Slayer reigns in Brisbane
Reviewers Brooke Bijl and Marc Stapelberg
BANDS: Behemoth, Anthrax, Slayer
Venue: Riverstage, Brisbane
Best Moment of Gig: Rain pouring down as Slayer launch into Reign in Blood
Best Success of Gig: The venue. Riverstage continues to be one of the best venues in Australia for sound, visibility and access
Best stage presence: Behemoth with multiple costume changes
For such a huge, enormous gig it is reasonable to assume that metalheads from around Queensland had made the pilgrimage to Brisbane city to see the pioneers of brutal thrash/death/punk/blast metal hit the stage for one last time: Slayer in all their glory.
Having said that, if you were coming from the south on the highway it was likely you were held up with traffic issues near the Gold Coast or an accident near South Bank.
But for those punters who made the effort to be extra early to catch Behemoth they were rewarded with a defining performance in the gig of three huge bands.
One of the reasons to catch sideshows as opposed to just the festival performances is that bands tend to have more control of their stage antics, broader song selection and or stage setup when it is their own gig.
As a result it was always going to be interesting to see whether Behemoth would bring all the pathos and drama found in their albums to this show.
And they delivered in bucket loads.
While it is hard to argue against the fact that everyone was frothing to see the mighty Slayer, there was no doubt many were curious to see Behemoth who have increasingly evolved and refined their sound and show with ever broadening beauty, power and ferocity.
Walking on stage in black skull masks the Polish powerhouse launched into their first song Blow your Trumpets.
Half expecting Nergal to be more subdued than the rest of the band with his vocal responsibilities it is absolutely invigorating to see the frontman commanding the show with the intensity and passion synonymous with his now more public image.
It was this authenticity that shone through with Behemoth.
They were there to prove that they are one of metal's best Black/death metal innovators at the moment and they meant business.
The bass, guitars and drums thundering with perfect clarity.
Pulling off their masks they revealed their white and black death masks painted on and this was followed by more costume changes throughout the set.
Behemoth are quickly becoming one of metal's most exciting acts and they transgress the boundaries of black/death metal and atmospheric soundscapes with Nergal's vocals sounding better than ever.
Moving through Wolves ov Siberia, The Satanist, Demigod, and The Slaves Shall Serve.
The fans at the front raising their fists and singing along , chanting when summoned and relishing the fact that they had been blessed with three headliners in one gig.
Behemoth were on fire with super tight riffing, precision drums and fantastic bass tones.
With Chant for Eschaton 2000, Ben Sahar, and The Absence of Light fans were treated to a wonderful selection of songs.
The ominous tones just increasing with every atmospheric piece of music and chanting layered into the performance.
Great to See them close with O Father O Satan O Sun!
Next up was Anthrax.
As one of the big four it is no doubt that Anthrax are one of the great thrash pioneers.
As other bands have refined or gone heavier, Anthrax have managed to delve deeper into the thrash sound to keep that frenetic energy, 90's sound and power riffs, in no small part due to Scott Ian's continued force in the band.
Anthrax exploded on stage and right from the outset you could tell that this was going to be a stellar performance.
It was great to see them perform a full show with lights, Joey Belladonna whipping his microphone stand around and running from side to side of the stage.
Charlie Benante proving why he is still one of the world's best thrash drummers and the bass tones punching through with a perfect top end while still accentuating the lows.
Performing Caught in Mosh, Got the Time and I am the Law fans were jumping to the upbeat vibe of the band.
This performance completely blew away their Soundwave performance a few year's back which was also action packed but in glaring midday sun.
When you watch Anthrax on stage one wishes that more younger fans embrace the power of thrash metal, which is something which will hopefully happen at this years Download in Sydney and Melbourne.
There was some crowd banter but on the most part the band just seemed to be enjoying breaking the ice on their first gig of the tour in Australia and proving why they are really one of the Big 4.
With closing note on Anthrax falling there was a definitive mood shift in the crowd - the moment was here.
Slayer's last Brisbane performance was about to begin.
The crowd was focused, a giant cover preventing the crowd seeing the preparations taking place and before anyone knew it was time for one of the most prolific bands in metal history to gift the stage with domination and fire.
As inverted crosses turned on the red screen, the band launched into the first notes of the gig.
And with unrelenting force they started carving a hole in the crowd's brains with the single focused intensity they are so well known for.
In other words, they caved the heads in of the crowd which is exactly why you come to Slayer.
The band tore through Blood Red, Disciple, War Ensemble, Jihad and tracks like Postmortem.
The audience loved every second. This was Slayer at their best with fan favourites of Seasons in the Abyss, Hell Awaits and South of Heaven,
Much like their performance at Festival Hall supported by Machine Head many years ago the band released wave after wave of their back catalogue shrouded in smoke, fire, and red lighting.
There is no way to have a bad set selection with Slayer - every song stands as a testament to itself.
Tom Araya sounds better than he has ever sounded before.
Kerry King was a picture of complete focus and ferocity, his arms bulging as he shredded through notes and very much maintaining command on the left side of stage.
Gary Holt was an absolute pleasure to watch with his solos providing eye watering note perfection and just generally a vibe that he was loving every minute being on stage.
And the drums - what can one say about the drumming that has not already been said.
There is not a band on the planet that has not been influenced by the drumming of Slayer in one way or another.
Of course it is with sadness that one must recognise that Jeff Hanneman was obviously absent, sadly passing away in 2013.
Unsure if there would be as much fire as in American performance's everyone was pleasantly rewarded with more fire than a stage could handle especially during the song Born of Fire.
On the stage it literally looked like fifth level of Dante's Hell and one could be forgiven for not really being sure how the band didn't singe their hair.
And as the band approached the end of their set the heavens opened drenching the audience in rain and strangely coinciding with Raining Blood.
It doesn't matter how many times you have seen Slayer, they continue to push the boundaries of their music and performance never letting up the intensity, never compromising and never letting their fans down.
And I suppose that is why we are seeing this farewell tour.
Slayer don't compromise, and they will not go softly into the night.
They will slam the hammer down closing their chapter of metal music with fire, blood, sweat and glory because how else would one of metal's best loved acts want to be remembered.