Saturday 21st November saw son numbers one and two together with myself travelling to Newport for a night of rather loud thrash metal. Son number one decided for reasons best known to himself to travel to the Forest from Bristol and then travel down to Newport with number two and I, but in his own car so he could head straight back to Bristol after the gig.
The journey down was uneventful, number one following us so he didn’t get lost on the way to the already chosen 24 hour car park – until boy racer mode took over and he shot past us and off into the distance. No problem, I thought, he knows where we’re parking… Suffice it to say that we were at said car park before him as he’d gone to a different one (and one that would close before we’d be back from the concert)! Anyway, once we were finally in the same place we headed off for a pre-gig eat at the local Subway and then made our way to the Newport Centre.
It’ll be no surprise to anyone that’s read my recent concert reviews to find that the doors opening time for this one was changed the day before the gig too – in this case from 7:00pm to 6:30pm. We joined the queue outside the Centre in plenty of time and were amongst the first couple dozen into the venue.
Having considered standing, and then the option of sitting in the stand behind the mixing desks we decided to sit in the lower seated area at the back of the standing area. Seemed like a good idea at the time…
Anyway, first up were Norwegian heavy metal band Kvelertak. Their set began with a single guitarist, Vidar Landa, hammering out a riff before fellow axemen Maciek Ofstad and Bjarte Lund Rolland joined in. The band were completed by bassist Marvin Nygaard, drummer Kjetil Gjermundrød and vocalist Erlend Hjelvik – the latter taking to the stage with what appeared to be a stuffed owl, complete with glowing eyes, where his head should have been!
Once first song “Åpenbaring” was finished the mask disappeared, but Hjelvik’s long hair meant that his face remained obscured from view for a lot of the time.
Son number two wasn’t overly impressed by Kvelertak, but number one and I enjoyed their slightly Seventies / stoner tinged heavy metal, and the band themselves certainly threw themselves into their performance – with the guitarists especially being very enthusiastic headbangers pretty much constantly throughout their set.
1. Åpenbaring / 2. Nekroskop / 3. Mjød / 4. Månelyst / 5. Ulvetid / 6. Evig Vandrar / 7. Kvelertak
1, 4, 6 and 7 originally from “Meir” (2013) / 2, 3 and 5 originally from “Kvelertak” (2010)
A fairly short interval followed (I’d not made it back from the toilet before the house lights went down again) before New York thrash metal legends Anthrax hit the stage, launching straight into “Caught In A Mosh” from their classic 1987 album “Among The Living”.
It quickly became apparent just how many folk had turned out for the show as the standing area was jam-packed, leading some to stand on the raised section in front of our seating area. This made seeing the stage tricky for those of us in the couple of rows behind, hence why the decision to sit there no longer seemed like such a good idea. It wasn’t possible for us to stand too, unfortunately, as people in the row behind us were physically unable to stand for long periods and it wouldn’t have been fair on them so we stayed seated and made the best of the view that remained.
Guitarist Scott Ian was on our side of the stage and vocalist Joey Belladonna was constantly on the move, so there were band members in sight all the time. Drummer Charlie Benante was visible behind his large kit and bassist Frank Bello prowled around mouthing all the lyrics too. The line-up is completed by most recent member, guitarist Jonathan Donais.
Anthrax’s set was mainly classics with three tracks from their most recent album, 2011’s “Worship Music”, and one new song, “Evil Twin”, slated to be on their upcoming album next year.
The band’s playing was tight and Belladonna’s voice (now on his third stint as lead vocalist in the band) was strong and clear throughout their set, not sounding like a man in his mid-fifties at all.
The only slight misstep from my perspective was when they played “Hymn 1” / “In The End”. I realise that this was a heartfelt tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag Darrell but the slow pace of the song meant that momentum was lost and it felt like a lull in an otherwise really good set. That said, the crowd lapped it all up and the three of us thought that they were generally very impressive.
1. Caught In A Mosh / 2. Got The Time / 3. Madhouse / 4. Evil Twin / 5. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t / 6. Antisocial / 7. March Of The S.O.D. / 8. Hymn 1 / 9. In The End / 10. Indians / 11. Among The Living
1, 10 and 11 originally from “Among The Living” (1987) / 2 originally from “Persistence Of Time” (1990) / 3 originally from “Spreading The Disease” (1985) / 4 to be on “For All Kings” (2016) / 5, 8 and 9 originally from “Worship Music” (2011) / 6 originally from “State Of Euphoria” (1988) / 7 cover originally by Anthrax offshoot Stormtroopers Of Death from “Speak English Or Die” (1985)
Following Anthrax’s departure from the stage following a storming “Among The Living” a curtain was dropped from the lighting rig to cover the stage from view. The curtain was then lit up in the colours of the French flag in silent tribute to the victims of the dreadful events in Paris on November 13th, which I thought was a nice touch.
After a snippet of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” the intro “Delusions Of Saviour” from Slayer‘s new album “Repentless” blasted out, the PA volume now noticeably louder than it had been for the previous two acts. During this various images were projected onto the curtain including Slayer logos and crucifixes (which naturally ended up inverted) before the curtain suddenly dropped and to a huge roar from the audience the band tore into “Repentless” itself.
The stage set was impressive, with a giant backdrop displaying artwork from the new album and four giant inverted crucifixes attached to the lighting rig that raised and lowered at intervals throughout the set. Very demonic looking!
There was little in the way of interaction between band and audience or between song banter, oddly enough. Vocalist / bassist Tom Araya did address the crowd about three times during the entire set, but that was about it. That said, it was much the same with Behemoth last December, though on that occasion the costumes and corpse paint gave the show a much more theatrical feel whereas with Slayer it felt a bit more like one song after another with just blackness between.
Guitarist Kerry King – who was on our side of the stage – played brilliantly and was clearly focused on his playing more than anything else. “New boy” Gary Holt – who replaced the late Jeff Hanneman on guitar in 2011 – took more notice of the audience.
Unfortunately, due to the way the guitars were split between PA stacks although King’s guitar sounded fantastic Holt’s was barely audible on our side of the hall.
At the back drummer Paul Bostaph (on his third stint in the band) was solid and impressive. As the band were taking the stage son number two had turned and asked me if I could play drums along to Slayer songs and I’d said no. However, having watched and listened to the man behind the kit himself I found that his playing wasn’t as fast as I had assumed, with double kick drums far less evident than in other extreme metal bands that I have seen perform, so maybe I could after all!
At the end of the day, however, this was a set heavy with Slayer classics and the jammed in audience loved every moment. Having noted the other day about seeing a support band having an encore for the first time, at this gig was the first time that I saw the headlining act not have an encore. After they’d charged through “Raining Blood” and “Angel Of Death” that was it. House lights up, thank you and goodnight! This may be a regular feature of Slayer gigs, but being my first one it was rather unexpected. Regardless, and whatever your opinion on whether the band are still Slayer without Hanneman and having fired previous drummer Dave Lomardo, this was an excellent show by a top class and justifiably legendary thrash metal band…
1. Intro – Delusions Of Saviour / 2. Repentless / 3. Postmortem / 4. Hate Worldwide / 5. Disciple / 6. God Send Death / 7. War Ensemble / 8. When The Stillness Comes / 9. Vices / 10. Mandatory Suicide / 11. Chemical Warfare / 12. Die By The Sword / 13. Black Magic / 14. Implode / 15. Seasons In The Abyss / 16. Hell Awaits / 17. Dead Skin Mask / 18. World Painted Blood / 19. South Of Heaven / 20. Raining Blood / 21. Angel Of Death
1, 2, 8, 9 and 14 originally from “Repentless” (2015) / 3, 20 and 21 originally from “Reign In Blood” (1986) / 4 and 18 originally from “World Painted Blood” (2009) / 5 and 6 originally from “God Hates Us All” (2001) / 7, 15 and 17 originally from “Seasons In The Abyss” (1990) / 10 and 19 originally from “South Of Heaven” (1988) / 11 originally from “Haunting The Chapel” (1984) / 12 and 13 originally from “Show No Mercy” (1983) / 16 originally from “Hell Awaits” (1985)