Sometimes the best form of therapy for a rough year simply calls for one to “get in the damn pit.” For those who do not understand the phrase, it is safe to assume they have not and are not planning on attending the summer of 2017’s most unrelenting tour featuring none other than Slayer, Lamb of God, and Behemoth.
While all three bands proudly wave the Metal title and have often been quoted as an influence for one another, they could not be more different. Starting with Poland’s Behemoth, since 1991 the band has been climbing their way to the top of the Extreme Metal mountain. Frontman and founder, Nergal, was only about 15 at the time and one can only wonder if he had any idea what he was unleashing on the music world. Their Blackened Metal sound evolved through the years through multiple releases until the band truly broke ground worldwide with their ninth album in 2009, Evangelion. For the first time, Behemoth saw monumental support not only through Europe but finally the USA, even landing on Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival that summer.
However, where there is success there must me a test of will, that test came in the form of Nergal being diagnosed with leukemia. Many would scrap their artistic endeavors in favor of treatments and getting better, Nergal however is anything but the average frontman. After beating the dreaded disease he banded together with longtime bandmates Orion (bass) and Inferno (drums) to build another one of Behemoth’s best releases, 2014’s masterpiece The Satanist.
Although, it should be noted that Nergal was not the only one refusing to let anything deter him from releasing more music, the other bands of this mammoth Metal tour have faced their own adversaries. There is Slayer and Lamb of God who are no strangers to a threat of almost losing their bands. Born in 1994 under the name of Burn the Priest, Lamb of God almost lost everything as short as 5 years ago when Lead Vocalist Randy Blythe was incarcerated on murder charges by Czech police. A heavy blow, Lamb of God had just literally reached a point of success not often seen in Extreme Metal with their sixth album, 2012’s Resolution. While friends, family members, and fans alike worried for the safety of Blythe, many also wondered if, at their peak, Lamb of God was coming to a close.
Fortunately Blythe was cleared of all charges and Lamb of God unleashed VII: Sturm und Drang in 2015 to punctuate the very fact that they are not going anywhere. Lastly, Slayer is not a band that needs an introduction, they could easily be labeled as the godfathers for Extreme Metal in all of its glory and gore. Since 1981, albums such as 1986’s Reign in Blood and 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss literally changed the rules for every band since.
While Slayer itself is no stranger to changing some members out, their world was shaken on May 2nd of 2013 when one of their founding members, Guitarist Jeff Hanneman, untimely passed away. Needless to say, most bands crumble and fall when experiencing such a loss, but Slayer are still here honoring the memory of their fallen guitarist by kicking the ever living crap out of fans worldwide. Combine these three Metal veterans together, throw them in the 1stBank Center on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 in Broomfield, Colorado, and voilà, you have the makings of a night no one would soon forget.
Leading off, Nergal of Behemoth descended on the suburb of Denver with two torches in hand, the audience erupted in screams of anticipation. He, Orion, Inferno, and Guitarist Seth started the ritual with one of their darkest tracks from The Satanist, entitled “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,” whipping the audience into a full on frenzy. Nergal’s energy could only be labeled as monstrous as he took to his microphone stand that made a sort of pulpit for him to bring his menacing presence to life. Harnessing the full energy of songs such as “Conquer All” and “Alas, Lord is Upon Me,” the band’s connection was on display for all.
The combined shredding of Nergal along with Seth is simply unmatched in most genres, their precision and execution were so methodical one would think they were Siamese twins. Coupled with Orion’s crushing bass and Inferno’s blasting beats, fans could literally hear their ear drums caving in with every pulse. As the band closed out with “Chant for Eschaton” it was hard to imagine anyone would have any more energy, or blood for that matter, to stand, but stand and rise the audience did.
As Lamb of God unleashed songs such as “512,” “Ruin,” along with “Blacken the Cursed Sun,” there was no signs of slowing down with bodies crushing each other in the mosh pit and being thrown around as projectiles as they were carried by the crowd. Lamb of God further put an exclamation point on their part of the night with fan-favorite “Redneck,” and to think there was still Slayer to look forward to.
Heavy and furious, Slayer followed up with one of their classics, “Antichrist.” All the way from their 1983 debut album Show No Mercy, it demonstrated that even 34 years later the song still holds the crowd in full frenzy only further fueling those pits that at any moment could devour the whole arena. Unleashing other legendary Metal cuts such as “War Ensemble,” “Dead Skin Mask,” and “Hell Awaits” were also on display.
Together, Tom Araya (vocals/ bass), Kerry King (guitar), Gary Holt (guitar), and Paul Bostaph (drums) put on a clinic in showing that they not only can bring down the house with their sheer force, but that they still can present a haunting moment. Lastly, Slayer closed out the night with none other than their chilling recollection of a historical monster with “Angel of Death,” leaving nothing left for the audience but the energy to scramble back to their vehicles.
For the thousands in attendance, this was not only a night where the most extreme influences to Metal brought out set after set of crushing music, but a night to take in why these bands have survived and that they are still here, stronger than ever. With dates lined up through August 20th and tickets still available, this is not only a night a true metalhead should not miss, this is one early holiday gift the metalhead in anyone’s life would gladly scrub the bathroom for just the honor of admission.