Slayer – [Live]

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Saturday night, Satan’s minions descended on the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater to hear what can only be described as the house band for hell, Slayer. For more than twenty years, seeing this band live has eluded me despite owning most of their catalogue and measuring every metal band’s worth against the piece of perfection they released in 1986, Reign in Blood.

As we drove into the venue last night, speculation was running high on what the crowd would be like knowing Slayer was paired with Marilyn Manson. Would there be open air brawling between the two fanbases inspired by music spawned by the devil and fueled by $12 beers? What dregs of society would this show attract and how much of a spectacle could this really be? Well, the show did attract its fair share of freaks as suspected, but surprisingly they were relatively subdued except for the occasional scream “Fucking Slayer!”

The band took the stage promptly at 8:10pm, descending on it like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and like the four horsemen, they brought everything they had with them: war, famine, pestilence and death. “Flesh Storm,” off of last year’s Christ Illusion, kicked off the 70-minute romp warming up the crowd. The band mixed a fine blend of songs that ranged the entire course of their 25+-year history while peppering in newer tracks off of their latest album. “War Ensemble” followed “Flesh Storm” to solidify what would be a strongly war-themed set. Next was one of the highlights of the evening for me, “Chemical Warfare,” a song off of 1984’s Haunting The Chapel EP that had been blasted from the battered sound system of my 1970 Chevelle countless times in High School until the cassette copy I owned was worn to the point of barley being audible. Frontman Tom Araya delivered the first few songs with relentless abandon leaving you wondering how he can maintain this level of energy as he hits middle age. The original lineup, with drummer Dave Lombardo now back in the fold, proceeded through their set beating the crowd to a bloody pulp playing “South of Heaven,” “Jihad,” “Ghosts of War,” “Cult,” “Reign in Blood,” “Hell Awaits” and “Mandatory Suicide.” The final pummeling of the evening was set up with Araya’s signature scream “ANGEL OF DEATH!!!!”

Araya’s voice blending with King and Hanneman’s razor-sharp guitar work was a sublime mix that was delivered with studio-recorded precision. The visuals of the show were equally matched by the technical accuracy that the music was delivered. A large screen framed by upside down crosses constructed with Marshall amps continually projected images that were timed with the music showing defiled religious icons, bleeding crosses, scenes depicting the brutality of war, different Slayer logos spanning the length of their career and many variations of the dark lord himself. While at times excessive, it was the thorny crown to complete the total impact of their brutal set.

Praise hell, Satan.

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