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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Slayer

Live In Milwaukee, 2004

Review by Mike Korn

t's been a while since I've been in the venerable Eagle's Ballroom in Milwaukee. The site of many a Metalfest for me, this is just about the right size of venue for a brutal show such as this. We experienced an excellent slate of opening bands including Lazy American Workers (fast and funny hardcore), the great Arch Enemy, and the red-hot Hatebreed, who definitely had a large and rabid following there to check them out.

Mighty Slayer closed out the show, and I was actually thinking they would fall short in matching the response garnered by Hatebreed and Arch Enemy. So naturally they go out and put on the best show I have ever seen from them, with a crowd response just as furious as it would have been in 87 or 88. I mean, this was the real deal. The velocity probably stripped the paint right off the Eagle's walls and rarely let up all night long...welcome back, Dave Lombardo! Yes, the original Slayer drummer was back behind the kit and proving that he is THE man when it comes to high-speed double bass. He hit that drum roll during "Angel of Death" with no problem whatsoever.





The sound was surprisingly excellent all night long and for the first time, the solos of both King AND Hanneman came across equally loud. The Metalfest sound in this space back in the day was always terrible.

The first track was "Disciple" from "God Hates Us All" and that led into an all-meat no filler set that leaned heavily on the classics. We didn't hear anything from "Diabolus" or "Divine Intervention", but we did hear some great old thrashers like "Die By the Sword", the incredibly complex and mayhemic "At Dawn They Sleep" and my all-time Slayer favorite, "Chemical Warfare"! Hell yeah! Oh, does that make me feel young again! Now it has to be said Tom Araya's voice is not what it once was, but so far he hasn't had an Anselmo or Ozzy type meltdown. One thing's for sure; Tom's neck must be made of rubber to headbang like this every night.


A selection of slower and more ominous cuts then appeared...stuff like "Dead Skin Mask", "Seasons in the Abyss", "South of Heaven", broken up by the occasional furious blast of a "Hell Awaits" or "Payback". Now I had heard rumors that the band was going to play the entire "Reign in Blood" opus in sequence during this tour and all praise to Satan, this is exactly what they did! This is sheer bliss for any thrash fan, to hear the genre's seminal effort performed live as it was meant to - with no mercy! "Angel of Death" is awesome, but we're all familiar with it. But how cool is it to hear the likes of "Piece by Piece", "Criminally Insane" and "Epidemic" performed flawless in front of an appreciative crowd? I KNOW how cool it was. I was there for the whole thing.

After this, the band thanked us for 20 wonderful years (has it been that long?) and left the stage. We could have gladly heard more. I would have loved "Evil Has No Boundaries" or "Ghosts of War"...but was so exhausted by this evening of high-quality thrash and hardcore metal that rest did not seem a bad option.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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