Concert Review – Slayer (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 05/29/2018)

And Slayer said goodbye to Toronto in the most pulverizing (and best) way you can imagine.

OPENING ACTS: Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax and Lamb Of God

I don’t know what to say about the absolute devastation that happened at the always perfect (and I dare you to name one place in this planet that’s better than that for a live concert) Budweiser Stage yesterday in Toronto. When it was announced that there was going to be a Slayer Farewell Tour, I guess they forgot to say it was going to be a farewell to their diehard fans, brave people who lost their lives while crushing their heads and spines into the nonstop, infernal mosh pits that took over the entire venue (and I believe I saw some smaller ones even in the seated areas) during the more than SIX HOURS of brutal Thrash and Death Metal blasted by some of the best bands in the history of heavy music. As a matter of fact, whoever had the initial idea of putting together on the same day/night the great Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, Lamb Of God and Slayer deserves a huge prize and our utmost respect forever. It was totally and amazingly insane from start to finish, on a beyond beautiful and sunny day in the city. My neck hurts and I’m as tired as hell, so I’ll try to be brief in writing a little about what was supposed to be the last fulminating performance by the almighty Slayer in Toronto (and I really, really hope it was not the last time we saw those guys here).

It was past 4pm when the gates finally opened and the fans could enter the venue for some beer, for getting a little shade away from the scorching sun, and for a few curious ones to enjoy the official pre-show party with Canadian Black Metal horde Panzerfaust at the River Bar at 4:30pm. As I was dying for a beer and pumped up already for TESTAMENT at 5pm, I unfortunately couldn’t attend that mini-gig, but I guess the band won’t be mad at us for doing that, right? Anyway, at 5 o’clock high there they were Chuck Billy, Eric Peterson, Alex Skolnick, Steve Di Giorgio and the demonic stone crusher Gene Hoglan for a short and demolishing lecture in Thrash Metal, still promoting their latest installment, the flawless Brotherhood Of The Snake, from 2016. It was insanity in the form of seven faster-than-a-bullet songs (who doesn’t love the thrashing classic Into the Pit?), with the bestial drums by Gene sounding like he was hired by TTC to help with the excavations for a new subway station, making our chests and even hats tremble with his beats. Yes, as awesome as that.

Setlist
Brotherhood of the Snake
Rise Up
Practice What You Preach
The Pale King
Into the Pit
The New Order
Disciples of the Watch

Band members
Chuck Billy – vocals
Eric Peterson – guitar
Alex Skolnick – guitar
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Gene Hoglan – drums

After a short bathroom break, it was time for Poland’s most iconic metal band of all time to darken the stage with their blasphemous and sulfuric music. Polish Blackened Death Metal institution BEHEMOTH lived up to the expectations even playing a shorter setlist than usual (and at daylight, something they might not be used to), mixing classics with kick-ass songs from their latest album, their 2014 opus The Satanist, plus a brand new song named Wolves ov Siberia. Mr. Adam “Nergal” Darski was on fire throughout the entire performance, proving why he’s one of the most respected metal artists of the past decade, leaving the fans eager for more of their obscure music in a not-so-distant future. One funny thing is that Behemoth were the only band to not throw to the fans any guitar picks or drumsticks, but instead they were spitting blood on the people at the front row. If that doesn’t tell you how dark their music is, I don’t know what would.

Setlist
Ov Fire and the Void
Demigod
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Wolves ov Siberia
Chant for Eschaton 2000
O Father O Satan O Sun!

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

Another bathroom break, another beer, and at 6:55pm sharp (don’t you feel amazed with how punctual all events are in Toronto?) it was time for the old school, slamming, riff-oriented Thrash Metal by the one and only ANTHRAX, who (guess what?) delivered a sequence of seven ass-kicking, frantic songs, including Evil Twin, from their 2016 album For All Kings, and beautiful classics such as I Am the Law, Madhouse and Indians. Scott Ian and Frank Bello were in their usual “I’m playing on stage but I’m also moshing up here together with you guys in the pit” mode, while Joey Belladonna was beyond happy with the warm reaction of the fans to each one of their songs. The low point of the show was that unfortunately Charlie Benante couldn’t play with the band as a result of an ongoing battle with carpal tunnel in his wrists, but the good thing is that he was replaced by the monstrous Gene Hoglan. Do I need to say more? In addition, Mr. Belladonna said that the concert yesterday was Anthrax’s biggest crowd ever in Toronto, and I’m sure everyone who was there banging their heads to their music was more than happy to have been part of such important day to the band.

Setlist
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)
I Am the Law
Madhouse
Evil Twin
Antisocial (Trust cover)
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gene Hoglan – drums*

*Replaced Charlie Benante due to illness.

After all the havoc generated by Testament, Behemoth and Anthrax, there was still more to come with Groove Metal titans LAMB OF GOD, still promoting their 2015 album VII: Sturm und Drang, and let me tell you the show was so heavy and insane I think some people went missing after the demented circle pits ignited by Mr. Randy Blythe and his henchmen. Playing a solid mix of songs from all of their albums, with all of them of course being as brutal as hell, Lamb Of God put a huge smile on the faces of their diehard fans, with Randy also praising all the bands of the “mini-festival”, requesting everyone to pay a humble tribute to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with a few WOOOOO’s, and jumping up and down like a maniac on stage nonstop. Well, everything a Redneck loves in life, right? And please correct me if I’m wrong, but was Randy wearing some sort of ankle monitor still due to the manslaughter case he was involved and arrested for a few years ago? If that’s the case, well, that’s what I call a badass frontman, ladies and gentlemen.

Setlist
Omerta
Ruin
Walk With Me in Hell
Now You’ve Got Something to Die For
512
Engage the Fear Machine
Blacken the Cursed Sun
Laid to Rest
Redneck

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
Mark Morton – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It’s with these classic words that I want to introduce you to the end of all days in the form of the Satanic Thrash Metal blasted by the heaviest, the most awesome and the most destructive band in the world, the all-powerful SLAYER. Actually, I should say FUCKIN’ SLAYER, or even SLAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR, as this is the right way to refer to the unrelenting Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and the second stone crusher of the night, the barbaric Paul Bostaph (another guy that probably got some money from TTC to speed up the subway excavations yesterday). Playing at least one song from each one of their crushing albums, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy to their 2015 opus Repentless (with the exception of their 1998 controversial album Diabolus in Musica), Slayer put on a flammable performance (and I’m not using the word flammable in vain, as there was A LOT of fire during the whole concert), turning the entire floor section into one supreme, hot-as-hell, motherfuckin’ savage circle pit.

And that mix of classic Slayer with their more contemporary albums workd extremely well, creating a hellish balance of sounds for the total delectation of all admirers of their undisputed Thrash Metal. It was fantastic watching them performing faster, newer tunes like Repentless, Disciple, Hate Worldwide and Jihad, while at the same time delivering their classic infernal melodies in Mandatory Suicide, Postmortem and Black Magic. For instance, in my humble opinion the sequence comprised of Payback (one of the most pulverizing songs of the night), Seasons in the Abyss, Dittohead and Dead Skin Mask simply proves how timeless their music is, and how important they’ll always be to the world of heavy music. Then from Hell Awaits until the grand finale with the all-time classic Angel of Death it was an absolute chaos, with the circle pit getting bigger and bigger, people screaming at the top of their lungs and crowd surfing nonstop like if there was no tomorrow, and sweat and beer flowing everywhere. And I’m not going to say how cataclysmic the metal hymn Raining Blood was. If you were not there, you don’t deserve to know.

One thing I’ll never understand is how Mr. Paul Bostaph managed to play drums at that insane speed and intensity with all those blistering hot fires burning almost all the time all around his drum set. I think that proves he’s not human, as none of the guys from Slayer are. As a matter of fact, Slayer are a four-headed, rabid beast that would make even the “hound of Hades” Cerberus put his tail between his legs and run away, and if this was in fact their farewell tour, well, they’ll be beyond missed by all of us, diehard Slayer fans who consider Dead Skin Mask one of the best “ballads” ever composed by any band. Let’s wait and see if we’ll be treated to at least one more Slayer apocalypse in Toronto in the coming years as a second, third or whatever leg of their farewell tour, I don’t care, as long as they return. Now it’s time to take some rest from all madness from yesterday, do the body count (and maybe there are even some bodies floating in Lake Ontario near the venue), take a deep breath and keep doing what we all know how to at home, at school, at work or anywhere else where some good and reverberating screaming in required. And you know what word you need to burst your lungs screaming, right?

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
Blood Red
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
Jihad
When the Stillness Comes
Postmortem
Black Magic
Payback
Seasons in the Abyss
Dittohead
Dead Skin Mask
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Chemical Warfare
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

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Concert Review – Slayer (Sound Academy, Toronto, ON, 09/12/2016)

When you have the iconic Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer playing together in Toronto, you know it’s going to be an action-packed night of demented headbanging, beer drinking and brutal slamming.

OPENING ACTS: Death Angel and Anthrax

img_1784Anytime a concert is scheduled for a weekday that’s not Friday and there are a few bands on the lineup, I believe the organizers should push the whole event one hour later than planned to give more time to several fans that do not live right beside the venue to get there before the first band starts. And when the opening act is a band like Thrash Metal masters DEATH ANGEL, that extra time should be mandatory. The doors at a completely revamped Sound Academy (which will soon change its traditional name to Rebel, the most generic thing you can think of) opened at 6:30pm yesterday, and right after that Death Angel began their concert. Was I there to witness the amazing band led by Mark Osegueda fire their classics and new songs from the superb The Evil Divide? Of course not, nor hundreds of other fans who due to work or school could not get to the venue before 7:30pm. Is it too difficult to take into account the fact that most people do not live only five minutes from the venue, especially on a Monday night? We paid good money for the tickets, we deserved to see Death Angel, but it looks like some people just don’t care if you’re attending the full concert or not, right?

Setlist
The Ultra-Violence
Evil Priest
Claws in So Deep
Thrown to the Wolves
The Dream Calls for Blood
The Moth

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

img_1787And if you arrived after 7:30pm you might even have missed the beginning of the excellent concert by Thrash Metal titans ANTHRAX, simply proving how early the whole event started. Despite playing only nine songs in total, our good friends Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Scott Ian, Frank Bello and Charlie Benante kicked fuckin’ ass, with half of their setlist being comprised of songs from their latest album, the classy For All Kings. And let me tell you that those new songs worked really well live, especially Evil Twin and Breathing Lightning. Obviously, all fans got really pumped up when they played some of their biggest classics such as Caught in a Mosh, Antisocial and Indians (including a war dance), with Joey and Scott (“Do you love Thrash Metal?”) igniting some flammable mosh pits with their endless energy and unique charisma. I hope they get back to Toronto soon, and next time they have to be the headliners and play their full set, because I lost count of how many times I’ve seen Anthrax as the opening act only in the past few years, always having to cut down their setlist due to time restraints.

Setlist
You Gotta Believe
Monster at the End
Caught in a Mosh
Got the Time
Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
Evil Twin
Antisocial
Breathing Lightning
Indians

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Jon Donais – lead guitar
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums 

SLAYER

img_1796One very positive thing I have to say about the revamp at the Sound Academy is that they fixed all past issues they had with their sound system, turning what once was a muffled and tangled noise into detailed and crystal clear sounds. That, my friends, was what made the cataclysmic performance by Thrash Metal behemoths SLAYER, the most badass and heaviest band on earth, even heavier than what we were used to, in special the demolishing drums by Mr. Paul Bostaph. He sounded bestial the entire concert, louder and heavier than a construction zone working at full force, making our chests pump hard with his beats as if he was using a stone crusher instead of regular drum sticks behind his drums. Simply amazing.

Obviously, the rest of the band also had a fantastic performance, with Tom Araya leading the band with his deranged screams while Gary Holt and Kerry King showed us how a guitar duo should really sound in heavy music. After the devilish intro Delusions of Saviour ended and their new bone-crushing hymn Repentless started, it was a feast of old school classics the likes of Postmortem, Mandatory Suicide, War Ensemble and the demonic Seasons in the Abyss mixed with new material from Repentless (five new songs to be more precise, including the awesome You Againt You and Vices), generating some sick mosh pits and rabid screams from all fans at the Sound Academy.

img_1808A few songs from their setlist hit me like a stampede so heavy, dark and amazing they were played. First of all, it’s always a pleasure to see Tom reciting the chorus for Dead Skin Mask before the song starts, inspiring every fan to sing along with him. As Tom said, we love Slayer’s music and they love to play it, so it’s like a love affair, right? And what to say about the brutal Disciple (I bet you were bursting your lungs out screaming “God hates us all!” together with Tom during the song, just like I did), the chaotic Born of Fire, and the really old school Fight Till Death, from their 1983 masterpiece Show No Mercy? This one crushed me like an insect so fantastic it was.

I have no words to describe the apocalyptic aura generated by the last batch of classics played by Slayer, starting with one of the most demonic songs of all time, Hell Awaits, followed by the also obscure South of Heaven, my favorite Slayer song of all Raining Blood (where Paul Bostaph gave a lesson in drumming from the very first beat until the end), the classic Black Magic and finally, paying homage to the legacy of Jeff Hanneman, the unparalleled Angel of Death. That was the last song of a pure Thrash Metal night on a perfect day in Toronto, leaving us all eager for more Death Angel, Anthrax and Slayer in a not-so-distant future. Add to all that the excellent Dystopia by Megadeth and the upcoming releases by Testament and even Metallica (at least their new song sounds good, let’s wait for the rest of the album), and you know 2016 is the year of Thrash Metal. And, of course, Toronto couldn’t be left out of such an awesome party.

Setlist
Delusions of Saviour
Repentless
The Antichrist
Disciple
Postmortem
Hate Worldwide
War Ensemble
When the Stillness Comes
You Against You
Mandatory Suicide
Fight Till Death
Born of Fire
Dead Skin Mask
Seasons in the Abyss
Pride in Prejudice
Vices

Encore:
Hell Awaits
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
Black Magic
Angel of Death

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Slayer / Repentless (2015)

Live fast, on high, repentless, and always listen to Slayer.

Rating3

Slayer_RepentlessGet the most blasphemous Black Metal band in the world, mix it with the goriest Death Metal act you can think of, and even after that you won’t get close to the wickedness that American Thrash Metal masters Slayer have been providing us all since their inception in 1981. They’re the meanest, the most badass and, above all, the most unrepentant band in the history of mankind. And it’s due to their obstinacy and devotion to their roots that this undisputed band has dauntlessly braved the darkest period of their lives, marked by the terrible loss of the one and only Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.) in 2013, to finally release the eleventh studio album in their distinct career, the raging Repentless.

However, as the guys from Monty Python would say, “always look on the bright side of life”, which in the case of Slayer translates into Tom Araya and Kerry King recruiting Mr. Gary Holt to the band (the guitar behemoth and mastermind behind another of my favorite bands, American Thrash Metal warriors Exodus), and also the return of the beast Paul Bostaph behind the drums for the first time since their 2001 onslaught God Hates Us All. You can get a good sense of the entire process until Repentless was finalized by watching some amazing videos from their official YouTube channel, including the “enlistment” of Gary and the recording of drums, always noticing how Slayer never lost their core essence amidst such turbulence and grief in their recent past.

Delusions of Saviour, a profane intro the likes of the spine-chilling “Darkness of Christ” (by the way, Repentless has tons of similarities to what Slayer did in God Hates Us All), opens the gates of hell for the piercing riffs by Kerry and Gary in the title-track Repentless, where a deeply infuriated Paul proves why he deserved to be back to the place where he thrived the most in his career. This awesome tune mixes the musicality of their latest albums, with its Hardcore/Punk Rock vibe being perfect for its main objective which, according to the band, is working like a tribute to the deceased Jeff through its simple but effective lyrics (“My songs relive the atrocities of war / Can’t take society any fuckin’ more / Intensity, anarchy, hatred amplified / Playing this shit is all that keeps me alive / I leave it all on the road living on the stage / This is my life where I kill it everyday / So take your shot, bottom’s up, this is no lie / I’ll be beating this guitar ’til the day I die / Live fast, on high / Repentless, let it ride”). And the devastation goes on in Take Control, a high-speed tune where it’s interesting to notice that, although Tom Araya cannot bang his head like before due to his back issues he’s still a devil on vocals, leaving a message to all songsters in the world: no matter how deep your guttural is nor how hard you try, you’ll never reach the incredible level of violence, despair and hatred of Mr. Araya.

Then we have the excellent Vices, which truly sounds like a track from God Hates Us All, and by that I mean it has the same vibe, rhythm, beats, riffs and vocal lines. I love the fact that even when Slayer slow down a little they still sound brutal. In other words, let’s bang our fuckin’ heads and get high with Tom, Kerry & Co. before the next track, Cast the First Stone, offers us such raw and strong beats it feels like Paul wants to intimidate us all, also adding more obscurity to the music and therefore getting closer again to the sounding in God Hates Us All. Besides, I don’t need to say how thrilling the solos by the two demented guitar heroes of Slayer are, right? Anyway, When the Stillness Comes, one of the songs released a while ago in an early version, might push some people to say “this is not Slayer” as it’s not really fast or thrashy, but diehard fans will instantly link it to the sonority found in Divine Intervention, Diabolus In Musica and, again, God Hates Us All. It should sound a lot better when played live (which doesn’t mean it’s a bad studio song), with highlights to the outstanding drumming by Paul, to the desperate vocals and primeval bass lines by Tom, and obviously to its deranged lyrics (“This violence finally sets me free / Brings demons back to torture me / There’s no god pulling at my strings / I’m above all sorrow that fate can bring / Disengaged, I see your face / I turn and rush, I can’t replace”). I just wish the ending could have gone on for a little longer, but it’s still very entertaining the way it is.

Chasing Death is a good example of how the music by Slayer has evolved in the past 20 years, getting modernized but still vicious, with the aggressive vocals by Tom leading this somber tune while the other band members develop a solid ambience in the background; followed by Implode, which sounds a billion times better than the first version released. To be honest, that early version made me really skeptical about how the entire album would sound, but as we’re talking about Slayer, I somehow knew they wouldn’t let their fans down. And Piano Wire, the only song from the album written by Jeff, keeps the level of destruction really high in Repentless, showcasing Tom’s amazing harsh vocal lines blended with many top-notch rhythmic variations.

While listening to Atrocity Vendor, I couldn’t think of anything else but just how amazing the sound of the guitars is, and also that this electric tune has to be part of their live performances for the mosh pits to get seriously physical. Kerry and Gary are like metallic brothers, not to mention that Paul keeps nailing it with his sick beats and fills and that it’s yet another perfect example of how violent lyrics are always supposed to be (“You’re staring at the atrocity vendor / A mother fucking equal opportunity offender / I’ll introduce you to my own morbid charm / And fist fuck you with your own severed arms”). You Against You, another classic Thrash Metal tune where the guitar riffs and solos will please all fans of the genre, could have easily been a song from Christ Illusion or World Painted Blood, sounding as cohesive and precise as almost all Slayer songs, while Pride in Prejudice is not only the most different of all songs but also the worst by far. I’m not sure if the final result was exactly what the band wanted, but it’s in my opinion too slow and not as heavy or dark as it should have been. Of course, if Metallica had a song like this in one of their latest albums that would have been a blessing for their fans, but we know Slayer are capable of creating something infinitely better than that.

I was going to give it “only” a 3.5 after the first listen, but after a few more listens, all the issues faced by the band in the past couple of years (especially the passing of Jeff), the stunning artwork by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco (the fuckin’ booklet becomes a fuckin’ inverted cross!), the bonus DVD from the special edition with their killer performance at Wacken Open Air in 2014 and the making of Repentless, and particularly after watching one of the best and most sanguinary videos I’ve seen in my life shot for the title-track (watch it yourself at the end of this review) with some very special guests such as Danny Trejo (aka our beloved anti-hero “Machete”), it deserves a 4.0 or even more than that. In the end, they’re still FUCKIN’ SLAYER no matter what, a band that’s 100% repentless of everything they’ve accomplished through their undisputed career. With that said, always remember to live fast, on high and repentless, listening to Slayer until the inevitable end finally comes.

Best moments of the album: Repentless, Vices, Chasing Death and Atrocity Vendor.

Worst moments of the album: Pride in Prejudice.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Delusions of Saviour 1:55
2. Repentless 3:19
3. Take Control 3:14
4. Vices 3:32
5. Cast the First Stone 3:43
6. When the Stillness Comes 4:21
7. Chasing Death 3:45
8. Implode 3:49
9. Piano Wire 2:49
10. Atrocity Vendor 2:55
11. You Against You 4:21
12. Pride in Prejudice 4:14

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Concert Review – Heavy Montréal 2014 Day 2 (Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC, 08/10/2014)

A scorching hot Sunday of impeccable heavy music in Montreal.

DEATH ANGEL

IMG_2880After a good night of rest I was ready for more Heavy Montréal at Parc Jean Drapeau on Sunday. However, not only I was able to arrive really early that day (missing only a couple of minor bands), but also the sun was a lot hotter and the lineup  a billion times heavier, turning that day into some kind of heavy music survival camp, which was totally awesome.

The first attraction I was able to check on Sunday was American Thrash Metal band Death Angel, who at 1:30pm delivered a very consistent concert at the Heavy Stage, mixing some old songs with new ones from their most recent album from 2013 in their SETLIST, with highlights to the title-track The Dream Calls For Blood, one of the songs with the highest response from thousands of thrash metallers already present at the festival. And, of course, the energy lead singer Mark Osegueda emanates throughout the entire show was more than admirable.

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – lead guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitars
Damien Sisson – bass guitar
Will Carroll – drums

EXODUS

IMG_2883When American Thrash Metal beasts Exodus started their sonic Armageddon at 2:15pm at the Molson Canadian Stage, especially with the return of Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals, the smile on the faces of all fans perfectly represented what Exodus are: a nonstop Thrash Metal machine ready to rumble until there’s no one standing anymore. I’ve always considered them the “extra” element that would transform the Big Four into a Big Five, and everytime I see them live I believe in that even more.

Despite not playing any new stuff from their upcoming album Blood In, Blood Out (which I really cannot wait to take a listen to), their short but superb SETLIST was a perfect lesson in Thrash Metal: Bonded By Blood, Blacklist, Toxic Waltz, Piranha, Strike of the Beast, among other masterful songs, were the soundtrack for intense circle pits, furious headbanging and constant beer drinking.

All band members were on fire, especially the returning Zetro (and his HUGE belly) and the riff master Gary Holt, a man that deserves a lot more recognition in the world of heavy music than he actually has. Maybe the only issues with their concert were sound of the guitars, which were too low compared to the drums, and the fact they had only 45 minutes to play. Anyway, the “Exodus Atack” might have been short, but it was indeed extremely effective.

Band members
Steve “Zetro” Souza – vocals
Gary Holt – guitar
Lee Altus – guitar
Jack Gibson – bass
Tom Hunting – drums

EPICA

IMG_2886After the BEASTS from Exodus, it was time for everyone to relax (and bang their heads, of course) with the BEAUTY Simone Simons and her bandmates from Dutch Symphonic Metal band Epica at 3:00pm, at the Heavy Stage. Their SETLIST was also pretty short, but instead of playing their classics they decided to offer their fans a concert full of new songs from their brand new album, the excellent The Quantum Enigma, which worked really well for them: everybody watching their performance truly enjoyed songs like The Second Stone, The Essence of Silence and Unchain Utopia.

Obviously, everyone had their eyes fixed on the stunning Simone, who is not only extremely gorgeous, but an awesome singer and a very sympathetic and charismatic frontwoman. Her headbanging was also amazing, especially due to the effect her beautiful long red hair had on that. Lastly, Simone mentioned they’re getting back to Canada in October with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, this time for a full 2-hour concert. Are you going to miss that unique opportunity?

Band members
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jansen – rhythm guitar, grunts, screams
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar, backing vocals
Rob van der Loo – bass
Coen Janssen – synthesizer, piano
Ariën van Weesenbeek – drums, grunts, spoken words

BODY COUNT

IMG_2898I skipped Symphony X not only because they’re quite boring, but also to breathe some fresh air, watch good-quality wrestling matches at the Heavy Mania Stage, drink a couple of beers, and get ready for American Crossover Thrash band Body Count. At 4:30pm there they were at the Heavy Stage, or I should say that Body Count was literally “in the house”: that was a very entertaining concert, full of classics such as Body Count’s In the House, Disorder (my favorite of their SETLIST), Cop Killer and Talk Shit, Get Shot.

I must say that Ice-T, the mastermind behind Body Count, is a motherfuckin’ great frontman. Even after all those years, the man still got it and perfectly interacted with each and every person from the crowd. The funniest part was when he pointed to a girl and asked her age. She said she was only 16, for his surprise, as he replied back saying he would expect to see her at a Justin Bieber concert, not at Body Count, but he was 100% happy with her being there. He then pronounced some “beautiful” words for her, saying it was a pleasure to have her there and that the whole band truly respected that “bitch”. Well, the “bitch” seemed to be honored with his words. A day to remember, “bitch”!

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass
Ill Will – drums

BAD RELIGION

IMG_2902After skipping another concert, Hatebreed, and watching only 5 minutes of Alestorm’s performance at the Apocalypse Stage, I ran back to the Heavy Stage at 6:00pm for a memorable performance by American Punk Rock icons Bad Religion. The band was back in town just one year after their last performance there, or as frontman Greg Graffin said during the show, Bad Religion were back to Montreal “1 year later, 10 years older, and all fans looking better than ever”.

And what can be said about a nonstop SETLIST with 22 songs, including masterpieces such as Recipe for Hate, Struck a Nerve, 21st Century (Digital Boy), Infected, Punk Rock Song and American Jesus? It was pure madness, with kudos to drummer Brooks Wackerman for pounding his drums so intensely that each and every song became even better than the studio versions. Bad Religion might look 10 years older, but they sound like if they were all in their mid-20’s.

Band members
Greg Graffin – lead vocals
Brian Baker – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mike Dimkich – guitar, backing vocals
Brett Gurewitz – guitar, backing vocals
Jay Bentley – bass, backing vocals
Brooks Wackerman – drums, percussion

LAMB OF GOD

IMG_2907The sun was still scorching hot at 7:00pm when Twisted Sister hit the stage, so I decided to rest for a while at the Wi-Fi zone before heading back to the Heavy Stage, where at 8:00pm American Groove Metal band Lamb of God began their sonic massacre to the total delight of their diehard fans. They played a pretty decent SETLIST, with powerful songs like Walk with Me in Hell, Laid To Rest and Redneck, all accompanied by their respective awesome disturbing videos depending of course on the lyric theme, showing random images of junkies, religious fanatics such as Jim Jones and his followers, among others. That was an amazing addition to the show, holding the attention of even who was not a fan of their music.

However, it was lead singer Randy Blythe who stole the show with his close interaction with the audience, especially his funny jokes and messages, like when he said Dee Snider is one of his biggest idols (as they both have their issues with the law), his admiration for the badass names “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”, and mainly when he asked everyone to give him a huge fuckin’ “WOOOOOO!” in honor of the Nature Boy, the one and only wrestling legend Ric Flair. And I guess I don’t need to mention anything about the insane mosh pits, right?

Band members
Randy Blythe – vocals
Mark Morton – guitar
Willie Adler – guitar
John Campbell – bass
Chris Adler – drums

SLAYER

IMG_2909You don’t need to ask anyone what you should or should not play when you’re FUCKIN’ SLAYER! At 9:15pm, American Thrash Metal behemoths tamed the Molson Canadian Stage for a brutal performance that almost devastated the whole island, bringing even the “plague” (or tons of mosquitoes) to Heavy Montréal (according to Tom Araya himself) and closing the festival on a perfect note. The most evil band in the world didn’t play any new songs, not even the recently released Implode, and of course there were no fuckin’ “requests” in their SETLIST. They simply chose to stick to their basics instead, bombarding each fan attending the concert with undisputed Thrash Metal classics such as War Ensemble, At Dawn They Sleep, Spirit in Black, Disciple, Raining Blood, Die By the Sword and Angel of Death.

It was another flawless performance by Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, and one thing must be said about Gary and Paul: they had some absurdly humongous shoes to fill when they replaced the gods Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo, but their synergy with the other guys and their passion for heavy music make it look like they’ve always been with the band. Gary Holt is a guitar beast, as I’ve said a billion times already, and Paul Bostaph is so awesome he makes playing drums look like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

In between the songs and all the sick circle pits happening all over the festival, Tom Araya thanked the fans a thousand times for being there, saying they were the reason for that kind of festival to exist. He seemed really happy and honored by how loud everyone was screaming their names and singing their songs during the entire concert. In addition, he also tried to send some meaningful messages to the crowd while introducing some songs, like when he mentioned the horrible conflict that’s happening now between Israel and Palestine, before playing the masterpiece Die By the Sword. Do I need to say a “Slayer by Request” is totally unnecessary, especially when a band is so impressive as they are, no matter what they choose to play? I believe all the “SLAYER! SLAYER! SLAYER!” screams that echoed really loudly at the venue when the concert was over, at all subway stations and even at a McDonald’s where I had a pit stop to get some food can answer that.

Band members
Tom Araya – vocals, bass
Kerry King – guitar
Gary Holt – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was probably the best edition in the history of Heavy Montréal, because not only the main-eventers were brilliant, but mainly because the way everything was set up made the whole experience really pleasant for any type of person attending the festival. For instance, the extra stage this year allowed even more independent and/or newer bands to get known by the audience, the continuation of the Heavy Mania Stage was a great success, and the Heavy Montréal 2014 App was more than helpful for everybody.

Moreover, I don’t remember seeing any incidents during both days at Parc Jean-Drapeau. I cannot believe it’s 2014 and some idiots keep insisting on saying headbangers are violent people, when in fact we’re the most easy-going people in the whole fuckin’ world. Anyway, it’s time to recover from those two intense days, work, study, listen to metal and enjoy the local concerts wherever you are, until a new edition of Heavy Montréal is forged in the fires of heavy music next year for our pure delectation. What are your thoughts about Heavy Montréal 2014? Which attractions did or did not meet your expectations? And who do you want to see at Heavy Montréal 2015? Leave your comments below (if you have any) and, of course, keep listening to heavy music.

Concert Review – Slayer (Kool Haus,Toronto, ON, 11/21/2013)

Is it a tornado? Is it a tsunami? No, it’s motherfuckin’ OLD SCHOOL SLAYER NIGHT in Toronto!

OPENING ACTS: 4ARM and Gojira

Yesterday night was one of those things that will be forever in our minds, hearts, aching necks and torn muscles. I must admit I was really tired after a full day at work, and driving from Oakville to Toronto when it’s raining it’s not fun at all, but what happened at the Kool Haus last night was worth every minute spent in traffic downtown.

Before I start, I have to say something amazing I saw lat night, which was the huge number of parents with their small kids at the concert. There was this father with his son, who was pretty excited for the concert, so I asked him how old his boy was and he said “he’s 11 now”. That’s about when I started listening to Slayer! That made me sleep better this night (even with my neck killing me), knowing the future of mankind doesn’t look so bad while we still have headbanging kids like that.

The first band of the night was 4ARM, from Melbourne, which means we have another good Metal band from Australia now. It was a decent concert that I liked a lot, even though I knew nothing about their career. Quick question: why do over 50% of the metalheads today, including band members, look so much like Jesus Christ even when singing about Jesus being a lie is their favorite topic? Anyway, that was a good warm-up for the rest of the night and a good chance to enjoy some beers while listening to some fuckin’ heavy tunes.

Then came Gojira, or Godzilla in Japanese, which by the way was the original name of the band. If you like to bang your head non-stop like a mutherfucker, you must listen to this neck-breaking French band: they are far from being the fastest band in the world, but they’re as heavy as an obese elephant and perfect for having a beer and smashing your neck. I don’t know a lot about the band; however, songs like L’Enfant Sauvage and The Heaviest Matter of the Universe sounded excellent for live concerts. Merci beaucoup, Gojira, for such a nice performance!

And it was so funny between Gojira and Slayer, when the DJ was playing some AC/DC songs and some guys (including myself) started singing “Aaaaaaaa… SLAYER! Aaaaaaaa… SLAYER!”, instead of “thunder” in Thunderstruck. There are things that only Slayer fans can do.

SLAYER

IMG_1445Whoever is responsible for the management of the venue can definitely change its name to “Kool Hell” or “Slaughter Haus” from now on. I think any Slayer concert should be used for human population control, especially if it’s an OLD SCHOOL SLAYER NIGHT like last night in Toronto. The mosh pits were insane; it was like Hell on Earth! In fact, the entire venue was a mosh pit.

Talking about the concert itself and the band, and I know it doesn’t matter what or how I say it here, I’ll never be able to describe in words the perfection of the show. I’ve seen Slayer live a lot of times (how the hell am I still alive?), and they’ve never disappointed me. Slayer always delivers a brutally awesome performance on stage, no matter where they are. When the intro to the classic Hell Awaits started and the white sheet that was covering the stage went down, there they were: Tom, Kerry, Gary and Paul, all ready for some fuckin’ Thrash Metal, and the fans answered the best way possible with a crazy mosh pit.

After that it was a sequence of old classics to make all diehard fans go crazy: the fast Antichrist and Necrophiliac, the cool Mandatory Suicide and Captor of Sin, and then we had the havoc anthem War Ensemble. There’s nothing I can say about this song except HOLY FUCKIN’ SHIT! And when I thought I could have a break and breathe for a few seconds, they come with an avalanche of classics including some of my all-time favorite Slayer songs such as At Dawn They Sleep, Die by the Sword and Spirit in Black. Do you want to rest now? No, you don’t, because the next song is Seasons in the Abyss, which was sung out loud by all fans at the venue in a celebration of Thrash Metal.

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R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman!

Although we all love Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and respect that amazing punk attitude he brought to Slayer, we have to admit Gary Holt is a beast and a perfect fit for Slayer. I don’t want him to leave/end Exodus, no way, but the Thrash Metal riff master adds so much value to Slayer that it’s impossible to think of anyone else that could replace him now. And as a tribute to one of the most underrated guitar masters of all time, Kerry and Tom decided to add the magnificent Strike of the Beast to their entire tour. Holy shit, that was brutal and unforgettable! And just when things didn’t seem they could get more awesome, Slayer provides us another annihilating sequence with Dead Skin Mask (also sung by everybody there), one of the most violent songs in the world and one of my favorites Raining Blood, and the fuckin’ old school Black Magic. Was it the end (of the world)? No, there was still time for the encore, the famous one with the Heineken/Jeff Hanneman flag on the back with the obscure South of Heaven and my top Thrash Metal track of all, the slashing anthem Angel of Death. Although in my opinion Dave Lombardo shouldn’t have left Slayer, I feel really good with the monster Paul Bostaph on drums, and what he did in Angel of Death just confirmed my feelings.

Finally, it’s always a pleasure to see Tom Araya and Kerry King playing live. The first is always so serene and enjoys so much having a good time with the fans (he even  demanded the security guys to bring back one fan that was supposedly doing something wrong and was about to be expelled), while the other is an unstoppable shredding machine with his pretty evil guitar.

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I swear I tried hard to find a Metallica T-shirt, but there was none. The Kool Haus in Toronto was a huge SLAYER NATION (the T-shirt I got yesterday!) last night, with no room for pussies. Well, there were many girls there, but they were not pussies at all (although they do have one): they were slamming in the pit with no mercy of the poor (or lucky?) guys close to them. Next time someone tells me Metallica is heavier than Slayer, I’m going to slap that stupid idiot in the face.

I didn’t see a single person that was just “OK” when that Armageddon came to an end. Quite the contrary, everybody was exhausted, sweating like a pig, but with an immense smile on their faces. I unfortunately hit a guy’s nose with the back of my head, and it might have hurt a lot on him (I feel so sorry for that guy). I also got a kind of a bruised eye, but nothing compared to a guy with a full black eye I saw when the show was over. My neck and the rest of the body hurt like if I was smashed by a steamroller, but hey, that’s FUCKIN’ SLAYER! No ballads, no acoustic shit, just pure fuckin’ Heavy Metal. Was it raining in Toronto when the show was over? Yes, but who cares? Inside the venue it was RAINING BLOOD, and I can’t wait to see my Thrash Metal heroes live again.

Slayer Setlist Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, Canada, North American Tour 2013

Band members

Tom Araya – lead vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King – guitars
Gary Holt – guitars
Paul Bostaph – drums

Home Video Review – Slayer / Live Intrusion (1995)

Are you looking for a creepy horror movie for Halloween? How about Slayer’s extremely “soft” first home video instead?

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Slayer_Live IntrusionContinuing with the countdown to Slayer live in Toronto next month, I would like to give my opinion about one of the first VHS of my life. Back in the 90’s, MTV was growing and becoming more and more important, making almost all bands care a lot more about their videos rather than their own music. Fortunately, when we talk about Slayer the words “MTV” or “commercial” are rarely used, unless we add the prefix “non” in front of them, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in their debut home video called Live Intrusion: a high quality concert, full of heavy riffs and classic songs and that has almost zero commercial appeal to regular people, but for the band’s diehard fans it’s close to perfection.

Filmed at the Mesa Amphitheater in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 1995 during Slayer’s “Divine Intourvention” around the US, and launched later that same year (there’s also a DVD version released in 2010), Live Intrusion is pure devastation, starting with the insane duo of Raining Blood and Killing Fields until the apocalyptic ending with Chemical Warfare. In fact, before the concert actually starts the video presents us that infamous footage of a guy having his arm scarified with the word SLAYER, then adding alcohol to it and setting it on fire, which in my opinion is the best “intro” of all time to a Thrash Metal concert. If this doesn’t pump you up for the rest of the video, maybe you should press stop and start watching the new One Direction movie instead, because for me this means you’re a total pussy!

Slayer_Live Intrusion02Regarding the setlist, there are many long-forgotten songs from this concert that I would love to see slayer playing again live such as Killing Fields, Sex. Murder. Art. And 213. By the Way, I think they should reintroduce some songs from Divine Intervention, Diabolus in Musica and God Hates Us All in their current setlist, especially now that the band has Paul Bostaph back on drums, and I’m pretty sure Gary Holt would be able to play any of them easily. The fans would love to have even more power added to the mosh pits with some of the fastest songs from those albums.

One of the top moments of the entire show is when guitar/singer Robb Flynn (Machine Head) and drummer Chris Kontos (ex-Machine Head) join Slayer on stage to perform an incredibly heavy version of the song Witching Hour, from Black Metal pioneers Venom. The reaction from the crowd is absolutely insane! Speaking of which, the fans are crazy from start to finish, and instead of morons wasting their time filming the concert what we see are true metalheads screaming, bleeding and banging their heads non-stop in the middle of monstrous circle pits. Good times!

To sum up, Live Intrusion is an excellent opportunity to see Tom, Kerry, Jeff (R.I.P.) and Paul in top form executing perfectly many all-time classics from Slayer’s unparalleled career (what they do in War Ensemble and Angel of Death, for example, is beyond brutal) as well as some great unusual songs, complemented by an amazing crowd and some hilarious footage between some of the songs. So forget about pussies like Freddy Krueger, Jason or Michael Myers, and spend this Halloween enjoying some beers with your friends while watching one of the most bestial videos in the History of Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the video: Raining Blood/Killing Fields, At Dawn They Sleep, Dittohead and Witching Hour.

Worst moments of the video: Absolutely none.

Released in 1995 American Recordings

Track listing
1. Raining Blood 4:23
2. Killing Fields 3:56
3. War Ensemble 4:51
4. At Dawn They Sleep 5:03
5. Divine Intervention 5:33
6. Dittohead 2:50
7. Captor of Sin 3:21
8. 213 4:51
9. South of Heaven 4:58
10. Sex. Murder. Art.  1:50
11. Mandatory Suicide 4:03
12. Angel of Death 4:50
13. Hell Awaits 4:53
14. Witching Hour (Venom cover) 2:54
15. Chemical Warfare 5:17

Band members
Tom Araya – bass, vocals
Jeff Hanneman – guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums

Album Review – Slayer / God Hates Us All (2001)

It’s heavy, fast, furious, controversial, violent, and more important than that, it’s Slayer.

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Slayer-GodHatesUsAllAs Thrash Metal titans Slayer will be performing live here in Toronto on November 21, I decided to write some posts dedicated to them, one of my top bands of all time together with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The first one is about an album that might not be as classic as Reign In Blood or South of Heaven, but it is for sure one of their most badass records to date, starting by its controversial name: God Hates Us All. Can you think of a more impactful name for a Thrash Metal album than that? I don’t think so.

There are no ballads in this album (in fact, there are no ballads in ANY Slayer album!), no acoustic songs, no beautiful lyrics or moral lessons. Kerry King may not be the best lyricist in the world, but he delivers the message he wants in every song, which in this album are more focused on religion and revenge than any previous Slayer albums. Not only that, none of the lyrics is suitable at all for any religious person. And what can I say about the album art? It’s a masterpiece that perfectly represents the musical content in God Hates Us All. I just feel sorry for the fans that couldn’t buy the album with its regular version of the front cover, but with that shitty white one instead (see it HERE).

Before the massacre starts, there a truly badass intro, Darkness of Christ, which is there to pump you up and show you what’s about to happen with your neck. Then comes the classic Disciple, one of the best and heaviest Slayer songs ever, with an awesome chorus that will make you scream the name of the album out loud every time you hear it until you lose your voice. God hates us all! God hates us all! If you’re a very religious person, well, stop listening to this album before you reach the next song: God Send Death is another powerful track, also excellent when played live and again with strong dark lyrics.

SlayerThe sequence of tracks after that, from New Faith to Seven Faces, shows a more modern Slayer, maybe not as modern as what they did in Diabolus in Musica but modern enough to make some diehard fans a little distrustful. It’s good material, though, especially the song Exile. After that, the band delivers us a not so fast track, but as heavy as it can be: Bloodline, which also featured in the soundtrack of the movie Dracula 2000, has the best lyrics of the album, a cool heavy riff, and an excellent chorus. It’s the only reason why I would watch that movie again, because honestly it’s a very bad one! After Deviance, the weakest track of the album for me, we have three amazing songs: War Zone is perfect for mosh pits, Here Comes the Pain has a very nice riff, and Payback is recommended for anyone that is looking for, well, a violent payback.

What doesn’t change in the whole album is how amazing the band is: Tom with his unique voice, Kerry and Jeff with an avalanche of sick riffs and solos, and Paul smashing his drums like there’s no tomorrow. Although I consider Dave Lombardo the best drummer in the world, I also enjoy Paul Bostaph with his insane speed and technique. This guy is a monster behind his drums, especially when he plays live, and all the material he recorded with Slayer, Testament, Exodus etc. is pure Thrash Metal worth every penny. In my humble opinion, God Hates Us All is the best album with Bostaph on drums, and if you don’t agree with me just listen to War Zone, Payback or God Send Death and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In summary, a very substantial Thrash Metal album with a more modern Slayer than usual, recommended for anyone who wants to bang their heads until they break their necks. Besides, it’s FUCKIN’ SLAYER after all!

Best moments of the album: Disciple, God Send Death, Bloodline and Payback.

Worst moments of the album: Seven Faces and Deviance.

Released in 2001 American Recordings

 Track listing
1. Darkness of Christ 1:30
2. Disciple 3:35
3. God Send Death 3:45
4. New Faith 3:05
5. Cast Down 3:26
6. Threshold 2:29
7. Exile 3:55
8. Seven Faces 3:41
9. Bloodline 3:36
10. Deviance 3:08
11. War Zone 2:45
12. Here Comes the Pain 4:32
13. Payback 3:03

Band members
Tom Araya – bass guitar, vocals
Jeff Hanneman – guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Paul Bostaph – drums