Words by Steve Melone | Photos by Joe Papeo

When you think of the signature heavy metal bands in history, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera and of course, Slayer, are in the conversation. Any death or thrash metal band today out there has wished they could be Slayer, but few are as talented, as fast, or especially as brutal as they are when they get on the stage. And Slayer proved they can still pack the house after all these years during their gig at the Wellmont Theater over Thanksgiving weekend.

After openers, Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus, fans continued flooding into the venue. The Wellmont Theater was about as packed as it has ever been, people squeezed next to each other in every empty space on the ground floor. An opaque curtain blocked the audience’s view of the stage as dark sounds started building up while “Slayer” flashed in time with the music. As silhouettes came in view behind the curtain, a thunderously loud guitar told everyone the show was starting. The curtain dropped and Slayer started a hundred miles per hour with “World Painted Blood.”

Within seconds beer was thrown, moshes started and bodies began surfing within the Wellmont’s walls to accompany the nature of the band’s fury. It was everything you could hope for as a Slayer fan – Tom Araya’s vocals sounded crisp and clear as he sprinted through songs in true metal fashion, while Kerry King made noises that guitars just shouldn’t logically make, ripping fast through his solos flawlessly on the stage. The set list included favorites “War Ensemble,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Spill the Blood,” “Hell Awaits,” “Jesus Saves,” “Disciple,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Dead Skin Mask,” and “Raining Blood.”

For many fans, the show was the first to be seen without guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, who died in May of last year from alcohol related cirrhosis. After being replaced by guitarist, Gary Holt, originally from Exodus, many fans couldn’t help but wonder what the band would have to say about the loss of such a key member to the band’s success over the years.

As the show came to a close, the band returned to the stage for a two song encore. After returning with “South of Heaven,” Tom Araya thanked the crowd sincerely for watching them play, and went into a blood curdling scream to start “Angel of Death.” The Slayer tapestry in the background dropped revealing another that mimicked Heineken’s logo, reading “Hanneman: The original quality Angel of Death.” The band called it a night, and Slayer fans went home with happy ringing ears.


TheWaster.com | NJ