MGM Garden Arena Las Vegas, NV November 27th, 2019
Philip Anselmo & The Illegals - Ministry - Primus
So this is it... this is the end. How in the hell did we get here?
Guess I'll start at the beginning.
In 1981 Slayer formed in Huntington Park, California by vocalist/bass player Tom Araya, drummer Dave Lombardo, guitarist Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. They'd sign with Metal Blade records and release their first two records 'Show No Mercy' and 'Hell Awaits'.
They'd sign with Def Jam Recording to release one of the cornerstone albums of thrash metal 'Reign In Blood'. The next two albums would be released on Def Jam as well before longtime producer Rick Rubin would leave the label and start Def American (later simply American) taking Slayer with him.
In 1992 Paul Bostaph would replace Dave Lombardo the first time. He'd be the band's drummer for the better part of nine years before Dave would return in 2001. Bostaph would return following Lombardo second depature in 2013.
Gary Holt would first be a touring fill-in for Jeff Hanneman when the latter had fallen sick in 2011 and his posistion in SLAYER would be permanent following Hanneman's unfortunate death in 2013.
I likely first heard SLAYER on my oldest sister's couch when her husband would put any number of artists from his collection of metal records. However it would years later when a thirteen year old Ethan would search out the SLAYER back catalog after listening to their then latest album 'God Hates Us All'.
I'd see them the first time on tour with Unearth in 2007. Then my brother and I saw them headline Mayhem Fest in Chicago. However since 2016 the wife and I have seen Slayer on three separate occasions.
Holy shit were those shows at the Joint fucking awesome. The lineups were absolute killer. Carcass and Testament for that first show. Followed by Behemoth and Lamb of God a year later. Which is why we were far less excited about Ministry and Primus.
However Philip Anselmo & The Illegals had my Pantera fan of a wife excited seeing how much fun we had seeing them headline Backstage Bar & Billiards. This time they played a full Pantera set.
Some of the highlights of their set had Child Bite frontman Shawn Knight come onstage to join Phil in performing "I'm Broken". Charlie Benante of Anthrax would take up drum duties on "Strength Beyond Strength" and the crowd singing him "Happy Birthday". Lastly you couldn't have expected that there be a Pantera tribute on tour with Slayer and they not play "Goddamn Electric", a song Kerry King did a guest solo on. They would start with the second verse "Your trust is in whiskey, weed, and Slayer. It's goddamn electric."
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals Gallery:
To be perfectly frank the following two bands I was largely bored by. Ministry unfortunately falls into the many trappings of industrial metal and not for the better.
Primus on the other hand started things off slow and drawn out and didn't let up their entire set. So much show the photographers didn't stay for their three song allotment.
Primus would play their old hits at the tail end of their set but it was too late. Seeing how loud his bass was and how low in the mix pretty much everything else but the drums are. Les Claypool's bass is the star of the show and certainly not the man himself.
I went to the bathroom halfway through the set and saw a Primus shirt that featured a logo resembling the logo of thrash metal outfit and death metal pioneers Possessed. There was a rumor going around for as long as I remember that Les Claypool at one point was the bassist for Possessed. It's false and even Claypool has said as much. However Primus' guitarist Larry LaLonde did play guitar in Possessed from '84-'87. The two would then play in Blind Illusion together for their 1988 album 'The Sane Asylum'.
The guys we were all looking forward to FUCKING SLAYER come to the stage and I have to say this might be the biggest stage setup I might have seen them with. I don't remember if they did pyro on Mayhem Fest but considering they were trading the top spot with Marylin Manson they may have toned down some things ten years ago at least for logistical reasons.
The inverting cross and SLAYER logos lighting up the curtains was familiar to me but the fire shooting all over was a nice touch. The best bit was the flames forming into an inverted cross behind Paul Bostaph. The setlist is as you might expect, the biggest songs of their catalog from the very beginning of their career to title songs from their later albums.
Alot of talk of reunions and farwells has been going on recently. From Kiss' on again and off again talk of calling it quits. Then Mötley Crüe breaking their own contractually bound retirement to back on tour. At least with SLAYER if the same were to happen I'd feel confident that they'd refuse if they didn't feel they couldn't put on the same monstrously killer live show we've come to expect. The same couldn't be said for Paul Stanley and Vince Neil. Both who have had much trouble keeping their voices in shape for the road.
Forever one of the greats!
Slayer on the other hand have been as great live as I remember them being twelve years ago. Tom didn't wait to fully recover from surgery before he was back on the road with help from a specially made guitar strap. Never not once did I feel that SLAYER had outstayed their welcome or strayed so far away from being who they were that I just wanted them to go away.
That said I have no reason not to believe the SLAYER camp that the end is here and I wish the best of health and happiness for the band, crew, families, and friends of this incredible band. We love you. We'll miss you. We'd like to hear how you're doing so don't forget to call and stay in touch.
All photos by Courtney Ware for ZRockR Magazine 2019, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.