“This is the grown man tour.” –Randy Blythe
For metal heads, going to a REAL metal show and seeing your favorite metal band is the ultimate goal. Thankfully, that’s a goal I was able to mark off the list a week ago in Nashville, TN when Slayer, Lamb of God, and Behemoth paid a visit to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. In a city where country music is prevalent, it was a nice change to bring a metal touch to the city, and what better way to do that, than to bring the heaviest tour of the Summer right to its core? Of course, Nashville has seen its fair share of metal bands, but none of which compared to the lineup it witnessed on the night of July 30, 2017.
From the moment I arrived to the venue, a sea of Slayer, Lamb of God, and Behemoth shirts flooded 4th Avenue North, and kept pouring in. As I waited to be escorted to the photo pit, there was an indescribable sense of comradery as the huge metal head family gathered to share an unforgettable night. Periodically, above the rumble of the crowd, a single “F*CKING SLAYER!” pierced the halls of the main lobby, followed by a roar of “F*CKING SLAYER” from the crowd in unison. Watching the people fill the venue, I noticed there were people from just about every age group. There were older couples, young groups of friends, young couples, even parents with their children. As I and the rest of the photographers made our way into the auditorium, the overwhelming magnitude of what we and the rest of the anxious crowd were about to experience could not have been foreseen. Thankfully, one of the photographers asked if I had brought ear plugs with me, and when I told him no, he generously offered some extra ones that he had brought. (I’m a fan of very loud music and never brought ear plugs to a show, but had no idea that while being this close to the stage, they were critical.) As we stood patiently waiting and preparing our gear, the lights go down.
Enter Behemoth front man, Nergal. With his guitar hanging from his shoulders like a weapon prepared for battle, and arms stretched with torches at each end, every eye was focused and every ear was anticipating the first note as the crowd erupted. Nergal throws the torches and as they hit the ground, the band explodes into “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” as Nergal leads the crowd chants like an underworld choir director. For the remainder of the set, the entire building belonged to Behemoth as they stormed through hits such as “Ov the Fire and the Void” and “Alas, Lord is Upon Me”. Behemoth finished their set strong and a thunderous crowd let the band know they did their job before spilling out into the main lobby, restrooms and smoking areas while everyone waited for the next band to play. I took this time to fight my way through the crowd and grab one of the $11 beers before heading back into the main room to prepare for the night’s next dose of metal. The room fades to black, the boys from Richmond, VA take the stage, and in a deafening roar, Nashville welcomes Lamb of God.
Chris Adler gives a 4-count from the hi-hats, and the band blasts into the opening of “Laid to Rest”. As I shot pictures, the force of the subwoofers painted my jeans to my legs with every kick drum hit like an old flag in a tornado. At this point in the show, it hit me: “Here I am, so close to one of my favorite bands as they tear Nashville to shreds.” – it couldn’t have been more surreal. As the band finishes the opening song, Randy Blythe welcomes everyone to the show by dedicating the next song to the United States Armed Forces, and they wasted no time getting into “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”. With a small pause before the next song, Randy shouts, “Can I get a big Ric Flair ‘WOOOO’!?” which ignited our response: “WOOOO!”. Randy was a one-man whirlwind as he ran and jumped along the stage, making his way from side to side, never missing his chance to deliver each line of the songs with precision and emotion. Mark Morton, Willie Adler, and John Campbell supported the front of the stage with shattering solos, crisp riffs, and low, gritty bass licks that held it all together while Chris Adler acted as the shows powerhouse providing his signature technical, in-your-face drumming.
For me, it was a dream come true getting to see these guys up close and personal, since I’ve only ever been able to see them with a load of people in front of me. This time, the only thing in front of me was the band (Perks of being press, right?). Lamb of God came equipped with a 10-song arsenal packed with hits like “Ruin”, “Descending”, and “Walk With Me in Hell” as well as newer tunes from later albums including “512”, “Engage the Fear Machine”, and “Still Echoes”. As Lamb of God finished up with the well-known “Redneck”, Randy hit us with another “Can I get one last Ric Flair ‘WOOOO’!?” and again, we followed suit and responded with a “WOOO!!” of our own, and entered the last intermission of the night.
The intermission came to an end when the lights darkened once more, and the projection of four crosses glowed on a white curtain that hung in front of the stage while the instrumental “Delusions of Savior” played. The four crosses slowly rotated as the song went on and came to rest in an inverted position before transforming into four pentagrams that swirled around the curtain to the rhythm of the track. The images then faded into the iconic Slayer logo as the track ended, and with the first hit of the band’s newest single, “Repentless”, the curtain fell and revealed the legends in the flesh.
From the lights, to the intense raw guitars and earth-shattering drums, Slayer grabbed Nashville by the throat and held us captive for well over an hour. The band gave the performance of a lifetime and served us with masterpieces like “The Antichrist”, “Postmortem”, “Dead Skin Mask”, and “Seasons in the Abyss”. Tom Araya led the attack with his thrash-style vocals and relentless bass lines while Kerry King, Gary Holt, and Paul Bostaph maintained the rhythm section in pure Slayer fashion. One of my favorite parts of the entire night was the moment Tom Araya took the time to get a little personal with those in attendance:
“I want to thank you very much for coming tonight, alright? I always thank you because without you, it would really suck because this place would be empty. So thank you for coming and thank you for showing up. Are you ready?!?!”
The crowd goes nuts in response, and Mr. Araya belts out “WAR ENSEMBLE!” and Paul counts the band in as they kick in their classic hit. The show was accented with periodic bursts of pyro that would shoot in all directions, especially as the show progressed. When it came time for the band to play their most popular “Raining Blood”, the crowd screamed until the headbanging took over, and the stage looked like Slayer brought a piece of Hell with them, with each side of the stage engulfed in flames. The band ended the night with the controversial “Angel of Death”, leaving their mark on Music City forever.
- Delusions of Savior/Repentless
- The Antichrist
- Hate Worldwide
- War Ensemble
- When the Stillness Comes
- You Against You
- Mandatory Suicide
- Hallowed Point
- Dead Skin Mask
- Born of Fire
- Cast the First Stone
- Seasons in the Abyss
- Hell Awaits
- South of Heaven
- Raining Blood
- Chemical Warfare
- Angel of Death
Lamb of God Setlist:
- Laid To Rest
- Now You’ve Got Something To Die For
- Engage the Fear Machine
- Blacken the Cursed Sun
- Still Echoes
- Walk With Me in Hell
*Behemoth setlist not available