Front Row Focus | Concert Review: Slayer (July 28, 2015)

Concert Review: Slayer (July 28, 2015)

August 12, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

ARTIST:  Slayer

VENUE:  The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC

DATE:  July 28, 2015

Review By:  Hannah Bober

Photos By:  David J. Simchock

Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock "SLA-YER!  SLA-YER!  SLA-YER!"  Hands and voices raised up as the strobe lights flashed down at The Orange Peel, revealing a full house ready to hit it hard in every way.  There was no mistaking the intense energy filling the venue, in the form of hundreds of card-carrying metal fans chomping at the bit as they waited for the band to come onstage.  A group which has been touring and performing since the early 80s, Slayer has indeed racked up quite the fan base over the years.  And they were ready to rock.  They say if the music's too loud, you're too old.  I'm not sure what this makes me, but apparently Slayer is invincible.

Having long since relinquished my own facial piercings and jet-black hair dye, I was hoping that I didn't look too out of place among the mohawks, chains and tribute tattoos.  However, while ducking and dodging the mosh pit, I could see that there was definitely no dress code or age discrimination in the pit or the rest of the crowd; from the hardcore followers who have been listening to the band for decades, to the enthusiastic teenagers who barely fit into their oversized band t-shirts.  The dramatic lighting that sparked around their combat boots complemented the dark imagery of the band, like a fireworks show. It was genuinely thrilling to be a part of a crowd that was undoubtedly there to make some noise.

Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock Despite the somewhat recent change-ups in the band's line-up, current Slayer members Kerry King, Tom Araya, Paul Bosteph and Gary Holt wail as hard as the band ever did.  I was familiar with Slayer when I was younger, and probably could have easily named and recognized a few of their songs back when I could more easily name and recognize things in general.  However, I after taking a decade-or-so hiatus from them and most other things metal, I had to make a few adjustments upon my return to the scene as a spectator.  One of them was reminding myself that it is not always necessary to be able to understand the lyrics of a song in order to appreciate it as something of importance.  Once I stopped struggling to decipher what was being screamed into the mic onstage, I was able to tap into the energy surrounding me and really get into the music.

With a set list that included favorites such as "God Send Death" and "Necrophiliac," as well as newer hits like "Implode" from their latest album Repentless, this widely-adored band doesn't seem to have lost their edge.  Even after a dozen or so studio albums and various other audio and visual projects throughout their years as thrash metal icons, the group shows no signs of losing steam.  Slayer's representations of violence and rage have drawn their fair share of criticism, but what critics may overlook is the fact that their sound and imagery are parallel to the modus operandi of any artist who is able to retain popularity through multiple generations of politics and thought:  by showing up again and again with a powerful image and unapologetically controversial style, the band retains a loyal audience while gaining new followers with every classic hit.

Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock An unexpected pause in the concert caused an immediate sense of anticipation in the crowd, as they awaited the next guitar riff in the supercharged show.  However, the brief musical lapse in fact gave way for a moment of gratitude expressed by the band to the "happy little town" of Asheville, and its patrons of The Orange Peel that evening.  "You don't see places like this a lot," was the sentiment, "these places are rare."  It was a welcome and flattering offering of affection from a band whose career has allowed them to rock venues all over the world.  While the observation was of course followed by full-on electric metal noise, it did not fall upon deaf ears.  After over thirty years of firing up crowds all over the country and throughout the world, it's no wonder I found myself surrounded by inspired listeners bearing tattooed representation of the band.

I can't say that seeing Slayer in concert transformed me into a wannabe-connoisseur of metal, or even that I have a desire to revert back to my metalhead self in any way.  Nevertheless, I have a deep admiration and respect for this band, which has been able to capture and hold the interest of so many people throughout the years.  I should also point out that I use the term "metalhead" in reference to the fact that there were no passive people to be found at this concert -- only diehard fans.  Those in attendance clearly worshipped this thrash metal legend.  The creation and retention of such a strong following is no small feat, and Slayer has mastered the art.

Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)Slayer 2015-07-28 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock





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