November 13, 2013
The Palladium Ballroom
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Damian J. Cousins
Photos by Paul Wilkins
The Loudest Band On The Road Lands In Big 'D'
Last night, Slayer came to Dallas. Last night Slayer rocked Dallas. Last night, Slayer OWNED Dallas! South Side Ballroom was filled with loud, proud and rowdy fans waiting for the Bay Area thrash-masters to deliver a sonic beat down, and the band did not disappoint. Openers 4ARM and Gojira had whipped this crowd into a frenzy with their own brands of thrash earlier in the night, but now it was time... time to worship at the Altar of Slayer.
Opening with "Hell Awaits," the boys were off and running right from the start. Slayer rarely slows it down, and when they do, the songs are no less brutal. I was curious and concerned though, since this was being billed as a total old school set, with nothing after 1990's Seasons In the Abyss record being played. I say concerned because here it is 30 years later; would singer/bassist Tom Araya be able to withstand doing 19-20 songs from the old days? Guess what? He did and then some! More than once my eyes widened during such songs as "The Antichrist," "Captor of Sin," and "At Dawn They Sleep," all culled from the band's first three releases. They were delivered with relative ease, and if it's possible, he sounds even better now.
"Mandatory Suicide" was another highlight of the evening for me and those around me. As one of my favorites off of my least favorite album, hearing it live is sometimes an unexpected treat, and last night was no exception. "War Ensemble" was shortly thereafter, arguably my all-time favorite Slayer song, and Paul Bostaph led the way playing his drums like a house on fire. Gary Holt's leads were just as incendiary, and three years into his tenure, it's almost like he's been there forever. Kerry King's bald head was steadily bobbing and banging to just about every song, and the circle pits were on in full force pretty much from start to finish.
At one point there was a triumvirate of Reign In Blood classics, "Postmortem," "Altar of Sacrifice," and "Jesus Saves" all played back-to-back-to-back. I couldn't believe it! And by the time I caught my breath from that, Tom took to the mic for the intro to my other favorite: "They say the pen is mightier than the sword... well I say FUCK the pen! 'Cause you can DIE By the Sword!" and launched into that song with a vengeance. Other greats included "Hallowed Point," "Dead Skin Mask," and of course, "Raining Blood". During those three some guy five feet away from me looked like he was going to burst from sheer excitement. Man, I love to see that at a show. Real fans who live and die for this stuff, like me.
The band closed with a pair of all-time classics "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death," but the fact that those are such killer, kick-ass songs isn't what made them special. It was the change in backdrop. With his name in the Heineken style of lettering, the guys in Slayer paid tribute to our fallen Brother in Metal, the late Jeff Hanneman, and I thought that was really classy. That's not a word people expect to hear at a thrash metal concert, I'm sure, but it's the truth. With shredding riffs, pounding drums, undisputed attitude, and a touch of class at the end, Slayer came, saw, and conquered Dallas, Texas. Fifth time seeing them, and it was hands-down the best.