentless) kicked in as crosses lit up across the curtain, they slowly inverted. The Slayer “sword” logo was also emblazoned and then, the curtain dropped and the group kicked into “Repentless”. As a photographer you can’t really enjoy the first three songs as you’re busy trying to get some good shots but I certainly made a few moments between shots to enjoy it. “Repentless” was followed by “Evil Has No Boundaries” and “World Painted Blood”, closing out the songs we were able to shoot the band during.
After putting my gear away in office for safe keeping I made my way back out to the floor (I wasn’t going to sit down, psh). I mised “Postmortem”, “Hate Worldwide”, and a portion of “War Ensemble” but made it back out for a reasonably varied set that spanned the group’s nearly 40 year career.
For a band with a career as long as Slayer’s it’s unlikely they’ll play all of your favorites but they’ll definitely play the classics, many of which are probably featured on your insert streaming service here playlist. If you didn’t get a chance to see them or you’re trying to remember what they played at the stop you went to hit up SetList.fm.
In closing, it was not a show to miss because it is quite possibly the last time I’ll get to see one of my favorite bands ever. Say what you will about the fact that late guitarist Jeff Hanneman and original drummer Dave Lombardo were not there (one for obvious reasons), it was certainly still a great show put on by a great band and should you be lucky enough to catch them in the coming year do it. I for one, have some little hope that they’ll come back for a few festival appearances here and there, but I’m not holding my breath. If they want to call it a day completely, they are certainly going out on a high note in my book. I wish them the best and thank them for what they have given me through their music.