Slayer / Lamb Of God / Anthrax / Behemoth / Testament Budweiser Stage, Toronto ON, May 29

Slayer / Lamb Of God / Anthrax / Behemoth / Testament Budweiser Stage, Toronto ON, May 29
Photo: Adam Wills
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After giving the world more than three decades of devastating heavy metal, thrash icons Slayer are out on their last-ever North American tour, and they're going out with a bang. The legendary thrash act brought along a stacked lineup to Toronto's Budweiser Stage for their last show in the city.
 
Kicking off the night, Bay Area thrashers Testament stormed the stage with a flurry of razor-sharp riffs and furious energy. Opening with the title track from their latest release Brotherhood of the Snake, the band wasted no time in getting the massive crowd amped up for the night's festivities. Although their set was relatively short, it covered a variety of tracks from across their career, and acted as a perfect primer for the full-bore metal soundtrack of the night. Classics such as "Into the Pit," "Practice What You Preach" and "The New Order" had the crowd in the palm of the band's hand, while newer songs like "The Pale King" and "Rise Up" proved their newer material can stand alongside their legacy with ease.
 
Up next, Polish blackened death metal crew Behemoth brought a more extreme side of metal to the show, walking on stage clad in corpse paint and suitable black metal attire. Launching into fan favourite "Ov Fire and the Void," the band tore into the crowd with a series of blast beats, demonic guttural vocals and harsh riffs. With almost no breaks between songs, the band unrelentingly beat the crowd down with track after track. After the double-kick drum assault of "Chant for Eschaton 2000 EV," each band member walked to the front of the stage holding their instruments high in the air before vocalist and guitarist Adam "Nergal" tossed his flying V halfway across the stage to his guitar tech. The band emerged for one final song, donning blacked-out human-goat hybrid masks to close off their set with "O Father O Satan O Sun!"
 
Crossover thrash titans Anthrax delivered a cheerful set after the death metal assault the crowd had just endured. Diving straight into their classics, the band whipped the crowd into a frenzy for a back-to-back triple threat of "Caught In a Mosh," "Got the Time" and "I Am the Law." After the frantically chugged-out "Madhouse," guitarist Scott Ian addressed the audience saying it was possibly the biggest crowd they've ever played in Toronto. After some on-stage banter, the band pulled out newer track "Evil Twin" followed by their famed cover of "Antisocial" by Trust. Closing out their set with mosh anthem "Indians," Anthrax had people throwing down from the front of the stage all the way to the lawn as vocalist Joey Belladonna screamed out "war dance!" In a very heartwarming manner, Belladonna led the crowd in singing our national anthem before the band exited the stage.
 
As the spoken word intro to "Omerta" played over the speakers, Lamb of God walked on stage and launched into a series of chugging riffs and squeals. The crowd lapped up the energy emitted from the band as they tore through fan favourites "Ruin" and "Walk With Me In Hell." Vocalist Randy Blythe spoke to the crowd early on, stating Toronto is one of their favourite cities to play and reminisced about their early shows at the Opera House. The band busted out some material from their latest album VII: Sturm Und Drang, delivering flawless performances of "512" and "Engage the Fear Machine" with gleaming smiles on each member's face. After playing "Blacken the Cursed Sun," Lamb of God briefly stepped away before finishing their set with "Laid to Rest" and "Redneck," spurring the entire floor to turn into one giant circle pit.
 
The bittersweet moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. In typical Slayer fashion, no words were needed to introduce the band but rather two massive eagles with the band's pentagram logo erupting in flames as a black curtain concealing the stage dropped to the floor. The band started their fast and furious set with the title track from their final album, Repentless, followed by old-school banger "Blood Red."
 
Vocalist and bassist Tom Araya appeared to be in good spirits, sporting an ear-to-ear grin in between each shout of "God hates us all" during "Disciple." Araya spent very little time speaking to the crowd throughout the night, opting instead to let their discography speak for them. The band bounced all across their lengthy career, playing older songs such as "Mandatory Suicide" and "Postmortem" in between newer cuts like "Jihad" and "Hate Worldwide."
 
Araya's war cry during "War Ensemble" felt particularly powerful tonight, as a massive eruption of flames burst behind the band, who were happy to keep melting their fans' faces with chaotic guitar solos. After the mid-tempo madness of "South of Heaven," the sounds of rain broke through the feedback signalling the signature pounding drums that start off "Raining Blood."
 
With each key drum hit, the band had fire shooting in all directions before closing out their set with "Chemical Warfare" and "Angel of Death." All that could be heard for some time after leaving the venue were excited screams of "fucking Slayer" from fans who will no doubt be screaming those words at passers-by for decades to come, even in the band's absence.
 
 

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