GIG REVIEW: Slayer, Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Behemoth & Testament Live at Freedom Hill, Detroit, MI
It was the perfect day for a metal fest in Detroit. With the heat hitting over 90 degrees and Slayer as a headliner, this was gonna feel like you were in the depths of hell watching it all go down. With Testament opening the show followed by Behemoth, the legendary Anthrax and the godfathers of heavy metal Slayer closing it all out. With one last spin around the earth Slayer will be calling it a day at the end of this tour, but today they were gonna kick our teeth in with everything they got. Talking with the 101.1 Detroit the WRIF’s own Meltdown, Gary Holt Slayer/Exodus Guitar player confirms what the stage design on this tour is like “It’s Like a F*c*ing Nuclear War. Certainly, large… a lot of cannon fire, if not Atomic bombs. Some Howitzers, for sure…. Its f*c*ing hot up there. There’s lots going on, and I like it. As a kid, when you’re first playing guitar and first writing a song, every song had pyro in your head. You envision stuff blowing up and fires and flash pots and all that stuff. As a grown man, I’m almost in my mid-50’s, I still feel like a kid when the fire goes off”. And that’s what we saw Sunday night at Detroit Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill and it was a packed sold out show.
To start the day off fellow Bay Area thrash metal Titans Testament warmed the crowed up as we all entered the park. I unfortunately didn’t get my pass and to the stage in time to shoot their set, but what I did get to see and hear was killer. They always bring the thunder and that day was not gonna be any different. These guys have been rocking stages, banging heads and lots of girls for years. They know how to get a party started, and they did. The crowed was amazing. You had ladies that were old enough to be my grandmother and they were there with their sons and daughters and their grand kids as well, ladies that looked like kindergarten teachers to the rough looking ladies of the night. All walks of life were here to say their final good byes as Slayer themselves have titled this tour “Final World Tour” for a reason. That reason we still don’t know after 37 years they believe this is the right time to call it a day. Detroit is primed and ready to celebrate everything that is Slayer. With Testament finishing up their 7-song set with “Disciples of the Watch” from their 1988 album The New Order. They also recently reported they should have new music out by 2019. It’s so nice to have 3 out of the “BIG 5 “The crowd at Freedom Hill was starting to get lit and wanting more.
After a quick set change, Polish Santino Metallers Behemoth started up next and everything about their set was wicked and very dark. The make-up, the fierceness of their play, the blood, the masks it was a perfectly laid out 6 song set. With opener “Ov Fire and the Void”, to “Demigod”, “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and “Wolves of Siberia”, Chant for Eschaton 2000 and the closer “O Father, O Satan, O Sun”. That’s when I started to notice that place was packing up real fast and the pit down in front was starting to get way more active. People were going more nuts as the night went on. Cheap American Beer and Heavy Metal can sometimes do that to ya.
Next up is Thrash legends from dirty gritty New York City’s Anthrax. These guys have done it all and seen it all and they rocked us hard with their brutal on slot of furiously fast passed metal. With a lineup of Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Jonathan Donais and wild man lead singer Joey Belladonna. They blew through a stacked set list which included covers of Iron Maidens “The Number of the Beast” Otis Redding’s “I can’t Turn You Loose” the blues brother’s classic, Joe Jackson’s “I Got Time” and “Antisocial” cover from the band Trust. Let’s not forget about their own awesome jams of “Caught in a mosh”, “Madhouse”, “I am the Law”, “Evil Twin’’ and closed their set out with the most Rifftastic and tribal “Indians”. The pit was growing at a heavy pass as bodies were being thrown about everywhere. Great song to close out their amazing set. Scott Ian and Co are mind blowing each time I see them.
With another good timed intermission loads of people cleared the area and stopped to refill up on drinks and get some food in them before the Monsters of Richmond Virginia Lamb of God who have been up and coming smoothly in the America Metal scene for years get up there and start tearing heads off. As they performed their set the energy they put into their stage show is outstanding. Lead by lead singer Randy Blythe he moves around that stage like a deranged animal high on gasoline. He has such intensity to him its electrifying to watch. After 8 studio albums, tours all over the world these Groove/ Trash /Heavy Metal rockers know what they’re doing and how to bring it to us. And they did just that with a set that consisted with the thrilling opener “Omerta” with everyone in the group flying around the stage like lunatics it was epic to watch. With 8 more intense jams coming our way Lamb of God had us all in the palm of their hands in Detroit as they had us tuned right up and ready for the farewell of the final act Slayer.
With songs like “Engage the Fear Machine”, Walk with me in Hell” and “Laid to Rest “ Lamb of God gave their fans what they wanted. Finishing off their set with my favorite tune of the set the neck breaker “Redneck”. This swift kick in the face was a great way to leave everyone very aggressive and we all got the invitation.
Now with the 90-degree weather behind us along with 4 major acts. The stage hands need to lock everything down and put on their army helmets on as the stage is coming together like it’s the end of the world. With a huge sheet, up in front of the stage you can still kind of make out a war-ravaged stage set up loaded with Pyro, Pentagrams and Fire. What an awesome way to go out on your final tour, for real guns a blazing. The fun and satisfaction to be going out the way you want to, write your own ending to this chapter. Such an amazing accomplishment to reach and we were all ready to celebrate to climax tonight. It’s all-out SLAYER!!!! Last time in Detroit. Detroit Rock City was gonna make sure they enjoyed their last show as a band. As for the crowd they were very much already enjoying themselves. As the curtain dropped they went for the kill shot right away with “Repentless”. As the stage was draped in red lights they started firing on all cylinders right out the gate. And the sound was way louder than the rest of the acts that went before them. Powering through a gigantic set of 19 classic Slayer monster tunes. These guys were ready for war as they blasted into “Blood Red” and onto “Disciple” then “Mandatory Suicide” the list of hits and classics that everyone loves went on and on. From “Black Magic” to “Seasons in the Abyss” and “Raining Blood”, to the closer of the evening and everyone’s favorite “Angel of Death” these guys were not going out without a fight.
The mosh pit was so insane I’m surprised no one was injured to badly as it was all one hell of a farewell celebrations to one of the most iconic heavy metal bands to come in our life time. I am very proud to say I was there to say goodbye and watch them reign supreme over Detroit Michigan one last time. Thank you, Slayer, for all you have done for all of us Metal Heads over the years.