Live Review: Slayer, Anthrax, Behemoth

8 March 2019 | 3:00 pm | Jake Sun

"Among the most memorable live metal moments ever imaginable."

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A sea of black shirts flows in early to Brisbane's Riverstage, with the majority of ticket holders showing up eager to get a full taste of tonight's triple stack.   

The sun fades just in time for openers Behemoth and the band get straight to business, with Wolves ov Siberia and Daimonos instantly demonstrating why they have come to be held on the top rung of Poland's extreme music scene, if not the world's. Their live show is high on theatrics and musicality throughout, and by the time they wrap the set up with Coagvla (an odd outro that sees all four members playing percussion to a backing-track) they've proven themselves a more-than-worthy addition to this menu of metal legends.

A concert volume intro of Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast seems at first like a risky move for Anthrax, but any fears that such an epic prelude could set the bar a little high are quickly put to rest by the band's monstrous sound. Tonight's performances of Caught In A Mosh, Got The Time and Antisocial inevitably dwarf those of their studio counterparts, and the contagious energy of one of New York's all-time finest is felt to linger well beyond the closer Indians. What a welcome relief to finally see a bill that doesn't stagger the volume, but then again tonight's headliner would never need the advantage of an imbalanced playing field.

For many a headbanger, this was really the band that started it all, so it's no surprise the venue reaches a state of near-hysteria when a theatrical light-and-pyro display announces Slayer's final arrival. Instead of resting on their laurels, they open with the title track of their last long-player, Repentless. It's a bold statement that clearly illustrates their longevity, demonstrating that time hasn't softened them in the slightest.

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A quick glance at the credits for the songs considered to be the band's true classics will reveal that Jeff Hanneman was Slayer's master scribe, but for whatever compositional void may be left by the absence of their late guitarist, secondary writer Kerry King has made up for with blunt aggression. And so intense are the band as a whole, that we haven't even had time to know what's hit us before the venue is haemorrhaging Hanneman masterpieces. Blood Red, Disciple and Mandatory Suicide spill out in all their exquisite glory. War Ensemble, Postmortem, Black Magic; the classic cuts just keep on flowing, but it's the late maestro's funky Christ Illusion pick, Jihad, that delivers one of the real surprise highlights, proving that he had that special something brewing right on up till the end.

The epic Seasons In The Abyss heads us down the home straight, before the pyro-laced Born Of Fire, Dead Skin Mask, and Hell Awaits ring a few more drops of sweat out of the manic mosh and circle pit. The band momentarily depart the stage, and, as if set to a timer, the sky completely opens up right as they step back out with South Of Heaven and Raining Blood; hearing the latter performed as a wash of red lights and rain beats down on a manic swarm of writhing bodies has got to be among the most memorable live metal moments ever imaginable. The clouds ease up on us with Chemical Warfare and finally a Hanneman backdrop is unveiled as the ferocious Angel Of Death delivers us to the end with a sense of celebratory glory. Emotion peaks as all four members stand for a prolonged time at the front of the stage, signalling their final farewells. When the others depart, frontman Tom Araya is still left standing, beaming with an aura of immense appreciation. His last words - "All I can bring myself to say is; Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" - leave many among the audience wiping away tears. The exit gates mark an end of an era, and as we take our leave, the impassioned cries of fans can be heard spilling out into the deep of night, "SLAAAYAAAAAAA!!!"