Dissecting Slayer’s Farewell Tour Set List: Three Big Questions
This week, Loudwire pays tribute to Slayer, who kicked off their final tour on May 10 in San Diego. The thrash metal titans took the genre to faster, louder, and creepier places than anyone ever had, and they've influenced scores of extreme metal bands. From dissections of their songs to never-before-told stories, we're celebrating all things Slayer.
Here, a roundtable of Loudwire writers examine the setlist from the opening night of Slayer's farewell tour (see our review here). As with any farewell set, there's no pleasing everyone, something we found out as we answered a couple questions about the set below. Especially if you really like "Born of Fire."
Was there anything surprising about this set?
Ed Rivadavia: I'm surprised it's such a "greatest hits set." Slayer do whatever the hell they please, so it's kind of nice to feel like they gave some serious thought to selecting most of the most important/loved Slayer tracks, especially for the fans. The band also seems to have purposefully tried to cover almost every album, before tossing in a few less ubiquitous choices earlier into the set.
Graham Hartmann: I’m surprised “Born of Fire” didn’t make the cut. That’s one of the sickest songs ever written.
Joe DiVita: It's obvious they took the historic approach and played something off every album... except Diabolus in Musica (no complaints here). Aside from that slight contextual surprise, I figured "Raining Blood" would close the set. They lean a little harder on new millennium material than I expected (and early on), making less room for some more iconic songs. This set is a crowd pleaser and a canon platter and might be the safest thing Slayer have ever done in their career.
Jon Wiederhorn: I'm surprised the band opened with "Repentless." It's a good song, but this is their farewell tour and they should have begun with a creepier, more infamous song like "Dead Skin Mask" or a total crusher like "War Ensemble." I'm also surprised the band put their seven biggest, most classic tracks at the very end of the set. The four closing cuts are amazing, but they could have sprinkled at least "Hell Awaits," "South of Heaven" throughout the show.
Katy Irizarry: I definitely was surprised not to see "Spirit in Black," but otherwise I think it was a fair sampling of their discography and overall made sense for a farewell set.
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What songs would you have removed and added instead?
ER: I could have done without "Repentless," "Hate Worldwide," "Jihad" and "When the Stillness Comes," but everything beyond the first five LPs is generally very subjective. "Disciple" is not, so I'm glad they have that in the set. As for songs I would have loved to hear one last time, even if for selfish reasons, they'd include "At Dawn They Sleep" or "Necrophiliac." Maybe "Piece by Piece," "Jesus Saves" or, to get really funky, "Gemini." And wait a hot damn minute: where's "Die By the Sword"? I can't believe they omitted that classic nugget, and hope they intend to play it a future farewell shows.t
GH: I would remove “Repentless,” “Hate Worldwide” and “When the Stillness Comes” and add “Born of Fire” three times.
JD: I'll buy into the sort of rulebook for this tour with hitting on (almost) every album. Two off Repentless feels forced and they just toured that album pretty heavily. Why not use this as a chance to give a nod to the original headbangers and toss in a rarity like "At Dawn They Sleep?" It might turn some more casual fans on to Hell Awaits, an underrated treasure of an album too. Swap "South of Heaven," "Payback," "Hate Worldwide" and "When the Stillness Comes" for "Die by the Sword," "Born of Fire," "Psychopathy Red" and "Altar of Sacrifice." Oh, and add "Necrophobic" in there too. What? You don't have 100 seconds to spare?
JW: I could have lived without "Dittohead" and replaced it with something more mid-paced like "Skeletons of Society" or "At Dawn They Sleep." Also, I would have loved to hear "Die By the Sword," instead of "Black Magic."
KI: I'm one of "those" fans who could do without the newer stuff. I'd have removed "Repentless," "Hate Worldwide," and "When The Stillness Comes," and would have added "Spirit in Black," "Silent Scream," and "Born of Fire." I can't hate on their choice to include those songs though. It's the last chance to perform some of their later material, I get it. Besides, it's a good opportunity for bathroom breaks!
Assuming this set never changes, did they make the right call by ending it all with "Angel of Death?"
ER: Yes. I mean, that's the definitive, ultimate Slayer track. So if the band really intends to say goodbye forever with this tour (I won't hold my breath, but I trust Araya and King to stick to it, more so than most other "retiring" musicians), then "Angel of Death" is the ideal send-off. I know the last words I ever want to hear from Slayer on stage are: "Angel of death! Monarch to the kingdom of the dead. Infamous butcher, Angel of death! ANGEL OF DEAAAAAATH!!!!" That would send me home (back to hell) happy.
GH: “Angel of Death” is a great finishing point, but they should close with “Born of Fire.” Then they’d be opening and closing with “Born of Fire.” BORN OF FIRE!!!
JD: "Raining Blood" felt like the obvious choice and I'm glad they didn't go for the picturesque storybook ending of wailing feedback and a shower of blood. The thing is, Slayer never needed to rely on major stage theatrics as their sound and lyrics did all of their work and what song signifies this more than "Angel of Death?" When you're Slayer and you say farewell, you want to leave the Earth scorched and smoldering, not drowned.
JW: Every Slayer show on the farewell tour must end with "Angel of Death." So it is written in The Book of Enoch. Though maybe it would be cool to play "Raining Blood" right before "Angel of Death" and move "Chemical Warfare" after "South of Heaven."
KI: There are really only two acceptable songs they could have possibly ended with - "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood." Not only should a band end with a major hit because the fans are expecting it, but there's something pretty sentimental about closing out a musical career with one of the two songs that launched it.
SLAYER WEEK: Is Reign in Blood Really Slayer's Best Album?
Slayer's Opening Night Set List
When the Stillness Comes
Season in the Abyss
Dead Skin Mask
South of Heaven
Angel of Death
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Photos From the Opening Night of Slayer's Farewell Tour
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