Slayer@La Zona Rosa

Phases and Stages
Photo By John Anderson

Slayer@La Zona Rosa

February 4 It wasn't even cold outside. Given the fire and brimstone engulfing the sold-out mob inside La Zona Rosa during the first show of a two-night stand, a teeth-rattling thunderstorm would have been more fitting than a damp Austin night. It should have been "Raining Blood." Not that that "which we all share" didn't start racing the moment bassist/singer Tom Araya yelled "God Hates Us All" during opener "Disciple," from Slayer's Grammy-nominated God Hates Us All. "Howya guys doing?" came Araya's hoarse welcome afterward. "Thank you all for coming tonight. I hope you enjoy yourselves." Despite the invitation, a tea party did not ensue. Instead, up went the red strobe lights and original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo -- subbing for his injured and departing replacement of almost a decade, Paul Bostaph -- gunning his kick drums like a Harley had touched down on them. Set list staple "War Ensemble" tapped into early-show choreography as Araya's mane whipped in unison with guitarist Jeff Hanneman's stringy blond hair. Kerry King's shaved, tattooed skull bobbed in follicle absentia. Reign in Blood's "Postmortem" and Show No Mercy's "Die by the Sword" found limp behemoths being pulled from the stage-front sea of testosterone and carried outside, while spontaneous circles of air-guitaring headbangers did their ritualistic dances inside. Sped up or dirge slow, the quartet's dual-guitar mayhem kept its firestorm of sound spewing fist-waving aggression, which after 20 years has achieved institutional status. What began in L.A. circa 1982 as a cheesy, haunted-house version of Satanic worship today has no need for the pussy metal pyrotechnics of Rob Zombie, make-up and masks of Slipknot, or blow-up dolls of Ozzfest. Slayer's streamlined approach is as primal as a crime of passion, devastating in its naked simplicity. New fare like "Bloodline" were perfectly at peace next to mausoleum favorites like "Hallowed Point." Toward the finish of a 75-minute main set, Araya paused to brush the hair away from his Mexican calendar face. "You guys follow politics?" he queried with a grin. He might as well have asked for a show of hands on who had a Pet Shop Boys disc in their truck. "You should, there's a Texan in the White House." Who said, according to Araya, God Hates Us All's "Payback," and LZR's thundering throng, "payback's a bitch motherfucker!" So's "Mandatory Suicide" and encores "Seasons in the Abyss" and "Angel of Death." Payback's due Slayer, yes. At least scary weather for their gigs.

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