While we’ve shared our thoughts on Slayer’s final world tour, we decided to look back to discuss The Final Campaign. This time around, we are convinced this tour sadly means the official end of these thrash legends. For those who attended the inaugural Exit 111 festival will know Tom Araya announced their appearance there was their “last festival date, period.” The group kicked off their final North American run on Saturday (2nd). Additionally, their film, Slayer: The Repentless Killogy, premieres in theaters tonight (6th), and it will be digitally available this Friday (8th). With all of this Slayer excitement, we decided to have a Headbangers Brawl to look back and share our favorite Slayer memory.
Chris Annunziata: Favorite Slayer memory would be seeing them at Nassau and watching two Slayer fans aggressively punch each other to the beat of numerous songs, but most noticeably “Angel of Death.”
Bram: No surprise here, but my favorite Slayer memories come from their glory days. While the first time I saw them was the Seasons in the Abyss era on the “Clash of the Titans” tour, their go-to venue in Philly was the Trocadero. While I wasn’t fortunate enough to see them play on their “A Week in the Abyss” tour there a month before that album came out, that show became the stuff of legend, with riots, overturned cars and plumbing ripped out. Oddly enough, the club had them back at least two more times, for the ‘Undisputed Attitude’ and ‘Diabolus In Musica’ tours, both of which I saw there.
I remember being a little wary walking in to the same venue where I heard about so much mayhem over the last time they’d played there in 1996. I’d just walked in and was standing in the lobby when I heard a commotion coming from the stairs leading to the balcony. The crowd parted, running down the stairs to avoid what was coming. It was a man getting forcibly evicted by two bouncers, who were more or less throwing him down the stairs, making sure to grab him at the base of the stairs and check him into the wall. It set the tone for the rest of the night, with the crowd getting more amped by the second. This time, there were no riots, but it definitely was the closest to the boiling point that I’d ever seen at my home away from home for metal shows.
When they came back a few years later in 1998 for the Diabolus tour it was a pretty odd lineup, with Clutch and some new band most hadn’t heard of called System of a Down. By then (and actually long before then), it was pretty well known that Slayer fans came to shows to see just one band, Slayer. I’d been listening to an advance of the band’s self-titled debut album, which wasn’t even out yet when they took the stage. Not surprisingly, the Slayer crowd at first didn’t know what to make of the Armenian quartet, and quickly came to a decision: they fucking hated them! A chorus of boos rained down on the band, who were more than up for the challenge and almost seemed to revel in it. By the time they played “Sugar,” they changed the word “Sugar” to “Slayer,” and by the time the set ended, there was at least a small mosh pit happening, perhaps ironically. Of course they went on to open Ozzfest and go on to be a multi-platinum band, and Clutch stuck to their earlier hardcore roots, making for a diverse, fun, and ultimately amazing evening.
Jeff Podoshen: I’m not sure I have a FAVORITE Slayer memory. But to be honest, this is one of those bands that I don’t think ever had a bad show. They were always great live and they always had the perfect stage show, and set design. It’s difficult to match Slayer’s intensity live and the fans will always be legendary. SLAYER!
Matt: When I was 14 and only just starting to branch out into bands beyond Black Sabbath and KISS, I thought Slayer was as brutal and heavy as you could get. At that point I’d only heard “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death”, and I thought they were just so evil sounding. Stunningly fast with squealing guitars and Tom Araya belting out the lyrical equivalent of a horror movie filled my head with the exact imagery that mothers everywhere worried about. But my teenage mind was truly blown when I found out the band were planning to release their new album Christ Illusion on June 6th 2006 a.k.a 6/6/6. That didn’t end up happening and the album came out in August instead, but the band did release the single “Cult” on that day, and I thought the band were just as evil sounding on that track as the two aforementioned songs. Looking back, my shallow knowledge of metal music is amusing as I’ve listened to many other bands that are way more brutal and/or evil sounding, but I still fondly recall the time when I thought Reign In Blood was the be-all end-all of heavy music.
Zenae: What can I say? I’ve been listening to Slayer since I was a teenager and lucky to be part of selling their 2001 CD, God Hates Us All, when music stores were a thing (ironically it was released on September 11th). It was cool at the time, being part of a new release for a legendary band or just seeing my boss at the time blast all things Slayer on Friday nights at the store. I went from selling their product to writing a retrospective piece celebrating 30 years (at the time) of Hell Awaits, and covering their Final 2018 Tour at Jones Beach. It’s been a ride and happy to see Slayer being part of a personal transformation.
Show wise, I’ve seen them countless times from Festivals to tours, you name it. What stands out to me the most is being part of The Big Four on September 14, 2011 and 2012’s Mayhem Fest. The Big Four was for obvious reasons but, for Mayhem Fest, it was more about enjoying Slayer live with my best friend down in Florida. Slayer is one of those bands where things have always gotten better seeing them with great company. They’ve always put on a relentless performance raising hell and fire on the stage. I don’t think I will ever get tired of going crazy to “Raining Blood.” While the main lineup has been long gone, Slayer never disappoints.
A funny moment to add was at Welcome To Rockville in 2015. Everyone was evacuated due to a terrible storm, and a tornado was roughly one mile away. Once the festival-goers were able to re-enter, many were soaked and muddy for the rest of the night. I remember feeling torn between seeing Marilyn Manson and Slayer, which resulted in a fair amount of running between stages. During this time, I saw a group of guys filled with mud and having no one care in the world. However, they only cared about one thing as they wouldn’t stop screaming: “SLAYER!” One thing to note, a man proposed to his girlfriend later during Slayer’s set that night.
It’s sad seeing these great bands coming to a close, but it’s the memories that will keep everything alive. Nothing will beat the insane headbangs from the moment Slayer walks onstage up until they walk off. Slayer is a band that will always be around. Mark my words, you will still see Slayer signs held up high and random screams from fans saying, “Fuck Slayer!” It doesn’t matter which show, this will happen.