Metal titans, Slayer, said ‘goodnight’ to Fargo one last time Sunday evening on their farewell tour, “The Final Campaign” at the FargoDome.
Thrash metal has a small handful of legends, and Slayer easily shares the title of ‘icon’ alongside Metallica and Megadeth. They have set the tone and paved the way for the genre, and now they are making their last go around after nearly 40 years of music. Their appearance in Fargo had fans beyond enthusiastic, and rightfully so. All throughout the night the barbaric chants of “Fucking Slayer” could be heard, starting in the ticket lines leading up to the end of the show.
The night kicked off with a few other well known names, starting with former Pantera frontman Philip H. Anselmo and his band The Illegals. Though the Dome was hardly a third full the small crowd who made it for the first opening act were the ones that got the best show of the three. It is very apparent that Anselmo continues music not just because of his passion for the art, but respect for former band member, Dimebag Darrel. Paying tribute he and his band played a short set of Pantera songs such as “Becoming” and “Strength Beyond Strength”, ending with “Walk” which arguably had the crowd the most hyped they would be until Slayer took the stage.
Following was Chicago industrial band, Ministry. I will be honest, and maybe I just don’t get it, but I had a hard time enjoying their set. For the most part it sounded like gargling layered over heavy riffs and synths. I can overlook a sound issue, had that been the case, but I don’t particularly feel like that was the problem. Aside from not being the biggest fan of their music, I could have appreciated a solid stage performance if I had been able to see it. Unfortunately the stage was poorly lit and filled with a thick fog. The only thing consistently visible was the glowing cross center stage. I fully understand how having and upholding an image is important and a huge part of the job, but it is easy to get a bit bored with nothing to catch the eye. There was nothing in particular that grabbed me personally about Ministry, but those in attendance seemed to enjoy them enough.
Finally the stadium went dark and gothic crosses were projected onto the large black curtain that hung across the front of the stage. The audience exploded with their chants once more as flames burst up from the stage floor and the crosses were replaced with the Slayer logo. The band tore into “Relentless” as the curtain dropped and more flames shot up from the back. Slayer has always been known for great production and “going out with a bang” seemed to be the thing to do, but I have never seen a band use that much pyrotechnics. The stage was on fire nearly the whole 90 minute set with an array of fire balls and flame curtains shooting from all directions. For a group in their fifties you would have expected a tame performance, but not Slayer. This was their last chance to remind you just how bad-ass they are and they weren’t going to let you leave feeling underwhelmed.
They played material from all across their catalog for their twenty song set, including “Mandatory Suicide”, “World Painted Blood”, “Born of Fire”, “Show No Mercy” and “South of Heaven”. The floor was surging, with a circle pit constantly swirling and crowd surfers making their way to the stage. Despite what should have been a tangled mess of dripping blood and sweat, the mass of Slayer fans were all there to celebrate the journey they had been on together, and thus did so in a peacefully chaotic manner.
“Angel of Death” closed the night, not with a solemn feeling, but with a feeling of awe. Slayer has become a culture to many throughout generations. It was a night to remember for long time thrash fans, as well as something special for newer listeners. Slayer was one of the best shows I covered 2019 and one I hope you haven’t missed your chance to see!
Full SLAYER Photo Coverage Here.
Full PHA AND THE ILLEGALS Photo Coverage Here.