[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27TH, 2016 THE RITZ – RALEIGH[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The electricity in the air was palpable for the staff of RDU Music on Saturday night as we pregamed some drinks at Lan’s house while he strapped into his camera harness. [Editor’s Note: He looked like he was ready to go skydiving.] We were pretty stoked that Slayer’s North American Media Contact thought that we were cool enough for a photo pass, which is why I was so ecstatic with how Lan’s photos came out. [Editor’s Note: I don’t know why I even bother writing. Just look at these pics.] The Ritz in its current incarnation is still relatively new, so this was the first show we covered there. They run a pretty tight ship: parking attendants, ample security, 2 dozen bartenders, etc. They had that place humming like a well-oiled machine for the capacity crowd of 2000 that showed up on Saturday. Most of which were there early enough to catch Carcass, which was a good move considering that they fucking rule.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Carcass

The last time I saw Carcass, they headlined and blew the roof off of the Lincoln Theatre in late 2014, so I guess if they were going to open for anyone, it would have to be the biggest thrash band in existence. Carcass took the stage a little before 8pm and whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a set consisting of mainly 2013’s excellent “Surgical Steel” alongside 2 tracks each from fan-favorite “Necroticism” and the melodic “Heartwork.” [Editor’s Note: Setlist.FM did not have a recap at time of publication but it looks like the set was the same as recent shows in Nashville and Richmond.] I tell you, Bill Steer still doesn’t get enough credit. Alongside 2nd guitarist Ben Ash, those two sure know how to shred, all while frontman Jeff Walker builds a nice rapport with the crowd without resorting to awkward, forced banter during lulls in the set. With Carcass, there were no lulls in the set. Just pure, “316L Grade Surgical Steel” from intro to outro.

4/5 stars = Great
Carcass was so good that I would have been completely content with them headlining as opposed to opening.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”661″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”659″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”658″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Testament

As soon as Testament opened their set, a mosh broke out directly in front of me, as the elegantly coiffed Alex Skolnick began to shred stage right. You can tell that I had my shit together for Carcass. I was paying attention and banging my head to the beat since I was very familiar with their catalog and was only 4 drinks in by that point. But for the rest of the show, as I kept pouring more drinks down my gullet, all the moshing and drinks kept me from digging deep and really analyzing Testament’s set. [Editor’s Note: I’m terrible at my job and must be shunned.] All I know is that the crowd was instantly ready to throw down as soon as Testament got on stage. One thing I will say is that I will always love the theatricality of metal. Testament had a member of their road crew “bless” all the mics with incense before they took the stage. That was a nice touch. Testament proceeded to spread the setlist around to encompass pretty much their entire career. It was a nice to hear classics of my youth like “Dog Faced Gods” off of “Low.”

3/5 stars = Good
If you are a die-hard Testament fan, you would probably bump this up to 4/5.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”665″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”663″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”664″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Slayer

My hardest decision all week was choosing which Slayer record to spin first in anticipation of their upcoming set. I stared at my CD collection [Editor’s Note: That’s “compact disc” for all you youngsters out there. Yes, they still make them.] for an inordinate amount of time and finally landed on “God Hates Us All,” mainly because the hook to “Seven Faces” got stuck in my head. Naturally, I spun as many of their records as possible leading up to Saturday. I’m glad I did because their setlist for the night was like a trip down memory lane, digging back as far as “Show No Mercy” while still giving plenty of love to my personal favorite, “Seasons in the Abyss.”

It seemed like everywhere I went that night, I immediately got caught in a mosh. Luckily, the crowd was super nice everywhere I ventured. No crowd-killing at the edges of the various pits, people offering helping hands, and larger fellas blocking for little pissants like yours truly. During the 1st quarter of Slayer’s set, I was walking along the side of the crowd with a fresh beer in hand, got caught in a mosh, and was instantly wearing the entire contents of my cup in a matter of seconds. As soon as it happened, the gentleman responsible put his arm around my shoulders and apologized for the rowdiness of his crew, saying, “We just want everyone to have as much fun as we are having.” That was an oddly tender moment, one which metal-outsiders don’t seem to understand. Metal is detached fantasy in which we can all share. Slayer does not actually worship at the altar of the Dark Lord Satan. In fact, their fans (and most metal fans, for that matter) are nice people with a sense of pride for the scene that has served them well all their lives.

Normally, I try to perch on a high vantage point at shows in order to take notes about the performances as they go along but The Ritz was packed to the gills and I am not a tall man so I pretty much just flowed to wherever the crowd took me (as long as they stayed on the edges of the pit), savoring the sonic blasts of 30+ years of a band that helped shape my teenhood through adulthood. There is no need for me to over-analyze Slayer’s performance like I do with so many live acts that stop by my beloved Triangle area. Slayer unapologetically melted faces for 22 songs. End of story.

4/5 stars = Great
Even with an average age of around 52, Slayer will always be able to give 2000 people sore necks and hangovers the next morning.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”518″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”515″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”519″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_single_image image=”517″ img_size=”large” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow” onclick=”img_link_large” img_link_target=”_blank” css_animation=”appear”][/vc_column][/vc_row]