For many, Slayer is not a band as much as it’s an essential element of existence. You don’t just pop in for a single or two from the metal lords’ catalog. You absorb it, dress like it, and get lost in the morbid imagery of it all. It’s been a hell of a run for the Grammy Award winners, but it’s coming to an end with its Final World Tour, pulling into Darien Lake (with guests Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament, Napalm Death) at 5 p.m. Aug. 3. Here's a quick look at where the band has been and what to expect at the show.
You know Slayer from: Its almost 40-year run as one of the standard-bearers of the original thrash metal scene; its influence on genre brethren like Pantera and Buffalo’s Cannibal Corpse; and for providing the imagery of countless sweat-drenched nightmares.
Noted lineup: The original lineup, one of Def Jam Records’ most unconventional signings, consisted of Tom Araya (vocals, bass), Jeff Hanneman (guitars), Kerry King (guitars), and Dave Lombardo (drums).
Current tour’s lineup: After Lombardo’s firing and Hanneman’s death from liver failure in 2013, the band now stands with founding members Araya and King, as well as former members of thrash metal outfit Exodus, Paul Bostaph (drums) and Gary Holt (guitars).
Leaving behind a legacy It’s odd to think that, before Slayer—along with its fellow “Big Four” thrash metal luminaries Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica—this genre didn’t exist. There were seeds of thrash in punk and metal in Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but the marriage of styles to create a darker and demonstrably more demonic entity was a new thing. The genre and subgenres it spawned now repetitiously ricochet throughout suburban basements, rusting sedans and dingy rock clubs across the world. And though the music’s content might not shock the way it once did, its speed and power are still a consistent punch to the throat.
What to expect: Still rolling off the 2015 release of its 11th studio album, “Repentless,” the cacophonous quartet should have plenty of boilerplate for a black T-shirt set demanding a scorched-Earth soundtrack for end of days. On previous tour stops, there have been appearances by its latest album’s title track and instrumental lead-in (“Delusions of Saviour”), but the majority of the shows’ set list has called on the sunny favorites. From “Angel of Death” to “Dead Skin Mask,” hardcore fans should expect the band’s melancholic best, as well as an ultra-amplified lead-in from the headliner’s like-minded openers. Note: Use of earplugs is not a sign of disrespect. Sometimes, it’s for safety—and this might be one of those times.
Tickets: $23 to $100 (livenation.com).