Slayer Slays At Blossom
June 8th, 2018
Metal stalwarts Slayer brought a host of their friends with them to Blossom Music Center last night to bid the 216 adieu on their Farewell tour.
A staple in the head-banging crowd since 1981, the thrash outfit is one of the "Big Four" of head-banging screaming metal bands, alongside Megadeth, Metallica, and an outfit that accompanied the band on this tour, Anthrax. Most well-known for anti-religious and "Satanic" album covers and song lyrics, these provocateurs bade farewell to Northeast Ohio in an epic showcase of talent.
Starting the festivities way before the witching hour, the 5:00 kickoff was anything but unholy. For a sold-out Blossom show, the show went off mostly without any hitches, unlike the nightmare that befell the Jimmy Buffet crowd a little more than a week before. Wait times were at a minimum and the parking situation (well, more like the parking lot sich) wasn't as bad as it could have been. Here's hoping that Blossom can keep it up, especially with the Dead and Company show coming up in a few weeks. That fiasco last summer is something that I'm sure Blossom, and anyone living within five miles of the venue, wants to nip in the bud and not have a hellish repeat.
First up was Berkeley, California-based Testament. The Bay area outfit, founded in 1983, sports Eric Peterson, lead guitar, as the only founding member of the band still playing under their aegis. Vocalist Chuck Billy, with the band since the mid '80s, ably handled the duties behind the mic. Playing a short seven song set, they started the night off with "Brotherhood of the Snake" and ended with "Over the Wall."
Next up were Polish expats Behemoth. Founded in the early 1990s, this band was borne from the remnants of the recently-deceased Soviet empire and played a significant role in the emergence of the Polish underground metal scene. Offering perhaps the darkest song titles of the night, they also played a truncated set, offering such tunes as "Demigod," "Chant for Eschaton 2000" and, most notably, "O Father, O Satan, O Sun!"
New York City-based Anthrax, one of the most well-known and successful thrash metal outfits to emerge from the early '80s scene, was the third band to take the stage. Founding member and rhythm guitarist Scott Ian was joined onstage by longtime members Charlie Benante behind the kit, Frank Bello on the bass and Joey Belladonna on lead vocals. A recent addition to the band, lead guitarist Jonathan Donais played to Ian's right. Playing a seven-song set, the band really put things into high gear (and about 150 decibels) as they started their set off with "Caught in a Mosh."
Belladonna's vocals were perfect; both his range and pitch, surprisingly, were good for a vocalist who has to enunciate over the screaming guitars and wall of amps that sent sound reverberating throughout Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If that errant Pennsylvania black bear that was spotted last week near Blossom was there prior to the show, it's a good bet that he high-tailed it out of there midway during Anthrax's set.
The set contained "I Am the Law" and ended with both a cover of Trust's "Antisocial" and then with a rousing rendition of "Indians."
Surprisingly, Lamb of God was in the fourth spot. Although not as popular outside the metal crowd as Anthrax, they were given the second-to-last spot on the card.
The Richmond, Virginia-based heavy metal quintet are most well-known for their 2009 effort Wrath. Since their inception in 1994, the outfit has sold over two million albums and have been nominated for a handful of Grammys. Perhaps the most disparately different of the five bands on this tour, Lamb of God is mostly known as a punk-metal band.
Playing a nine song set, they opened with "Omerta." Frontman Randy Blythe got the pavilion crowd up and moving with his, um, spirited vocals. Offering up "512," "Now You've Got Something To Die For" and "Blacken The Cursed Sun," among others, this outfit prepared the anxious crowd for the evening's main event.
When Slayer finally took the stage, the revelers were a little tired; four bands had prepped them for the headliners, but the heat and a generous consumption of alcohol had started to make the natives a little restless.
Original members Tom Araya on bass and vocals, and Kerry King on lead guitar, were joined by Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt on rhythm guitar. When the Huntington Park, California thrashers finally made their way to the dimly-lit stage, the place went nuts. Offering up a nineteen-song set, this was a full concert to itself.
Taking the audience on a ninety-minute retrospective and songs from eleven of their albums, the band made sure that every part of their thirty-five plus years making music was represented during the show. Four tunes, "War Ensemble," "Blood Red," "Dead Skin Mask" and "Seasons in the Abyss" all came from Seasons In The Abyss, their 1990 album and one of their most-respected drops.
Reign In Blood, their third album and arguably most popular release, was repped by three tunes, most notably "Angel of Death." the album, highly controversial at the time of its release, got no airplay and attained its success due to word of mouth. Today, it's considered one of the most instrumental albums in terms of defining the genre as it's known today.
If anything, a Slayer concert is loud. The energy emanating from Araya and company echoed off the wooden rafters of Blossom's pavilion. The audience, surely, was deaf for the rest of last night and well into this morning's commute to work. The band knows what their fans want. And they gave it in spectacular terms to a sold-out crowd of acolytes who worshiped at that metal altar.
In short, they really live up to their band's name.
Review and Photos by Jon Lichtenberg