Slayer Paid Tribute to Hanneman And Guitarist Holt.
Band Photo: Slayer (?)
Slayer played Fun Fun Fun Fest on Sunday two years ago. The promoters of the fest, Transmission Events, must see the value in making Sunday its metal day. As was experienced on Sunday two years ago, we left the park Sunday night with the metallic taste of Slayer in our mouths. My hunt for steel started at 12:30 when 4arm (read xFiruath’s interview) took the stage. I had no problem making this early show since I skipped the Nites shows on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Aussie modern thrash group, most of the fest’s attendees found 12:30 too early in the day. The 20 or so people who did make the early show were treated to one of the best performances of the weekend.
Members of 4arm sat across from me on a picnic table in the press area. I said their sound reminded me of Slayer, Machine Head and Testament. The members said I was three for three. They possess a sound that was the closest fit to Slayer, a group they were supporting on a U.S. tour, so it was a shame that such a small percentage of Slayer fans witnessed 4arm's set. Having toured with Danzig and Testament, the future seems bright for these Aussies. Make sure to get down early to experience the Popeye-like grip of 4-Arm on their tour with Slayer.
Cro-Mags was the next band to take the stage that I recognized. We didn’t wait that long before catching another act. True Widow’s sludge/doom tag snagged my interest, but the Dallas act didn’t play the type of doom I sought. The male-female vocal dual created a nice dichotomy, and the downward tempo shift offered a good change of pace. The group faltered, however, in the delivery of melodies. Instead of hitting despondent chords, certain passages contained indie rock-style sounds. Also, the male vocals were mixed too low and his overall voice was something to be desired. Kudos to Transmission for showcasing this doom act, but I would suggest looking to bands like Mala Suerte and Slurr for a heavier dose of neighborhood doom.
NYC hardcore legends, Cro-Mags were slightly faster than True Widow, but played with significantly more vigor. Obvious fans of Black Sabbath, the group played “Symptom of the Universe” as a lead-in to one of their songs. Hordes of crazy stage divers and pit movers often took a break from these raucous activities to watch the occasional guitar solo. I wasn’t expecting such a powerful performance. I based my decision to catch their set on their reputation. Although rife in breakdowns, the group tears away the mundane fabric of the modern-day hardcore band to reveal exceptional song writing. Add Cro-Mags to my checklist of titanic punk-infused acts witnessed at FFF ’13.
FFF is punk and hardcore-centric, but power metal made a brief appearance this year. Right before Cro-Mags assaulted the stage; I caught locals Immortal Guardian play on a trailer located next to the skate ramps. I remember seeing them on the schedule, but their name appeared in the section for skating, something I gave a mere cursory glance. The group was not bothered by the small “stage” space. They played fast, intricate keyboards and guitars, while the vocalist hit the highest notes of any singer the whole weekend. This was a nice surprise that I would have overlooked if not for standing in the beverage line.
August Burns Red was a solid representation of metalcore at the festival. The group is gaining much steam in the modern metal realm. Their performance revealed a band worthy of the hype. While metalcore is moving towards more of a mainstream sound, the group steps back to sub-genre’s Gothenburg-metal origins. Armed with the explosive speed of At the Gates and the flavorful rhythms of Unearth, August Burns Red provided the catalyst to ignite this cold November night. Fellow Slayer tour mates, Gojira kept that fire aglow as they demolished the stage with their patent blend of death metal and modern metal sounds. Slayer has its hands full on tour following such heavy hitters as 4arm and Gojira. Austin beware long stride of…GOJIRAAA!
Slayer paid the river boat man, Charon enough to cross the River Styx and enter Tartarus on November 10th, 2013. If they truly took a boat here, it would be via the Colorado River, the water source defining Lady Bird Lake at Auditorium Shores park. I wouldn't call Austin a dungeon of eternal suffering, but Slayer certainly filled our heads with hellish imagery. During "Necrophiliac,” Tom Araya was like an ancient Hellmouth, a furnace blast that damned the audience to "the fiery pits of Hell." While "South of Heaven" outlined the end-times scenario.
I caught most of their set from the steel platform besides the stage. This gave me an excellent view of drummer Paul Bostaph, who recently replaced to replace Dave Lombardo for the second time. Playing Slayer is a workout and Bostaph looked more gym rat than drummer. The group didn’t seem to lose a beat with Bostaph; let’s hope they treat him better than Lombard.
As Metalunderground.com reported, Slayer’s set on this tour is mired in older classics such as “War Ensemble,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Hollowed Point” and “Postmortem.” “Black Magic” and “Die By The Sword” represented their earliest material. I thought, “what song is this?” until I heard the chorus of the “Strike of the Beast.” Obviously an ode to Gary Holt, this early Exodus cover was the biggest surprise of their set.
Speaking of tributes, Slayer changed its backdrop to one that looked like Heineken. Instead of saying Heineken, though, the banner read “Hanneman” and “Angel of Death” was written at the top. Then, the group played “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death” as an encore. It was fitting they played two of the best songs written by their fallen band mate and friend. Even though fans will always herald these songs as classics, we’ll never hear another Hanneman-penned riff again. Jeff Hanneman left us a legacy that won't be equaled for a long time. Thanks to the promoters at FFF, we were able to experience Jeff Hanneman's legacy one more time. The future is promising with a lineup consisting of Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, but don't expect future songs to make as big of an impact as Hanneman's glorious catalog.
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