Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament and Napalm Death
The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
July 29, 2018
In January 2018, Slayer announced that its 2018 tour would be its final trek across the United States. The Farewell Tour, they announced, would be an extravaganza featuring Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Testament and either Behemoth or Napalm Death handling the opener’s slot.
On a hot and muggy Sunday afternoon in the midst of a brutal stretch of oppressive weather on the east coast of the U.S., Slayer and its cohorts arrived at Wantagh, NY’s Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. On this afternoon into evening the opening slot was held by Napalm Death. Although the event was billed as a Slayer show with support by the other acts, the atmosphere and lineup felt more like a supercharged one-day metal festival. It is easy to imagine the lineup as such. Slayer, Anthrax and Testament are all legends. Lamb of God has been called the future of modern metal. Napalm Death are an amazing band that is ONLY considered and opening act when grouped with those legends.
Slayer was formed in Huntington Park, CA in 1981 by vocalist/bassist Tom Araya, guitarist Kerry King and the late guitarist Jeff Hanneman. The band’s music is fast, powerful and aggressive. Along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, it is one of the "big four" bands of thrash metal. Slayer has released a dozen studio albums, two live albums and a box set. The band has received five Grammy Award nominations, winning twice--in 2007 for the song “Eyes of the Insane” and in 2008 for the song “Final Six.” Slayer is currently composed of King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt.
Lamb Of God (often referred to as LOG) was formed in 1994 in Richmond, VA. The band’s original name was Burn the Priest. Since its formation, Lamb of God has sales almost two million albums in the United States. In 2010 and 2011 the band received Grammy nominations for songs from their 2009 album Wrath (Epic/Roadrunner Records). The group currently consists of bassist John Campbell, vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler and drummer Chris Adler (who due to unforeseen circumstances has been replaced on the final leg of the our by Art Cruz).
Anthrax was formed in New York City in 1981 by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian bassist Dan Lilker. The group is one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer. The band has released 11 studio albums and has sold well over 10 million albums worldwide. The band is currently comprised of Ian, Charlie Benante (drums), Frank Bello (bass), Joey Belladonna (lead vocals) and Jonathan Donais (lead guitar).
Testament has been called one of the most influential bands in thrash metal. The band, which was formed in Berkeley, CA in 1983 (as Legacy) currently features guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, lead vocalist Chuck Billy, drummer Gene Hoglan, and bassist Steve Di Giorgio. Over the course of its career, the band’s only constant member has been Peterson. Peterson and Billy are the only members to appear on all of Testament's studio albums. Testament is currently working on its twelfth studio album, which is tentatively due for release in 2019.
Napalm Death is from Meriden, West Midlands, England. The original band was formed in 1981 and none of the original members are still with the group. However, the band’s nucleus has remained constant for over 25 years-- vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera. The band is known for its extremely short songs, fast tempos, and political lyrics. Napalm Death has released sixteen studio albums, and are listed by Nielsen SoundScan as the seventh best-selling death metal band in the United States.
The show began with Napalm Death hitting the stage at 5pm. Though the intimate venue by the bay was only partially filled, Greenway and his bandmates did not disappoint those who turned out early. The band packed eleven strong and powerful songs into its half-hour time slot. Highlights included: “Multinational Corporations,” “ “Smash a Single Digit,” “Scum,” “How the Years Condemn” and the set-closing Dead Kennedys cover, “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.”
Testament was on next. Its set was only seven songs in length, but it must be remembered that its songs are quite a bit longer than those of Napalm Death. The set leaned heavily on the New Order album (Atlantic Records, 1988) and the band’s newest release Brotherhood of the Snake (Nuclear Blast, 2016). The unabashed highlights were “D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)” and the set-closer, the intense “Disciples of the Watch.”
The sun was still up when local metal heroes, Anthrax appeared on stage with Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” blaring over the arena’s speakers. The band then played the opening to Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” and Belladonna immediately got the crowd into it whipping those in the pit into a frenzy. Though its set was short, Anthrax delivered eight classic songs with fan favorites such as “Caught in a Mosh”, “Antisocial,” “Be All, End All” and “Indians” delivering the goods.
As the sun set and day turned to night, it was Lamb Of God’s turn. The band’s set was a bit longer than those of its predecessors, clocking in at just under an hour. Lamb Of God quickly showed that they are poised to take over Slayer’s throne and be the face of the genre as we race toward the 2020s. The band’s set was incendiary. It began with a scorching version of “Omerta.” The nine song set featured Blythe giving shoutouts to the Armed Forces, the New York Hardcore Scene and, of course, Slayer. Blythe is one helluva showman. He was all over the stage—jumping, leaping and shaking his head up and down like a man possessed.
Highlights included: “Ruin,” “Walk With Me In Hell,” “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” (the song Blythe dedicated to those who serve in the Armed Forces) and “512” (which the frontman described as being “about a shitty place I went to for a little while.”) This was, of course, in reference to the time he spent in a Czech after being accused of manslaughter when a concertgoer died. Blythe was acquitted, but as one would expect, he remains upset by the ordeal. The band’s set closed with “Redneck.” At the end of the song those in their seats gave a rousing and thunderous ovation. Those in the pit were both delirious and spent.
With the sun completely set and darkness set across Long Island, those in attendance were aware that this could be the band’s final area performance. Farewell tours aren’t what they used to be, but this was billed as the end of the road for the metal mainstays.
The mighty Slayer hit the stage and the entire venue rose to its collective feet. With a pyrotechnics show that would have done the Grucci Family proud, Slayer delivered exactly what the devil horns raised screaming fans expected and wanted—loud, fast and out of control metal.
With fire shooting up and a constantly changing and evolving background Holt, Araya, and King and Bostaph steadily worked their way through a nineteen song set featuring the classics. Slayer bashed its way through an amazing set, each successive song was better that the preceding one. Fantastic performances abounded including the versions of “War Ensemble,” “Dead Skin Mask” and “South of Heaven.” Other highlights included: “Blood Red,” “Jihad,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Postmortem,” “Black Magic,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Hate Worldwide,” “Payback” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Hell Awaits” and “South of Heaven.” The set ended with the One-Two-Three knockout punch of “Raining Blood,” “Chemical Warfare” and “Angel of Death.”
The festival that wasn’t billed as a festival, featured six hours of head banging music. Slayer and its tour-mates provided the Long Island crowd with an event to remember. Each band delivered killer sets. Napalm Death was not the typical opening act and wowed those who arrived early. Anthrax and testament rocked. Lamb Of God showed that it is the leader of the metal genre as it moves forward. And, if this was it, the Long Island audience was witness to an amazing going away party as Slayer gets ready to hang up its guitars, bass and drumsticks. If it truly is the end, Slayer is going out on top and in style.
Photos by Christine Connallon