If you weren’t at the Freeman Coliseum last night, you might have missed one of the best metal shows San Antonio has ever seen.
The lineup was sick. I’m talking like, whatever era of metal you grew up in, the bill was stacked. And metal history was reflected in the sea of black band t-shirts ebbing and flowing through the entire sold-out arena.
T-shirts with bands on them like noisy metalcore vets Norma Jean, Texas metal icons Pantera, thrash metal lords Megadeth and Zurich’s extreme metal dudes Celtic Frost to name a few: all bands that would not be who they are without the band San Antonio showed up to see Wednesday night.
Napalm Death, Testament and Anthrax opened the event before Richmond’s Lamb of God took to the stage to deliver their soothing blend of thrash metal and hardcore.
The five-piece opened with “Omerta” off of 2004’s Ashes of the Wake
as frontman David Blythe whipped his dreadlocks along to the heavy-groove of the track. The band pulled the audience through about 50 minutes of their catalog – from tracks like "Ruin" off of their 2003 album As The Palaces Burn
to “512” from 2015’s VII: Sturm und Drang
After a brief intermission, the arena fell pitch black as the audience cheered in anticipation of seeing arguably the most influential death metal band in the world.
The triumphant notes of “Delusions of Savior” – the intro to 2015’s Repentless
– played as the roar of the crowd crescendoed in recognition of the song. As “Delusions of Saviour” built, crosses projected onto a screen above the stage slowly invert as fire lights up the band.
Shit was about to get metal as fuck.
Slayer immediately launched into the title track from Repentless
as a circle pit opened up on the floor with bodies running and pushing as if the portal to hell could be conjured if the circle spun fast enough.
Pretty sure the portal opened 'cause what happened over the next solid two hours was nothing short of hell-raising death metal that could only be performed by those in league with Satan himself.
A blacklight version of the cover of Repentless
hung above the stage as bass/vocalist Tom Araya stopped to thank the crowd for coming out.
“Thank you very much,” Araya said as the audience cheers. “Thank you very much for coming tonight. So you guys ready to have some fun? Are you ready? On the count of three, we’re all going to take a huge fucking breath and let out a-” Araya then did a metal growl as the crowd cheered again. “I gotta hear that war cry. Are you ready?”
On the count of three, the audience let out a collective guttural metal roar as the four-piece launched into “War Ensemble” from 1990’s Season In The Abyss
Flames continued to explode above the stage lighting up as upside crosses as Slayer punished the audience with tracks dating all the way back to 1983 like “Black Magic” from their debut Show No Mercy
without skimping on classics like “Reign in Blood,” “South of Heaven” or “Angel of Death,” their closing track.
Even though San Antonio was rocking the fuck out, there was definitely a sense of family about the whole night, which would be the last night Slayer would play in San Antonio since this was their farewell tour.
Once known as Metal City, USA (and still known by that name to a few), San Antonio holds all genres of rock ‘n’ roll close to its heart.
Slayer has a special place, though.
Maybe because half the original founding members of the bands are Latin metal dudes like a lot of us here in San Antonio – or Slayer is just fucking Slayer and we love them, period
Whatever it is or was, last night at the Freeman felt like church, but for like, Satan, I guess:
an unholy gathering for lovers of extreme metal as we said goodbye to a band that we’ve held dear to our corazones
Farewell dudes, thanks for the memories.
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