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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Slayer

Live at Ozzfest, 2004, Alpine Valley, WI

Review by Mike Korn

Slayer have made the transition from the screaming young hellions of the metal scene to venerable greybeards. Plying their trade for over 20 years, they are not really all that far removed from Judas Priest and Black Sabbath in the eyes of young fans.
They were certainly one of the most anticipated bands to play at Ozzfest this year. I wasn't even out of my car before the usual bellowings of "Slayerrrr!" cut through the country air. The band's fans are absolute
fanatics, but their performance this year left just a little to be desired, in my view.

They cannot be faulted musically. They are as tight as ever and there's no doubt whatsoever that the return of drum-meister Dave Lombardo has elevated their game. Dave was great, executing high speed drum rolls and fills that other Ozzfest bands could not hope to duplicate. The guitar sound was good and crisp and even Tom Araya, whose vocals have been somewhat suspect in the past, came across well.


Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
What hurt the band was their song selection. No "Angel of Death"? It's true the song is about as surprising as Metallica playing "Enter Sandman", but it may still be the single greatest thrash song ever. It means just as much to Slayer fans as "Paranoid" means to Sabbath's legions. It certainly belonged a lot more than lame newer material like "Stain of Mind" and the awful "Bloodline".

Working with a brief set time made the inclusion of the aforementioned tracks even more mysterious. This was a set where all filler had to be trimmed. "War Ensemble" was a thrashing, murderous highlight, definitely
taking the spot that "Angel of Death" usually would. "Hallowed Point" was a good inclusion and "Mandatory Suicide"...dedicated to all troops who "made the ultimate sacrifice"...got the crowd on the hill moshing. But there was a patch of slow songs in the middle that kind of killed the momentum which didn't recover until the final punishing blast of "Raining Blood"...a song guaranteed to make you wanna kill someone.

As a longtime Slayer fan, I would have liked to seen "Chemical Warfare", "Black Magic" or the seminal "Hell Awaits" included. But you can't have it all. The band still hammered down a fine set of thrash metal. After seeing their killer performance on 2003's Jagermeister Tour, where they played "Reign in Blood" in its entirety, I can't help but see this Ozzfest set as not quite measuring up. It was a good thrashing time, but not overwhelmingly intense as it has been in the past.


Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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