Slayer plays final show in El Paso

Jaqueline Martinez, Contributor

American band Slayer kicked off its last leg of their final tour in El Paso May 5 at the UTEP Don Haskins Center. El Paso metalheads gathered to raise their horns, one last time to one of the ‘Big Four’ bands of thrash metal, as the band performed their farewell tour alongside opening bands, Cannibal Corpse, Amon Amarth and Lamb of God.

Formed in Huntington Park, California in 1981 punk-thrash metal band Slayer, initially formed with Tom Araya on vocals and bass, Dave Lombardo on drums, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and now consists of four members. The band mourned the death of the guitarist Hanneman back in 2013, following a two-year illness, which then led Gary Holt, friend of the band and bandleader of the band Exodus, to step in.  After receiving Jeff’s blessing to continue and end the tour in his place.

Thirty-four years into their career, after reaching many milestones over the years with heavy-hitting hits, such as “Raining Blood,” “Angel of Death” and “Seasons in the Abyss,” the band’s rapid and aggressive style received worldwide recognition which placed them within the ‘Big Four of Thrash’ alongside, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. The band announced their retirement in 2018 following their final, North American Tour which kicked off in Phoenix.

El Paso once again opened its doors for the metal legends for one last time. The show began at 6 p.m. with Cannibal Corpse as the opening band, followed by Amon Amarth and Lamb of God, who have previously performed in El Paso.

Lamb of God finished their set at 8 p.m., as the black curtain unfolded and the stage management began setting up for Slayer. Fans collected their drinks, wore their 2019 tour shirts as they chanted and moshed and waited for the curtain to drop before Slayer.

Minutes later the stage went completely dark with only the brightness from the crowds’ phone screens to light the pit as fans were preparing their phones to record and take pictures of what would be Slayer’s last performance in El Paso.

The crowd began cheering and screaming as “Slayer” echoed repeatedly throughout the stage setting. Four white, projected crosses appeared within the curtains as they slowly began rotating upside down, four Slayer logos then appeared and zipped around the curtain, when the curtain suddenly drops. The band appears and starts performing “War Ensemble,” as the lighting of the stage flashed along with the beating of the drums.

Throughout the performance, the crowd went wild as energy flowed through the pit, which consisted of many circle pits and moshing throughout the band’s performance. The stage was consistently lit with the flashing of multiple colored lights, and flames that shot up from the sides and in the center, creating the upside down cross. The metal band performed many hits including, “Raining Blood,” “Evil Has No Boundaries,” “South of Heavens,” and more.

After two continuous hours and no breaks, the band finished off their set with an encore to “Angel of Death.” The crowd continued to cheer tirelessly and excitedly approached the stage as the band tossed their guitar picks and drumsticks at the end of the show. Lead singer, Tom Araya, seemed moved as he stood quietly at the center front of the stage one last time as he admired the chanting crowd, with his last words being, “I’m going to miss you guys, goodnight.”

Slayer’s next performance will take place on May the 7 in Edinburg, Texas at the Bert Ogden Arena at 6 p.m. The tour will run through summer and will end October 11, 2019, at the Exit 111 Festival in Manchester, TN. with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Slayer, and Megadeth.