The End Of Days Is Near…RIP Slayer

I’ve been wondering for almost five years if they’d ever get a fucking clue and just call it a day.  Then, this past Monday, Slayer made this bombshell  announcement amid rumors of a huge summer tour lineup including Testament, Behemoth, Lamb Of God and fellow Big Four band Anthrax:

Well damn.  There was just one thing for me to say….it’s about fucking time!  In my opinion this should’ve been done nearly five years ago, as I said above.  Why?  Nothing against Paul Bostaph who’s currently in his second run with the band, but the band’s treatment and dismissal of Dave Lombardo – especially by Kerry King – was just fucking disgrace by all accounts.  A few months later, guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver.  While they had already been touring with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt for a few years while Jeff was recovering from a near fatal spider bite, they should’ve stopped everything right there.

I’ve spoken about this in an article ripping Kerry for calling Jeff “worm food” back in 2015.  Yeah, Kerry is a great rhythm player, he’s a really good guitarist, probably more technically sound than Jeff.  But Jeff was the better songwriter, having written “Angel Of Death”, “Necrophiliac”. “Spill The Blood”, “Postmortem” and the perennial set closer, “Raining Blood”.  Being that he was the one guy in the band that was more influenced by Punk than the others, his songwriting and playing style were far more reckless and chaotic than anything Kerry wrote.  Same goes for his lead style, just pure balls to the wall ripping.  It was never pretty and that’s why it was amazing.  Here’s an example, go to the 1:42 mark for Jeff’s solo.  By the way the music here is all his too.

I can spend this entire article kissing Jeff’s ass but here’s my point: like it or not Jeff was a KEY member of the band.  With him gone, Slayer was officially nothing more than a tribute band.  You know, that band that just goes out there for the money and play those signature songs they didn’t even write.  Because every time they play “Angel Of Death”, their SIGNATURE song, it just does not look right seeing Gary on the left side of the stage – and by the way this is not to disrespect Gary.

But it’s like David Vincent and Tim Yeung going out on tour as I Am Morbid (I seriously cannot stop laughing at that name!).  Yeah, David wrote almost all the lyrics to those classic Morbid Angel songs; but without Trey killing it on guitar it just sounds like a money grab before the tour even starts.  From a non metal perspective it’s the equivalent of Aerosmith touring and recording without Joe Perry or Brad Whitford – BOTH of the band’s guitarists! – for five years.  Who really gives a shit about Rock And A Hard Place?  Certainly not I!

While it’s clear to me that both Kerry and Tom Araya are the two business partners of the band, Kerry most likely is the one that pushed and pushed to keep going.  He’s much more shrewd of a business man.  But there’s one problem.  His songwriting style has changing DRASTICALLY since the earlier days, as he’s almost embraced shitty trends such as Nu Metal and it showed a little too much on 2001’s God Hates Us All.  Wanna know why I’ll never give Repentless, a complete listen through?  Because who in their RIGHT MIND wants to hear an entire Slayer record written by him?  And if you say you do you’re just a fan boy and should go die – fucking slowly.

Tom, on the other hand, made it clear several times over the years that at his age he’s become homesick.  He’s tired, and I think he’s kind of lonely without Jeff.  Starting in the late eighties/early nineties, Tom and Jeff began a songwriting partnership that produced some of Slayer’s best tracks, including “War Ensemble”, “Season In The Abyss” and my favorite latter era track, “Eyes Of The Insane”.  Jeff wrote the music but Tom wrote the lyrics.  Here’s a statement Tom made to Loudwire in 2016:

“At 35 years, it’s time to collect my pension. [Laughs] This is a career move.  I’m grateful that we’ve been around for 35 years; that’s a really long time. So, yeah, to me, it is. Because when we started off, everything was great, because you’re young and invincible. And then there came a time where I became a family man, and I had a tough time flying back and forth. And now, at this stage, at the level we’re at now, I can do that; I can fly home when I want to, on days off, and spend some time with my family, which is something I wasn’t able to do when [my kids] were growing up. Now they’re both older and mature. So now I take advantage of that.” Araya added: “Yeah, it just gets harder and harder to come back out on the road. 35 years is a long time.”

So I’m wondering if either certain business/contractual matters were finally resolved or Tom finally let Kerry know that he had enough.  I personally think that at 56 years old he’s burnt out.  It probably take it’s physical toll to scream like that every night at his age.  Or just maybe he has enough common sense to understand that things can NEVER be the same with Jeff gone.  Either way, the band has finally made the right call because at this point they’re more than beating a dead horse.  I almost want to see this farewell tour.  The lineup is fucking sick, and I can almost guarantee Anthrax is on there because they’ll probably have both bands on stage together at the end of every show to play a few songs together and it’ll be one big party as 2/4 of the Big Four.  Hell, even Dave Mustaine said he’d like to put together one last Big Four show as his way of sending them off.  Sounds actually really cool, considering the interband relationship between his own band and Kerry (Kerry was in Megadeth for five seconds before he got sick of Dave’s dictator-like approach).  But will they agree to it?  However, as I’ve hashtagged on Instagram posts for a while now, #nojeffnoslayer.

No Jeff, no Slayer.  He’s not there and I’m not interested.  Kerry and Tom, congratulations.  You’ve had an amazing career, creating a legacy that’s UNDENIABLE.  But please, after this is all over, make sure it stays that way.  Don’t be like that pro wrestler that retires then almost as quickly comes back because they can’t stand to be away – or need the money.  Here’s one of THE most fucked up songs the band ever released, written by Jeff:

 

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Possibly the best Ozzfest lineup ever? Ozzfest live at the Tweeter Center August 26th 2004

So just over a year since my last concert I was invited by my then-bandmates, Chad and Idrees, to go with them to see Ozzfest at the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ on August 26th, 2004.  And if you looked at the main stage line up for this tour alone it’s easy to see why.  Dimmu Borgir (fake, pretentious, symphonic black metal), Superjoint Ritual (Phil Anselmo acting even dumber than the last time I saw him), Black Label Society, Slayer, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath.  Yeah, Judas Priest was THE big deal at the time, with the band announcing the return of Rob Halford on vocals just ten months earlier and following the release of the band’s box set.  The three of us definitely had our musical differences – making me wonder how I didn’t quit them earlier – with me liking a little bit of everything yet leaning towards heavier stuff more and more, Idrees listening to Thrash and ONLY Thrash, and Chad being the Power Metal guy who was practically jerking off every night to all things Iron Maiden and Steve Vai; but who the fuck doesn’t even remotely like Judas Preist??  I’m waiting….

The morning of the show they were supposed to come to my house with Idrees’s dad driving to pick me up.  They were very late and whenever I called either of their cellphones no one picked up and it really irritated me.  When they finally did show up I do remember letting them both have it, although I don’t remember their lame excuse.  Idrees’s dad reminds me of a cross between Nile Rodgers and Isaac Hayes, Niles in the voice department and Isaac in looks, it was pretty funny just hearing him talk.  We arrived in Camden around 1pm due to shitty traffic once we got off the NJ Turnpike; ever been to Camden before?  No?  Ok, ever hear Chris Rock talk about why you should never anywhere that has a Martin Luther King Blvd?  Well, we were on it and we saw why.  Here’s an example of what we drove through to get to this place:

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Isn’t this just sexy?  I’d totally live here!

After maybe twenty minutes of my suddenly wishing we took Chris Rock’s advice and ran we finally got to the Tweeter Center, the huge outdoor arena placed in the location of the Armageddon we all apparently missed and right across the water from Philadelphia.  Idress’s really cool dad was going to spend his day at the New Jersey State Aquarium not to far down the road from us and right by the ferry that was bringing in drunken Philly trash for Ozzfest.  But I’ll get back to that later!

The three of us walked in to the horrible sounds of Otep on the second stage, having just missed God Forbid, who I really wanted to see.  They sadly broke up in 2013 but if you’ve never heard of them check out their 2004 album Gone Forever.  So we walked around for a bit, bought beads to throw at girls to have them show us their titties, etc.  We went back to the second stage because I wanted to see Lamb Of God.  They were literally five days away from release of their major label debut on Epic Records, Ashes Of The Wake, following the success of their last album, As The Palaces Burn, and it looked like they totally did a major gear upgrade with there being to big walls of speaker cabinets like only Slayer would do.

Chad and Idrees left me there because they weren’t fans of the band.  I think it was literally just too modern for either of them.  Lesson #1: if you’re only 19 years old – like these two knuckleheads were (I was a year older) – nothing is too modern for you.  Life’s too short to be THAT pretentious over music.  I may have just turned 32 but I still have an open mind!  Lamb Of God were absolutely awesome, playing a good chunk of their material from the last record as well as the first single off the new album, called “Laid To Rest”.  What I didn’t understand was Randy Blythe’s need to curse literally every other word – that’s not an exaggeration – as well as constantly saying he was in “Killadelphia” when we were actually across the water.  Dumbass.

My two dopey friends came back just in time to rescue me from Shitknot (I was a fan of them for a few years but 2004 was the year they broke my heart Godfather Part 2 style) and Hatebreed.  In fact, after LOG there were no others bands I wanted to see on the second stage at all!  So we had lots of time to kill.  While there I bought a BLS shirt that I still have today and the classic Slayer eagle shirt, which mysteriously disappeared on me a few years back.  I’m still pissed about that one, by the way.  While walking we came across a lot of that drunken Philly trash I mentioned before.  I’m talking a bunch of ridiculously sunburnt dudes in Eagles jerseys (the football season had just started) yelling out in unison “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!”….over….and over….and over again.  We also found a good spot at the guard rail on the lawn, where we could throw beads at bitches AND have a pretty good few of all the bands.

After while it was finally time for the main stage acts to go on.  First? Black Label Society.  This was to be my first of seven times seeing them, in fact I can’t make fun of Chad’s fixation on Maiden without stressing that between 2002 and 2008 I wanted to play like Zakk Wylde so bad.  I had other influences, of course, but at that time Zakk was the ONLY one who was that popular while playing that kind of music.  Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul had already risen from the ashes of Pantera, but their current band, Damageplan, was not getting over on the old fans easily.

Right out the gate he was ripping it up on a custom made Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar.  He’s shredded for maybe two minutes before breaking into “Funeral Bell”.  Idrees and I loved it.  Chad?  “Zakk Wylde’s not that great”, he said with this arrogant smirk on his face.  Chances are he was already jaded from listening to technical shred nerds who never left their mother’s basement.  Lesson #2:  It really doesn’t matter how much better one guitar player is than the next.  Zakk himself will even acknowledge that there are players that will bury him.  But what’s more important than having all the technique there is to have is being able to have your playing reach out to more than one niche crowd.  That’s why Zakk passed the audition to play with Ozzy in the first place.  Even Ozzy knew Zakk had already developed a sound that would one day make him recognizable!

Superjoint Ritual were next.  Where Phil Anselmo pretty much told us last year in Brooklyn where he stood in music (as in not with Pantera) he pretty much took that and acted like a dumbass this time around.  First off, their latest album, A Lethal Does Of American Hatred, sucked balls in plain English.  Also, it’s one thing to command your audience to mosh; but when you tell them that they’re pussies if they don’t you’re just a jackass.  The band were still great…so long as the played the music off the first album…but it was weird when Phil ended the band’s set by saying “keep sucking dick!” on the mic before doing his classic shitty rendition of the last words to “Stairway To Heaven” that he’d been doing since the Pantera days.  Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Dimmu Borgir were TRASH.  Bad enough I already don’t like Symphonic Black Metal but Dimmu were and are just awful.  Next? Slayer.  How funny that, as Idrees left us to mosh in the makeshift pit area right behind us, Chad and I both realized that the guardrail was pretty wobbly – yeah, we were fucked and we knew it.  Because as soon as Slayer got on stage all Hell broke loose and we were almost instantly pinned to the guardrail.  That shit hurts!  Of course, once they kicked into “Raining Blood”, the pit had become it’s most violent.  But who really fucking cares?  This is Slayer – and with the classic lineup back together!  Whenever I was able to get a glimpse of the band without getting pummeled I look straight at Jeff Hanneman.  He tore that guitar up better than Kerry King that night….and all the time.

After surviving the moshpit from hell we made sure Idrees came to us so we wouldn’t lose our spots before Priest came on.  At this point on it was more like an arena style concert, because who moshes to Priest or Sabbath anyway?  This was the one band to have a really elaborate stage setup.  Here, look for yourself:

 

I was able to notice on my own that Halford was relying HEAVILY on a teleprompter because he’d go to one place on stage and just stay there for two of three songs before going somewhere else.  Didn’t matter though because he was on fire, proving why he’s the Metal God.  When they played “Breaking The Law” I called up my college radio station’s programming director to bust his balls and left him a voicemail of the band playing the chorus line.  Why was I busting chops?  Well…let’s just say he did just that over a month earlier.

Up last?  Sabbath.  But of course there was a catch.  Before the band were to go on stage Bill Ward came out to announce to everyone that Ozzy was sick and could not play.  BUT, apparently Rob Fucking Halford volunteered to sing so the band wouldn’t have to cancel their performance.  There’s a bootleg floating around of Halford doing the favor for them back in 1992 but I was actually going to hear it??  Needless to say I wasn’t bummed out much longer after hearing that!

Being that someone else was singing, regardless of the fact that it’s a guy that’s STILL amazing at his age, they kept the setlist floating around the just the first three albums.  I’d bet that was just to make it easier on Rob, who surely didn’t have enough time to practice.  But it still was pretty awesome to hear.

 

Idrees’s dad was waiting for us right outside the arena, having stolen banana daiquiri mix from some vendor stand during what I think he said was some kind of police situation…or something.  The show was awesome as a whole.  If I only knew then that I’d NEVER see the classic Sabbath lineup.  But was this THE best Ozzfest lineup ever?  I think the following year’s beat it; but I’ll get to that in the future.

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Show Me What You’re Made Of

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What a ride it’s been for Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe over the last few years, huh?  He’s been through hell and somehow avoided a lengthy prison sentence for the death of a fan during a concert in Prague back in 2010, having been acquitted in 2013.  I know I wasn’t the only the only one to be relieved for him when the news came that he would come home.  I personally put the blame on the security guard and the fan himself.  I don’t do moshpits but if I were in a Suicidal Tendencies show or a LAMB OF GOD show I sure wouldn’t be drunk because I know I’d have to be VERY aware of all the other jackasses ready to clobber you.

I was well aware of his upcoming prison memoirs Dark Days, set to be released this July, by the time my girlfriend, Courtenay, told me that she was invited to his photography exhibition Show Me What You’re Made Of at Sacred Gallery in Manhattan this past Saturday, May 2nd.  Whoa, wait.  Randy Blythe?  Photography?  I already knew that he’s ridiculously intelligent, and I’m so looking forward to buying his book.  But taking pictures too??  My girlfriend HATES Lamb of God so much but was so happy that he was able to come home, and was interested in seeing his work.  I, of course, LOVE Lamb of God AND was so happy he came home.  The kicker?  My girlfriend was issued a permanent VIP pass by Kevin Wilson, the manager and defacto owner of Sacred Tattoo and Sacred Gallery, and therefore we could get in an hour ahead of everyone else.  Of course we were going!

While waiting on line that night we met a college kid named Alexander, very nice…very talkative.  Well, either that or he was trying to avoid the two seventeen year old dumb fucks in front of him on the line.  In fact if you check out Metal Injection’s coverage of the exhibition you’ll see they even interviewed him during the halfway point of the story.  I just wonder if when the reporter was trying to go somewhere else this guy still wasn’t done talking!

Around 7pm we were able to go in for a private viewing thanks to Coutenay’s VIP pass and need less to say I was absolutely blown the fuck away.  He’s a natural!  Randy has been apparently taking pictures for years, maybe a year or two before the Prague incident; he found the time to explore the surroundings of whatever city or country he might’ve been in a the time and just capture some breathtaking shots.  Not to blow smoke up the guy’s ass but he definitely has a knack for timing, which is all too important when you shoot moving images.

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Notice that the frames are a little…old looking?  A little beaten up?  Maybe…even old as fuck…like it was a piece of something else a long time ago?  Well, you’d be right!  These frames are courtesy of Frames by Greta.  Greta Brinkman, a carpenter turned frame builder takes old pieces of wood and turns them in to picture frames of all sizes – rather than just throwing them out.  She also happens to play bass for stoner metal band Druglord from Richmond, Virginia – Randy’s hometown.

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I actually spoke to Randy for a few minutes and I tried to get him to explain to me how he edits his shit because it was so good and he told me that there was no real editing involved.  Most people would yell “arrogant prick!” but he didn’t come off to me that way at all.  I was almost offended again when he just ditched me but I understood he was getting pulled away because some couple bought a picture.  While there I ran into my friends Jimmy and Peter Pallis, the singer and guitarist from Brooklyn based metal band Anaka.  If you’re in the NYC at all you should check them out when they play the Gramercy Theater on Saturday, June 27th.

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…and just like that you now know what I look like.  Don’t get any ideas.

Everything was cool until some lanky 6 foot 8 fucktard arrived.  I had a feeling he looked familiar, especially after everyone sitting on the couch next to mine began taking pictures on their cellphones.  Then I heard him talking – loud as fuck – like some surfer stoner shithead with this gay looking red hat and this long, doofy looking jacket.  My first reaction: “This motherfucker’s still alive?!”  Remember Jesse Camp everybody??  The first MTV I Wanna Be A VJ contest winner from 1998?  This was him and man he looks like SHIT.

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He turned his head as my camera was taking the shot but he looks a lot older than 35.  Drugs are a bitch, eh?  But aside from that he was acting the same, talking the same, the STOOPID hand motions.  Oh yeah.  He was doing a video on the exhibition and he was interviewing Acey Slade, who was the DJ for the night.  I’m not a fan of anything Acey played that night but man it was way better than ANY of the bands he’s ever played in.

I tried to get a picture with Randy before Courtenay and I left when I noticed a funny scene where someone trying to take a picture with Randy couldn’t get the camera to work.  I found it so amusing I even made a video of it:

This video was taken right before I finally got a picture in with him.  Funny guy.  I went for the selfie pose when Randy decided “Ok that’s way too close.  Here!”  He then takes the phone from me, reaches as far back as he could with his lanky ass arms and takes a really good picture.  “And…walla!  There’s your picture!”, he said before he went off to take more pics.  The smart ass style of the way he said almost pissed me off – again.  But then I remembered “Oh wait!  I probably would’ve done the same thing!”.  That Randy, funny guy.

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