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w/ American Head Charge and Chimaira
Universal Amphitheater 12/6/01   Review by Tom Spanks.

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 metal. 

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. 


Visit 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"

Listen to sound samples and Purchase "War of Art" online

Check out Slayer's Official Website for all things Slayer! 

Listen to sound samples and Purchase "God Hates US All" online


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