If you're going to go out then make sure you do it in style and that's exactly what metal giants Slayer did when they announced the line-up for the European leg of their final ever World Tour would include Obituary, Lamb of God and Anthrax. Not only that, judging by reactions from hardcore Slayer fans, when these shows arrived, those fans who, over the year, had shed blood for this band, came away exclaiming the band were putting on the best shows of their careers.
So, the tour steamrolls into the UK and Newcastle where thousands of fans adorning Slayer shirts descend on the Metro Arena for a night of pure, unadulterated brutality. The bill kicks off with Florida swamp fiends Obituary who, like Madball on the Korn arena tour, are playing in venues far removed from the cesspits they usually grace. What that means though is that they have a captive audience on which to unleash their filthy death metal. It's a glorious sight watching frontman Donald Tardy stalk the stage howling through the likes of "Slowly We Rot".
"Stupid question but I've got to ask, do you like thrash metal?" screams Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian before the band hurtle head long into "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't". Up to that point the band had smashed through their short set with the likes of "Caught In A Mosh", "NFL" and "Be All, End All" inciting mayhem across an ever-filling venue. On the downside, plenty of classics were cut from the set to have their place taken by, albeit impressive versions of "Got The Time" and "Antisocial" but 'thrax made up for it by being utterly magnificent.
Lamb of God have one mode - pummel! They know the crowd their playing to and so give that crowd everything they want. Frontman Randy Blythe paces the stage fixating his serial killer stare on the crowd. "Ruin", "Walk With Me In Hell", "Now You've Got Something To Die For" all batter the front rows. Further into their set, when Blythe announces "there is some evil shit coming up" as he pays tribute to the headliners, an absolutely brutal version of "Laid To Rest" follows before the band finish their set with a crushing rendition of "Redneck".
As has been said many times, metal giants Slayer are quite literally on fire on this final run of dates. Sure, it's nothing different to what Slayer have done for years but, this time, everything seems bigger, louder, hotter and well, more Slayer. From the moment the set kicks off with a vicious run through of "Repentless", bodies are being spat out from the moshpit and over the barrier in growing numbers. As the set progresses, the band just keep pushing it to another level. "War Ensemble", "Mandatory Suicide", "Payback", they're all delivered with the kind of venom you'd expect from Araya, King and co.
Just as you think the band have hit their stride, they step it up another level. Searing flames shoot up from the back of the stage as the band pummel through classic after classic. "Post Mortem" bleeds into "Black Magic", "Raining Blood" sees an entire arena bathed in red while "Hell Awaits", "Chemical Warfare" and "Angel Of Death" underline why even their hardcore fans are coming away saying this is the best they've ever seen the band perform. Sadly, an incendiary "Angel Of Death" brings the chaos to an end and, all too soon, the Slayer machine is out of Newcastle and on it's way to lay waste to another city.