6 Things We Learnt from Slayer and Anthrax

Two card carrying members of thrash metal’s big four rolled into town this week, with a gang of berserker Norwegians in tow

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Was it any good?… Come on, what do you think? Still, we learnt something too. Here’s what.

**Kvelertak Have The Power To Overcome The Curse Of The Opening Band
**If you pay attention to the world around you and you have ears that are functioning in any way, you’ll know that Kvelertak are one of the most exciting bands to emerge over the last five years. But getting stuck going onstage to a fairly minute crowd at 7.20 with, by the sounds of things, very little in the way of a sondcheck, is no good. And their blackened rock and roll is merely passing the time for the first half of their set, much like many opening bands left to the mercy of the Brixton Academy PA. But Kvelertak are made of sterner stuff, and by the halfway point, as the noise improves and the venue fills, they start to get fist pumping and heads banging. By the time they leave it’s a mightily impressive roar that greets them. Bloody hell!

Hello there

Hello there (Image credit: Derek Bremner)

Never Write Off Anthrax
Anthrax seem to be looked at with sympathy by many people these days. After more changes in the vocalist department than they’ve had albums in the last decade and a bit, maybe you can understand why. But they’ve been solid and stable for a long enough period now, and when you can open a set with Caught In A Mosh, Got The Time and Antisocial then you deserve to be treated like the superstar metal band you are. And, despite a slight lull in the middle where Anthrax decide to showcase some latter material that many might not be familiar with, this is a band who still have the energy of yesteryear to go with the timelessness of their material. Scott Ian stomps, Joey Belladonna scampers and Frank Bello gurns throughout, and they end with a snarling rendition of Among The Living giving the crowd as good a set as you could hope to see from a member of the big four… Well, almost all.


Anthrax (Image credit: Derek Bremner)

Slayer Give You Value For Money
You know what you’re going to get with Slayer right? Hmm… don’t be so sure. The thrash titans hit Brixton for six as the curtain drops to reveal the band, who immediately launch into new song Implode. What’s noticeable is the stage set itself. Slayer have never been ones for doing too much with bells and whistles, but tonight’s set up is minimalistic yet effective. A backdrop of the album art from latest record Repentless and four ever moving upside down crucifixes. Slayer are clearly trying to give us a bit more for our cash than ever before, a fact echoed by the length of the setlist tonight. We get nearly two hours of classic thrash metal from the evergreen Die By The Sword from Hell Awaits to more contemporary bangers like Disciple from God Hates Us All. At a time when most headliners take your cash and run after just over an hour, and not mentioning Slayer’s advancing years meaning one would think they’d be happy to run off home as soon as possible, this is a mightily impressive statement of intent. No one’s going home short-changed.

Kerry King

Kerry King (Image credit: Derek Bremner)

The Replacements Are Top Notch
As sad as we all are about the idea that we are never going to see the ‘classic’ Slayer ever again (and we really aren’t… fuck that sucks), you can adopt one of two approaches. 1) Bitch and moan like a bloody idiot on the internet. 2) Actually admit that, in very different but equally trying circumstances, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph are doing an incredible job of keeping Slayer at the peak of their powers. Bostaph nails every fill, every roll and keeps the tightly wound coil of aggression straining as tightly at the leash as it ever did during the time Dave Lombardo was on the stool, and Holt (arguably with the harder job) does the almost unthinkable of making it seem as though he has been in Slayer since day one. His menacing presence, whiplashing head and white hot leads the perfect compliment to Kerry King’s swaggering ball of rage. Slayer are still fucking Slayer.

Hello again

Hello again (Image credit: Derek Bremner)

Slayer Are Slayer Are Slayer Are Slayer
At then end of the day… it’s a Slayer show. Of course it was brilliant. Always the model of consistency, there’s a reason Slayer are the go to guys when talking about just what it is that makes heavy metal so brilliant. The fact that, after a couple of so-so tours, they really do look, feel and sound energised by the new material from Repentless means that we can go back to bashing our chest with pride at their invincibility. As they leave us, predictably but expertly, with the triple home run of South Of Heaven, Raining Blood and Angel Of Death (complete with the Hannemann backdrop) the world of metal celebrates another Slayer show and another triumph. No encore, no hype, no bullshit, just Slayer. What more could you ever possibly have wanted?

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.