Last night, Slayer returned to North Texas as part of the sixth leg of The Final World Tour. The first leg of the tour, which took place in North America last year, brought the band to The Bomb Factory in Dallas. What was considered an intimate venue for a Slayer show, The Bomb Factory had fans packed together like sardines that had smoldered in the heat. This time around, Slayer marched into the more spacious Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory for a night of thrash under the stars, or on this occasion – and perhaps more fitting – storm clouds. The line-up was rounded out by Lamb of God, Amon Amarth, and Cannibal Corpse.
Torrential rains during the day didn’t discourage the crowd from arriving early. When the doors opened at 5pm, the line had already wrapped around the side of building with die hard fans screaming “Fucking Slayer” at the top of their lungs to anyone who passed. When Cannibal Corpse took the stage at 6pm, the majority of fans remained either at the merch booth or in the beer lines. Regardless of the crowd size, Cannibal Corpse performed the same high energy, brutal death metal set that their fans have come to love over the years. For a band that typically plays smaller venues when touring the United States, it was nice to see Cannibal on a large stage. The criminally short 30 minute set consisted of just six songs. “Evisceration Plague” warmed the crowd up before the band transitioned into “Scourge of Iron” and “Red Before Black.” Bassist Alex Webster was as tight as ever and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher entertained with his guttural vocals and windmilling expertise. Closing the set with “Hammer Smashed Face” sparked the first high energy movement in the mosh pit. I’m glad to see that Cannibal didn’t let the large stage and pavilion set-up take away from their energy and heavy tones.
Next up, the viking berserkers of Amon Amarth took the stage. A long time favorite of mine, I was excited to see what the Swedes had in store for this tour. As a giant viking ship stood tall at center stage, adorned with glowing red dragons eyes, I knew this set wouldn’t disappoint. Johan Hegg charged out to the rhythm of “The Pursuit of Vikings” as the set kicked off. The synchronized windmills of guitarist Olavi Mikkonen, guitarist Johan Söderberg, and bassist Ted Lundström, created a ripple effect of banging heads in the crowd. Runes, knotwork, drinking horns, and mjolnirs (Thor’s hammer) were displayed on the band’s stage attire and equipment accessories. “Guardians of Asgard” and “Twilight of the Thunder God” had the crowd screaming along and raising their beers high to the sky. The set closed with “Raven’s Flight” and “Shield Wall.” It was great to see such strong support for the Norsemen at a show surrounded by thrash and death metal legends.
By the time Lamb of God took the stage, the venue was filled close to capacity. From the opening notes of “Omerta,” it was obvious that the overall sound quality had improved drastically. The mosh pits were stronger, the fans screamed louder, and smoke billowed from the lawn. Vocalist Randy Blythe seems to gain more energy over the years and fed off of the crowd’s excitement. The set consisted of tracks from Sacrament, As the Palaces Burn, Ashes of the Wake, and Vll: Sturm Und Drang. The set closed with Randy dedicating “Redneck” to Vinnie Paul. Randy told a story of how it was Vinnie’s favorite Lamb of God track. The crowd erupted and channeled Vinnie’s spirit as the mosh pits spread like wildfire. Though I’ve never been a huge Lamb of God fan, each time I see them I am drawn in and want to hear more.
At 9:25 the lights dimmed and the Slayer logo danced across a black curtain that covered the stage. “Delusions of Saviour” echoed from the PA and chants of “Slayer” swept through the crowd. The curtain dropped and the crowd went into a frenzy as the set kicked off with “Repentless.” Clouds of smoke and dust filled the air as the pit area near the front of the stage split open and bodies began to fly over the barricade. The larger outdoor venue allowed for Slayer to bring their entire stage production this time around, pyro included. Flames shot high to the sky behind bassist and vocalist Tom Araya as the set charged forward with “Evil Has No Boundaries” and “World Painted Blood.” Hot enough to scorch the eyebrows of those in the front row, the fire created an atmosphere that only Slayer is capable of capturing.
Guitarist Kerry King stomped across every inch of the stage as he shredded the frets of his signature Flying V guitar. The sound was tight and the song tempos were turned up a notch. Gary Holt and Kerry King both executed solos that stood out in the mix at just the right levels. The double bass and thrash beats from drummer Paul Bostaph shook the crowd to their core. The 20 song setlist touched on 10 albums spanning the band’s discography. “Hell Awaits” and “South of Heaven” incited some of the biggest reactions from the crowd, as would be expected. The lawn had turned into a mud pit from the weeks worth of rain and bodies slid down the hill. Adults and kids alike slammed into one another picking each other up as they fell. The unwritten law of picking those up who fall in the pit was strongly recognized. Once again, Slayer put on a show that fans will remember for a lifetime. Hopefully recent trends continue and this isn’t actually the last Slayer tour.
– Corey Smith
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