When Athens Rocks Festival was announced, with Slayer as headliners, we all knew that it would be a great moment in the concert history of Greece. Slayer had revealed some months ago that this world tour would be their final, and it was a blessing that the thrash metal legends decided to include Athens in their tour schedule. Everybody who had seen Slayer on stage before already had an idea of what would happen on the 13th of July, 2019.

Of course, we would have the chance to enjoy some other live acts that night: Suicidal Angels, the fresh blood of Greek thrash metal, would open the festival, Leprous, the prog metal weirdos, would continue, and Rotting Christ, the triumphant black metallers from Greece, would be the last bite, before the massacre. But let’s see what took place!

 The festival was hosted in the OAKA Basketball Stadium, after the late change of the place decided by the organizers. Many fans posted their angry opposition to this change on the social media, arguably because they thought that the temperature and the general physical conditions of the festival in a not open air stadium would be unbearable and dangerous for the attendants and the musicians – especially if we consider that the Greek fans often use fumigants at concerts! Well, everybody had the same worries, which were discarded with the arrival at the concert hall; the place was nicely air-conditioned, with aeration, and everybody who wished to sit down, there were the tiers of the stadium. So, this time we must give our congratulations to the organizers!

The first band who entered the stage was Suicidal Angels. Almost every thrash metal fan knows this killer band, who its few albums have demonstrated how thrash metal should be played! And yes, Suicidal Angels gave a fantastic show – their sound was loud and tight and their bombastic thrash metal hymns warmed up the fans. The head banging started pretty soon (at five o’ clock), since Suicidal Angels have the potential, the compositions and the experience to metal everybody’s ass! We also had the good fortune to listen a couple new songs, from the band’s newest album, “ … “ – if all songs sound like that, we will have another great reason to praise Suicidal Angels. Bow to the Greek thrash metal angels!

And then there were Leprous on stage. Leprous’ atmospheric, Tool-ish prog metal which reminds of Muse and Anathema wasn’t a good choice for this festival. Suicidal Angels play thrash metal, Rotting Christ black metal and Slayer are US thrash metal. So, why did they choose a prog metal band as an opening act for Slayer? Surely not wise! Although Leprous differed from the other bands of Athens Rocks, there were many people in the audience who enjoyed Leprous’ complex and proggy music. And the band managed to win everybody’ s applause, since they played with passion, and gave us the gift of excellent intelligent music! Most of all I liked Einar Solberg’s vocals and the diversity of the compositions, which usually have some very pompous outbursts. I knew that Leprous is an interesting band, yet this concert was my first serious contact with their music. Don’t be afraid, my friends, it isn’t a risk for our musical health to come closer to Leprous music – on the contrary, it is a healthy way to broaden our music taste!

After the Norwegians, it was time to obey the rules of Greek black metal. Because Rotting Christ was and still is the synonyme of the greek sound of black metal. I hadn’t seen Rotting Christ live for years, so I waited their show with anxiety. Of course, I don’t have to describe to you what happened at the band’s performance. Sakis Tolis and company taught us what black metal stands for! Their might, their passion, their artistry combined with dignity, experience and conviction resulted into a live black metal manifesto! Rotting Christ gave us hell, burned our minds, showed no mercy. The Greeks pleased everyone in the audience and shaked us with both older and newer black anthems. The live performances of “King of a Stellar War” and “Non Serviam” were historic moments and will never be forgotten. It was obvious that Rotting Christ are in good shape, and what happened in Patras has made them even more furious. The fans enjoyed every second of the impressive Rotting Christ show, but the time of the butcher had come!!

Almost on time, Slayer came on stage with full force and devastated everything! It would be their last time in Greece, so they were confident, determined to present us what Slayer can do! Conquer the stage, conquer us, conquer everything! The thrash metal veterans unleashed the thrash metal beast within, which ran at the highest speed and preyed on us! With Tom Araya and Kerry King at the helm, Slayer’s vehicle mad the ultimate thrash metal attack, which devoured our flesh and bones. That was a thrash metal crescendo, with all the classic Slayer tunes – the selist was wisely chosen, and the sound was so crystal, so heavy, so loud! You can easily understand what happened, when Slayer performed songs like “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death”! Chaos!!! Hell on earth!!! All the fans – thousands of fans were there to pray to their gods, and witness the final live Slayer experience. It was a very sentimental show, for both the band and its fans, we almost banged our heads with tears in our eyes. There is no need to say that all the hall was a gigantic mosh pit.

After the last song of the show, Araya stood on stage alone and was gazing at the audience. The frontman of the legendary band said to us “goodbye, we will miss you” in Greek – that was the emotional peak of this thrash metal concert. It is the first time I experienced such a moment in a music show – a touching scene, a crying contact, a warm encounter. Maybe it is the last time we saw Araya on stage … no goodbyes, only a big, endless thank you to Mr. Araya. You will always be there in our hearts and mind. Thank you so much. And Kerry, and Paul, and Gary, and Jeff, of course.

Priceless. Fuckin’ Slayer forever!!!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos