Slayer Gig Slays, Even Though The "Raining Blood" Is Just A Drizzle
Band Photo: Slayer (?)
Over 20 years after their formation, Slayer remain one of the most menacing, brutal and skilled acts in heavy metal. They're also one of the most unlikely success stories. The band's songs aren't rooted in vocal melody like Black Sabbath's, and they're not anthemic like Judas Priest's or multifaceted like Metallica's. They're sinister, bludgeoning and played at one of two speeds — fast and lightning fast.
Before the launch of the Jägermeister Tour, it looked like Slayer's set would feature "Reign in Blood" in its entirely, capped by a shower of fake blood from the rafters (as the band did for its current concert DVD, "Still Reigning"). Instead, Slayer opted for a greatest-hits showcase that ended with three songs from Reign in Blood. As a result, the performance displayed more range than it otherwise might have. Slayer revved into thrash-metal overdrive on soundblurs like "Fight Till Death" and "War Ensemble," and dropped the pace on moodier numbers like "At Dawn They Sleep" and "Dead Skin Mask."
As the band emerged Thursday night for "Disciple," the stage was flooded with smoke and decorated like a creepy church altar. During the show, flags with red inverted crosses and the group's Teutonic eagle-and-pentagram logo were unfurled, and later a backdrop of shots from Reign in Blood descended. But the group could have performed without any frills (as it did on Ozzfest) and still have destroyed. Years of experience surely have something to do with it, but Slayer's ferocity stems largely from their chemistry. When King and Hanneman stand side-by-side, trading off whirring riffs and strangled-cat solos while headbanging in tandem, they're as lethal a team as serial killers Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole. And no frontman can windmill his head and play bass as viciously as Araya, who has recently been plagued with vocal problems, but who sounded great for the entire show.
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