It’s absolutely howling down in Leeds but the city’s metal community is out in force judging by the queue snaking around the Academy as thrash heavyweights Slayer and Anthrax roll into town. Unfortunately, we’re still queuing to get in as Norwegian oddballs Kvelertak are rattling through their set to an already packed house.
The Academy is predictably heaving by the time Anthrax hit the stage and tear through ‘Caught In A Mosh’. Afforded little stage space and a short forty odd minutes to pull together a set from over twenty five years, there is very little Anthrax can do except smash through a set of crowd pleasers. From ‘Antisocial’ to ‘Indians’, Anthrax are as entertaining as they always are despite such a brief time on stage and, as they bow out with ‘Among The Living’, there isn’t a person in the room who isn’t shouting along.
Fans are still shoe-horning themselves into any vantage spot left as Slayer rip into opener ‘Repentless’. Yes, it’s Slayer and no, they’re not going to do anything different than the many, many other times most of these fans will have seen Slayer but that’s not the point. When you see Slayer you want balls-to-the-wall thrash. You want to feel like your head is about to be ripped off your shoulders and you want a set full of classics which is exactly what you get. Viciously scything through the likes of ‘Disciple’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’ and ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, there have been times in the past when it looks like Slayer have just been going through motions however, tonight, the thrash kings are simple unstoppable.
Projecting the French flag onto the stage curtain ahead of the show was a classy touch from Slayer and, listening to frontman Tom Araya launching into his familiar scream ahead of ‘War Ensemble’ it felt like there was extra venom in his voice tonight. As for the rest of the set, while it may not be the classic Slayer line-up fans want, it’s hard to not think that somewhere, much missed guitarist Jeff Hannehman is looking down as the modern Slayer line-up delivers the likes of ‘South Of Heaven’, ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’ with as much venomous rage as they have done for the last twenty-odd years.