Slayer destroys Edmonton

Slayer GigCity EdmontonSo Slayer wrecked the Shaw Conference Centre on Tuesday night.

Their relentless, unrepentant sonic assault literally blew the roof off the place, and caused a structural failure that collapsed the building into an undiscovered coal mine shaft under the river bank. Also an Indian burial ground. The seismic shock waves from Slayer’s explosive riffs also triggered an earthquake that sent bodies, boots, shirts and plastic cups filled with Coke flying through the air. God chose this moment to express His displeasure over Slayer’s sacrilegious songs and their heathen fans, and unleashed a plague of fire and toads, and the entire Shaw Conference Centre was swallowed into a flaming crack in the Earth, taking band and fans with it.

Nobody seemed to notice.

Survivors report that it was a “good gig.”

The night got off to a rousing start with the opening band Carcass, one of the best thrash metal bands ever seen in the former Shaw Conference Centre.

Most impressive was the speed and precision with which they played, more like a prog-rock band than speed metal. (RIP, Keith Emerson.) Dueling guitarists Bill Steer and Ben Ash riffed on impossibly fast double lead solos, a difficult stunt to pull off at normal rock speeds. These Brits are obviously well-versed in harmonic theory, and delved largely in the atonal world. And while drummer Daniel Wilding displayed master double-kicksmanship – on a single bass drum, no less – over top wailed the unusual throaty vocals of Jeff Walker. He falls into the Cookie Monster variety of heavy metal singer, but he used his voice like a synth where you crank up the resonance, yowling and snarling in some kind of bizarre sinister scat singing, more interesting for the amazing sounds he was making than their meaning. Their songs seem to be about meat. The entire effect was mesmerizing.

Slayer GigCity EdmontonTo the uninitiated, speed metal sounds like a lot of angry shouting backed by rapid thumping that rattles your bones and makes your ears ring. The drums: Bucketaballs! Bucketabucketabucketaballs! Meanwhile, guitars: littleitalylittleltalylittleitaly, bucketabucketa bucketabucketBALLS! For two solid hours.

Fortunately, everyone at this show was initiated. Black metal band T-shirts and punk fashion ran rampant in a male-dominated crowd somewhat younger than the one seen recently at Megadeth. The people’s devotion to Slayer was obvious, their enthusiasm a joy to behold. This is a dark band, one of the best of the dark arts. Songs deal with war, death, famine, plague, and criticisms of an allegedly unloving God who may or may not exist. Yet in exorcising these demons at a rock show, maybe both bands and fans are better off. With his wingman guitarist Kerry King riffing repentlessly, singer-bassist Tom Araya seemed to get happier as the set roared on, songs from the latest album Repentless and more that stretch back 30 years or so, a screaming angry man in song, a gracious host in talk, “Thank you. Thank you very much,” he’d say. Would it kill you give us one, “HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, EDMONTON!”

Testament, the middle act, was dependable filler. Singer Chuck Billy, a gregarious, burly, sweaty man, was very entertaining throughout his band’s joyous celebration of dark matters. What is with so much happiness witnessed at metal shows filled with such negative material? More study is needed. And would it be too much to ask that they have electronic surtitles like they do at the opera for unintelligible song lyrics at death metal shows? Somebody please make this happen.