Live at Mayhem Festival
San Bernardino, California
June 27th, 2015
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Originators of the scene, Thrash Metal giants, Slayer headline this year's Mayhem Festival. In anticipation for their forthcoming album, "Repentless" out 9/11/15, these guys once again hit the tour circuit and this time around bring an entire festival's worth of metal in their wake.
Direct support on the main stage was provided by the legendary King Diamond so the crowd was warmed up and awaiting the main act with intense anticipation.
A huge white curtain hung before the stage and as the lights went down, red lasers flashed the Slayer logo as well as pentagrams and inverted crosses all across the fabric while "Delusions of Saviour" began to play. Cheers and screams rang out. Someone lit off a ton of fireworks right in the center of the mosh circle sending them flying into other fans.
As the intro came to its close, the white curtain suddenly dropped, revealing the band standing in front of a huge projection screen. The first blast of riffs tore out of the speakers as the screen came to life, revealing the cover artwork for the upcoming album.
The first song was the title track off this soon to be released album, "Repentless" and was the debut of their new material in a live setting. As pioneers of the thrash metal sound, their signature riffs were made for headbanging and moshing and the crowd was swept up in a frenzy.
They continued the set with "Hate Worldwide" followed by "Jihad". The screen behind them would change continuously, showing images from all the albums in the past as well as song specific material, in this case Jihadists in masks with guns and parchments with Sanskrit writing.
"Disciple" was up next and then they played "God Send Death" which they had not played live for some time. Some of the fans were ecstatic when they recognized the first battery of riffs.
They utilized a number of pyrotechnic displays throughout the show. The heat from the blasts could be felt deep into the audience so they must have been insanely hot on stage right behind the musicians. At times they formed walls of fire, for other songs a pair of aimed flamethrowers would project a fiery inverted cross.
"War Ensemble" lead to their other new song of the set, "When the Stillness Comes". This was our second taste of what the new album will offer us in a few months.
Since 1981, two of the founding members are still at the core of the entity and Kerry King is one of the most well known guitarists in the metal world. He is responsible for conjuring the heavy riffage that is their signature assault.
Tom Araya performs both bass duties as well as all vocals for the band, keeping a consistent voice in the music scene for well over thirty years.
With the tragic loss of Jeff Hanneman two years ago, it was questionable whether we would see more Slayer, but they recruited the talented Gary Holt of Exodus fame to join the ranks on stage. To round out the band, Paul Bostaph returned to the skins a few years back when Dave Lombardo parted ways with the other members for the third time.
"Implode" was up next and is renowned as the first new song to be played live in many years with its debut at the Golden Gods awards. They fired into "Mandatory Suicide" before playing one of my favorite songs of the night, "Chemical Warfare".
The set list continued to expand with "Ghosts of War" before Tom introduced the next song being all about love. He said "It was all about love and the things people do to achieve it. It is about "Dancing with the Dead in my Dreams"". This lead into "Dead Skin Mask" and the screen showed images of Ed Gein's mug shot as well as his fingerprint sheets and different tools that were taken as evidence when he was arrested. There were also blurry photos of skulls and body parts and the whole thing was quite disturbing.
At this point in the concert they focused on some really old favorites that sent the mosh pit into a cyclone of misery. "Hell Awaits" is one of the first songs I really remember as a kid in the '80s and it sounded really cool live. They blasted into another old favorite with "South of Heaven" and lead straight into "Raining Blood".
Tom thanked everyone for coming out and joining them for the festival this evening. The screen was taken over by a huge image that resembled a Heineken beer label but instead it read Hanneman and around the green outside ring it read "Angel of Death". That was the final song of the night and everyone gave one last effort in the mosh pit before the show ended.
Tom waved good night, Kerry flipped guitar picks into the crowd, the drummer threw his drum sticks and then they left the stage. The crowd started chanting for more but the lights went up in the amphitheater and that was the finale.
It was a great show and definitely proved why Slayer are such a heavily regarded entity in the music scene. The headbanging riffs are second to none and their subject matter has always stirred the controversial pot, their video imagery was definitely dark and demented. I have never seen Slayer live in all these years and I am glad I finally had the chance.
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