Slayer, Lamb of God + Behemoth Offer a Glimpse of Hell in New York City [Photos + Review]
When the announcement that Slayer, Lamb of God and Behemoth would be teaming up for a Hell-ordained summer trek, even Kerry King told fans they could not miss this tour. Not ones to disobey the King-ly orders of Slayer, we took heed and descended into the bowels of one of the world's most renowned venues as the tour stopped in New York City for a night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Even as the music industry on the whole places a heavier emphasis on touring year after year, it's a rarity to see a package like this, which boasts three genuine headliners in their own right. We were able to witness all three acts at Chicago Open Air earlier in July, but nothing can match seeing these bands in succession inside rather than the sun-soaked outdoor festival stages. Besides, a tour like this belongs in the darkness, especially when Poland's blasphemous blackened death merchants Behemoth are set to open the show.
It felt like an abbreviated headliner set as Behemoth brought the full stage production for their half hour slot. Metal-plated double-headed eagle emblems bookended the stage on raised platforms, suspended from metal bars with the band's triangle / fire symbol adorned a massive backdrop positioned behind the drum riser, upon which more than competent Inferno-fill-in John "Charn" Rice was seated. Three mic stands elaborately decorated in sigils with the center one bearing the same symbol as the backdrop with snakes on each side were also present and the band was draped in their ceremonial post-apocalyptic garb, masked in corpsepaint for a chilling visual effect, especially under surgically-timed lighting cues.
Opening with The Satanist cut "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer," frontman Nergal instantly gained control over the growing crowd as fans spilled in from the streets for the 7PM set. If the crowd noise ever failed to meet his demands, all Nergal had to do was raise his arms or put a hand to his ear to send fists and war cries through the air as the band ran through other favorites like "Conquer All" and two Satanica offerings, "Decade of Therion" and set closer "Chant for Eschaton 2000" among others.
With the smoke and the stage cleared, the now swelling theater was ready for modern metal titans Lamb of God. The band was backed by two massive LED screens which ran through various multimedia clips to fit the theme of songs like the walloping one-two opening combo of classics "Laid to Rest" and "Now You've Got Something to Die For." Randy Blythe went airborne on a number of occasions, launching himself off a metal platform on the center of the stage, tucking his legs up to get some extra space between himself and the ground.
The crowd engaged in a "Lamb-of-God! Lamb-of-God!" chant between songs and any outsider could have easily assumed the band was in the midst of a headlining performance. Blythe gave a shoutout to local hardcore acts Agnostic Front, Madball, Sick of It All and others during the set and persuaded the audience not to fall for the lies spread by the mass media for the sake of advertising dollars, calling out a few select networks as he introduced "Engage the Fear Machine." Closing out their share of the night, Lamb of God ended with the same classic intensity that began their set, discharging "Walk With Me in Hell" and "Redneck" before saying goodbye.
A white curtain quickly dropped after Lamb of God's set, veiling off the stage as Slayer's crew quickly worked to arrange the
stage altar for the thrash legends. Now typically at any metal show there's one or two people who will scream "SLAAAYEEERR" repeatedly until their voice grows hoarse, regardless of whether or not Slayer are even on the bill. At a Slayer show, this occurrence is tenfold at the very least and it was clear that despite this lineup stacking headliners together, everyone was indeed in attendance to see Slayer... ahem... SLAAAYEEEERR!!!
With the lights dimmed, a series of crosses were projected from behind the white curtain and as the intro music played, the holy symbols gradually rotated until they pointed "South of Heaven." When the Repentless title track hit, the curtain fell, revealing a blacklight version of the album's cover, which was especially appealing when the room grew dark between songs. After opening with an offering from their most recent album, Slayer dialed it back to their NOWBHM-inspired debut with "The Antichrist."
Marshall cabs lined the floor with four on Gary Holt's side, another four on King's stage left dominion and two longways rectangular bass cabs for
" target="_blank">Tom Araya, positioned directly behind him in the center of the stage. Flames shot out from raised pillars and pods on the floor and for those watching close enough, they shot upwards and sideways simultaneously in the formation of an inverted cross.
After bouncing back and forth between classic Slayer hymns like "Postmortem" and "War Ensemble" and new age songs in "Disciple," "Hate Worldwide" and two more Repentless cuts, the band hit their stride mid-set with "Mandatory Suicide," "Hallowed Point," "Dead Skin Mask" and "Born of Fire" all in rapid-fire succession.
For Seasons in the Abyss fans, it was an especially good night as Slayer broke out five tracks from their 1990 album. "Hell Awaits" and "Chemical Warfare" marked the only other pre-Reign in Blood songs of the night, which was highlighted of course by "Raining Blood" and set closer, "Angel of Death."
Scroll through the photo gallery at the top of the page to see all the action from Slayer, Lamb of God and Behemoth at the Theater at Madison Square Garden!
Slayer Set List - July 27, 2017
02. "The Antichrist"
05. "Hate Worldwide"
06. "War Ensemble"
07. "When the Stillness Comes"
08. "You Against You"
09. "Mandatory Suicide"
10. "Hallowed Point"
11. "Dead Skin Mask"
12. "Born of Fire"
13. "Cast the First Stone"
15. "Seasons in the Abyss"
16. "Hell Awaits"
17. "South of Heaven"
18. "Raining Blood"
19. "Chemical Warfare"
20. "Angel of Death"
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