Live Review: Slayer & Marilyn Manson (Rockstar Mayhem Festival) - San Bernardino, CA
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 09:49:33
There's genius in simplicity.
Less is often more. In Slayer's case, that's definitely true. Satan's favorite sons still don't need a lot to blow you away—just a stage and some amps. However, a giant flaming Slaytanic eagle pentagram doesn't hurt either.
It was very easy for Slayer to decimate the massive crowd of metal fans gathered in San Bernardino at the San Manuel Amphitheatre for the Rockstar Mayhem Festival. Just as the sun went down, "The Darkness of Christ" blared through the P.A. A white curtain thinly contained the chaos about to be unleashed. As the curtain fell, "Disciple" signaled the arrival of the four horsemen of the musical apocalypse. Frontman Tom Araya screamed the Christian-cringing refrain "God Hates Us All," and the crowd burst with real fury.
"War Ensemble" took fans back to the early '90s, and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman seamlessly ripped solos. The pentagram in the background spewed fire behind the flaming amps, and the vision of Hell on stage was strangely hypnotic. The one new song, "Psychopathy Red," upheld the tradition of all things Slayer. Araya laughed, "It's a song about murder and death. It pretty much indicates how the whole record will be!" No one seemed to mind, and the song exploded with double bass, dual solos and a whole lot of hate.
The fully loaded salvo of classics—"Mandatory Suicide," "Born of Fire" and "Chemical Warfare"—pulsated and pounded with pulverizing vibrancy. Slayer's songs about war, death and the devil sound just as relevant as ever. As the fires burned on the venue's lawn, Slayer fueled the madness with one fan favorite after another. Araya's sense of gallows humor is still in tact too. He referred to the band's Ed Gein hellride "Dead Skin Mask" as "A Lullaby."
Of course, "Angel of Death," "South of Heaven" and "Raining Blood" ignited the pit, but the true highlight of the set was an epic rendition of "Hell Awaits." Surrounded by flames, fog and red lights, the song plunged the crowd into the deepest and darkest depths with demonic double bass and rapid riffs. Pentagram lights oscillated on the back wall, and the devil would've been proud.
Slayer weren't the only band doing the devil's work in San Bernardino though. Marilyn Manson unloaded a set of old and new tributes to the dark one. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" and "Little Horn" were just as scorching as any of Slayer's metallic missiles, and "Four Rusted Horses" and "We're From America" proved to be somewhat pensive and punishing.
Killswitch Engage and Bullet for My Valentine rounded out the day with solid sets of modern metal.
In the end, it was all about the legends though. Slayer destroyed, and they didn't even have to try that hard.