Slipknot vs Slayer 2: Mandatory Maggotcide
Slipknot, Slayer, Hatebreed and Mastodon, October 10th 2004, Hammersmith Carling Apollo, London
by: Adam Lineker
There are many angles from which one can view a metal gig, but I was taken aback to find myself at the very top of the Apollo, a semi comfortable theatre with a dull red paint job. I had never quite looked down on a performance from as high as this before, and I could barely hear the music leaking out of the PA, so it was with some trepidation that I waited for Mastodon to take to the stage.

They appeared fairly early and were met with a mix of half hearted cheers and ignorant booing from the young and Slipknot friendly audience. Mastodon didn't even appear fazed by this, and after giving a brief wave they plugged in and bludgeoned the crowd into silence with a crushing opening number. By the time they segued effortlessly into "March of the Fire Ants" the crowd were warming up; by the end of the song they were cheering. Oh fickle young moshers. Being restricted to a criminally short set, Mastodon performed competently and with an enthusiasm obvious even from my lofty seat. Bassist frontman Troy Sanders proved to be the band's physical focal point, mixing charisma with vibrant shape throwing. Brann Dailor's almost freeform drumming didn't cut through as well as I'd hoped, but it was still audible enough to marvel at. In no time at all the foursome chugged out _Leviathan_ opener "Blood and Thunder" and vacated the stage, leaving the crowd evidently wanting more. As disappointed as I was to see them go so soon, I couldn't help but see it as a triumph for Mastodon, who must have made a lot of new friends on this tour.

Are Hatebreed really dull and obvious or am I missing something? I've never been so bored at a gig as I was waiting for Hatebreed to finish. Not only did they carve out a set of monodynamic, one trick material, but they went on for over twice as long as Mastodon. I couldn't get into their semi-hardcore metal groove. To me it was just boring riffs and a man in a cap shouting a lot, but rest of the crowd were really up for it, giving the band a hero's reception and interacting with the material. I can't really explain why, but as people got up and began to throw shapes, I sat down in my seat and waited for it to end. Maybe it was because Slayer were on next, or maybe it was because Hatebreed were uninteresting. This bill would have been so much better if someone had invited The Haunted along instead.

Last time I saw Slayer, they left a bad taste in my mouth with their arrogant stage conduct and complacent demeanour. I had no such complaint tonight. As the lights went down and "The Darkness of Christ" hissed from the PA, the atmosphere climbed to fever pitch and broke as three distinctive figures strode out onto the smoky stage and slammed into a crushing "Disciple". The opening couplet of this number and "War Ensemble" is a tried and tested attack, but it still took my breath away, Dave Lombardo's drumming reducing me to tears for the second time this year. The band maintained their momentum with an awesome rendition of "Mandatory Suicide" and then threw out a total curveball with the rarely played _Hell Awaits_ cut "Necrophiliac". Unfortunately the sound became rather mushy and I couldn't appreciate this as much as I'd have liked. The airing of lame ducks "Stain of Mind" and "Bloodline" momentarily took the wind out of my sails, but this was quickly restored with a gripping "Dead Skin Mask". The rest of the set saw Slayer thrash out a selection of classic cuts, and ending with a _Reign in Blood_ triple onslaught, during which they actually rained blood (red liquid?) from the roof of the stage. This was one of the finest performances I have seen from Slayer, and special mention goes to Tom Araya, who delivered the best vocal performance that I've ever heard from him; I think he even hit the falsetto shriek at the start of "Angel of Death". My faith in Slayer has been well and truly restored.

So, how were Slipknot going to follow such a life-affirming performance? I'd already given my all during Slayer, but it was nauseatingly apparent that Slipknot had the majority of support in the crowd. Unfortunately Slipknot just couldn't cut it and, despite a faithfully ecstatic response, they seemed to flounder amongst the awkwardness of their setlist and an appallingly muddy sound. The gremlins were clearly at work on this night, with one of the members losing their mask (and running off stage) and one of the band actually not being there due to illness; I'd be lying if I said that I could notice the difference. The band tried hard, and the performances of Corey, Joey and Mick were commendable, but something about the Slipknot spectacle seemed half hearted; the band were having a rough time and they knew it. The onstage chaos was definitely dumbed down, with only Sid's repeated flying head butts into The Clown worthy of mention. Worst of all, Slipknot were victims of the dreaded 'new material' problem. Of course they have to promote their current album, but missing out a plethora of fan favourites in favour of some more 'sensitive' songs was never going to be a good idea. When the roadies rolled out the timpani for a rendition of "Iowa", a punter behind me got an audible laugh, as he loudly exclaimed "Oh fuck me! It's Pink Floyd!". Prog pretensions or not, the prime cuts of Slipknot's set had the impact sucked out of them in the mix, while the quieter songs were simply uninteresting. Bereft of any vibe or soul, the Iowan nonet looked like a bunch of confused men at a Halloween party, rather than important mainstream representatives of heavy music. And I actually like Slipknot.

Tellingly, the loudest cheer of the night was reserved for Slayer, when Corey paid a fitting verbal tribute. An unsatisfying end to a concert, maybe, but I left a happy man, having witnessed Slayer stamp their undeniable authority all over heavy music once again. And the hordes of Maggots present knew it too.

(article submitted 31/10/2004)

RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2024 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.