Words Will Oakeshott.
Photos David Rubinich.
There are miniscule opportunities in a music enthusiast’s lifetime where they would experience a memorable and irreplaceable act perform for one last time; especially in a location as remote as Australia. On this night, true royalty of the Thrash Metal genre shredded and banged their identity and art into Adelaide for one last time in their marvellously macabre manner. This “ending” may have been an epilogue of sorts; but the imprint will be everlasting.
Poland’s Behemoth do not perform live concerts – the Blackened Death Metal quartet deliver a stunningly darkened ceremony. As extreme and heavy as their musical output is; their ritual is one to gaze in awe and be astonished by. Within moments of their demonstration, an audience (especially the one present at this event) can instantly tell the immense significance of what this four-piece are exhibiting; on the other hand, this magnitude has an incalculable importance for the members: Nergal, Inferno, Orion and Seth – a necessity to their existence. With this in mind, it may assist in imagining how passionate Behemoth are about their art and this is exactly what South Australia was honoured to observe. ‘Bartzabel’ was hauntingly beautiful, with the eerie chant of lyrics “Come Unto Me Barzabel” echoed throughout the venue by both crowd and band while Nergal screamed his praise to all present with his nightmarish eclipsed lyrics. ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ was equally powerful, not only in its execution, in fact, the song reiterated its implication from the flawless album ‘The Satanist’ which Nergal had written after he had suffered from Leukaemia. Thankfully he looks in better health as he ever has and the stage and capacity crowd gleefully shuddered at his celestial stomping in fury.
In closing, ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’ was instrumentally delivered by a backing soundtrack until its thunderous conclusion where all four members of Behemoth returned to the stage to individually drum the audience farewell – stamping their authority as one of greatest metal acts of their classification. It is hard to imagine that this was just the first chapter of the event.
As English theologian Thomas Fuller once said: “It’s always darkest just before the Day dawneth” – if Behemoth were the aforementioned “darkest”, then the “Day dawneth” were, at this event, New York City fellow Thrash valedictorians Anthrax. The bleak was now brightened and the gloom now glowing – this five-piece were on a mission to inject “fun” into the equation and undoubtedly they succeeded. There is a near “surf skate and sunshine” aura about the five-piece not too dissimilar to the OC punk distinctive attitude (mixed in with some Glam rock for good measure); it is subliminally infectious. ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Got The Time’, ‘Madhouse’, ‘I Am The Law’, ‘Anti-social’ and ‘Indians’ were undoubtedly the favourites and the sing-alongs became more and more vibrant. Guitarist Scott Ian was maniacal in his presence – stomping around in circles, yelling backing vocals and landing “hardcore jumps” as if he was decades younger. This was accentuated superbly by bassist Frank Bello’s stage insanity and vocalist Joey Belladonna’s audience attention and theatrics – they may not be everyone’s favourite “package”, however there is no denying Anthrax’s addictive amusement and exuberance.
If there is a better quote to portray the almighty Slayer for their “farewell to Adelaide” show than English Author Sir Terry Pratchett’s: “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness” – then this writer will readily admit defeat. These Californian Thrash deities were departing in “hotter than hell” fashion with pyrotechnics, curtains and backdrops and as many evil and twisted anthems they could thump into the headbangers of South Australia. It began in such a cinematic value, that the reality of this event actually being a conclusion instead of a tradition became abundantly clear. A blank curtain dropped revealing another with four crosses projected onto it which were rotated 180 degrees, then a pentagram and then the word which had sold out Adelaide Entertainment Centre: “Slayer”. The expected roar deafened the building and flames shocked and inspired all within – it might have been S(L)AYONARA but not without the appropriate send off.
Understandably what transpired became a haze of near dislocating necks, ferocious stage presence, a gloom of indescribable brilliance and an intensity never before witnessed at AEC. The quartet delivered what Australia (and the world thus far wanted to hear): ‘Repentless’, ‘Blood Red’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Jihad’, ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, ‘Payback’, ‘Born Of Fire’, ‘Hell Awaits’ and ‘Raining Blood’ (plus many more); however this was just scratching the surface of what actually unfolded. The eventuality was fast approaching and although it had been an astonishing adventure, we were still ill-prepared.
To conclude: ‘Angel Of Death’ with a new backdrop, a Heineken inspired logo attributed to Jeff Hanneman (guitarist who passed in 2013) reading “Still Reigning” – this was a perfect closing. To state their official “goodbye”, Kerry King, Paul Bostaph, Gary Holt and Tom Araya simply stood and exchanged places on stage until Adelaide was able to take in everything. Then Tom simply said: “We will miss you” – (un)safe-to-say the world will miss you more Slayer and that is the “Undisputed Attitude”.