It’s amazing how much has changed in the Slayer camp since this show was announced. Back in March, we were all happy and safe knowing Tom Araya, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo were all happy and.., well happy as in Jeff was in his second year of absenteeism from the band and Dave had just sat out an Australian tour due to a financial dispute with Tom and Kerry. But, when you read Wikipedia, all four members were listed as ‘Current Line-up’. Since March, it all seemed to go a little pear-shaped.
First we had the news that Jeff Hanneman, the legend behind some of Slayer’s best known and beloved songs, had passed away unexpectedly. Jeff’s death sent shockwaves around the metal world with fans and musicians alike expressing their shock and sadness. To make things worse, the Westboro Bastard Church wasted no time sending out their hate literature. Fred Phelps (future favourite dildo in the Devil’s collection) and his hatemongers even made the laughable suggestion that they would picket his memorial. A massacre that was thankfully (er…thankfully?) avoided when they failed to show for the late May service at the Hollywood Palladium. Then things got a little more depressing.
Dave Lombardo (founding member and drumming machine) was unceremoniously kicked out, with the announcement that former Slayer sticks man, Paul Bostaph, would re-joining the band permanently. Things didn’t look the healthiest in the Slayer camp. Death, disagreements and half the line-up – not exactly a recipe for success….unless you’re SLAYER!
For tonight’s long awaited return to Dublin, Slayer have not arranged support (or even a decent few tunes for the PA while we wait – unless you like awful f**king elevator reggae or whatever the hell that is), but then again – SLAYER need no support. With the band running more than 30 minutes late, you’d expect things to start getting a little tense but everyone tonight is happy to wait. With the air thick with chants of SLAYER, SLAYER - the lights go off and the band are on. Gary, Tom, Paul and Kerry take position and launch into ‘World Painted Blood’. Tom’s smile beams across the room as he takes in the packed venue, even taking the time to remark on the intimacy of the show as the band stampede (I love using that word) through an incredible set packed with favourites, new and old. ‘Hallowed Point’, ‘WAR ENSEMBLE’ and ‘Hate Worldwide’ carry on the thrashing, fuelling a pit that threatens to encompass the whole standing area.
The band look and sound great with Gary and Paul doing their parts to perfection. Tom speaks to the crowd on a few occasions but nothing is really said about Jeff’s passing. Instead, the band are here to show SLAYER is alive and well and they are tearing the Academy a new one tonight. ‘Stain of Mind’, ‘Disciple’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, and ‘Chemical Warfare’ – one after another the songs just keep pounding out, hitting the crowd like bricks. Although the sound could be described as quiet for a Slayer gig, the bands ferocious presence still dominates the stage …and the beating continues. ‘Seasons in The Abyss’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, ‘ANTICHRIST’ are all on show – delivered with more intensity and presence than the band’s last trek to Dublin in 2006. ‘Hell Awaits’ and ‘Raining Blood’ bring a tremendous set to its close, the massive pit to its peak and the crowd’s fears for Slayer’s future – to bed!
As the band break, the giant Slayer banner which was displayed all night disappears and a giant HANNEMAN banner in Heineken style lettering appears. In tribute to Jeff, the band return for an encore of ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Angel of Death’, two of Hanneman’s best known pieces before calling it a night. With a smile, Tom thanks the crowd and says he’ll see us tomorrow. Damn right Tom, see you then and thank you sir!