Universal Amphitheater 12/6/01
Review by Tom Spanks.
w/ American Head
Charge and Chimaira
I’ve always had a soft spot for Slayer,
a now legendary band that formed in my hometown of Huntington Beach, California.
When you look at how conservative this corner of the country is, you can
understand how metal and thrash can hit a chord with disenfranchised youth
rebelling against the social structure that engulfs their whole existence.
Set against the backdrop of strip malls and stucko houses, Orange County
is the quintessence of American middle class suburbia. That’s why
Orange County has sprouted more than it’s fair share of punk and metal
bands, it’s a natural reaction to the middle class conservative mindset
of the community that is now being lampooned in the movie “Orange County”.
This show was a bit of a homecoming for
Slayer, Universal Amphitheater is just a scant thirty or so miles North
from the beach town that spawned this metal juggernaut.
I arrived at Universal pumped; this was
the first time in almost a decade that I’d seen Slayer headline. I managed
to wrangle my tickets out of will call after much checking of lists and
denials that I indeed had two tickets waiting for me. The bad news is Gina,
my willing photographic sidekick was denied the photo pass that was promised
her. Alas I’ll have to paint you a picture with words since Gina wasn’t
able to bring home the goods.
When we got to our seats Chimaira was well
into their set. To be perfectly honest, I hated their Roadrunner Record
debut, “Pass Out of Existence” as these guys had nothing really new to
say or play plus nu-metal isn’t my thing. So I watched them prance about
the stage in that mindset and they didn’t change my mind in the least.
I’m not bashing these guys outright, if you like nu-metal these guys are
pretty cool, but I came for the bone crushing thrash of AHC and Slayer
so these guys seemed a bit like armature hour compared with what was to
follow. I will give them props from a good performance, it’s just the music
doesn’t trip my trigger.
I’d hate to be the person that has the
impossible job of putting together Slayer’s tours. Who in the hell can
you get to open up for Slayer that won’t bore the s*** out of the audiences?
Who ever decided on American Head Charge for this tour needs to be commended.
I can’t think of another relatively new metal band that meet the challenge
of opening up for legends like Slayer. The first time I saw AHC was at
Ozzfest. I’d never heard of them before that and I was expecting yet another
nu-metal, rap-core formula band but was blown away once they launched into
their first song. Then when the shot gun came out I knew these guys were
nuts. I loved every minute of it. Here is power-metal from a new band,
it can’t be? I thought all new metal bands were knock offs of Slipknot
or Korn, not these dudes they have more in common with Slayer and Pantera
than the likes of Drowning Pool or Adema.
Their live show is insane, they take total
command of the stage and you never know what to expect; be it burning flags,
shooting shotguns into the air above crowd or one of the members playing
the entire show in the nude. They didn’t go that far this night but they
were on fire the entire 45 minutes of their set. After you see AHC live
you understand why some people call them the angriest band in the world!
They ripped through most of the songs on their CD “War or Art” like a wrecking
ball, assaulting the audience with their pumped up, ferocious brand of
Martin Cook’s violent vocal screams entranced
the Slayer faithful as he belted out new classics like “Seamless” and “Never
Get Caught”. Wayne Kile and David Rogers provided one of the most potent
duel guitar assaults I’ve heard in ages. Their furious chops gave the audience
pause as drummer Christopher Emery brutally attacked his drum kit pounding
out the song’s driving rhythms as Chad Hanks couldn’t keep still, hammering
away at his bass as he bounded across the stage like a wild animal on the
prowl. By the time they closed their set with “Violent Reaction,” the hardcore
Slayer fans were entrenched and ready for more. I didn’t think any band
could hold their own opening for Slayer but you know what, American Head
Charge did just that, whipping the audience up into a frenzy for the bloodbath
that would follow. Screw the imitators, American Head Charge is 100 % pure
metal and should reach headlining status soon. If you get the chance to
see these guys live, don’t hesitate a moment, you’ll be blown away. Until
then you can blow your speakers out with their balls to the wall debut
“War of Art”.
I don’t think the folks at the Universal
Amphitheater were ready for what was to come next. American Head Charge
took us to the brink and Slayer pushed us right over the edge. Tom Araya
stood there bigger than life on a stage with visions of the inside of a
gothic church towering over him, conducting this satanic ritual of bloodthirsty
HEAVY, HEAVY metal. Sure there are metal bands that sell more records and
concert tickets than Slayer, but that doesn’t matter, Slayer are the undisputed
kings of REAL metal! Leave that weak stuff for the kids at the mall.
They rampaged through their set, giving
the fans what they paid for, loud overpowering music and a bad case of
whiplash. No part of Slayer history was overlooked, the songs ranged from
20 year-old classics to the mind bashing power of their new album, “God
Hates Us All”. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman roared riff through riff and
Paul Bostoph bashed out the insane rhythms on songs like “Raining Blood”,
“New Faith”, “War Ensemble”, “Hell Awaits”, “Seasons in the Abyss”,
and “Die By The Sword”.
Drenched with sweat they powered on, commanding
the crowd to obey the metal. When they launched into “South of Heaven”
the insane energy in the hall erupted to the breaking point. Slayer could
do no wrong, 20 years later and they are still kicking ass and offering
no apologies. A Slayer concert is so much more than a show, it’s more than
an event, it’s like a anti-religious experience you can’t help but get
caught up in, they take you up so high it’s always a let down when the
show is over, even though you are exhausted, dripping with sweat and you
know you’ll be feeling the effects, with ears ringing and a sore neck from
head banging, for weeks to come, but it’s worth every gut wrenching minute.
No one else comes close, Slayer are the KINGS of Metal!
Tom Spanks is a feature writer
for the iconoFAN Network.
American Head Charge's Official Website to get the lowdown on the band,
find out when you can see them and to check out their insane debute CD
"War of Art"
to sound samples and Purchase "War of Art" online
out Slayer's Official Website for all things Slayer!
to sound samples and Purchase "God Hates US All" online