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Slayer, Anthrax & Death Angel Live in Lethbridge 10/17/16: 50% of The Big Four Melted 100% of My Face [Review]

Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel rolled their North American Fall Tour through the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta on October 17, 2016. Check out my review of the show which is hands down the most thrash metal lineup of 2016.

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The last time I saw Slayer live was when they were headlining their Unholy Alliance tour which consisted of support from Thine Eyes Bleed, Mastodon, Children of Bodom and Lamb of God. That was over 10 years ago and the setlist I watched Slayer dish out last night was pretty much on par with what I remember from that show. That’s not a bad thing either – Slayer is there to play the shit that Slayer fans know and love – throwing in maybe one or two new songs from recent albums.

Having 50% of the Big Four (Megadeth and Metallica are the other 50% for those uneducated in metal), play a show in Lethbridge is a remarkable victory for the city and I’m happy that the Enmax Centre is trying to branch out and diversify the Southern Alberta crowd. To grab two legendary bands in Anthrax and Slayer is a big win even though I must say that the crowd was sparse in the building. The audience was loud and very active in the pits, but having the stage at the end of the arena wasn’t a good move. If they had done a half bowl set-up it would have looked much better in the venue as opposed to having so many people in seats spread out.

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Death Angel opened the show up and singer Mark Osegueda was a beast. The entire band were monsters – supporting their brutal new record The Evil Divide, they ripped through a blistering set of classics and although I’m sure most of the crowd wasn’t overly familiar with them, they turned every single person there into fans. The musicianship was amazing – the speed, the technicality, did I mention the breakneck SPEED? Death Angel belongs on this tour because they’re such a similar force of nature and have that same ferocity in their music that Slayer has. Their presence was felt in that arena – in a big way.

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Anthrax — I’m actually stunned at how much energy they still have. Joey Belladonna ran around that stage like he was Bruce Dickinson. Scott Ian’s iconic goatee looked as though it was his third hand on that guitar playing around Mach 5. Their latest album ‘For All Kings’ is a strong record and I’m happy that I was able to hear some of that sucker live alongside wicked classics like ‘Caught in a Mosh’. PS: ‘Caught in a Mosh’ live is a religious experience – if a religious experience is banging your head to the point of the music blurring into the sound of your brain smacking back and forth against the inside of a skull. I’d not seen Anthrax live before, but I will be seeing them again.

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Tom Araya…. There’s just something about the way he slowly walks up to the microphone and doesn’t even say a word – he just smiles and looks at the audience — and they get it… He’s a man of few words between songs and I’m OK with that. Slayer doesn’t necessarily move around much on stage, but it’s because they physically can’t due to the insane and complex thrash metal that they’re performing. Slayer is FAST – I’m stunned at how much material they blasted through last night from their extensive and evil catalog of classics. Everything from ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Chemical Warfare’, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ to hits like ‘Disciple’. Hearing that chorus of ‘God Hates Us All’ all these years later is still brutal and one of the most devilishly sinister lines in all of metal. It works live – and it works very well.

Slayer doesn’t fuck around – they are there to play Slayer songs and play them at a breakneck pace. It’s almost punishing to the eardrums no matter where you are located in the venue. I found my second wind by the time they kicked into ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Raining Blood’, the latter of which is one of the best metal songs you can hear live – ever. I lost my mind and probably chunks of bone in my neck during that one. A fitting conclusion was during their set closer ‘Angel of Death’ when the backdrop behind the band changed to tribute the late Jeff Hanneman. I loved that. I don’t know how long they’ve been utilizing that but they should never stop. I miss Hanneman, a lot, and it was a fitting tribute to the fallen brother and mad genius behind some of Slayer’s greatest songs.

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