Originally scheduled for January yet postponed due to Tom Araya from Slayer
requiring emergency back surgery, the American Carnage tour finally converged upon the Long Beach Arena with the unholy trinity of Slayer, Megadeth
. A sold-out arena soon was brimming with the scent of spilt beer, sweat and testosterone.
Only a band as bad-ass as Slayer can wear their own band t-shirts. Slayer has earned this right due to their status as one of the "Big Four" titans of thrash metal along with Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica. The one thing that never changes about Slayer is their unrepentant sonic assault and vivid imagery sewn into their lyrics.
A roar from the crowd erupted as soon as the lights went out and a large white scrim flashed various Slayer logos. It sounded like bombs were going off during the pummeling "World Painted Blood." With two Slayer logos suspended in the air and a lot of smoke on stage, Slayer didn't need any fancy tricks for their meat-and-potatoes thrash metal.
Screams of "WAR!" were rally cries to the crowd during "War Ensemble" as Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman played their guitars with unbridled furiousness. Hanneman was prepared for war outfitted in his black skateboarding kneepads and an ESP guitar with an altered Heinken logo that spelt Henneman. Kerry King continues to look more evil with huge metal chains hanging off his belt and a beard that will soon reach ZZ Top proportions.
The foreboding minor notes of "Dead Skin Mask" crept underneath my skin with great menace. My bird's eye view of the stage allowed me to gaze in awe of the dexterity of Dave Lombardo. If I played drums, I would have quit because Lombardo is simply a machine. A few decibels of my hearing vanished during his double bass drums bombs.
A double blast of "Born of Fire" and "Seasons in the Abyss" had the floor transformed to into multiple swirling mosh pits. While Araya doesn't head bang as much as he used to, the crowd picked up the slack for "South of Heaven" and the brutal power of "Raining Blood". Slayer barely showed some mercy by ending their set with "Angel of Death".
Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Megadeth is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of their album Rust in Peace. Starting chronologically with their thrash opus "Holy Wars..Punishment Due," Dave Mustaine and company ripped through their album and sprinkled in some old favorites like "Symphony of Destruction" and "Peace Sells". Mustaine was on point throughout the evening using his custom Dean Guitar adorned with the artwork from the Rust in Peace album.
Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly
Testament appeased their legions of fans with a straightforward rocking set. It was nice to see Alex Skolnick return on guitar as he was missing when I last caught them. Lead singer Chuck Billy was his growling self as he prowled the stage while playing air guitar on his mic stand.
Personal Bias: One of the few things I ever won on the radio was a cassette of Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss from KNAC.
The Crowd: Eleven to none male to female ratio. Props to the guy wearing the Celtic Frost t-shirt.
Overheard in the Crowd: "The line to the men's bathroom is how long???"
Random Notebook Dump: The bathroom stalls were wrapped in plastic to prevent graffiti.
"World Painted Blood"
"Spirit In Black"
"Dead Skin Mask"
"Skeletons of Society"
"Born of Fire"
"Seasons In The Abyss"
"South of Heaven"
"Angel of Death"