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Regardless of what I think of the actual music, I respect any
band that has “stuck to their guns” for a long time, from a
stylistic standpoint. Slayer fits the bill, because they have
retained their sound without yielding to commercial “demands.”
I’ve heard all 11 of their studio albums and in my opinion,
their legacy is the most consistently “heavy” of all the
big-name Metal bands, with the possible exception of post
“Cowboys from Hell” Pantera, during the 1990’s. To greater
or lesser degrees, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Testament
have all veered from the sound of true Thrash, throughout
their long careers. However, I should also mention that
Slayer’s “Diabolus in Musica” did incorporate elements not
found in their other albums, and I believe that it’s telling that
it’s considered to be less successful on the whole. Referencing
Judas Priest, even Kerry King said, “It’s our ‘Turbo!’”

Slayer’s 1986 third album, “Reign in Blood,” produced
by Rick Rubin, was a breakthrough for the band. It 
cracked the Billboard Magazine “Top 200.” In fact,
Kerrang! magazine referred to it as “the heaviest
album of all time,” and at a mere running time of
29 minutes, it was an effort of concentrated fury. Lars
Ulrich of Metallica called it ” . . . the greatest Thrash Metal
album ever.” Typical of Slayer, the song lyrics express themes
of warfare, necrophilia, anti-religion, Satanism, and the like.
Powered by Dave Lombardo’s amazing double-bass drumming,
bassist/vocalist Tom Araya’s shouted lyrics, and the frenzied
rhythms and solos from guitarists, Kerry King and
Jeff Hanneman, “Reign in Blood” left other bands in the dust.

Recently, I watched “Slayer: Still Reigning,” a 75-minute DVD,
released under the American Recordings label. This disc contains
a July 2004 concert of approximately 31 minutes, during which
they play the entire “Reign in Blood” album. One bonus feature
includes six other songs, such as “South of Heaven,”
“Mandatory Suicide,” and “Necrophiliac,” and has an additional
running time of about 25 minutes. Another 17-minute bonus
feature consists of interviews with the band members, and
footage of bloodied, crazed fans who were injured during
the “mosh pit” frenzy of the concert.

I thought that Kevin Shirley mixed the concert footage
sound quite well; it was certainly better than the sound of
Slayer’s 2003 “Live at the Warfield” DVD. All four band
members appeared to be functioning on all cylinders. When I
listened to this music at a healthy volume, it tended to have
a bludgeoning effect. The last song featured the added
stagecraft of fake blood raining on the entire band! All in all,
it was a great representation of Slayer, and I reveled in the
sheer power of their music making.

Having said that, I must confess that my Heavy Metal
preferences are more melodic and “hook oriented,” and
I’m not a fan of Araya’s (or anyone else’s) “shouted” style
of vocal delivery. While the guitar solo breaks by King and
Hanneman may be ultra fast, I often found them meaningless.
Nevertheless, I realize that my “criticisms” are “strengths”
for die-hard Slayer fans, and I respect the mind-set that
governs their tastes. This is a DVD of a band playing their
“extreme” music on their own terms, and I recommend this
disc to anyone who dares to watch it. Long may they reign!

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