At 11 p..m. on Saturday night (November 30) at the Los Angeles Forum, the members of Slayer warmly embraced each other and their crew, soaked up their love of their fans, took pictures for the band scrapbook, and exited the stage for one last time.
It was a long, affecting goodbye. Bassist/singer Tom Araya, visibly moved by the shouts of “thank you, Slayer," looked out across the crowd with misty eyes. Guitarist Kerry King symbolized the completion of his tour of duty by dropping his giant metal chain belt on stage, while the arena’s screen showed close-ups of fans openly sobbing. It was an uncommonly tender moment, especially considering that just minutes before, Slayer were tearing through “Angel of Death” — their classic portrayal of Nazi concentration camps.
Such is the range of emotions that both band and fans experienced in the final show of their 18-month Final Campaign tour (complete with openers Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Ministry, and Primus). After nearly four decades, the quartet are supposedly calling it quits on touring, although they will continue to exist as a band. “Thank you for sharing your time with us… time is precious,” said Araya. “I’m gonna miss you guys.”
The absence of their spectacular and relentlessly powerful shows will will leave a huge, irreplaceable hole in the hard rock world. Here are the five things we’re gonna miss most about Slayer live.
With founder member Jeff Hanneman passing away in 2013, King’s guitar work has taken a front seat in later years and it is a sound that still astonishes. The agonizing squeals and thundering riffs he manages to conjure during “Jesus Saves” and “Born of Fire” have always been central to the Slayer experience, and life without them will always seem a tiny bit incomplete.
“Seasons in the Abyss”
After breaking speed records with their furious ‘80s work, this 1990 track showed they could bust out a killer chorus if they wanted to. Ever since, "Seasons in the Abyss” has always been the most anthemic part of any Slayer gig. Not only a key song in Slayer’s history, but a key moment in the evolution of metal.
The rain effects, the ominous drum thumps, and THAT iconic riff. No matter how many times you hear it, the start of 1986’s “Raining Blood” is as chilling as the first, and at the Forum, the crowd stood to attention with an almost eerie reverence, as this thrash-metal monster was let loose for the final time.
Giant shooting plumes of fire at a rock show is usually a tacky look, but Slayer have almost always managed to retain an artfulness to their on-stage pyro. It’s a trick used sparingly, synced tightly with drummer Paul Bostaph’s blast of beats, and on a couple of occasions, the flames unite to make a giant, inverted cross. Instagram gold — if you’re quick enough to snap it.
The Slayer Army
Throughout the decades, Slayer’s faithful have been just as consistent as the band themselves: dedicated, loud, and overwhelmingly male. The pre-show atmosphere was buoyed by double-fisted fans indiscriminately shouting “Slaaaayer! Motherf–king Slaaaaaaayer!” “Primus sucks!” and bouts of generic growling. It’s their own unique way of expressing pleasure and happiness. During the set, Araya looked genuinely humbled by the sight of the tribe, cheering their hometown heroes.
“We’re from L.A. and when we started off, it was kinda hard to get support,” he recalled. “That doesn’t matter anymore, does it?” Slayer may be done as a live band, but get a group of Slayer fans together in a room, and they will summon the same energy they have always done.