In Concert: Slayer at The Molson Amphitheatre

The Canadian Carnage Tour slammed into Toronto the other night thoroughly delighting the small but strong crowd at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Three of the bands, Testament, Megadeth and Slayer, I had my sights set on a photo/review pass but oddly was only granted one from the only band I was REALLY bent on seeing: the mighty Slayer. Were they the only band with balls big enough to subject themselves the media’s critical eye?

Didn’t matter to me. Slayer has been one of those bands that I’ve never seen and has risen to the top of my bucket list over the past few months with the hype of “The Big Four” movie that’s been showing at selected theatres.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Out of the 17 songs they jammed into their setlist, there were only 4 that I wasn’t very familiar with. I’ve been a Slayer fan since way back in 87’ when I really gave em a listen. I was handed a tape and told that “this, is the best metal album of all time”…

Well those words hung heavily in my head and I still have to agree that to this day, “Reign In Blood” is definitely in the top 3 contenders for best metal album of all time. Of course that’s just MY personal opinion, but what do I know?

After the release of 1988’s “South of Heaven”, Slayer solidified themselves as serious musicians, writers and performers with an effort that I still love to spin whenever I get the chance. I say, “whenever I get the chance” because lets face it, most kids don’t like the real heavy stuff so I’m shit outta luck if I wanna spin Slayer with my youngest son or daughter hanging around. My wife, the country fan, can’t stand anything heavier than Kid Rock, and most of my friends have deemed themselves “too old” to listen to the likes of Slayer. So basically that leaves me alone in my dungeon cranking Slayer in secluded privacy.

1990’s “Seasons In The Abyss” was the last Slayer album I immersed myself into and to my surprise, the guys recreated the whole album live for us during this tour. I was completely and thoroughly amazed at the dead on musicianship of these 4 original Slayer members as they revived the oldies as if they wrote em yesterday.

Tom Araya, grinning ear to ear, was more than happy to mow down everyone with his bass machine gun fulla metal while flanked by two of the most recognizable guitarists in the metal world, Jeff Hanneman and the iconic Kerry King. Dave Lombardo, the original master of metal double bass was in top form, holding it all together on the skins. I expected multiple mistakes from Lombardo just because of how hard some of this stuff is to play but other than some buggered up drum miking which cut out half the drums during one of the tunes.. I’m sure hardly anyone really noticed if they didn’t have “Seasons In The Abyss” pressure baked into their brains.

So glad that I finally got to see these kings of metal. All the things I’ve heard about them were true. Yes, seeing Slayer was like visiting hell for an hour and a half. Yes, Slayer is a very tight band playing some of the heaviest music ever created. Yes, Kerry King ripped my intestines out with his shredding leads. Yes, Jeff Hanneman is just as good as Kerry King but he only pulled my spine out of my body with his leads. And yes… Dave Lombardo is still one of the greatest drummers you’re ever going to witness live.

Normally I recommend bands to people left right and centre but I won’t recommend Slayer to just anybody. They will annihilate the faint of heart. They will, as I mentioned, pull your spine and your intestines out of your body and laugh while you writhe in pain. They will make your ears bleed while telling you things your priest/minister warned you about. And they’ll make your head bang like it’s never banged before.

And when you’ve had your fill, and they’ve had theirs, they’ll pack up their shit, move on to the next town and slaughter the next batch of willing followers.