Having been duly warned that they were in for the most brutal night of their lives the local division of the Slatanic Weirmacht marched lockstep into oblivion, (Harpo’s, located in the third ring of Hell), filing its halls to capacity, and waited most unquietly for their heroes to appear. It would be nearly two hours in the waiting for the first appearance of Satan’s earthly regents, (that would be Slayer), but there was ample entertainment to cut at the hunger pangs of Slayer’s most faithful.
Chimaira is one of nu-metals most promising young candidates but they were not at all what I thought would be an intelligent choice to open a show for Slayer. As it happened Chimaira are well liked here in Detroit and a sizable portion of the black on black dressed audience knew the tunes. Far from the Christians to the lions that I had envisioned Chimaira pulled off a brilliant but short set that ensured converts for the next trip through town, myself included, I may even buy the album!
On a more recognizable sonic plane in relation to the evening’s headliner were the new warriors of artistic virtue, American Head Charge. Currently residing in the exact same place that System Of A Down did two years ago these maniacs are looking to blow up both figuratively and literally. Their set is an exhibition in personal outrage and is as venomous as any Punk rockers you care to name but it is all done with a purposefully metal mindset. At times the audience didn’t quite know if they should run with or away from the band. Vocalist Martin Cock expends the bulk of his lung capacity growling like a wounded bear but saves just enough air to fill a few seconds of tonal sweat spot with calm but only enough to be sure and catch you off guard with a brutal refrain. Truly frightening, little of which has to do with the singers menacing appearance by the way.
There was a fair amount of sampling, processing and other technological terror being employed by AHC but here is a rare case where it is actually used to enhance a given track instead of as a crutch. If asked to give a “Hero Of The Day” award to a member or two it would be to the rhythm section of drummer Christopher Emory and bassist Chad Hanks for their ability to keep this Tank of sound both propelled and firing for a full 45 minutes. There is more power in this team than in all of Thor’s hammer so if you haven’t seen AHC or have yet to purchase their debut, The War Of Art, do so quickly before everyone else catches on.
So, we arrive at the moment of sacrifice and though months of desire and planning are about to be fulfilled there is still a bit of nervousness flowing through the audience. This uneasiness would soon be justified as the intro tape began to roll and the push to the front of the stage-managed to propel a few of the weaker bodied from the crowd like puss from an overripe zit.
God Hates Us All, the oft delayed and twice remixed latest CD from Slayer, obviously had many fans here tonight and by the time “Darkness of Christ” looped out of the speakers and Slayer hit their marks there was a noticeable contingent ready to mouth the obscene praises of “Disciple.” For those not current with the group’s latest opus Slayer followed with “War Ensemble” just to make sure all spines had a chance to twist. From here on it was full frontal lobotomy via guitar, drum and voice as the better bits of the Slayer cannon was served up slice by slice. “Stain of Mind,” “Postmortem,” Raining Blood,” “Hell Awaits,” “Die by the Sword,” “Dittohead,” “Dead skin Mask,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Chemical Warfare” and a trio of new tunes, “New Faith,” “Bloodline” and “God Send Death,” filled the blood sausage of a set that threatened to burst with every stab of a chord from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Tom Araya and Paul Bostoph, (is their a better rhythm section in metal?) managed to keep it all together until the encore but just barely.
Predictability is not necessarily a bad thing when you are talking Slayer, in fact, almost a necessity if one hopes not to be permanently damaged by a live experience and so after a brief time off stage Slayer returned for “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death.” By this point all the weak had been weeded out with the brave and strong not looking to last much longer themselves and so it was all ended.
As all exited Harpo’s, dragging themselves and their comrades, their was little talking amongst the multitude of metal warriors, just deeply chiseled grins that spread form ear to ear signaling another night of metal’s victory over the blandness of the rest of the music world.