View more photos in Timothy Norris' slideshow, "Slayer and Megadeth @ Long Beach Arena."
A tall skinny man in all black shouted, "FUCK YOU JESUS FREAK! SATAN SATAN!" as he stood in line to be frisked at the Long Beach Arena Monday evening, for the American Carnage Tour, a thrash metal epiphany type event, featuring Testament, Megadeth and Slayer.
At this nearly sold out concert, two lone Born Again Christian protesters stood in the front of the entrance to the arena, holding up signs condemning each metal head in attendance to a fiery eternity in Hell.
Though the majority of fans in attendance simply ignored this unnamed duo, occasional discussions occurred, profanities were shouted and middle fingers and horns thrown up.
"Fuck these guys," one man in a Megadeth shirt was overheard saying as he passed, while another longhaired man walked by with his female friend and flipping off the two protesters.
"SLAYER!!! FUCKIN SLAYER!" some random drunken fan screamed.
This caused a chain reaction, as is customary at every Slayer show for a mob of more people to yell "SLAYER!" all at once. This lasted five minutes, and the preachers stood watching in disgust as families walked by with their kids, and a group of rowdy punkers smoked and drank beers in the corner near a parking lot, hiding their brews from the cops behind a trash can.
With their obnoxious signs, the protesters stood their ground, and any fans attempting to debate these militant Christians, were given angry rhetoric about how heavy metal music is from the Devil. This is all despite the fact that, as many pointed out, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, and Dave Ellefson are both born again Christians, having found the Lord along with sobriety (both Mustaine and Ellefson are admitted former drug addicts and alcoholics).
"Nah just because they say they are Christians, doesn't mean they are," was one response that kept being repeated. "These assholes are IGNORANT!!" someone yelled down the way in the line, as everyone in the vicinity began laughing.
Inside the arena, no one cared about the Christians--tonight was dedicated to good old fashioned thrash, or speed metal if you will. Promptly at 7 p.m., San Francisco Bay area heroes Testament took the stage, and jammed out just over half an hour of pure thrash, with a groove that pretty much forced one to headbang, constantly.
Testament, which is composed of vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson, bassist Greg Christian and drummer Paul Bostaph raged through songs off of their albums Practice What You Preach, Souls In Black and the most recent, The Formation of Damnation, as well as the 1988 classic The New Order, an urgent and explosive thrash record about a tyrannical World government set up to enslave and exterminate humanity.
Though there was half a floor smashing heads and raising a ruckus in the circle pit for these guys, the majority of the fans were in line to come in, buying beer or tailgating in the parking lot, which was a shame, because Testament were the band that just might have been where Metallica is today.
Megadeth, are still touring on their 20th anniversary of the seminal 1990 album, Rust in Peace.
The band immediately lashed into their set, but before coming out fans heard a recorded warning of "Martial Law," dubbed over sound effects, with an intro into "Rust in Peace." Fans were treated to such thrash metal classics as "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due," "Hangar 18," "Tornado of Souls" and the album closer 'Rest in Peace...Polaris."
With less than a two minute breather, the band, which also features drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick, came out for an encore of "Symphony of Destruction," "Headcrusher" and the thrash metal anthem, "Peace Sells."
Slayer appeared 30 minutes later before a white backdrop with flashing pentagrams and Slayer logos was lifted. Rabid fans smashed heads and thrashed in a ritualistic display of aggression, precision and stamina.
Bassist Tom Araya, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and OG drummer Dave Lombardo might be middle aged men, but from the sound of the performance, it might as well have been 1990, all over again. From the synchronistic style of guitars, to King's evil chainsaw-like riffage, Slayer held it down from start to finish.
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It was noticeable that Tom Araya did not headbang, due to a back/neck injury he suffered recently, possibly caused by his many years of headbanging. However, his vocals and bass playing were still top notch. The true unity behind these thrash metal artists is drummer Dave Lombardo with his stamina for faster playing and chaotic yet cohesive tempo which truly bind keep this line up together, as he smashes the shit out of his drums.
Slayer's set consisted of the songs "World Painted Blood,' and "Hate Worldwide," followed by the entire album Seasons in the Abyss, from 1990. This performance saw fans running in circles while beating the shit out of each other, to songs like War Ensemble "Dead Skin Mask," "Skeletons of Society" and "Born of Fire."
After a short encore, the band appeared again to perform other classics "South of Heaven," "Reign in Blood" and the intense closer, "Angel of Death," quite possibly the best thrash metal song ever.
With ringing ears, and shirts smelling of sweat and beer, the crowd exited another epic thrash metal show in Long Beach. But as the night ended, flyers were being passed out as a reminder that in October Megadeth and Slayer both return to the area, this time to Universal City with with NY thrashers Anthrax. Horns up. See you in the pit!