From The Pit To The Crowd: Slayer with Lamb of God and Behemoth

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Friday, July 21st, Slayer, Lamb of God, and Behemoth made their way to the St. Augustine Amphitheater in St. Augustine, FL to thrash their fans’ faces off. St. Augustine is known for it’s historic locations like Castillo de San Marcos, the Old Jail, and the Fountain of Youth. It’s not usually known for heavy metal thrashers, moshing, and head banging. Yet, here I was in St. Augustine ready to listen to the legendary Slayer. I was uncertain about the venue never having been here before. After I picked up my photo credentials, I headed over to the media tent where the photographers were meeting before being escorted to the pit. I my first good look at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and I was very impressed. Good seating at an angle, clear view, of the stage, and they had a nice sized pit floor for the 3500 person venue. And needless to say, it was packed.

Behemoth was far from their home in Gdansk, Poland, and the St. Augustine crowd was happy to have them here. The band originally formed in 1991 is still touring off the 2014 Album of the Year (awarded by Metal Hammer Golden God Awards) ‘The Satanist’. And through various struggles including their lead vocalist, Nergal, being diagnosed with leukemia, the band still prevailed and is planning a new album to be released in 2018. But on that day, Adam “Nergal” Darski (vocals, guitar), Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski (bass), Patryk “Seth” Sztyber (guitar), and touring drummer Jon “The Charn” Rice was in full force for the heavy metal crowd.

With the sun still shining high, Behemoth took the stage to a roar from the crowd and started off with “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” from ‘The Satanist’. Nergal’s growling vocals filled the amphitheatre as the back of the floor became a thrashing mosh pit. Orion and Seth provided backup vocals and jammed away happily performing for the crowd. The fans were quite pleased with Behemoth’s performance as they made their way into “Conquer All” from the 2004 album ‘Demigod’.

Nergal then came out with the incense to anoint the crowd. Standing at the front of the stage, swinging the thurible towards the crowd and photographers, blessing us all. As he stepped back to put it away, Orion, Seth, and The Charn ripped into “Messe Noire” also from ‘The Satanist”. The pit floor was in a fervor as people began to body surf over the barricade. Security kept between us and and the crowd surfers ensuring we didn’t get a foot to the back of our heads.

Behemoth was playing at top form that night. You could tell they were just as excited as the crowd to be on stage. Nergal talked to the crowd a few times showing his appreciation for their support. Though it was a short set that also included “Alas, Lord is Upon Me”, “Decade of Therion”, “Ov Fire and the Void”, and “Chant for Eschaton 2000”, it was a star performance for Behemoth. The St. Augustine crowd gave them a deafening applause and cheer when they went off stage.

Next up was the Lamb of God, the band from, as Randy Blythe would say, “motherfucking West Virginia”. Formed in 1994 under the name of Burn The Priest, the band started getting noticed right away. Their third album ‘As the Palaces Burn’ was voted as the number one album by both Revolver and Metal Hammer. They started to appear on major tours with Slayer,  Children of Bodom, Killswitch Engage, Megadeth, and even Metallica. They also made multiple appearances at Ozzfest. Lamb of God has released 8 studio albums and 1 live album with their latest being ‘VII: Sturm und Drang’ from 2015. Lamb of God consists of Randy Blythe (vocals), Willie Adler (rhythm guitar), Mark Morton (lead guitar), John Campbell (bass), and Chris Adler (drums) were ready to rock the crowd.

They opened up with “Laid to Rest” from ‘Killadelphia’. Randy’s guttural vocals immediately got the pit floor into a frenzy and those in the seats were on their feet. Mark and Willie were ripping riffs quickly and head banging away. It was a great start for their set. They followed up with “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” from their 2004 album ‘Ashes of The Wake’. As if the crowd needed more reason to mosh, Lamb of God gave them one. Chris’ high powered drums and John’s heavy bass gave this song thunder throughout the amphitheatre. At the back of the floor area a circle pit formed and was moving fast.

Lamb of God then played their infamous “512” from ‘VI: Sturm und Drang’ 2015 album. The song was written was Randy was arrested and spent time in prison in Prague. 512 was the number on his jail cell. The song itself is emotionally and musically powerful and was even nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards. In St. Augustine, the fans were absolutely loving Lamb of God was playing it, and Randy was jumping, literally, all over the stage.

The fans were absolutely thrilled with the performance. The rest of the set list included “Engage the Fear Machine”, “Descending”, “Ruin”, “Blacken the Cursed Sun”, “Still Echos”, “Walk With Me in Hell”, and “Redneck”. At the end of the performance the crowd was even louder than they were for Behemoth, providing Lamb of God with the standing ovation they deserved.

And last, but certainly never least, the headliner, Slayer, was coming to the stage. Formed in 1981 from Huntington Park, CA, they are considered one of the pioneers of thrash metal and part of “The Big 4” along with Anthrax, Megadeth, and Metallica. While playing at the Woodstock Club, they were notice by Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records. He asked them to write a song for a compilation album called “Metal Massacre III”. They provided him with “Aggressive Perfector”. The song generated so much positive reviews he offered them a recording contract. They released ‘Show No Mercy’ in December 1983. The album sold 40,000 copies and the legends took off from there. With 12 studio albums and 3 live albums, Slayer has been a monstrous force in the heavy metal world for over 36 years. Tom Araya (vocals, bass), Kerry King (guitar), Gary Holt (guitar), and Paul Bostaph (drums) were ready to thrash for the fans.

“Repentless”, the title track from the twelfth album, started it off. It didn’t take more than a few notes to get the crowd screaming and get the floor moshing. Bathed in red and yellow light, Tom belting out lyrics, Kerry and Gary shredding away, and Paul bashing at the drums, it was an awesome way to start off the set. The crowd was into it as well and they were just getting started. They went back into their catalog playing “The Antichrist” from their very first album “Show No Mercy”. The die hard Slayer fans screamed in approval and the mosh pit got crazier. Crowd surfers were coming over the barricade even faster than before. It was getting wild in St. Augustine.

And did I mention the fire? As if Slayer couldn’t get the crowd any more riled up, the pyrotechnics on  stage wowed the fans. Fireballs crossing over behind the band from left to right as they played “Disciple” from the 2001 album ‘God Hates Us All’. Kerry and Gary constantly headbanging and playing it up to the crowd. They sounded amazing and Tom is smiling most of the time behind the microphone. For a band going on 36 years in, they were an amazing powerhouse that night.

Slayer gave it their all with a 20 song (YES 20 SONG) set for St. Augustine. The entire time, fire erupting from either behind the band or from the sides of the drumset in large waves, while they thrashed their way through their songs. The rest of the set list was “Postmortem”, “Hate Worldwide”, “War Ensemble”, “When the Stillness Comes”, “You Against You”, “Mandatory Suicide”, “Hallowed Point”, “Dead Skin Mask”, “Born of Fire”, “Cast the First Stone”, “Bloodline”, “Seasons in the Abyss”, “Hell Awaits”, “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood”, “Chemical Warfare”, and finally “Angel of Death”.

Behemoth, Lamb of God, and Slayer is an amazing tour with three incredible heavy metal bands. This is not a show to be missed. All three bands are amazing artists who sound perfect in a live setting plus the crowd energy for all three bands made it even more worthwhile. Don’t miss this show!