Slayer, one of the founding ‘Big Four’ bands of thrash metal are saying goodbye. With a career spanning almost 40 years, and 12 studio albums under their belts, this much-loved band will be sorely missed. Supported by special guests Behemoth and Anthrax on their farewell tour last night, they were part of a rare combination we’ll never witness again.

Hooded and masked for their opening track ‘Wolves ov Siberia,’ Behemoth wasted no time and dove right into their set, removing their masks to reveal the classic Behemoth corpse makeup. The scale of production along with the stage set-up, curtain backdrop, hoods, and their stage personas made you realise that this wasn’t just a gig—this was a ceremony. Just before they broke into ‘Ora Prob Nobis Lucifer,’ vocalist/guitarist Nergel lit incense, wafted it around the drumkit and placed it there to burn for the rest of the performance. Incense isn’t usually something you’d associate with a metal gig, but it added to the religious experience that is Behemoth. They were captivating; unleashing rumbling, growling vocals alongside heavy, groove-laden and intricate drumming. These musicians are true artists.

It’s worth mentioning that this was an all-ages show (props to Slayer for encouraging inclusivity). It was great to see a little girl wearing her battle vest while on crutches, and a father and son singing lyrics to each other—this was a family event, which just happened to take place to a heavy metal soundtrack.

Anthrax picked up the pace and brought the energy with their first song ‘Caught in a Mosh,’ and a mosh there was. Vocalist Joey Belladonna dashed around the stage and interacted with the audience, pointing in approval to fans who were singing along with horns held high. Anthrax played ‘Madhouse’ and ‘I Am the Law,’ along with a spot of light-heartedness when Scott Ian introduced ‘Evil Twin.’ Joey held his mic and stand over Ian’s like a boom as Ian screamed to the crowd, “do you like thrash metal?” The guitarists worked the stage, swapping sides and riling up the crowd, ending their set with ‘Indians.’ The band left the stage to chants from the crowd: “long live rock and roll!”

By this time, the crowd couldn’t have been more amped for Slayer. As the lights dimmed, the curtain dropped and revealed a translucent sheet with lights and logos projected onto it while ‘Delusions of Saviour’ played. The band then entered the stage with ‘Repentless,’ and so began their unforgettable final set in Australia.

There was fire, walls and bursts of it, along with lasers and smoke. Crowd-surfers and extreme moshers appeared everywhere, not just in the pit. There were horns, fists and head-bangers—the way a true metal show should be experienced.

With a discography as extensive as Slayer’s, fans had a lot to look forward to. They played songs from nearly all of their albums, each one a bigger hit with the audience than the last. ‘Mandatory Suicide’ saw an impressive fire display, ‘Payback’ had a dedicated introduction from vocalist/bassist Tom Araya about karma, and ‘Angel of Death’ was an emotional conclusion to Slayer’s four-song encore, leaving the crowd roaring.

Tom stood at the forefront of the stage after ‘Angel of Death’ ended and stared at the crowd—beginning on one side and slowly making his way across the entire stage. It was as if he was committing to memory the faces of the fans; being in the moment with thousands of people screaming for them. “Thank you. Thank you for everything. Goodbye, we’ll miss you.”

After 90 minutes and 20 songs, they left a stunned Adelaide crowd for the last time ever. These men aren’t young anymore, but they are still—and always will be—stars. Long live metal.

Find more photos of Slayer here.

Find more photos of Anthrax and Behemoth here.

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Photos: Matt Pfeil