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Slayer, Gojira and 4arm @ Susquehanna Bank Center.

December 4, 2013

slayer3Text by Gabi Chepurny. Images by Jesse Marass.

Heavy metal, the color black and weekends are three things that should never be without each other, so it makes sense that thrash metal legends Slayer would headline a show at the Susquehanna Bank Center on Black Friday, with Gojira and Australian-born 4arm in support.

The night began with four-piece 4arm, a metal band from Down Under, who held their own in the intimidating spot as Slayer’s opening band. We were surprised no bottles were thrown at the nine-year-old group. They impressed with their set that consisted primarily of tracks off of their third and most recent album, Submission for Liberty. True to heavy metal form, the band stuck mostly to their set list with minimal onstage banter, except for their shoutout to both Slayer and Gojira, which was delivered in a thick, Australian accent.

(See our interview with 4arm lead singer Danny Tomb here).

Metal veterans Gojira, who were known as Godzilla until 2001, took to the stage bathed in primarily blue light to get the crowd ready for Slayer. The French four-piece pulled from their extensive catalogue, which dates back to 1996, for a set that was interrupted very briefly for a sweet “thank you all for coming out” from lead singer Joe Duplantieri. That contrasted both heavily and perfectly with Christian Andreu’s screaming guitar.

Despite the fact that this tour’s headliners performed with only two original band members, they still drew the same response from their audience as always, echoed in fans yelling “Fuckin’ Slayerrrr!,” which yes, is meant as a compliment.

Still led by vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King, the band named Paul Bostaph their official, permanent replacement for drummer Dave Lombardo after a falling out between the original members. Bostaph became an official member of Slayer in May, barely one month after the unfortunate death of original guitarist Jeff Hanneman. Exodus guitarist Gary Holt has been Hanneman’s replacement so far, but has yet to be named an official member of the band.

Halfway through the set Araya addressed the crowd, focusing on the mosh pit directly in front of him that was populated with female fans, an unusual sight in an audience that is typically male-dominated.

A true gentleman, Araya said to the men in the pit, “Women are around now. Be mindful of them.”

After shredding across a stage decorated with upside down crosses and a banner depicting a helmet-clad skull, the original thrash metal masters dedicated their two-song encore to Hanneman with “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death,” performed in front of a new banner with an altered version of the Heineken logo. The image featured Hanneman’s name, his year of birth and death, and the words “Angel of Death” and “Still Reigning” above and below his name, respectively.

The crowd roared in approval of the ironic tribute to the axman who passed away from cirrhosis of the liver.

* EDITOR’S NOTE: We really don’t cover stuff in Jersey. No offense to the Garden State or anything. We are generally just too busy covering the awesomeness in Philadelphia. This concert slipped past us. We will not be returning to New Jersey ever again to cover stuff. Sorry.

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