Slayer, Testament And Carcass Reign In Bakersfield

March 25, 2016
Rabobank Theater- Bakersfield, CA

      The kings of thrash metal Slayer released their twelfth studio album titled Repentless on September 11, 2015. They are one of the big four of thrash metal and are also one of the biggest metal bands of all time with over 5 million in record sales in the USA; they have five Grammy nominations winning two of them; and playing several music festivals worldwide. For the past few years, Slayer has been through a couple of casualties. On May 2013, founding member and guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away due to liver failure. Even with his death, Slayer pressed forward with Gary Holt from thrash metal band Exodus. In February 2013, original and longtime drummer Dave Lombardo was fired after a pay dispute. Slayer recruited Paul Bostaph whom drummed for Slayer from 1992-2001. With the release of their new album, Slayer was ready to once again unleash their legendary music to fans all around the world. For their Repentless 2016 tour, they brought with them San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal legends Testament and British grindcore/melodic death metal pioneers, Carcass. The second to last stop on the tour was Bakersfield, California which is an unusual location for a tour like this. Fans had lined up outside the venue before doors opened and were ready to have their ears blown out!

Carcass have a history of their own as the pioneers of grindcore, melodic death metal, and even goregrind. After disbanding in 1995, Carcass reformed in 2007 and released their sixth album Surgical Steel in 2013. They served as a great opener as plenty of fans could be seen wearing their merch. Carcass started the show with Unfit for Human Consumption and were very well received by fans whom had already packed the venue. Bassist/singer Jeff Walker was sitting down in a chair with a brace on his foot since just a few days prior to the show, he had broken his foot. A broken foot didn’t stop the frontman and he continued the tour with no problem. The second song played was Buried Dreams from their masterpiece album, Heartwork. Carcass was laying down their music with heavy guitar-playing and Walker unleashing his growls which helped bring about the melodic death metal genre. Fans were going crazy as they sang along, raised their horns, and headbanged. Carcass didn’t slow down their music as they played songs like Incarnated Solvent Abuse, The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills, and Captive Bolt Pistol. Since Carcass was the opening band, they sadly had a short setlist. The second to last song played was Corporal Jigsore Quandary. Walker thanked the crowd for coming out and the band finished with Heartwork, their best-known song. Carcass finished the show and Walker announced that there’s no better way he’d rather spend his 47th birthday. Carcass left the stage and made way for Testament!

slayersc-43Testament are also one of the most popular bands in the thrash metal scene and have their own huge fanbase and also have over 14 million in album sales worldwide. On July 2012 the band released their tenth album, Dark Roots of Earth. Lots of fans were in attendance for Testament and were ready for them. Testament came out and started the show with D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate). Frontman Chuck Billy sang using his powerful thrash metal voice while guitarist Alex Skolnick shredded on the guitar proving how he’s one of the fastest guitarists in the world. Drummer Gene “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan is one of the best metal drummers in the world right now and him being in a band like Testament is a great addition and made their music sound more powerful. The second song played was Legions of Dead. Rise Up was next and was one of the best songs played of the night as Billy sang the chorus, “When I say Rise Up…you say war! Rise Up…” and then Skolnick would sing backup vocals and fans would join in singing, “warrr!”. Dog Faced Gods was a song that’s rarely played and was a nice treat for fans that are familiar with Testament‘s discography. The New Order is one of the band’s best songs and is fun to sing along to for the chorus, “Tell the world The New Order’s heeeere!”. Practice What You Preach is another one of the band’s best songs and is also fun singing along to for the chorus, “Practice What You Preach (preach!)”. Coming near the end of the show, Billy said this next song is “For all you crazy motherfuckers in the pit…Into…the…Pit!” and so Into the Pit started which Testament has said was specifically written for people in the mosh pit and the song always makes for the best mosh pits of the night and includes the lyrics describing mosh pits, “Join the insanity or die as you fall…In-to-the-pit!”. The show came to an end with Formation of Damnation. Billy stopped the song in the middle of it to tell the fans to split down the middle and on his mark, to run and crash into each other for a wall of death. It’s always an impressive sight at a metal concert and hurts to look at. Testament finished their set and left the stage and left the fans wanting more which they were about to get with the headlining band of the night!

A white curtain covered the view of the stage while Slayer‘s stage was setup. The lights went out and the whole venue screamed and yelled as they had been waiting for this moment all night. Four crosses appeared on the curtain and were slowly turned upside down. They disappeared and two of Slayer‘s logos appeared and covered the curtain. The curtain came down to reveal the band on stage as they started the show with Repentless from their new album. Immediately, mosh pits started, the crowd was shoving, and crowd surfers started to make an appearance. Frontman Tom Araya was on point with his singing and still sings with such power to his voice. Guitarist Gary Holt was playing with his newest custom-painted guitar which was painted using his very own blood! Guitarist Kerry King was being a monster on the guitar with fast riffs and looking menacing. Drummer Paul Bostaph is a powerhouse on the drums and his playing could be felt throughout the venue. Postmortem was played next and that song is from their famed Reign In Blood album which is considered to be heaviest metal album of all time. 30 years later, the songslayersc-52 still gets the crowd going and is a great addition to the set. Die by the Sword is a track from their debut Show No Mercy album and still holds up amongst fans and is a great track played live. Disciple was one of the best songs played and is one of the most popular songs amongst fans for it’s chorus “God hates us all! God hates us all!” along with its anti-religious lyrics. One cool thing about the show is how everytime a song ended, the venue would go dark and the band’s backdrop would light up with glow-in-the-dark paint to reveal the band’s cover artwork for their new album. It looked awesome with that paint. Araya took a quick break to talk to audience and then asked them, “So, are you ready?” the crowd screamed and Araya asked again, “ARE YOU READY!?” and the crowd screamed even louder. Araya started War Ensemble by yelling out, “WAAARRR ENSEEEMBLLLEEE!!”. It’s one of Slayer‘s best songs and always drives the fans completely crazy.

Slayer continued the show with new songs like When the Stillness Comes and You Against You, but stayed true to their roots and played classics like Mandatory Suicide and Chemical Warfare. Seasons in the Abyss is another one of Slayer‘s best songs and is a staple in their live performances even with it’s slower-paced tone. The stage was covered in red lights as if the band was in hell itself as the thunderous drums started Hell Awaits. This song often sparks controversy with non-metal fans due to it’s strong anti-religious lyrics such as, “Crucify the so called Lord, He soon shall fall to me. Your souls are damned your God has fell, to slave for me eternally…Hell Awaits!”. The song still has a heavy tone to it and fans love singing along to it and banging their heads. Araya announced that the next song was a love song. It was Dead Skin Mask which was inspired by serial killer Ed Gein. Araya started the song by himself by saying the chorus, “Dance with the dead in my dreams…listen to their hollowed screams…the dead have taken my soul…temptation’s lost all control. Dead…Skin…Maaask!” South of Heaven is another one of Slayer‘s most popular songs and often serves as a song nearing the end. The stage went silent for a bit, but was quickly overrun with King and Holt’s high-pitch guitar squeals and Bostaph’s drum thuds. Fans knew what was coming next. After a while, Bostaph hit his drum intro for the final time as Holt and King started the intro to Raining Blood, Slayer’s best song and one of the greatest songs in metal. Every metal fanatic knows this song and always produces some of the biggest and most violent mosh pits seen at any metal show. The highlight of the song is the end when Araya sing the final line, “Raining Blood…from a lacerated sky…bleeding it’s horror…creating my structure, now I shall REIGN IN BLOOOOD!!”. With Araya’s final scream to that song, King was already playing the beginning guitar riff to the song Black Magic from their debut album. Now that the show was coming to an end, Slayer picked Angel of Death, one more of one of metal’s best songs from their famed Reign In Blood album. The song is famous for not only being one of the best opening songs in any metal album, but towards the end is a quick double bass drum solo done by Bostaph (originally Lombardo) and only adds to the intensity of the song and anyone in or around a mosh pit would be pulverized and surely would end up with bruises and feeling sore. The chorus is easy and fun to sing along to, “Angel of Death, monarch to the kingdom of the dead. Infamous butcher, Angel of Death!”. Slayer finished the show to a very satisfied crowd. Cheers could be heard and horns were raised. Araya thanked the crowd once again for coming out and said that they would return again soon. Slayer is still dominating the metal world and it will be a long time before the kings of thrash metal are silenced.

Review by: Misael Ruiz