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Slayer to kick off world tour in Bemidji

Slayer performs in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 18, 2014. Flicker

BEMIDJI—One of the world's preeminent metal bands will thrash its way through Bemidji this week to open its world tour..

Slayer, an institution in the genre that stands alongside Anthrax, Metallica and Megadeth, and infamously inspired a fan to carve the band's name into his arm, will kick off its Repentless World Tour at the Sanford Center on Wednesday, July 12.

"If you really want to see a very intense environment, in terms of people getting into it and lots of intense energy, you're going to get that from our show," said drummer Paul Bostaph, who went to his first Slayer concert in 1989. "I went to go watch not knowing what to expect, and then after I saw that ... I was dying to do back. As a musician, as a fan, there are certain bands that deliver a certain energy. And a Slayer concert is going to be high-energy, relentless, nonstop, no BS."

The band is known for its high-powered guitars and drums, and Slayer concerts have taken on an almost-mythic quality. Bostaph speculated that Wednesday's show—which is nestled between rock festivals and higher-profile venues in Philadelphia and Chicago on the band's tour schedule—could be a regional draw. Band members take only a handful of breaks between songs and the drummer seemed to take pride in their no-nonsense idea of showmanship.

"It's just head down, go for it," Bostaph said. "It's an athletic event."

Slayer itself has gone through several iterations as members have left or, like iconic guitarist Jeff Hanneman, died. But Bostaph, who's joined and left the band several times himself, said they've maintained a consistent sound.

"It's never compromised," he said. "When certain bands were moving towards a more commercial sound, this band stayed true to what it was all about."

If anything has changed, it's how much fun the band has on stage, Bostaph said.

"When you're young and you're doing that and you're up there ... every day you're getting ready for war," he explained. "When you're older, it's like, I still want to crush, but you kind of know you already can, so you're more confident in that. You don't take it for granted ... but you just have more fun."

Slayer will be joined Wednesday by Lamb of God and Behemoth, two other longstanding metal acts with similarly high intensities. Behemoth is a Polish death metal band with some occult themes; Lamb of God has been called a "punk band that plays heavy metal."

If you go

What: Slayer, with Lamb of God & Behemoth

When: Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: Sanford Center, Bemidji

Tickets: According to the Sanford Center's Facebook page, only 200 floor tickets remained for the show; in the $50 range.

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