Slayer and Anthrax touring together—who would have ever thought? These were, and continue to be, two very different bands with limited crossover potential. Slayer pushes the very boundaries of heavy metal, guided by satanic images and driven by aggression, while Anthrax fueled a culture of skaters and comic book geeks through a genre-defining thrash metal moment. Of course, they were both part of the Big Four alongside Megadeth and Metallica, but Slayer fans and Anthrax fans in many cases came from two different places. To see them come together for a tour is something I thought I’d never see.
Last week in Cleveland this became a reality with Anthrax touring in support of their new record For All Kings and Slayer touring in support of—well, because they can and should always be on tour. I’ve seen Slayer half a dozen times in my life and they continue to bring the fucking house down. The coolest thing about this time around is that axeman Gary Holt is no longer the “new guy” in the band. Holt doesn’t look comfortable, he looks commanding.
If there was ever a question of whether or not Holt should be made a permanent member of the band, it was thrown into the bowels of hell in 2016. This guy is a fucking beast on guitar and is the perfect complement to Kerry King’s rip your face off Flying V onslaught.
Tom Araya still sounds incredible and there’s not a more capable drummer on the planet right now than Paul Bostaph to handle the insanely complicated drum parts for the band. The setlist was everything it should have been and more—the classics mixed with a few rarities and stellar new tunes. There’s not much else to say except that Slayer is a true American thrash metal treasure that shows no signs of slowing down, and that’s a good thing because the metal world needs them more than ever.
Next up was Anthrax. I used to REALLY be into these guys back in the day but I kind of lost interest when Joey Belladonna left the band. He was the voice of the Anthrax in my opinion, so I was thrilled to hear when he came back for Worship Music in 2011 (which finds the band at their best since Among the Living) and continuing with their latest For All Kings which was released earlier this year. These guys sounded fantastic and again, what a setlist! A solid mix of old and new, minus of course the John Bush era stuff (which makes total sense and I don’t really think anyone had time to miss it).
Taking it a step further, these two metal giants were joined by thrash metal underdogs, the terribly under-celebrated Death Angel who are arguably having their finest hour. Though the band enjoyed moderate success in the early ’90s, the band never really broke through. None of that really matters as the band released an absolute masterpiece of modern thrash metal earlier this year called The Evil Divide. This is what Metallica is trying to be in 2016 with their “comeback” record, while Death Angel makes it look effortless.