It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Slayer’s final New York City show wasn’t an especially sentimental event; the band’s “Final Campaign: The Last Leg” dates wrap up in a few weeks; by December they’ll have played their last show.
But aside from a few “thank yous” from the band (and heartfelt shoutouts from the stage from Philip H. Anselmo and Primus frontman Les Claypool), the night was mostly about the brutal power and the incredible endurance of metal. For their headlining slot, Slayer charged through 20 songs, spanning their entire career. They have been one of the best live bands since they first hit the scene over three decades ago and they’re going out while they’re still at the top of their game.
Les Claypool noted from the stage that Primus gets a lot of offers to open for other artists, but rarely takes them (indeed, in 2018, he had said that the band were planning on taking 2019 off). But he noted that the invitation to open on Slayer’s final dates was too tempting to turn down. He expressed great admiration for Slayer’s path: never pandering to trends and consistently putting out solid albums. While they aren’t technically a “metal band” the pits on the general admission floor stayed intense throughout their show (which included an excerpt from Rush’s epic “Hemispheres”).
Al Jourgensen’s Ministry is one of the few bands that could match Slayer for sheer sonic brutality. Their set featured material from the ’80s and early ’90s, including the Black Sabbath cover “Supernaut” that they recorded under the surname 1000 Homo DJs.
Philip A. Anselmo nearly packed the arena with his opening set, which featured all Pantera songs. Anselmo’s band, the Illegals, seemed to be having a great time playing Pantera songs, and it led fans to wonder: with Slayer bringing their career to an end, will Anselmo bring back Pantera’s music to the stage, either by playing more of their songs at his live shows, or by reactivating a new iteration of the band.