Review of Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live

On Sunday, June 10th of 2018 the Slayer farewell tour came to Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. The tour was supported by some other great bands as well. Testament started things off, then Poland’s blackened death metal band Behemoth played (it was the band’s main man, Nergal’s, birthday) followed by Anthrax and then Lamb of God was direct support. I’m not going to get into all of their sets mostly because this post is about Slayer and secondly, I got there during Anthrax’s set. However you can see a few clips at the end of this post from Behemoth’s set that they posted on social media. Anyways, this is a concert review so of course the big question is, how was the show?

First off, like all Slayer performances, the show was a lot of fun. Slayer did a sort of career retrospective set list, which is a bit different than a “best hits” style set list in that it contained songs off 11 of their 13 albums. Only Diabolus in Musica and the mostly punk covers album Undisputed Attitude weren’t represented in the set list (see the full set list here). They left a few classics off, most notably “Spirit in Black,” “Die by the Sword,” and the medley of “Altar of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves” that has been a staple of their live set for decades. However they did play “Blood Red” which hasn’t been in their touring set list in many years.

It seemed like almost every metal head from our area was at the show to see Slayer one last time. I ran into some of the dudes from Darkest Hour, Ant Scot was crowd surfing in his wheelchair throughout the day and Randy Blythe even brought out local politician/metal head Danica Roem on stage for a moment during Lamb of God’s set. It seemed everywhere I turned I ran into another regular from the local scene, and I still didn’t see half the people I know were there from seeing their posts on social media after the show.

Most of the bands played in the daylight but it was dark by the time Slayer took the stage after 9pm. They had some great pyro effects including open flames that lit up metal Slayer logos on stage, and giant fireballs that would shoot up behind them in time with the music. While the current line up is only half of the original members, Tom Araya and Kerry King, I had seen this same Slayer line up with Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt of Exodus filling Jeff Hanneman’s shoes twice before. Once in November 2013 (read our review of that show here) and again in March 2016 (read our review of that show here), both times at the Fillmore Silver Spring. What blew me away at those shows was how tight the band still was despite the line up changes. Slayer is probably best known for having written some of the most classic songs of the entire heavy metal genre but they are also known as a band that is incredibly well rehearsed and tight live. They rip through blisteringly fast songs totally in sync with each other and they make it seem easy because they have practiced them so many times. It was impressive that they could keep that up with two new members, something many bands that have that kind of well rehearsed chemistry fail to do after major line up changes. However that tight chemistry wasn’t quite there this Sunday night in June. Gary Holt had some technical issues and had to swap his guitar out a few times, including during the beginning of “Hell Awaits” which left what might be Slayer’s best intro riff sounding off. Most glaring however was Tom Araya fudging or possibly completely forgetting the lyrics to some of the songs. I might give this a pass if they were songs off the later albums but, for example, in “South of Heaven” he repeated a verse that doesn’t repeat and in “Angel of Death” he completely missed an entire verse of lyrics. This didn’t ruin the show by a long shot, it certainly didn’t make me suddenly stop loving those classic songs but it was the first time I’d ever seen Slayer so out of sync live. I’ve seen them live many times before. At the 9:30 Club, the long gone Nation/Capital Ballroom, the Baltimore Arena and the previously mentioned Fillmore Silver Spring. I’ve seen them before at Jiffy Lube Live on Mayhem Fest and even back when it was still called Nissan Pavilion I’ve seen Slayer play there as part of several Ozzfests. This Slayer performance was the first time I had seen a tiny crack in the foundation starting to grow.

Slayer played for about 90 minutes with none of that lame pre-rehearsed encore nonsense. They just got up there and ripped for an hour and a half straight while everyone went nuts. Gary Holt was sporting a “Kill The Kardashians” shirt and brought out his guitar that is painted in his own blood a few times (backstory on that here). However the most memorable part of the show might be what happened after it just ended. After the end of the set Tom Araya wandered around on stage just soaking in all the fans still screaming wildly for the band despite the set being over. He eventually found a mic and thanked the fans for all the memories. I’m not sure if he did that at every stop on the tour or just ours, but it was quite a touching moment, not something Slayer shows are generally known for. Still coming down from the adrenaline rush of a live Slayer performance, it was a sobering reminder that this was the last time we’ll be seeing Slayer in our area.

I am sad to see Slayer go, but this performance showed us why they are retiring. It seems like Tom Araya’s heart just isn’t in it any more, something that has been hinted at in interviews in other metal publications. I’d rather see them go on their own terms than just become a sloppy caricature of the incredible band they are. I did thoroughly enjoy the show though, despite its flaws. I’ve long held that no metal head can sit still while songs like “Raining Blood” or “Angel of Death” are playing and this show was certainly no exception. Bang your head, throw the horns, jump into the mosh pit, you just gotta go crazy for Slayer! But it is the end of an era, the first band of the Big Four of thrash metal to retire. I love this area’s metal community and it is always bittersweet to see one of the legends bring everyone out to headbang to their tunes for one last time.

Below you can see the photos I shot of Slayer from the photo pit (click them to see them larger) and below those are some images and videos of Behemoth that were posted to their social media, including the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to Nergal.

Slayer at Jiffy Lube Live 6/10/18

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya and Kerry King of Slayer

Kerry King of Slayer

Ant Scot crowd surfing

Bonus photo I shot of Ant Scot crowd surfing into security

Bristow, Virginia. We are in the middle of the set. The show is fuckin' intense… I see a guy on the wheelchair crowd surfing! There's a moshpit from the very start of the show and ppl r totally INTO it. Obviously we feed on that energy and return it with twice as much strength! Ryan, our tour manager suggests that he goes Instagram live for the new song "Wolves ov Siberia". I agree, why not, right? He follows me into the stage and I'm announcing the song yet I see him standing behind my back regardless. Weird. As I approach the mic music dies and there's a robotic announcment coming from the speakers all over the place: "Ladies and gentlemen this is not time for "Wolves ov Siberia". Not yet. Today is the day to celebrate your fuckin' birthday, Nergal"! And then Gary Holt, Randy Blythe, Kerry King and the boss of all bosses, Mike enter the stage with a bottle of Jagger serving shots! Holy fuck! It took me few seconds to realize what's goin on… From the speeakers I can hear "Stoooo lat" from the legendary movie "Rejs"… Randy encoured ppl to sing "Happy birthday" and shortly after 10.000 ppl are chanting along the theme. What can I say? I was blown away and hyper-surprised and it was worth waiting 41 years for THIS haha !!! Would love to send regards and massive thank you to my band mates and Wolfpack crew for making this all happen! BEST wishes EVER!!! Love u ALLfuckers!!!! @drandallblythe @behemothofficial @garyholt_official @orion669 @brovarius.victorius @slayerbandofficial @slaywhore @paulbostaphofficial @shark_________________________

A post shared by Adam Nergal Darski (@nergal69) on

The same video as above, but this version is longer and includes the “Happy Birthday” song.

Thank you sooo much for last nite Bristow!!!!

A post shared by Behemoth (@behemothofficial) on

Review of Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Saturday, March 5th, the Fillmore in Silver Spring hosted a sold out show headlined by the masters of demonic thrash, Slayer. This bill was pretty stacked as the two support bands, Bay Area thrashers Testament and UK based melodic death band Carcass, have both headlined the Fillmore in the past. The line to get in wrapped around the building early and the place was already pretty packed before the first band took the stage.

Carcass started things off with a short set, they only played for 40 minutes, but managed to get through 10 songs in that time. The band didn’t talk much between songs and really made the most of their time. Their set consisted of songs from Heartwork (2), Necroticism (3) and their latest album, Surgical Steel (4) plus “Genital Grinder” from Reek Of Putrefaction. Their set was short but sweet and the band kept it tight, you really weren’t going to see a better set from these guys in just 40 minutes and I wondered how Testament would look by comparison going on after such a great set by Carcass.

Testament followed with a set that wasn’t quite as energetic as the one Carcass played but the audience still went nuts for it. Vocalist Chuck Billy was doing his best air guitar throughout the set while Alex Skolnick showed off his impressive actual guitar skills. Testament’s set consisted of just eight songs with a focus on their best hits from the 80s and 90s. They are always entertaining live and Testament can still shred but I still think of the three bands that played they were the least compelling. Testament’s set was also 40 minutes and when they finished a big curtain went up in front of the stage while Slayer set up.

Finally the curtain fell and Slayer launched into “Repentless,” the first of five songs they would perform off their newest album of the same name. I know the current Slayer line up has its doubters but I’m not one of them after having seen both the original line up and the current one several times now. The band is still very tight and intense live and this night was no exception. Paul Bostaph really punches it behind the kit and Gary Holt is always very animated on stage; you can tell he’s having a blast up there. He brought out that crazy looking guitar that is painted using several pints of his own blood too (see photo below). When Slayer played the Fillmore Silver Spring last, in November 2013, their set list was a sort of “best hits” while Saturday’s show certainly had more of Slayer’s material from the past decade in there. That said, they played for an hour and 45 minutes so there was plenty of time to get many of those classic older Slayer tunes. The final four songs they played are pretty hard for any metal band to match, “South Of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” “Black Magic” and “Angel Of Death.” Some people were hoping for an encore after that but seriously, what more could you ask for? Slayer might be older and have a different line up now but they really haven’t lost a step or any of that demonic intensity they’re known for and this show just proved it, once again.

Below are my shots of the bands that night, you can click on any one of them to see it full sized or click here to see the entire set (including photos of the set lists).

Carcass:

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Carcass at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament:

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Testament at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer:

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Review of Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

On Tuesday, November 19th of 2013 I went to the Fillmore Silver Spring to see Slayer and Gojira. Although I arrived over 15 minutes before Gojira started, the will call line was so slow I didn’t get into the venue in time to photograph them from the photo pit (at most big shows photographers only get to shoot during the first three songs each band plays). I finally made it in and the venue was already uncomfortably packed. I’m not sure if the show was sold out but I’ve never seen the venue this packed before. There wasn’t really anywhere to stand without being shoulder to shoulder with people on the main floor so I headed upstairs to try my luck. Unfortunately if you’re not on the rail on the Fillmore’s second floor the sight lines are, well, pretty much nonexistent. The French band played a pretty similar set to the one they played at Rams Head Live in Baltimore back in February so I didn’t feel like I missed too much. Backbone is always heavy as hell but as much as I enjoy Gojira’s music, I was really here for Slayer.

The curtain came down in front of the main stage while Slayer set up and this is when things started getting better. I worked my way to the front of the stage. I noticed there were some very large boxes for shipping gear in the photo pit area which made it so the guard railing was pushed farther away from the stage than usual. This certainly made things on the ground level more crowded but at least for three songs I got to have some space up front and shoot the band. They actually ended up giving us an extra song to shoot (I think the stage hands just miscounted) and I’ve gotta say being between the wild crowd and intense band performing at a show like this is a bit surreal, like being in the eye of a hurricane. After my songs were up I assimilated back into the audience and got to enjoy the show as a regular fan.

Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been playing with Slayer since the late Jeff Hanneman left the band in early 2011 due to an infection from a spider bite. Original drummer Dave Lombardo was recently booted from the band as well, to be replaced by Paul Bostaph who had previously replaced Lombardo in Slayer from 1992 to 2001. Of course I was worried going in how these line up changes would affect Slayer’s live sound. Luckily I needn’t worry at all, the band was as tight as ever! In fact, the last time I saw all four original members of Slayer play together, in 2010 at 1st Mariner Arena, Jeff Hanneman was obviously drunk and his playing was pretty sloppy. The version of Slayer we got at the Fillmore was really tight once again. Everyone in the band was in sync, there was very little stage banter between songs as they only paused between songs four times. That all combined with the intensity of their “old school” set list (see it here), which featured no songs written after 1990, showed everyone that Slayer wasn’t slowing down at all. The set list was pretty similar to the one on the excellent live double album Decade Of Aggression though it did feature some different songs, such as an old favorite of mine, “At Dawn They Sleep.” As a nod to Gary Holt being in the band they played a Slayer-ized version of the Exodus classic “Strike Of The Beast” too! Any problems I had with the venue prior to their set were far from my mind as I thrashed in the pit during Raining Blood. This show was overcrowded, sweaty, intense and had almost non-stop shredding from these gods of heavy metal, just how a Slayer show is supposed to be. I really can’t wait until they come around again. If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind before, this night proved to all in attendance that in a live setting Slayer still fucking rules!

I only shot photos of Slayer at the show but I think some of them turned out pretty good. See the full set, including some images that I didn’t post below, by clicking here.

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya of Slayer

Gary Holt of Slayer

Slayer at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Kerry King of Slayer

Tom Araya of Slayer

Slayer Fans

Gary Holt of Slayer

Slayer Set List

Interview with Kerry King of Slayer

I got to speak with Kerry King of Slayer this week and it marks another first on DCHeavyMetal.com. Previously I’ve only interviewed people from the area that this blog covers however when you’re offered an interview with a member of Slayer you accept it! I did try to ask several questions with a local focus though. There was some crackling on the phone and I did my best to reduce that in editing without making the recording sound too choppy. Our entire 10 minute conversation is transcribed below (with links, photos and videos) and you can stream it by clicking the orange play button below or if you want to download the 9.78mb mp3 file you can do that here. As usual my words are in bold.

Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

This is Metal Chris from DCHeavyMetal.com and I’ve got Kerry King, guitar player for the legendary thrash metal band Slayer on the phone with me. Slayer will be playing at the Fillmore Silver Spring this Tuesday, November 19th with opening acts Gojira and 4Arm. Now I’ve heard there’s going to be some sort of old school set list on this tour. What exactly can fans expect from Slayer this Tuesday?

It’s going to be Seasons In The Abyss and prior. It’s pretty fun, [the] set goes by in no time.

So we get to hear some old stuff like “Black Magic” and “Hell Awaits” on there?

Uhhh… yeah. I had to think about that, I’m like ah man. We just played a show in Austin, we played Fun Fun Fun Fest and we had to make our set shorter so I was just trying to remember what’s on the set list. Yeah, it’s really cool. We came up with this idea ’cause we played two nights in LA and they wanted something special for the second night. I came up with this idea and then I realized right away everybody was going to want us to do the old school set. And it’s cool timing. This is the last tour before new music and we’ve never done anything like that before so the timing’s cool, it’s fun to do and people dig it.

Now this will be the first time that Slayer has played in the DC area with the new line up, which includes Gary Holt of Exodus and Paul Bostaph. What have these guys brought to Slayer’s live show?

Well Paul, this is what the third time he’s been in the band. Hopefully he sticks around this time. And Gary, he’s just an old school thrasher like I am so it’s really as close as Slayer can come to not missing a beat, I think, as it could possibly be. It’s just as good as everybody ever wants it to be, you know?

Now you’ve said [in previous interviews] you were talking about going back to the studio I guess with this line up. When exactly are you planning on starting the recording process?

Well you know if you ever read my interviews I’m always the optimist, haha. It just never always pans out but my plan is to be in [the studio] in January. That’s what I want to do. Me and Paul have, I think we’ve demoed like eleven songs and I think there’s parts of fourteen, fifteen that are just mine. We just gotta get a plan set and follow it. But we’ve got way ahead of the game. I’ve got seven songs done lyrically and I’ve never had that many before we hit the studio so it should be, whenever we get in it should be a quick process.

Now Paul Bostaph, since he’s back behind the drum kit here for Slayer and you know on one of the Slayer albums that he was on, Undisputed Attitude, there were a few covers of a famous DC harDCore band, Minor Threat. Is there any chance we’ll hear Slayer play a Minor Threat song for us on Tuesday?

I couldn’t play one if I had to hahahaha. It’s probably been since then that I’ve played those. We might have played some of that stuff on that tour in like ’96 but I would definitely have to go and do some homework.

Do you have any favorite bands from DC?

I don’t really pay attention to where bands come from. I mean it sounds kind of silly when you think about it but I don’t even know who’s from DC. Help me out here.

Well we’ve got you know Pentagram and The Obsessed. We got a lot of old doom bands from here. Pig Destroyer is from here, Darkest Hour and then of course all the old harDCore bands like Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Brains.

Yeah Pentagram is one of those painfully obvious names. Cool as shit hahaha.

Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

Unfortunately Jeff Hanneman who was the other original guitar player for Slayer, he passed away in May of this year. This was a big blow to the metal community as a whole but I’d actually like to know how this affected you personally.

Ummm… Well you know it just… Untimely death just sucks and it’s the guy that I made music up with for thirty years. That super sucks. He went early. It sucks. Heh, that’s all I can say, it sucks. My guitar tech died the year prior so death has become no stranger to me and you just gotta deal with it. You know I’m not set up to where I can just go away and live in my house and not work ever again. You just pretty much gotta tighten your belt a little bit and get on with life. It’s a horrible thing but we gotta trudge forward.

Now Slayer’s last appearance in the DC area was July of 2012 when Mayhem Fest came to Jiffy Lube Live. I heard a lot of older metal fans complaining that legendary bands like Slayer, Anthrax and Motörhead, that they shouldn’t be opening for a band like Slipknot. What’s your take on that?

You know I understand that perspective and everyone knows I believe that sometimes but whether you’re playing in front of us or behind us– sometimes I even think it’s even harder to play after us so I just go up there, I do my show. I don’t put a lot of thought into the politics of it and say all right we’re done. Now your turn. Have fun buddy.

Now in 2002 Paul Bostaph had just left Slayer and you guys were holding drumming auditions and one of the guys you did an audition with was Kevin Talley who DC area metal heads will know for having played with Dying Fetus and Misery Index for years. There’s video of this that’s gone around on YouTube and other places on the internet for a while. And I was kind of curious what were your thoughts on his performance and is there any reason he didn’t get the job?

He was definitely in the final one or two and I think that was the first time Paul left that we did that. The second time Paul left Dave [Lombardo] came back so we weren’t doing the auditions then. It had to be the first time, probably like ’97 but yeah I remember him playing with us. He was definitely one of my top choices but the guy that we picked just seemed like the better fit.

Washington DC is something of a craft beer town these days and several of our local breweries have metal heads working there and running the places and brewing beer. And with bands like Iron Maiden, Sepultura, Amon Amarth and even locals Pig Destroyer, they’ve all got their own official beers. Have you ever thought about making an official Slayer beer?

I know it’s been brought up and I know we have Slayer wine over in Scandinavia and I don’t really understand exactly what it all takes to get the permit to sell that stuff here. You know that’s not something I worry myself about all day but I’m sure it’s going to be getting world spread. And then there’s been talk of beer, there’s been talk of spirits. You know it’s just gotta get it all thought out and then be presented to us in a way that it’s ready to go. I’m totally into it.

You know I could probably get one of these guys to bring some great local beer backstage if you want on Tuesday.

Oh Gary would be into it. I’m not a beer drinker.

Alright man, what would you rather have some Jäger I guess?

Nah we got plenty of that, hahaha.

There was a recent commercial on ESPN with sports analyst John Clayton wearing a Slayer shirt and I saw you guys recently posted a photo with him backstage I think in Seattle. And apparently he’s actually a really big Slayer fan in real life, it wasn’t just on the commercial.

I know that’s when I found out too. I was like, ah he’s really into us, haha.

That’s pretty cool. So I was wondering do you know any other public figures or celebrities that are Slayer fans that people might not expect?

Oh I’m sure I do. Um… But I mean it’s more like people you’d expect like Josh Barnett the MMA fighter he’s big time into metal. I always see him in the pits actually at my show or anybody else’s show you can always pick Josh Barnett out cause he’s the biggest guy out there.

I don’t think I’d want to be in a mosh pit with him at a Slayer show, hahaha.

He doesn’t have to worry about getting his ass kicked, that’s for sure. So you know that, you know ball players, but that’s kind of obvious you know. Anybody that gets pumped up before they do anything Slayer pumps you up as well as anything you know, gets you fired up.

Yeah it definitely does that.

John Clayton one was definitely crazy. We didn’t know he was coming to the show. We’re warming up and our tour manager says “hey, John from ESPN” and Gary says “John Clayton?” hahaha and he comes in and we’re like “ah man that’s cool” and he had the shirt on that he wore in the commercial. It was rad.

Alright so what’s your favorite Slayer song to play live? You know it really does get people pumped up but what’s your favorite?

Probably “Raining Blood.” There’s so many musical changes in that song and when you hit the opening riff the place just becomes electrified. It’s awesome.

That’s an awesome song. You know I’ve always loved that song too because it sounds like a thunder storm ripping through the area. So here’s another question about music: What’s your favorite new band putting out music right now?

I don’t have one. That’s a question I really struggle with. You know and I’m not really checking out new music right now because when I’m working on new material of our own I don’t listen to things I don’t know so it doesn’t outside influence me. And I know that sounds crazy for a guy that’s been doing this thirty years but I mean your subconscious is a strange thing. You might hear this riff and it ends up in your song kinda. You know even now it’s five, the last ten years I don’t have anybody. I wish I did. Most [of] the stuff I listen to is old.

Kerry King photo by Metal Chris

Alright. You know DC is the seat of political power in the western world. Is there any kind of statement or anything you’d like to say to any of our politicians or about policy here?

Not really. I’m not a big political evangelist type person. I make music, they play with the law.

Alright. The last time you guys came really anywhere near here with the original line up was when you played 1st Mariner Arena [in Baltimore] in 2010 and that’s when you guys were doing [the] complete album Seasons In The Abyss and I think Megadeth was on that and they were doing Rust In Peace as well.

Yeah.

You did Reign In Blood years before that as well and I was wondering are you ever going to do South Of Heaven straight through?

I don’t think so. South Of Heaven‘s got great songs on it but it’s also got a cover on it and even though we sometimes do covers… doing a whole tour… I just don’t think that’s as strong a record as Reign In Blood and Seasons. I think we picked the right two to play. I don’t like “Cleanse The Soul.” I think that’s one of the worst songs we ever made up.

Oh really?

Yeah.

Another thing I was wondering is, I know last year Slayer put out those Christmas sweaters that were so popular. Do you have any other ideas for off the wall Slayer merch coming up?

It always comes up man and I know they’ve got new ones this year because they just made a limited amount last year and they were gone before you could blink an eye which I thought was ironic because I vetoed that to start with. But yeah they’re going to have more this year. They planned on making more so people would be able to get them I know that. They’re always coming out with different shit that we’ve gotta approve. I just approved a coffee mug. I don’t even know where they sell those things but you know the ones you put in your little cup [holder] in the car so they don’t tip over.

Oh yeah like the traveler mug.

Yeah, yeah. If it’s cool I approve it. [If it] sucks I don’t hahaha.

Alright well that’s about all of my questions here. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans of DC?

I’m stoked to come to DC man. Always a good show there.

All right man. Well thanks for taking the time to do this with me. This has been a cool experience for me so thanks a lot man.

Cool brother. Come say hello in DC.

I shall. I’ll be up in the photo pit too so I’ll be taking pictures.

Cool.

Well alright man. Have a good one.

Four Year Anniversary

This September DCHeavyMetal.com turns 4 years old and I’m really trying to make it special with all kinds of great things, online and offline, to celebrate. There’s going to be more posts on the site this month, including a few album reviews which are in the works as well as a good old fashioned concert review or two, something I haven’t posted too recently. I’m also working on an app for Android users which will let people pull up the concert calendar on their phones very easily as well as some other features like an interactive map that will use your GPS location data to tell you what concert venues, record stores and other businesses in the area that are metal friendly are near you. This should make traveling to these places much easier if you’ve never been there before. I should also be selling not one but TWO new t-shirt designs this month that I hope you all like as much as I do. I can’t wait to reveal them! Now some details about some of the other things DCHM will be doing to celebrate our 4th anniversary…

To get things started, right now we’re giving away a pair of tickets (before they even go on sale) to see Slayer, Gojira and 4Arm at the Fillmore Silver Spring on 11/19. To enter you just need to send me the title of your favorite Slayer song either on Twitter (send it to @MetalChris) or you can leave a comment on the Facebook post here. The winner will be chosen at 5pm EST on Thursday, Sept 5th so don’t wait!

Metal Night IV at Port City Brewery

This Sunday, September 8th, you’ll find me at Port City Brewery in Alexandria as I co-host Metal Night IV there with their metal head brewer Will! The event is free and there won’t be any bands playing but we’ll be playing metal on the speakers all night from a playlist that you guys send in songs for. You can send song requests (limit 2 per person) to Will via Twitter (@PCBCBrewMetal) or via email at Will@PortCityBrewing.com. Since the brewery is releasing their Oktoberfest beer this metal night is having an Oktoberfest theme, meaning think of your favorite metal songs with a German theme or by bands actually from Germany (Blind Guardian, Kreator, Necrophagist, Sodom, etc…) You can send in non-German songs too, and local bands are always welcome on the list. There will be nine beers on tap for Metal Night IV including rare releases such as Deracho, Maniacal (named after the Cannibal Corpse song with that title) and my personal favorite, the smoked porter named Two. In addition to all that, we’ll have lots of prizes to give away, including tickets to upcoming area metal shows like Pelican/Coliseum at DC9, another pair of tickets to Slayer, and tix to several shows coming to Empire. More details and info can be found on the Facebook event page here.

DCHeavyMetal.com 4th Anniversary Party

And you may have heard by now that there will be a big DCHeavyMetal.com anniversary show at the Fillmore Silver Spring on Thursday, September 26th! I’ve got some of my favorite local bands, as well as the excellent sci-fi themed thrashers Vektor, playing this show! And these aren’t just any locals on the bill: the beer soaked heavy riffs of Borracho will be sure to please any Sabbath fans (isn’t that all of us?) and the guitar wizardy of Midnight Eye is going to sound great at the Fillmore! The opening act is Asthma Castle, a stoner metal band from Baltimore featuring Adam Jarvis (of Misery Index and Pig Destroyer) on drums. There will be more surprises to be announced about this show as well, so join the Facebook event page (here) and I’ll keep you up to date! I hope a lot of you can come out to this one, if there’s a good turn out I might be able to do more of these, plus it will be cool seeing these bands on such a big stage! You can get tickets for $12 here.

Last but not least a big thank you goes out to everyone who helps make this site, and the area’s metal scene, what it is. Checking out local bands, suggesting new tunes to people, going to concerts big and small all around the area, forming bands, setting up shows and just spreading the metal word any way you know how, it’s all of you who make this area’s metal scene awesome. I wouldn’t be doing this still after 4 years, advertisement free mind you, if this area’s metal scene sucked. I may keep this website alive but it’s all of you metal heads in this area that keep the scene alive here in the DMV and give me something to keep writing about. I hope to have many more reviews, improvements, fun events and of course ticket give aways for many more years to come. Keep it heavy everyone and remember: support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Mayhem Fest at Jiffy Lube Live

On Sunday the 29th of July 2012 the giant touring metal festival known officially as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, or just Mayhem Fest for short, came to its Washington DC area stop at Jiffy Lube Live. The venue is actually out past Manassas in Bristow, Virginia and some of the bands addressed the audience as Virginia and others as DC. Anyways, it was a hot day under a brutal sun for this year’s Mayhem Fest. I got there early trying to catch the first couple of bands but the line was so long I missed Richmond’s Saint Diablo and didn’t get in until after their set when the next band was setting up. All day the bands started their sets about seven minutes earlier than the program schedule listed them at which meant you had to get there ahead of time to catch the bands you cared about most. Early in the day I was mostly interested in seeing the local bands since High On Fire had dropped off the tour, so I wandered around for a while getting different directions on where exactly the Sumerian Records stage was. It was in the big fenced off section of the parking lot being completely dwarfed by the much larger Jägermeister stage that was right next to it. Bradley Wyatt of Depths Of MarianaI made sure to get up close to get a few pictures of Depths Of Mariana, a Fredericksburg based metalcore band who had won a local battle of the bands competition to get to play at this stop of the Mayhem Fest tour. The stage was small, only raised a few inches, and was completely covered by a double pointed black tent that made it hard to see the band members if you were more than a few people back. I’m sure nobody running the festival really cared much about the two local bands who had won competitions to get to play on that stage. I asked tons of people who the bands actually were leading up to and at the fest but nobody seemed to know or even care. However I knew it would be a big day for those bands so of course I wanted to at least try to get some nice photos of them. Depths Of Mariana was a pretty typical metalcore band. The vocalist and bass player both had good stage presence and the band seemed to be having a lot of fun just playing at Mayhem Fest. I’m not really a fan of metalcore and can’t really give a good assessment of the band’s sound based on that. The same goes for most of the earlier bands playing that day, but I’ll get into that more towards the end of this post.

After they played I spent some time browsing at some of the merch booths that were set up, getting food and beer, refilling the water bottle I was Joey Belladonna of Anthraxallowed to bring in and holding my breath in the men’s rooms turned urine saunas. By the time Anthrax was getting ready to play I was pretty ready to headbang. They were the headlining act on the Jägermeister stage, which featured a bunch of mostly metalcore (and other variations of the genre) bands throughout the day. Anthrax was a bit of a contrast to that, they’re much older than those other bands, probably old enough to be most of their fathers honestly. They’re also one of the big four of thrash metal. They currently have Joey Belladonna as their Scott Ian of Anthraxvocalist, still rocking the mullet, and he was full of energy up there. Scott Ian and the rest of the band still command a considerable amount of on stage charisma. The band made a good choice to play Caught In A Mosh early in the set which got a bunch of the circle pit loving metalcore fans into their performance. The parking lot area that the stage was set up in was really dirty, the moshers kicked up swirling clouds of dirt under the hot sun, and to make matters worse, due to the venue’s ABC license not covering the parking lot area you weren’t allowed to bring or buy any alcohol in that area. That’s right, you couldn’t actually drink Jägermeister at the Jägermeister stage! Regardless, Anthrax put on a fun, if short, performance. It was a good precursor of what was to come later from the bands that old school metal heads like myself were waiting to see on the main stage.

Right after Anthrax closed out the Jägermeister stage the other local battle of the bands winner, Spiral Fracture, started playing on the Sumerian Stage. Unfortunately for them, at the exact same time Asking Alexandria started playing on the main stage which pulled most of the available Jamil of Spiral Fractureaudience away from their small stage. Spiral Fracture is based out of Richmond and their sound was less ‘core than the other contest winner from earlier. I ended up getting frustrated though when the band’s singer kept pouring opened energy drinks onto the audience by holding an open can and swinging his arm. That’s fine when you’re playing some basement somewhere but when people are bringing expensive equipment to photograph you at a big festival don’t spray them with liquids! I walked away angry before I shot all of the band members to quickly clean off that sticky gunk before it go into my camera’s lens permanently.

Luckily when you’re at a metal festival there’s plenty of good ways to vent your frustration and watching Lemmy Kilmister shred with Motörhead is as good of an opportunity for that as any you’re going to find! The trio was in good form and kept the speed metal going pretty Lemmy Kilmister of Motörheadsolid their entire set. The last time they came through the area they were playing their first show with the ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. This time they had Mikkey Dee back and you could tell he had better chemistry with the rest of the band. Even so, they gave him a big drum solo that seemed a bit unnecessary considering they were only given about 45 minutes to play. I realize Motörhead have been around a long time and have put out a lot of material, 21 studio albums worth, and not all of it is going to get played in their set, especially a shortened one, but I was really hoping to hear Orgasmatron or maybe even Don’t Need Religion, which I think would have been perfect since they were playing just before Slayer. They did play many of their standards including Killed By Death and Ace Of Spades though, so it wasn’t exactly a bad set list. They put on a good performance and I’m glad to see Lemmy’s still got it on stage.

The next band to play was the band I wanted to see the most, the infamous Slayer. They are another one of the big four of thrash and certainly the most devilish sounding of them. Slayer is a gateway band for a lot of metal heads. At some point a lot of us started listening to heavier and heavier bands until we came across Slayer’s extremely catchy yet inherently evil sounding riffs which opened the door for us to the world of extreme metal. They might be a thrash band but just try to find a death metal band that can’t cover several of their songs. In other words, they’re gods in the world of metal, but if you’re reading this site you probably already knew that. The stage set up was fairly simple yet pretty awesome. They had two giant upside down crosses on stage that Kerry King of Slayerwere made of (fake) Marshall Amps that shot fireballs out of them. There were walls of fire in front of both of those and in the center above everything was a metal Slayer logo that also lit up in fire. Combined with the red lighting they used for much of their set it basically looked like you were in hell watching a metal concert. In other words, it looked totally demonic which set a mood that certainly fit Slayer’s aggressive sound. At the end of this post there are three Slayer videos from the show that you can see the fiery set up in pretty well, especially the third one. They even had the fire timed with the music which sort of reminded me of that YouTube video of the Christmas lights timed to Slayer that goes around every winter (see it here). However this was much cooler to behold! I’ve seen Slayer many times before Gary Holt of Slayerbut this was the first time I have seen them with Gary Holt of Exodus filling in for Jeff Hanneman on guitar. Gary did a great job playing those classic songs many of us in attendance know so well. Tom Araya is really starting to look older these days but he was still up there screaming and shredding like always, albeit without the headbanging as per doctor’s orders. Kerry King was, well, Kerry King, playing those evil riffs that make moshers go crazy in the pit. Most of their set list was taken from Reign In Blood and Seasons In The Abyss, as one would expect. I’d have rather heard Black Magic instead of Hate Worldwide, the sole song from their last album, but that’s really a minor gripe. After they played Angel Of Death they actually performed an encore of South Of Heaven and Raining Blood, which was kind of odd since they weren’t the headlining act, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Slipknot at Mayhem Fest

The next band up was the headlining act, Slipknot. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some old fan of the band, I’m not, but I hadn’t seen them live before and I’ll usually check out any metal band at least once, especially if I’m already at the concert. For starters, the band has a ridiculous number of people on stage, most of whom are unnecessary except in their roles of pumping up the crowd which I found to be rather distracting for the most part. There were eight members on the stage, plus a bass player who was playing backstage somewhere which was a bit weird. I realize that founding member Paul Gray, aka #2, passed away in May of 2010 from drug use, they had his bass on stage for this show as a tribute to him, but to have someone playing with the band from backstage sort of makes the whole band-playing-together-live thing seem a bit disjointed. In all the whole thing seemed like a convoluted circus, but perhaps that’s the angle they were going for, a sort of metal circus or something. There were also several photographers and/or camera men actually on stage, even stepping into the spotlights from time to time, during Slipknot’s set. That seemed very amateurish for a band this size. The band’s masks were throwbacks to their early days, but that doesn’t mean much to me as I’ve not been following them for years. One thing that I thought was cool was that the keyboard player would stage dive into the audience from time to time. You don’t see many big bands like that actually interact with the audience to the point of touching them. The beer keg drum kit on the raising and spinning platform didn’t really interest me, even when the guy was banging it with an aluminum baseball bat in time with the music. In all their show just came off as a big mish mash of gimmicks that didn’t even seem to relate to each other that much. And why the hell do they have two extra drummers in the first place? Joey Jordison, the guy behind the real drum kit, is probably the most talented member of the band and he certainly doesn’t need help in the percussion department. And as far as their musical sound overall…

Slipknot at Mayhem Fest

Well, I could take this time to rant about the kind of metal Slipknot plays but I’m not going to do that. I don’t like their music but then I don’t really like the style of metal they play in the first place so it wouldn’t be fair for me to criticize them for that. They’re still a huge metal band, even without a new album for this tour cycle they’re headlining Mayhem Fest. I heard a lot of trash talk from old school metal heads who were upset, offended even, that Slipknot was headlining over bands like Slayer, Motörhead and Anthrax, but personally I didn’t have a problem with it. Same goes for all the metalcore bands that were playing on the other two stages earlier in the day. It might not be my thing but everyone is at a different place on their musical path. Music means something different to everyone. How we listen, why we listen, how much we listen, what we do while we listen, when and where, there are so many different ways people interpret music and ways we become attached to it. I don’t expect everyone to like the same bands or styles of music or metal that I do, in fact expecting them to would be inviting in conformity. I’d be a liar if I told you there was never a time when I liked some questionable bands, especially when I was younger and first getting my passion for music. Anyone who tells you that they have never liked a band they would now find embarrassing to admit is certainly not being truthful. I remember listening to Def Leppard and other similar acts when I was in elementary school and loving that 80’s pop rock garbage but I also got a copy of Metallica’s Ride The Lightning and that totally changed how I listened to music. We all start somewhere and we move forward, and when Slipknot headlined over Slayer on Sunday it wasn’t a travesty, it was a bunch of people who already like some heavy music getting exposed to Slayer while they waited for their favorite band of the day to play. Maybe most of them hated it, I don’t know, but I’m sure that out of the 20,000 or so people there that at least some of them left wanting to know more about that evil sounding band with all the fire on stage. And like I said earlier, Slayer is something of a gateway band. I guess what I’m saying is, instead of telling someone their taste in music sucks and they don’t belong, expose them to a great band instead. Help them along their path, don’t criticize them for not being where you are. They might never get to where you are and instead forge their own path which takes them on a totally different musical journey in their life. I’m sure some of the people at Mayhem Fest only go to a few concerts every year, and for some this was their first concert ever. There’s no reason to be elitist and tell other people they don’t like metal the right way or that they’re not the right kind of people to like metal. That goes for the hipsters that are “invading” metal right now too. Let’s get more people listening to metal and going to more metal shows! I guess that’s the point of this site in the end anyways. A tour like Mayhem Fest that brings out a lot of younger people to a big metal show and also exposes them to some of the bands us old farts like isn’t a bad thing, it’s great!

In the end I’m really glad I went to Mayhem Fest this year, it was the first time I’ve been to this annual touring metal festival if you can believe that. It was also the first time I was given a press photo pass (except for Slipknot) at a venue this size and while I was a bit nervous I had a hell of a lot of fun shooting bands on such a big stage. It was great experience and I learned a hell of a lot. If you like my photos in this post you can see the rest of my shots from Mayhem Fest here. I guess people liked them because Mayhem Fest posted the link to them on their Facebook page (here) as well. Of course you can check out the three videos of Slayer playing below and I’ve also embedded a video that Mayhem Fest posted with footage of the Bristow date below those. Thanks for getting through my rant and reading to the end of all this, you rule. Stay brutal and remember to support the scene you’re a part of!

Mayhem Fest ticket give away

Mayhem Festival is coming around again this summer to Jiffy Lube Live (formerly known as Nissan Pavilion) on Sunday July 29th and they’ve got a killer line up this year. Slipknot, Slayer and Motörhead will headlining the main stage while the second stage will be manned by Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada, As I Lay Dying, Asking Alexandria, Whitechapel, High On Fire, Upon A Burning Body, I, The Breather and Dirtfedd. Told ya it’s a killer line up! DCHeavyMetal.com is giving away a free pair of seated tickets (not lawn) to one of you lucky readers and all you have to do to enter is post a Mayhem Festivalcomment below telling me which band you’re most excited to see play live! Be sure to use a valid email address that you check regularly when you enter so I can email you when you win. Don’t worry, I won’t put you on any email lists or sell your info, I hate spam just as much as you do. I’ll pick the lucky winners at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries at 5pm EST on Friday 20 April 2012. If you don’t want to risk losing out on good seats by waiting for this contest to end, you can get tickets now here from $34 – $84, depending on their location. This concert is on Sunday 29 July 2012 and doors open at 1:30 pm (and remember, Jiffy Lube Live has gotten rid of its no tailgating rule). But wait, there’s more…

Usually I don’t have any runner up prizes on my contests but this time Heavy Metal PicnicI’m also going to be giving away five copies of Jeff Krulik’s latest metal related documentary film, Heavy Metal Picnic. Shot in the 80s at a metal party in a field in Maryland that was headlined by the local doom metal band Asylum, the director of the classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot film just released its follow up on DVD this past winter. The winner of the pair of tickets will get a copy of Heavy Metal Picnic on DVD and I’ll also pick four more of you at 5pm EST on Friday 20 April 2012 to win. If you don’t win you can pick up a copy of the DVD for $15 here. If you want more info I recommend checking it out on IMDB (here) and of course by watching the trailer below.