It felt more like a Friday night as opposed to a Monday night when metalheads of every age were seen congregating in Toronto's newly renovated Sound Academy. Everyone (myself included) was preparing themselves to see heavy metal legends, Slayer along with Anthrax and Death Angel.
The Sound Academy has turned into a weird venue with their renovations, especially for a metal show. It's ultra premium, acting as a nightclub first and concert venue second. Even if that weren't the case, the leather VIP seating and Vegas like ceiling just didn't jive with the black tee'd, beer guzzling metalheads that were packing into the venue.
I missed Death Angel's set but made it just in time to photograph Anthrax. The New York City thrash metal band is part of the Big 4 (Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica & Megadeth), so it goes without saying... YOU NEED TO SEE THEM. I've now officially photographed all of them and couldn't be more stoked. Lead vocalist Joey Belladonna was amazing to see jumping around stage still belting it out, at one point he even took a fellow photographers camera and shot some photos himself. I can't forget to mention the incredible Scott Ian – he blasted the hell out of his guitar the entire set and had me stunned behind the lens thinking "god damn this guy is too good". I also completely forgot that Jon Donais (formerly the guitarist of Shadows Fall) was in the band. That was the icing on top of the cake.
Slayer was up next and covered the entire stage with a massive plain white curtain. A nice juxtaposition to the all black stage decor that featured some pretty rad (and very metal) illustrations. As the white curtain fell, all you could see was smoke and fog. Tom Araya's yells cut through the dense air screaming "Arrogance, violence, world in disarray. Dealing with insanity every fuckin' day", the opening lines of Repentless. The crowd immediately roared and started moshing and crowd surfing. Being in the pit photographing these legends was intense to say the least. Many of us photographers were getting pummelled by fans surfing over the barricades but I couldn't help but think "this is fucking awesome" as Kerry King slayed his guitar right before my eyes. I could hear his chains smashing against each other as he frantically walked back and forth – he was that close. Not only did King perform like the legend he is but Gary Holt melted faces with his epic guitar work on that insanely 'metal' blood guitar. Yes... his blood was used to make the artwork on his guitar. That's insane.
These guys haven't let me down yet, they played everything I wanted to hear, the only thing missing from the night was the late Jeff Hanneman (RIP brother). Check out all our photos from the night below and get psyched on metal. Always.
Words / Photography by: Steve St. Jean