Slayer, Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb of God at Pacific Coliseum on May 16, 2018

Farewell tours seem to be a good way to draw crowds these days. How many times have KISS and Ozzy Osbourne retired again? I lost count.

Punchlines aside, as a metalhead who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Slayer was one of the first bands to really pave the way for me to discover the genre. So it was pretty much mandatory that I attend their “final” tour. Whether or not they will actually call it quits will be seen in the years to come, but for now, with the very real possibility of an end in sight, I feel very fortunate that I got to see these heavy metal titans so many times.

First on the bill for the evening’s entertainment were Bay Area heavyweights Testament, who opened the show in grand style. Vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, bassist Steve DiGiorgio and drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan raged through a seven song setlist that consisted of modern favorites as well as classics like “Into the Pit,” “Practice What You Preach” and “Over the Wall.”

Polish Satanists Behemoth followed with a noteworthy performance. After frontman Nergal’s bout with leukemia a few years back, it’s great to see him in good health and back on stage performing again. Behemoth’s set was short but it packed a powerful punch, opening with “Ov Fire and the Void” and closing with “O Father O Satan O Sun!”

Next up were fellow Big Four alums, Anthrax, who, in my opinion, really got the show going. From start to finish, Anthrax brought the energy to a boiling point at the Pacific Coliseum. Playing a set consisting mostly of classics like “Caught in a Mosh,” “Madhouse” and “I am the Law,” Joey Belladonna, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, and Jonathan Donais seriously brought the noise.

Lamb of God also delivered a high-energy set, performing tracks such as “Redneck,” “Omerta” and “Walk with Me in Hell.” After witnessing frontman Randy Blythe jumping a good six feet in the air off the drum riser, I have to wonder how he is still able to stand on two legs.

By the time Slayer hit the stage, the crowd was a hot frenzied mess of aggression and testosterone. Of course, I assumed they were going to play mostly newer tracks, as they did the last time I saw them live. I was pleasantly surprised when the whole second half of their set consisted of nothing but classic material. Cuts such as “Hell Awaits,” Raining Blood,” “Black Magic,” “Postmortem” and “Seasons in the Abyss,” among many others, sent these legends off in perfect style.

If this was, in fact, the final tour for Slayer, then they definitely did it right. Farewell for now, Slayer. It’s been fun and I wish you all the happiness and fulfillment you can get in your retirement.

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