Loaded with a pair of shredding guitars, a bass guitar and a remarkably expensive drum set, the American thrash metal legends from Huntington Park, Slayer, brought their pioneering brand of thrash metal to the masses during their insane live performance at the Orpheum Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, a show that took place in the past Wednesday, March 9th, 2016.
Just before 9:30, the Orpheum Theater lights dimmed and a great white sheet covering the whole stage lit up. By turn, various Slayer logo font were projected on the sheet, including upside-down crosses, pentagrams, and finally the band‘s name in their signature typeface, which brought their legion of fans to the utmost ecstasy.
Then, at the peak of excitement, the sheet dropped to reveal Slayer, who promptly launched into ‘Repentless’ from their 2015 album of the same name, album which has been in stores since September 11th, 2015 through Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
- Delusions of Saviour
- Take Control
- Cast the First Stone
- When the Stillness Comes
- Chasing Death
- Piano Wire
- Atrocity Vendor
- You Against You
- Pride in Prejudice
All young California teenagers they were when they founded the band some 35 years ago, the musicians of which only two of the original line-up remain but all legendary thrash musicians (Gary Holt, founder Exodus is their live replacement for Jeff Hanneman), they bestowed their age on stage with a total discharge of adrenaline. Fortunately, their elder and the tired physical aspect was entirely in appearance and not in performance.
Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya now rocks a gruff, (mostly) salt and pepper beard, but neither he nor any of the other musicians showed signs of fatigue that may be expected considering all of the musicians that compose Slayer nowadays, are older than fifty years.
Slayer, alternatively, showed great stamina. The power was increased by head-bobbing to the breakneck tempo, moving around the stage, Tom Araya’s primal screams and drummer Paul Bostaph producing an impressive barrage of feel-it-in-your-chest percussion — all in time with one another.
The crowd, who tended towards the older biker-gang and Brat Fest end of the spectrum, mirrored the band and showed vital energy and strength. From breaking out into a mosh pit to yelling along with the songs, it was clear this show meant a lot to many people.
One of the most notable aspects of the show was about an hour and a half after beginning when the band played one of their most popular songs, ‘Angel of Death’ from their seminal 1986 album ‘Reign in Blood’ and exited the stage to rapturous applause.
In all likelihood, people left the show satisfied. Slayer hit on a vast array of the albums they have released such as their most recent release, ‘Repentless’ to their first release, ‘Show No Mercy’.
Also of note, was the band‘s impressive visual backdrop. What was initially an esoteric and iconographic backdrop which featured vague religious themes dropped away in stages to reveal Slayer logos, including their controversial eagle logo which closely resembles the Parteiadler Nazi symbol.
Despite the intense and satisfying visuals and music though, there is still a part of Slayer‘s performance that feels contrived. This may be more of a critique of the genre as a whole, but there is an element of the performance that does not seem wholly authentic.
A brief sample of something that produced this feeling was when Tom Araya introduced a song by saying, “This song is called…” and then changed his voice to be tougher and “metal,” “…’Chemical Warfare.’” This type of performative affection is likely engaging to fans, but also might not sit right with a general attendee.
All in all though, Slayer put on a great show by sticking to what they do best and flexing their musical muscle. Something about the angry, primal vocals paired with the thunderous percussion and wailing, chugging guitars produces something undeniably satisfying. This is an effect replicated by many current metal bands, but luckily for the Madison audience, they had the chance to see one of the pioneers Wednesday night.