Slayer’s Final Tour: Live, Backstage Photos – Rolling Stone
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Slayer’s Final Tour: See Exclusive All-Access Photos

An inside look at the thrash-metal titans’ farewell trek

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See onstage and backstage photos from Slayer's gritty final world tour. Here, on the trek's second date, guitarist Kerry King takes a break from warming up in his dressing room.

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Slayer have always strived to be the hardest, fastest and toughest live band around. Now they’re calling it quits with a final world tour. After kicking things off in San Diego last week, they welcomed Rolling Stone backstage, onstage and in the pit to document all the mayhem of the second date of the trek, which took place at Irvine, California’s FivePoint Amphitheatre.

We were able to witness performances by their opening bands, which included Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament; the excitement of the fans; Slayer’s pre-show backstage rituals; and the intensity on their faces during the gig. The band played a career-spanning set list at the gig, including the fan favorites “Angel of Death, “Raining Blood,” “South of Heaven” and “War Ensemble,” among many others, as well as a few surprises, like Divine Intervention‘s “Dittohead” and Seasons in the Abyss’ “Blood Red.” Needless to say, it whipped the audience into a frenzy. Scroll through the following photos to see the carnage they wrought.

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The Littlest Headbanger

Fans of all generations showed up early to catch a metal marathon that included Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament – four bands brave enough to open for hardline Slayer fans.

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Anthrax Heat Things Up

One of the bands supporting Slayer on the tour is Anthrax, another member of the so-called “Big Four of Thrash Metal,” which, in addition to Slayer, includes Metallica and Megadeth. Anthrax have toured with Slayer numerous times over the years, notably on the Clash of the Titans tour and later on the American Carnage and European Carnage tours, in addition to the Big Four shows. Here, frontman Joey Belladonna invites fans to get “Caught in a Mosh.”

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Anthrax Cool Off

After their set, Anthrax guitarists Jon Donais and Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante head backstage to towel off after whipping fans into a howling fury.

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A Dangerous Meeting

Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph (left) tells guitarist Kerry King something eye-opening enough to make him lift his sunglasses backstage before the band’s set.

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Train in Blood

Before the show, King and guitarist Gary Holt meet up backstage to run through some of the songs and get their blood pumping. The fact that they do so in a pale, red room might be the most Slayer thing ever.

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Kerry King Wrings His Guitar’s Neck

King, who is covered in tribal tattoos, just like his guitar, spends some of the time before the show running through his solos, which requires playing high up on the instrument’s neck almost as if he’s getting ready to strangle it.

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The Rhythm Kings

Slayer bassist-singer Tom Araya, erstwhile Testament, Exodus and White Zombie drummer John Tempesta, and Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph hang out outside of Lamb of God’s dressing room before the big show. The three of them are responsible for some of the most skull-rattling rhythms in metal.

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Slayer, Ready to Reign

The four members of Slayer – Bostaph, Holt, Araya and King – get together just before showtime in their stage gear, which includes camo shorts for Bostaph, a battle vest for Holt, leather pants for Araya and, of course, chains for King.

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Stairway to Hell

Lest anyone trips on their way to the stage, the steps leading up to it feature the band’s logo and a Satanic pentagram in day-glo white and neon.

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Relentless, Repenteless

In Irvine, California, Slayer opened the show with the title track of their most recent album, Repentless. It was the band’s first LP without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died in 2013, and first with his replacement, Gary Holt, who also plays in Exodus.

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Watch the Throne

A backstage view of what Bostaph sees every night, looking out from behind his drum stool. The drummer, who played with the band in the Nineties and early 2000s after founding drummer Dave Lombardo quit, re-joined the band in 2013 after Lombardo exited the band over a contract dispute.

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Tom Araya Finds His Happy Place

With a fog around him and perspiration pouring off him, Araya looks content as he plays bass during a break from vocals.

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King not only plays the band’s technically demanding guitar parts, he also does so while headbanging. In this shot, you can see the toll that takes on his mile-long goatee.

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Caught in a Mosh

Attending a Slayer show is not for the faint of heart – now imagine getting in a mosh pit when the band is onstage. Here’s a look at the carnage that ensues once Slayer find their groove.

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The Aftermath

Irvine, California’s FivePoint Amphitheatre can contain about 12,000 Slayer fans – even when they can’t contain themselves. Here’s a glimpse of what was left on the field after the band left the stage.

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