Friday, November 14, 2003 @ 12:10 AM
Slayer Live at the Palladium i
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REVIEW BY: Michael J. Gauthier Jr.
Seeing Slayer is like putting on an old pair of jeans. You know you’re not going to get anything drastically different, but damnit if it doesn’t just feel right. They’re as reliable and solid a live act as you can find in heavy music. You know you’re gonna get the friendly stage banter from Tom Araya (in between blood-curdling screams of course), the chugging riffs and squealing leads from Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King (though I always felt they sounded like a few dozen cats being stepped on and run over), and powerhouse drumming from whoever happens to be behind the kit this time through. That was the one change though from my previous Slayer experiences – this time around the drumming would be handled by original member Dave Lombardo.
As big a fan of Paul Bostaph as I am, I always wondered what it would be like to see the guy who originally played on classics like “War Ensemble,” “Altar of Sacrifice” and “Hell Awaits.” He did not disappoint. The man is an absolute machine, and an effortless one at that. From the opening double bass notes of “Disciple” to the closing mayhem of “Raining Blood” the guy looked like he could’ve been writing a dissertation on cloning while playing – it just looks so easy for him. When you realize what he’s playing and how fast he’s playing it, it’s truly breathtaking.
And what he played was an interesting mix of new and old Slayer material, the highlight being a complete performance of the 1986 classic Reign In Blood to close the show. Bypassing most of their mid-‘90s material in favor of older rarities (only “Stain of Mind” represented their three mid-‘90s releases), Slayer allowed those who were seeing the original lineup for the first time to see what started the whole thing. Nuggets like “Fight ‘Till Death,” “Necrophiliac” and “At Dawn They Sleep” received just as favorable a response as crowd-pleasers “Mandatory Suicide,” “South of Heaven” and “Dead Skin Mask.” New songs like “God Send Death” and “Payback” seemed to lose the momentum a bit, but the setlist was setup so as people didn’t have to wait too long for a classic.
The only negative to the show was the brainiac who nailed Araya with a water bottle after the first song. Nobody would’ve blamed him for walking out right there. Instead, they launched into “War Ensemble” (possibly the best live song ever) and continued the show.
Slayer can be criticized for failing to evolve much musically over the years. After all, their really isn’t a huge sonic difference between 2001’s God Hates Us All and 1983’s Show No Mercy. However, they should be applauded for their consistently excellent live shows, and their willingness to stick to their guns and be Slayer no matter what.