red lights

Still Angry After All These Years

Aragon Ballroom
Chicago, IL
Nov. 21, 2001

Review by J.M. Lohrius IV
Photos by Barry Brecheisen

New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Kyle Turley recently attacked a defensive back on the New York Jets during a game. The long-haired, tattoo-covered behemoth tore the helmet off of his opponent and hurled it into the center of the field in a fit of rage. It was later reported that Kyle Turley listens to a customized-medley of Slayer tracks before every game. Those of us who were amidst the capacity crowd at the Aragon Ballroom on Wednesday night can hardly be shocked by Turley's behavior. The only surprise, maybe, was that the defensive back's head was not still in the helmet as it soared through the air and bounced across the field.
Slayer Slayer, the proverbial god-(and I use the term loosely)- fathers of death metal, came to the Windy City this week and proved that getting old is for sissies. Hatched in the early 80's from the same nest as bands like Metallica, Exodus and Anthrax, Slayer has stayed the thrash metal course through the years, watching many of its old cohorts either move to mainstream or buy the farm. Critics and fans largely agree that their latest release, the controversial God Hates Us All, only reaffirms Slayer's commitment to all things fast, angry and loud. But to truly relish this Southern California outfit in all its diabolical and unrelenting glory, live Slayer is a must.
Driven by Paul Bostaph's machine gun double bass drum, Slayer opened the show with the vitriolic "Disciple," the second track off their latest release. As guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman ripped through the song with precise and furious aggression, and singer/bassist Tom Araya bellowed "God hates us all," it was clear that Slayer is still the only band who can show us what music sounds like in Hell. Since moshing and slamdancing is strictly forbidden at the Aragon, the packed crowd thrashed in an eerie, violent circle in front of the stage, jumping and tossing elbows with every possible pound of the drum. The set included a mix of new tracks from the "God Hates Us All" album and its predecessor, "Diabolus en Musica," but when it came down to brass tacks, Slayer played all the cacophonic classics everyone wanted to hear, including "Die By The Sword," "Angel of Death," "Hell Awaits," "War Ensemble," and "Raining Blood." And after Slayer walked from the stage, and the hordes of sweaty, tattoo-laden, metal heads limped from the Aragon Ballroom, nursing their bruises and broken teeth, it felt as if the Devil himself had appeared for 90 minutes to grant us our every wicked and hedonistic wish, then dropped us in a gutter, cold and exhausted, with only an aching reminder in our bones of his visit.
How is it possible, you ask, that Slayer is still packing houses in the twenty-first century, while many of their black metal brethren from the 80's have fizzled away like witches burnt at the stake? It's because Slayer hits a deep nerve in all of us. They've nailed down a formula that every band from Linkin Park to Napalm Death has tried to unravel. Slayer finds a way inside its listeners during live shows, like a shot of poisoned adrenaline. In the same way that only Bob Dylan can make you think, or only Prince can make you want to dance, only Slayer can make you want to assault the guy standing next to you. That's why Slayer is still alive and well after all these years.
Think I'm being a little overdramatic? See Slayer next time they come to town. You won't be able to unclench your teeth until you reach the parking lot.

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