This was the rarest of metal tours to come to Australia: Slayer and Megadeth – the two remaining credible acts from the ‘Big 4’ (Metallica have disappeared up their own arses, and Anthrax have simply disappeared). Anticipation had obviously been phenomenal for this tour – the question wasn’t would this be simply unreal, but would it go beyond that into something epic and memorable. That’s what we got at the Hordern – one of the greatest metal performances of the last several years. This was a show that will be talked about and dissected for years to come.
Megadeth have clearly taken the opportunity of sharing a stage with Slayer to really shift it up a gear and play a set heavy on the classic fan favourites. Their jaw-dropping opening triple of Set The World Afire, Wake Up Dead, and Hangar 18 made it crystal fucking clear Dave Mustaine and Co. were going to blow our heads off. With the exception of the pummelling new single Head Crusher, all the songs in tonight’s set were at least 15 years old, and it’s astounding to think that they not only stand up over the years, but still excel the bulk of metal music around today.
Dave Mustaine has created something of a supergroup, with the big man Shawn Drover on drums, bass warhorse James LoMenzo and the technical brilliance of guitar virtuoso Chris Broderick – who is arguably Megadeth’s best guitarist so far (and there’ve been a few). Their work on Megadeth anthems Peace Sells, Symphony Of Destruction, Devils Island and Tornado Of Souls was bloody brilliant. And the surprises kept coming – with the rarely played speed thrash of Rattlehead! Indeed, this was metal nirvana! The only way to finish off this delirious dose of metal was the epic brilliance of Holy Wars – complete with a segue into Mechanix! An absolutely amazing performance, the only act that could possibly follow such a feat of thrash is Slayer.
Slayer appeared onstage with a teasing bit of fanfare before launching into the first of 3 new songs, the shit-hot metal of the apocalyptic World Painted Blood. The might of War Ensemble and the barely-controlled savagery of Jihad had everyone in danger of an overdose! The delirium continued with live staples such as the infectious Chemical Warfare, Dead Skin Mask (complete with the crowd singing most of the song), the sheer beauty of Hell Awaits, and the always popular thrash of Mandatory Suicide. The insanely blistering pace of new songs Psychopathy Red and Hate Worldwide were refreshing reminders that Slayer are still at the top of their game, their riffs as punishing as ever.
Unlike Megadeth, Slayer have always been a supergroup – the tag is well deserved and well earned, for their sheer unrelenting consistency and continuing high quality output over the years. We all know the finest pairing of guitarists in metal is Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, and they certainly exceeded expectations tonight – their insane dual guitar solos are the stuff dreams are made of. The powerhouse that is drumming maestro Dave Lombardo was his usual god-like self, and everyones favourite frontman Tom Araya was entertainingly intense as ever. There was no other way for Slayer to stamp their authority on the night than with the twisted genius of South Of Heaven, followed by the thundering chaos of Raining Blood.
With their instrumental prowess, Slayer are clearly still the kings of metal, and Megadeth (while not as consistent) are definitely the other top metal act in music today. Fans may argue over who put on the better show tonight, but that’s pointless – when the metal’s this outstanding, it just doesn’t matter.