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Concert Reviews:
Slayer offers hell, not paradise at DTE season opener

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2019

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The DTE Energy Music Theatre traded paradise for hell for its 2019 season opener.

Rather than Eddie Money offering up "Two Tickets to Paradise," the outdoor venue kicked off the summer on Sunday, May 19, with thrash metal icons Slayer, whose pulverizing 90-minute performance announced that hell awaits -- amidst some hellacious, stormy weather that preceded the four-band bill and gave the DTE lawn a muddy baptism. But a large crowd and a night of top-shelf metal was a winning ticket for 10,000 or so headbangers who decided to skip the "Game of Thrones" finale in order to pay what may be a final homage to the pioneering quartet.

Sunday was Slayer's second stop in the metro area during what's billed as its Final World Tour, ending a 38-year career after the 2013 death of co-founder Jeff Hanneman and spinal issues that have rendered singer-bassist Tom Arya literally unable to headbang himself. But there was no room for sentiment in Slayer's fusillade; Rather, the group -- following support performances by Lamb of God, Amon Amarth and Cannibal Corpse -- tore through its 20-song, career-spanning set with its usual breathless, Blitzkrieg precision, stopping only a couple of times for Araya to bask in the applause and introduce songs.

As befit the occasion, Slayer surveyed the best, and best-known, of its dozen albums, putting an emphasis (five songs) on 1990's seminal "Seasons in the Abyss" as sheets and jets of fire blazed from all directions at the back of the stage and guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt (sporting a Kill the Kardashians T-shirt) traded solos. Araya was in particularly strong voice on Sunday, and the setlist balance served the show well, from the high-test opening of "Relentless" through the prototypical thrash of "Postmodern" and the leaden, doomy stomp of "Gemini" and "Mandatory Suicide."

If this does prove to be the last time area audiences get to hear favorites such as "Raining Blood," "Hate Worldwide," "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death," Slayer dug in for meaty, definitive performances. That the group didn't pause for reminiscing or tearful farewells was neither surprising nor necessary (though Arya should have shouted out the other bands at some point); Slayer simply did what it's always done best, which is the kind of lasting memory any fan would really want.

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