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Heavy metal nostalgia: Thrash’s “big three” take Pearl audience back in time

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Megadeth at the Pearl, October 20.
Photo: Justin M. Bowen

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Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax
three stars
The Pearl, October 20

Anthrax

Slayer

“Thrash is back!” Anthrax singer Joey Belladonna proclaimed early in his band’s short set at the Pearl Wednesday night, and for a few hours at least, it was. Three of the “big four” bands of the ’80s movement that fused underground metal and punk were on hand for the show (the fourth, Metallica, is too popular for this sort of thing), and thrash nostalgia was the dominant mood. Anthrax relied on it the most, with a setlist drawn almost exclusively from the band’s ’80s releases—when Belladonna was the singer the first time around—and numerous references to the power of metal. Co-headliners Megadeth and Slayer were a little more forward-thinking, but they too glorified the past, each playing a full album from two decades ago. Megadeth ran through 1990 thrashterpiece Rust in Peace, while Slayer took on 1990 album Seasons in the Abyss.

Each band played for just 70 minutes (compared to Anthrax’s 40), so selections apart from those albums were minimal. Megadeth’s performance felt rushed, with frontman Dave Mustaine even remarking at one point that he wasn’t bothering with stage banter because he wanted to play as many songs as possible. “That was Rust in Peace,” he said after the album was through, sounding happy to get it over with. Rust is a bona fide classic, but Megadeth’s performance came off as perfunctory, and Mustaine mumbled and slurred lots of lyrics.

Judging solely by estimated T-shirt frequency, Slayer was the band most fans wanted to see, and its performance was the least sentimental. With a complete lack of posturing or theatrics, the band powered through Abyss and six other songs, including two from recent album World Painted Blood, which sounded a lot more at home than did the new Megadeth tunes. The mosh pit went wild, the aging metal fans banged their heads, and it was like thrash never went out of style.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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