The world of Metal is right with itself when it finds the mighty Slayer headlining a concert at a sold out venue in New York, well at least in my opinion it does. I come to this conclusion because not only are they performing for the hard core devoted but also with drummer Dave Lombardo back and officially a member of the band once again. He had toured with them when it was needed and remained to record their new album until he finally decided to become part of the roster once again. Like I said, all is right in the Metal world. The setting this time around would be interesting for as every Metal fan knows, the Slayer guys have been a consistent touring force over the past few years. Whether it is Jaegermeister Music Tours or Unholy Alliances, we would continue to find out why they dominated the growing Thrash Metal scene back in the day and still can hold true to the genre without any symphonic, acoustic or solo albums being recorded. As far as their shows goes there are very few Metal heads that will disagree with you when you say that there is no better show to attend that can just allow you the opportunity to release all your stresses and tensions on the floor of the crushing mosh pit. This was the feeling I had as I ventured to New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom to see the mighty ones rip through a set of their classics along with some tracks from their newest release “Christ Illusion”. The performance would find the guys supported by Metal Blade’s Unearth, and this Metalcore group showed that they were capable of handling such a slot with the required intensity needed to be successful. I had to admit that it was different to see only one opener for this tour but in a sense that left the fans the quick chance to see what Slayer would do as opposed to waiting. The last time they performed was during The Unholy Alliance tour, and the mammoth event had Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Mastodon and Thine Eyes Bleed in support. Unearth was a band that showed they stand well on a bill like this, and while I had only seen them a couple of times in the past I was really enjoying the set as they knocked out the audience by featuring music from across their releases and their newest one “III: In The Eyes Of Fire”. The fans were definitely listening to what lead singer Trevor Phipps had to say and all in attendance found him to be a very commanding presence up there. One would think that this is not an easy impression to give when Slayer is the band you do this before. Their set was a solid one and I was impressed – among the highlights would be “Sanctity Of Brothers” and “Black Hearts Now Reign”. This band possesses some Metalcore qualities but really handle it well as a straight-forward Metal band. I recommend that fans check them out if they are offered the opportunity to do so.
Soon the venue would darken for the arrival of Slayer and the waves of energy from this audience could be felt in every corner of the room with no safe haven to be found especially for those on the general admission floor. It’s an intensity that is really better felt than it is described and let me just say that if you are a fan who prefers to rally from the sidelines that you sure don’t want to be in the front, or near the swelling pit that pretty much runs during the course of the show. Suddenly like an assault attack Slayer was onstage once more and doing what they have done best for over twenty years. I’m your typical “Old School” Metal fan and I am still a little amazed at how long the band has been able to do this successfully in a market where they would prefer you forget this music is as powerful as it ends up being. The thing that also remains about Slayer is that you either like them or hate them even to this day and if you hate them for any reason you just don’t get it and should look for lighter, more Emo-laden fair. Singer/bassist Tom Araya growled through their classics such as “Captor Of Sin” and “Die By The Sword” and tempered these numbers with their newest epics like “Cult” and “Eyes Of The Insane”. The singer wore a full beard this time around and the new look for him added a little more of a sinister feel to the night. The bodies were surfing and slamming about tonight as well, and while I considered myself fortunate to be able to take some photos tonight, I also wandered a little too close to the pit on the way out. There was a lull in the music as Araya spoke, and thinking this the perfect chance to get back to my “safe” spot - I realized I was instead in the eye of the hurricane. I remember very clearly turning to another photographer I know and saying “we gotta move now!”. That was a close one.
The fans are true to the end and when you look at a Slayer crowd you see that it is a base that makes no compromise in their level of support. The moshing and circle pits demonstrated this very clearly to anyone who was witnessing it. Tonight, Araya would rarely speak outside of telling fans thanks for the support, or this number is called and etc. Guitarists King and Hanneman never say anything, and Lombardo does all of his speaking from the massive drum kit that he would assault with ease. The set included quite a bit of everything and with the new album under their belt, it would be a little different from the last couple of tours where it remained largely the same. I don’t think anyone left wanting from this one.
Of course before I close out on this I need to make mention of the little bit of historical fact that transpired for the legendary thrashers just days before this performance. On Sunday, February 11th, the 49th Annual Grammy Awards were held and Slayer was awarded The Grammy for “Best Metal Performance” for the track “Eyes Of The Insane”. The song comes from their latest effort “Christ Illusion” and sadly the presentation was not a part of the aired broadcast. I guess Middle America is still not ready to see the actual handing of such an award to a band like Slayer. They were up against some good Metal company with Lamb Of God, Mastodon, Ministry and Stone Sour also in the category. This list strikes me as more even than when Jethro Tull won over Metallica in another Metal category. This is Slayers second time at nomination, as the track “Disciple” from “God Hates Us All” was on the list in 2002. I am sure that this achievement will not change them as Slayer has rarely let anyone or anything influence the way that they do things. The appeal of Slayer melted the absolute subzero cold outside for most fans and brought the rallying armies in no matter what. I should know, as I had a fever of 102 that night and still raised the horns up high.
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Official Web Site: www.slayer.net
Official Web Site: www.unearth.tv
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