Slayer’s “Old School” Set




Slayer live in 2013. Stock photo.



Tonight I’m off to almost certain death, and by that I mean I’ll be on the floor for Slayer.  The band has put together an “Old School” set in honor of fallen guitarist Jeff Hanneman, covering their first five albums and the Haunting the Chapel EP.  It’s a vicious set top to bottom, and I love almost every song in it.  Here’s a breakdown, song by song.


“Hell Awaits”—You want to walk straight into Hell?  Here’s where to start.  It rumbles along slow and angry, and then it blasts off furiously, dragging you straight into the inferno.  A perfect way to begin, as seeing Slayer live is a literal tour through Hell.


I saw Slayer play this once, back in August ’07.  I’m so glad I get to see it again tonight.


“The Antichrist”— Now that you’ve been through Hell, you’re in the clutches of the guy who runs the place.  Meet Tom Araya, and his growling, screeching voice.  If you thought you had any way out, you were wrong.


I’ve never seen this one live, and I can’t wait, as I love Show No Mercy.




King leads the Slayer Nation



“Necrophiliac”—This song is so disgusting it actually turns my stomach.  Liking it makes me question how I could possibly be a Slayer fan.  A first person view into the mind of someone who has sex with corpses, it’s got a shocking twist toward the end.


I’ve never seen this one live.  It’ll be awesome.


“Mandatory Suicide”—This is the only song that Slayer frequently plays that I don’t like.  Slayer didn’t play it during the Seasons in the Abyss tour back in 2010, and I appreciated its exclusion.  But it’s back, and thankfully it’s not a long song.


“Captor of Sin”—The harlots of Hell are out, and they’ve got a hold over you.  One of the few Slayer songs with sexual innuendo—Hell, maybe the only song with any innuendo, as the band is almost always straightforward.


I saw them play this only once, the first Slayer gig I went to, and I look forward to its return.


“War Ensemble”—Just look at the name of this website.  This is probably my favorite Slayer tune, from its blazing dual guitar intro, through Araya’s lightning quick vocals about the terrors of the battlefield.  When Tom screams, “ARE YOU READY FOR WAR?” I’ll answer with a resounding “HELL YES!”


“Post Mortem”— The first song of the night from Slayer’s masterpiece, Reign in Blood.  It’s a chilling tale of achieving life after death, and a welcome return to the set list.  I saw Slayer play this at my first show.


“Altar of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves”— Two more from Reign in Blood, where they also appear back-to-back.  Slayer brings the evil you dread, and matches it with a song about religious fanatics.  Granted, “Jesus Saves” is my least favorite song from Reign, but it goes hand-in-hand with “Altar,” and I can’t ever complain when Slayer plays five songs from their thrash masterpiece.


“At Dawn They Sleep”— Vampires.  From Hell Awaits.  Need I say more? No.


This will be my first time seeing “At Dawn They Sleep” live.  It rounds out the Hell Awaits portion of the set list with vicious aplomb.


“Die by the Sword”— One of my favorite songs off Show No Mercy.  Satan comes from the skies, and brings bloodshed and fury with him.  As Tom has aptly put it in concert, “Some say the pen is mightier than the sword.  Well I say, Fuck the pen!  Because you can die by the sword!”


I haven’t seen this one live since that first show.  It’s a welcome return.


“Spirit in Black”— When I think of this one, I always remember all the references to other Slayer songs from the earlier albums.  If you thought you’d escaped the inferno after “Antichrist,” well, you were dead wrong.


This is a holdover from when the band played the whole Seasons in the Abyss album back in 2010.  It’s a fond reminder of the last time I saw Jeff Hanneman on stage, and I love its inclusion in this set.


“Hallowed Point”— Not one of the songs that most fans think of first when Seasons enters the mind, but a great song.  In this age of school shootings and madmen blowing up marathons, this song about an assassin with a high powered rifle is all too fitting.


“Seasons in the Abyss”— This song concludes the back-to-back-to-back segment of Seasons songs for this portion of the concert.  That album opens with “War Ensemble” and closes with this classic.  It’s one of my favorite songs, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see it at every show, in its full version.  Slayer sometimes clips the ending, but I hope they play it all the way through tonight.




The reconfigured lineup: Gary, Tom, Kerry and Paul



“Strike of the Beast”— Slayer rarely plays covers in concert, but with Gary Holt ably filling in for Jeff Hanneman it makes perfect sense to include this Exodus song.  It’s from the same era as the Old School set.  I’ve never seen Exodus live, so it’ll be cool.


Oddly enough, drummer Paul Bostaph is back with Slayer after a 12 year absence.  But the band’s Old School set doesn’t include a single song from the four albums on which he played.


“Dead Skin Mask”— Damn, Seasons is loaded with classics, and this is one of them.  The twisted tale of Ed Gein is a favorite of the band, and I’ve seen it at every show.  If they ever take it off the set list, I’ll be upset.  Given the subject matter, this is a sick tune.


“Raining Blood”— The final song on Reign in Blood, this one comes out awesome live every time.  It sets the mood for the last few songs to come, in its brooding, angry way.  A thrash masterpiece.




Check out this awesome concert footage from 1991, as Slayer follows “Raining Blood” with “Black Magic,” as they’ll do tonight.


“Black Magic”— One more song from Show No Mercy.  This song became a popular addition to the live sets back in 2009, and I’m jazzed that I’ll see it for the first time tonight.  Show No Mercy has always been my favorite Slayer album, and I’m glad they placed this one toward the end of the show, highlighting the band’s beginnings.


“South of Heaven”— South of Heaven is my least favorite of the albums from the classic period, but man, does it start off damn strong.  This tune is another staple of the live sets, and it comes across awesome every time.  It starts off slow, but damn, once it picks up it never relents.  One of my favorite live Slayer songs.




Jeff Hanneman still reigns



“Angel of Death”— This is the crown jewel off Reign in Blood, the first Slayer song I ever heard, and the one that scared me to death when I was young.  Ferocious doesn’t even begin to describe what is the greatest thrash song of all time.  Slayer almost always ends its set with this song, and it’s the greatest testament that Tom and Kerry King can make to the fallen Jeff Hanneman.  Long may he reign.



20 songs.  One show.  The “Old School” Set.  It’s mere hours away.  The last time Slayer played what was once the Felt Forum, the fans destroyed the place.  This is a great set, and I can’t wait to get to it tonight.  If I make it out alive, I’ll write a review of the show.  If I don’t, I’ll die the best way a human can, victim of a Slayer show.  Because the only way to get there is going piece by piece.


-Phil Fasso



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