“Raining blood from a lacerated sky, bleeding its horror.” The lyrics ran through my head over and over as I made my down the interstate towards the Slayer show at the Pier 6 Pavilion in Baltimore, Maryland on July 28. I occasionally peered up at the sky, which was filled with dark, angry clouds. For days, the local weather had been predicting heavy rains, flooding, thunder and lightning. The only thing missing from the forecast was swarms of locusts. Considering the Pier 6 Pavilion is an outdoor, facility, I was a little worried about the show being cancelled, but during my drive the rain remained in the clouds but that wouldn’t last for long.
The walk from the parking garage to the venue is several hundred yards and sure enough, during the walk the sky lacerated and it bled horror, at a rate of 2” of rain per hour. When I finally arrived at the covered pavilion, there were several hundred drenched fans milling around. The rain was so intense, that the merchandise booth was closed and it was nearly impossible to get food or drink without getting your purchase soaked with rain. Despite the ominous weather, fans started a chant, “mother fucking Slayer, mother fucking Slayer, mother fucking Slayer!”, all while embracing the elements. The reality was, the black, rumbling skies and the heavy downpours provided a fitting backdrop for the three bands that were about to perform.
Behemoth was the first band to grace the stage. With painted faces, they brought their signature brand of death metal to the concert arena. Singer, Adam “Nergal” Darski, belted out lyrics from a large microphone stand that included two metal cobras on each side of the microphone. The costumes, makeup, stage setup and effects all added to the occult theme of band. They performed seven songs including, “Conquer All”, Alas, Lord is Upon Me, Decade of Therion”and “Messe Noire.” Seeing the band for the first time, they left me impressed. I was surprised that their set was only 30 minutes, and wished they played at least 10 minutes longer. It seemed that there would have been enough time for them to play another song on two without interfering with the start time of the next set.
Lamb of God was next to take the stage. I’ve been a fan for awhile, but this was the first time I’ve seen them live and needless to say, I was psyched for their set. Randy Blythe stepped onto the stage and his presence was immediately felt. There is something about his expression, piercing eyes and stature that speaks, “we’re going to kick ass tonight.” There aren’t many frontmen that can convey a statement without saying a word, but Blythe has that ability. As the crowd roared in anticipation, Blythe thanked everyone for coming out in the weather, and then ripped into “Laid to Rest.” Afterward, Blythe thanked military members for their service before performing “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For.” The adrenaline fueled ten song, 50 minute set also included “512,” “Engage the Fear Machine,” “Still Echoes,” “Ruin” and “Redneck,” among others. The performance was excellent, and Blythe was explosive. I knew that I would be buying a ticket the next time they come to town and I kicked myself for missing prior opportunities to see them live.
As the crowed waited for Slayer, a white sheet covered the entire front of the stage. Once the lights dimmed, the fabric was illuminated from behind. As soon as the band began playing “Delusions of Savior,” the sheet dropped to reveal the legendary group. Seeing founding members Tom Araya and Kerry King was akin to watching two metal music deities. Thick plumes of smoke flowed across the stage as the band played through a set that included 19 songs including “Repentless,” “Disciple,” “When the Stillness Comes,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “South of Heaven,” and of course “Raining Blood,” to name a few.
At this time, it is unclear whether Slayer will continue as band as Araya has publicly discussed the possibility of retirement. The iconic group has given us 35 years of influential music and I hope they continue for many more; however, nothing lasts forever. No one but them knows their future and maybe they aren’t quite sure themselves at this point but what is certain is that they’re on tour now with an awesome lineup. Whether it’s stormy or not, if they visit near your town, don’t pass on the opportunity to see the show.