Originally set to take place in November 2009, Slayer's UK tour was postponed until March this year and then May/June due to Tom Araya's urgent requirement for surgery to alleviate a back injury. Fortunately for Swedish metallers The Haunted, they managed to maintain sole support slot for all the shows and as the tour has become a reality, tonight in a sold out Rock City, they take to the stage at 7:30pm prompt. Short intro piece 'Dark Intentions' segues into 'Bury Your Dead' and, noticeably, the audience are somewhat subdued for what one would expect; it seems apparent the masses present only have ears for Slayer tonight and The Haunted would have their work cut out in winning over a crowd who are perhaps hearing their music afresh. As their set progresses with the likes of '99', 'The Flood', 'The Medication' and 'Little Cage', their up tempo, riff-led sonic assault does start to engender some movement from Slayer's minions and frontman Peter Dolving stomps around the stage with intrepid grit, trying his best to get a reaction from those who watch and listen. While some brand The Haunted with the dismissive 'metalcore' tag, I would argue their compositional style is more aligned with that of progressive thrash, an extension of the musical path pursued in At The Gates by the Björler brothers, and an apt choice of opening band for Slayer. It's evident, however, that many in Rock City this evening think the contrary as they stand with arms folded and just motionlessly observe the Swedes in action, except for a small pit that breaks out in the middle of the crowd and a handful of front-row punters who pump their fists in the air. None of this deters the band though as they still let rip with an energetic performance to match the up tempo impetus inherent in their music. Impressive stuff.
Monday 31st May 2010
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
I seem to recall that when Slayer were last on these shores for a headline tour a couple of years back it was for a string of arena shows. It is, therefore, surprising to see them perform in the likes of Rock City with a capacity of around 1,900. It is no surprise, however, that tonight has been sold out for some time, particularly with the two postponements rendering this UK tour taking place six months after it was originally scheduled. As roadies prep the stage for the thrash titans those who eagerly wait in a rammed, hot and sweaty venue sporadically burst into chants of "Slayer...Slayer...Slayer" in anticipation of their arrival. When the lights dim, the chants transform into deafening cheers as an extended version of the intro from the band's new album's title track, 'World Painted Blood', plays through the PA. Then Tom Araya, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo walk out to even more boisterous roars and King plays the opening palm-muted riff of the track before his three band mates join the full-on sonic attack on the audience's ears. The audience discernibly burst with excitement as crowd surfers are incessantly pulled out by security into the photopit. And the sound through the PA is refreshingly resonant and crisp - all instruments/vocals have perfect clarity; last year's no expense spared revamp of the venue's sound and lighting infrastructure has certainly become more and more noticeable at gigs here in recent months. Well, lighting-wise Slayer have opted to bring much of their own too with a series of moving heads placed strategically around the stage, atmospherically illuminating band members through the smoke machine's constant expulsions. Araya, who is on doctors orders not to headbang, is perhaps the most subdued onstage, although Hanneman and King, stage left and stage right respectively, do bang their heads to the up tempo beat of each track played, and Lombardo remains animated behind his kit throughout with his virtuoso drumming. Their chosen setlist is obviously out to please the diehard Slayer afficionado with tracks from the latest album kept to a minimum (only 'Hate Worldwide and 'Beauty Through Order' are aired in addition to the aforementioned title track) in favour of a string of classic numbers such as 'Seasons in the Abyss', 'War Ensemble', 'Hell Awaits', 'Mandatory Suicide', 'Chemical Warfare', 'Raining Blood', 'Aggressive Perfector', and 'South of Heaven'. The 1,900 fans in attendance lap up every bar of music with the expected pit mayhem, which peaks and emphatically erupts during final encore song 'Angel of Death'. I can reassuringly report that, in 2010, Slayer remain a monstrous live act. Thank fuck. And after tonight's masterful show in Nottingham I'm sure that few present would disagree. Classic songs, flawlessly performed, by metal legends. What else needs to be said? Awesome.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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