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Concert Reviews:
Slayer reigns in thrashy glory at The Fillmore

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2014

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DETROIT -- "You (expletives) are crazy!" Slayer singer-bassist Tom Araya -- looking like a heavy metal Papa Smurf with his long gray beard -- told the crowd just 20 minutes into Slayer's show on Friday night at the Fillmore Detroit.

He wasn't kidding. Slayer's Fillmore faithful, already torqued from opening sets by Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus, was a writhing, moshing mass from the second Slayer kicked into "World Painted Blood" and didn't stopped throughout the 21-song, 100-minute show -- with a never-ending stream of crowd surfers hurtling over the stagefront barricade, mini mosh pits breaking out in the mezzanine and the balcony shaking during "Raining Blood."

It was a full-throttle party, Slayer style, and it was certainly a celebration with cause.

The current Slayer lineup has been together for a couple of years, at this point, since drummer Paul Bostaph replaced Dave Lombardo in 2013, and on Friday seemed clearly more comfortable and cohesive than ever. The group is no laboring under the specter of an ailing Jeff Hanneman, who passed away in 2013, making Exodus' Gary Holt an established full-time member rather than a fill-in (since 2011), and he and Kerry King have become a fearsome guitar tandem, playing in brutal rhythmic lockstep and trading off fiery solos.

The net result was a Slayer as powerful, and arguably more powerful, than ever -- which bodes well for the new album the group plans to release in 2015.

The old material reigned on Friday, however -- and no one at the Fillmore complained. Delivered in front of a changing set of scrims and beneath four inverted crosses, the setlist offered a generous troll through Slayer's 10 album catalog, drawing particularly from the iconic "Reign in Blood" and from the group's last studio set, 2009's "World Painted Blood." The thrash metal tag doesn't always give Slayer credit for the intricate dynamics it displayed in songs such as "Die By the Sword," "Hell Awaits" and "Seasons in the Abyss," while "Spill the Blood" and "Mandatory Suicide" mind the doomy tenor of vintage Black Sabbath. "Postmortem," "Alter of Sacrifice," "Jesus Saves" and Disciple," meanwhile, came at a breakneck, breathless pace, belying the fact Araya and King are now in their 50s.

Hanneman was remembered with a final scrim during the closing "Angel of Death," pronouncing that he's Still Reigning. So is Slayer, though, and Friday's show gave every indication its reign is in no danger of ending any time soon.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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