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Slayer: The Final Campaign

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Slayer, the final campaign. These are the voyages of one of the world’s biggest metal bands. After 38 years as one of “the big four” Slayer is retiring from touring.

As part of Slayer’s final trek, Omaha was lucky enough to get a stop Monday night (11/18) at CHI Health Center.

Joining Slayer for their final leg were Primus, Ministry, and Phil Anselmo and the Illegals. Even with such an awesome package of metal legends the CHI Health Center was only about half full. However, given that it was a Monday night and rock and metal have taken a back seat to pop and hip hop over the last few years, this was to be expected for a mid-level market such as Omaha.

It’s a shame that more people weren’t there to witness the pure awesomeness that is Slayer. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger spectacle of fire, explosions, and loud amps in the face.

Kicking the show off was the legendary ex-Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo and his band of illegals. Playing an all Pantera set Phil whipped the crowd into a frenzy with deep guttural growls, screeching guitar squeals, and crushing bass.

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The band started with “Mouth for War” and continued into “Becoming.” Phil shouted to the crowd “Let me see those fists in the air!” A few crowd surfers started coming across the barricade as fans really started to move. Phil and the Illegals played a pretty short set, but they really packed a punch.

After seven songs Phil thanked all the die-hards for starting a circle pit and finished with arguably Pantera’s biggest hit “Walk.” With fist in the air the crowd did most of the singing as the band closed the set. I’m sure most of the people in attendance were glad to see a small piece of Pantera. While the set was a lot of fun, I’m really grateful that I got to see the original Pantera nearly 20 years ago.

Next up were the industrial rockers Ministry. Performing in near darkness these guys were a real treat to photograph. The only saving grace was a lit up cross at the front of the stage. Lead singer and founder Al Jorgensen moved all around so I only had a few opportunities to snag some bits of light.

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I’ve never been a huge fan of Ministry or Industrial music in general, but if you like super fast pumping bass over shredding guitars with unintelligible vocals then you’re in luck. There were a few fans in the front who were pretty pumped, but I also heard a lot of jeers. Slayer fans are brutal!

After Ministry was the ever-odd, yet immensely talented Primus. Les Claypool stepped out in a bowler hat and suit jacket plucking his bass with pure precision.

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Primus opened with “Clown Dreams” before going into “Those Damned Blue Collar Tweakers” followed by the bizarre “Too Many Puppies.” During “Puppies” Les taunted the crowd repeatedly saying “Slayer’s gonna get ya Omaha.”

Over the next 40 minutes Les and company pumped out an amazing array of progressive metal. I’ve never owned any Primus albums or even seen them live, but I’ve always had a healthy respect for Les’s musicianship. He just taps the bass up and down and makes it look so easy!

Primus pulled out some of their biggest hits including “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” “Welcome to this World,” “My Name is Mud,” and finally “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.” By the end of the set the crowd was on their feet cheering for more. Hopefully Primus will be back on a headline run soon!

After some stage set up, white Slayer logos shined across a black curtain. The blood-thirsty crowd growled with excitement. “Slayer! Slayer!” The feeding frenzy was about to begin.

A squealing guitar rang out as the curtain dropped. The mighty Slayer had arrived! Flames shot out from every direction as the masters of thrash wailed on their axes of doom.

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Soon, the circle pit erupted and fans started surfing their way toward the stage. One by one, security pulled down the sweaty Slayer disciples and sent them back to the crowd. The front row railed and sang along with fervent enthusiasm.

Slayer opened the set with “Repentless” from the album of the same title and continued with “Mandatory Suicide.”

Over the next 90 minutes, Slayer pummeled the crowd with raging thrash metal only they are capable of. Of course the band saved their most well known hits for the very end including “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death.”

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Playing a 20 song set, Slayer was able to cover a good mix from their 12 album catalog giving the fans a proper send off.

I was seriously impressed with Slayer’s raw power and ability to command a crowd over such a long set. I’ll be sad to see them go, but it’s great to see them going out on top.

There’s still a few dates left on Slayer’s final campaign if you’re up for a road trip. Otherwise, you’ll have to hope they pull a KISS/Motley Crue and come back a few more times!

Thank you so much to Slayer’s management and PR for photo access. This was a bucket list show and I’m so glad I was able to cover it! Photo galleries can be found below.

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Slayer Gallery:

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Primus Gallery:

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Ministry Gallery:

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Phil Anselmo and The Illegals Gallery:

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#featured