The Portland stop on Slayer's farewell tour was a celebration of metal's history.
The thrash titans blasted through a megalithic headlining set that began with the title track from its most recent album Repentless, and proceeded to annihilate its back catalog with precision, all the way back to "Black Magic" from their 1983 debut Show No Mercy. Pyrotechnic blasts punctuated each riff, with sustained flames heating up "Hell Awaits" late in the set.
One reason cited for Slayer's retirement is Tom Araya's recurring back issues, none of which were on display at this concert. Araya's voice sounded great, and slipped only during the melodic chorus of "Seasons in the Abyss." Otherwise, he looked strong and comfortable, leaving one to wonder if this is truly the last we'll see of the legendary band.
Openers Napalm Death gave a short and powerful set. The UK grind legends ended with a spirited cover of Dead Kennedy's "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" which drew cheers from the crowd. It was the first reminder of how much Slayer concerts have changed since the eighties, when they often drew an abhorrent skinhead audience.
Napalm Death were followed by Testament, who proved what a class act it continues to be, wedding melody and brutality. Anthrax brought the noise, and Lamb of God gave the concert an injection of modern metal. Each band urged the aging crowd to start a mosh pit.
In the end, there was no contest. Slayer remains one of the heaviest and most evil-sounding bands of all time. Even if they never return, they'll always reign in blood.