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Slayer: It May Be Farewell But It Isn’t GoodBye

Slayer: It May Be Farewell But It Isn’t GoodBye

(PNC Music Pavilion – Charlotte, NC)

They say time waits on no one, so you have to find something you love and do that everyday. I think few people ever really achieve that and are able to go on and influence others and change the landscape around them. In the music business, there are a handful of people who have that type of longevity and ever achieve more than just a flash in the pan status. Out on their Farewell Tour, Slayer is reminding us all of why they have been on the cutting edge of metal and how they have managed to stay relevant and influential for almost 40 years. This is especially impressive considering how the musical landscape has changed since the 80s.

The good news: Slayer is on tour! The bad news: they announced that this is the last tour they will embark on for their fans. They are working there way through their North American leg, and will move into the European leg of the tour later in the year.

The current lineup for the tour is an amazing collaborative effort with Testament, Behemoth, Anthrax, and Lamb of God. When you buy a ticket for this show, you are not only seeing a great show, you are also getting a free history lesson in metal.

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Who says you can’t get anything for free? With Testament, Anthrax, and Slayer on the same bill, you are getting three of the originators of the genre and it sure shows.

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As Testament and Anthrax kicked things off, they played their tight sets with songs we have heard for years.

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Smiling and interacting with the crowd, it is evident that the guys are pros and love getting the crowd involved with their performance.

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Alex Skolnick spent a lot of time making eye contact and letting the crowd know he was aware of their hands in the air and heads banging to the music.

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I am not sure if one fan in the crowd did not have some personal interaction with Frank, Scott, and Joey as Anthrax whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

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This interaction is something I wish more bands took the time to do as it means so much to the people who come out and see the bands.

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Kudos to these guys for taking the time, and having a little fun with the the people who come out to support them and have supported them for 40 years.

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Since there are so many bands on the bill, this tour is starting early in the day.

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For the folks who like to show up late for the shows, get there early so you can have some fun as well with these guys.

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Behemoth brings something a little different to the show. Elaborate makeup, and brooding expressions, their Eastern European dark style of music was an interesting break from the other guys in the lineup. I am not really familiar with their music, but that makes it even more impressive that I still liked what I was hearing.

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When I see a band with a lot of makeup and a more theatrical look to them, I like to focus on their eyes. Being that I was fortunate enough to be up close and personal in the pit with these guys, I got a closer glimpse than most.

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Sometimes, when I look that close at someone’s eyes, you can see a hollowness in them. These guys were very interesting.

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They all had this dark outer look to them but had this brightness radiating with an inner glow (possibly flames of hell) that pulled me into the songs with them.

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Lamb of God took the stage as the sun was dropping low behind the crowd. This gave a golden glow of light across the band as they looked out and began their onslaught of metal. As Randy stood on his riser center stage that golden light dripped off his dreads and down his face as he looked out at the crowd in steadfast determination as to say, let the metal begin!

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It of course was on after that, as he managed the space of the stage and cut a path into the floor from left to right.

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The only thing keeping Blythe from physically going through the roof is gravity. He tried on many occasion to break that barrier as he leapt into the air pulling his knees to his chest as if to get that extra split second of air before the reality of physics made him come crashing back into his little patch of earth in Charlotte.Blythe did call the crowd out to get off their asses, deal with the heat and scream for themselves and for Slayer at one point.

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That always makes me laugh. You are at a metal show, how about get a little crazy? It didn’t slow the band down though, they went on to kill it, even though the crowd could have given more support.

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I hope to see these Virginia boys back again soon.

Apparently, there are only two words that you really need to know when talking to the fans of the headlining act. I was ready to take massive notes of what people thought about them, but they summed it all up for me very simply. “FUCKING SLAYER!!” Before, during, and after the show. These two words rang out at high volume across PNC. In the parking lot, in the lawn seats, VIP, and the bathroom. No matter where you went at the show, fans were screaming at the top of their lungs in vocal support of the band they all came to see. Male or female, young or old, this was the battle cry that brought everyone together.

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As the lights dropped, the crowd was finally gearing up for Slayer, and the tone of the evening changed. From my vantage point, I could see behind the crowd, and this huge storm cloud was hovering out in the distance. Orange and white lightning darted back and forth across the sky. It was like it was being summoned up for Slayer as they were about to come on stage. Their intro music played ominously, layering in with the ambient sounds of the crowd. The lighting continued its heavenly dance out in the distance. Fire from cannons on stage left and right lit the stage through the thin veil that draped the front of the stage. After the Kabuki drop, the curtain was pulled quickly to stage left, and the fans went berserk. The fire onstage intensified, and I could feel the heat on my face as the flames shot upward in time with the music. ‘FUCKING SlAYER!!”

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Head down, giant chains hanging from his waist, Flying V on fire, Kerry closed his eyes and moved into another world that he has been visiting for 40 years. A world of fast, hard driving riffs, and solos that would make a pop music fan cry. Sweat dripping off his dome, the only break he got was when they had to switch his guitar for a freshly tuned one. His partner in crime on the other side of the stage was a co-conspirator  to the violent guitar playing. Another veteran of the scene, Gary Holt was the perfect fit to mesh with the band after original member, Jeff Hanneman passed away. When he entered the stage, Holt looked like he has been hanging out in the AC all day relaxing. With a combination of the North Carolina humidity and organized chaotic guitar playing, Holt looked like he just stepped out of a sauna. In a pure rock star move, mid way during one song, Holt took his guitar and tossed it up on one of the side stage monitors, feedback building as his string were vibrating on the speaker. One of his guys emerged with a beer in hand. Holt took the beer and turned it up and chugged the beer. Like nothing ever happened, he walked back to his guitar, grabbed it by the tremolo, and raised it over his head then dove right back in time with Kerry. Ok… that is rock and roll.

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Kerry and Holt continued to wear out their strings in unison and also alternate their scorching solo work all night long. Tom, well now Tom is obviously a cool guy. Did he even break a sweat? He was up there giving it his all on bass and singing at a feverish pace, and I didn’t see a hair out of place. No doubt he is cool, and his vocals were 100 all night. He would periodically step away from his mic and move out to interact with the crowd taking it all in. You could see in his face the satisfaction of the work he has done over so many years. HIs smile made it very clear to me that it was going to be a bittersweet tour. Rounding out the lineup, Paul just was sick on the drums. I don’t know what his workout routine is, but his cardio level has to be very high level. The drum sound is definitely the glue that holds it all together and gives their sound that ferocious beat.

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I have to admit, the stamina and coordination that the band must have to play show after show like this is unbelievable. I don’t know how these guys can keep up with the complex, fast drumming, two guitars that are going mach 5, numerous time changes, accompanied with vocals that are very detailed and clear. I was impressed not just by the music itself, but that the guys seemingly could put this kind of show on and make it appear effortless. Many people may hear Slayer and see just a lot of loud music and words that they may not understand. They have never been apologetic about their style or about their musical content. Their content is very dark and talks about things people are afraid to take a deep look at. Whether is is about demon possession, war, God’s disappointment in what this world and we as people have become, or even taboo subjects like necrophilia, they never shied away from these topics, and lyrically do make you examine things. I see them as the ultimate storytellers that make you feel an emotion and make you think about things that most of us would never get into a discussion about. That’s what art should do, make you feel something. As the assault on free speech of ideas that may differ from certain groups of people increases, and the pressure people feel to be PC, bands like Slayer and others like them become more and more important to the world. They are the masters of free expression, and have been able to withstand the critics. A lot of people would have wilted under the pressure over the years and toned down their content, but not “FUCKING SLAYER!”

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On their final tour, and maybe last time we will ever see them in Charlotte, they gave the fans all the hits they could ask for and then some. “War Ensemble”, “Disciple”, “Seasons In The Abyss”, “Dead Skin Mask”, “Hell Awaits” , “Raining Blood”, and “Angel Of Deathare some of my favorites of all time, and they did not disappoint me. They will be continuing a North American leg of the tour and will transition to an extensive European Tour later in the year.Slayer (13)

Can you find something you love to do, do it every day, and change and influence multiple generations and be true to yourself? Yes, you can. Slayer has done it for 40 years now, and they look as fresh as they did when they were just kids starting out. They band may be saying farewell, but I find it hard to believe we are actually saying goodbye. We will not say goodbye quite yet, but we will send them off on their journey with their war cry, “FUCKING SLAYER!!”

See full gallery of the night!

Born in a small town in Western North Carolina, exposed to the wonders of the world at a young age through stories, words, and pictures. I have fond memories of flipping through Life Magazine to see the iconic images of days gone by and the exotic locations that only a National Geographic photographer could take me. Of course having my grandmother by my side giving commentary of how she met Mohammed Ali and where she was as Kennedy's car made that slow, fateful turn onto Dealey Plaza gave texture and substance to the pictures. Since then, my feet have left imprints in the soil in places I could have only once dreamed of. I have seen beautiful children smile in the dusty landscape of SW Ethiopia. I have walked the streets of the French Revolution. I have discarded my shoes to enter ancient Buddhist Temples in Thailand. I am always in pursuit to uncover new information, soak in new cultures, meet new people, and discover new music that can stimulate my imagination. I am on a lifelong journey, still searching for that ultimate experience. The goal of my photography and writing is to take you with me on my quest. If you are unable to be there with me, I want you to be able to immerse yourself in my words and pictures to help share with you an understanding of what it was like to be present in that small moment in time with me.

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