The Mighty Slayer Returns to Denver

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The Mighty Slayer Returns to Denver

Jake Tharan, Entertainment Editor

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Infernal thrash metal legends Slayer came to the Fillmore Auditorium on October 10th to do one thing – level it.

The California band has been together for 35 years but that has not softened their live approach much.  They still play their earliest songs with as much tenacity as is required to pull off some of the fastest cuts ever written in metal.  They continue to rip through songs with a hellish, concise execution – all while continuing to pull in audiences across the battered earth.

This particular audience packed the Fillmore Auditorium in Capitol Hill to witness a tour package straight out of 1987.  Fellow Cali thrashers Death Angel were the opener and New York thrash band Anthrax provided direct support to Slayer.  Needless to say; this is a massive tour comprising much lauded, superior metal acts.  Many fans (including myself) unfortunately missed Death Angel’s set on account of waiting in line to enter the venue doors.  As irksome as that was, Anthrax would provide fans with a marvelously crafted set to continue the evening.

Anthrax supplied the audience with classic tracks as well as newer ones, all garnering a positive reaction from fans.  The band tore through tight performances of classic songs like “Indians” and “Antisocial,” sending vigorous riffs throughout the venue.  Founding member Scott Ian is one of the most remarkable rhythm guitarists to ever play on a stage: his riffs are aggressive, his timing is strict and his playing is paramount to the band’s sound.  Towards the end of their set, Ian took to the microphone and asked the audience, “Do you love thrash metal!?”  As you probably guessed; his inquiry to the crowd was answered by screams, growls, sailing cups of beer and a horde of devil horns.  Yes, Mr. Ian, we do love thrash metal.

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NY thrashers Anthrax

With the chandeliers of the Fillmore lit a light purple and AC/DC blaring through the speakers, the legion of restless Slayer worshipers prepared for the show.  Fans now lined the balconies all around the venue, as if looking over the side of a cruise ship towards the sea of heathens on the floor.  Finally the music ceased to give way to the intro of Slayer’s set.  The stage was hidden by a large red curtain, which was host to images of inverted crosses and pentagrams projected upon it.  The classic Slayer logo appeared on the curtain before it dropped to reveal the band flying into the opening song.

The audience produced an encompassing roar as the altar of Slayer became visible and moshing immediately ensued.  The band opened with the title track from their new record, “Repentless,” and followed it with the classic 1984 onslaught “Chemical Warfare.” Slayer delighted the voracious fans with unholy classics and new songs, albeit the classic tracks received the best response.  Lead guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt shredded the songs to pieces throughout the entire set – trading searing, wicked solos between each other.  They employ masterfully fast picking, towering dive-bombs and expert thrash riffing.  Their indelible leads on staples like “War Ensemble,” “Postmortem” and “Seasons in the Abyss” showcase their craft.

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Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya (left) and lead guitarist Kerry King (right)

The entire band possesses a craft that has been carved through years of playing some of the most beloved songs of the heavy metal genre.  The eerie progression of “Dead Skin Mask” leapt off the stage as drummer Paul Bostaph pounded the drumheads and King replicated the instantly recognizable intro riff.  The thumping lines of vocalist/bassist Tom Araya provided the backbone for “The Antichrist” and “South of Heaven” as fans furiously opened up the pit.  The pits at Slayer shows are absolutely chaotic and injurious – exactly the way they should be.  Fan favorites like “Angel of Death,” “Black Magic” and the monolithic “Raining Blood” served as fuel for the fire.

The fire that Slayer stokes is built upon years of some of the finest music ever created.  The group still evokes a huge response from metalheads and gives a strong, dedicated performance.  Their songs have withstood time and change in the expansive metal landscape, remaining as go-to sources for true metal craftsmanship.  A love for music keeps fans coming back to Slayer shows.  As Tom Araya so eloquently put it during their set; “It’s all about the love of music.  That’s why we’re here.”

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