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Slayer in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 @ 4:42 PM


Scotiabank Center In Ottawa, C

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A Tale Of Struggle, Perseverance And Another Unexpected High School Reunion.

Sure, it’s another Slayer review on KNAC.COM that you’ve read several times before but the difference is this time it’s a Slayer review from the perspective of someone who’s seen them for the first time…

The struggle and perseverance in this tale probably occurred when the tickets for the show went on sale last November on a Saturday morning when I was working that day on a landscaping project which took until 4 PM to complete and gave me little more than an hour to make it to the nearest Sports Experts store to buy the ticket. Then waiting until February to finally see the show after a stint at my other job as a data entry clerk at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which was a good 90-minute bus, ride from my place. All of this before arriving back in time from the show to get well rested for my other job as an English tutor in Gatineau on the weekends.

And to think that so many fundamentalist types still assume that Slayer’s fan base consists of one-dimensional long-haired Satan-worshipping heathens. Don’t you just hate it when most of Heavy Metal Parking Lot turns out to be fiction?

But while we’re on the topic of dismissing long-standing theories, I discovered that I wasn’t the only metal fan left on the planet that had never seen Slayer in concert that night after all. Which brings me to the part about the unexpected high school reunion in this story. And maybe a bit more about the struggle/perseverance bit since I happened to catch the very last chartered bus to Scotiabank Place.

Halfway to the concert I ran into my old friend Pascal from high school who was also going to his first Slayer show along with his friend Adam. While catching up on old times and occasionally reminiscing about some of the concerts we had seen over the past few years we caught the attention of a girl named Crystal who was also on her way to the concert but wasn’t sure if she was on the right bus for the show. She worked at the Bank of America and won tickets through her employer – one of six out of a workforce of 100 that had the chance to win tickets in the box seat section valued at $100 simply by asking for them, leaving her with no one to go with. Even one of her closest friends who was described as the biggest Slayer fan she knew backed out of attending the concert with her at the last minute due to a sudden family emergency that turned out to be not much of a family emergency after all. Somewhere along the way I think I volunteered to help her get some value out of those tickets in exchange for chipping in for cab fare the rest of the way to the stadium. Except, as there were no cabs available we ended up walking half a mile to the stadium instead in the bitter cold. Once inside the impatient crowd started to surge while security were checking everyone’s tickets and Crystal’s own box seat tickets seemed to take longer for security to examine (well, that and she was asking the security guard where the box seat section on her ticket was located). I already was ushered through and after 15 minutes of waiting and listening to the sounds of who I thought was the openers Thine Eyes Bleed – better known as that metalcore band from southwestern Ontario that Tom Araya’s younger brother plays in – I grew impatient and went to find my seat in my section and check them out…

...only to discover that they were co-headliners Unearth who, once again, I was seeing live by accident for the third time instead of the (other) band that I actually wanted to see that night. The giveaway should’ve been the fact that when I entered the venue the band was halfway through “The Great Dividers” while playing next to a giant canvas backdrop with their name on it. And while Unearth did get a pit of the sort that Thraxer practically orgasms over in her own reviews going during their set, I just didn’t care anymore (mainly because I felt bad about standing up Crystal and also because I’ve already seen the band 3 times after all) and left midway to get something to eat. Having also managed to get separated from Pascal and his friend Andy we both ran into each other in one of the concession stands and talked about the show or rather about what little we saw of it so far over pizza and coffee. Pascal and Andy later mentioned something about trying to jump the general admission barricades during the headlining show while I in turn ran into someone from the Krisiun show the Monday before and we didn’t see one another for the rest of the night.

Oh, and Unearth did cut it pretty decent with “Giles” and the closing number “Black Hearts Now Reign” at the show but I was over them already. And what exactly prompted their rhythm guitarist to cut his hair to look like Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy that night?

Anyway, much like everyone else I was there to see the headliners Slayer take the stage in my hometown for the first time in 5 years after a lifetime of missing each other. My local classic rock station CHEZ 106 was sponsoring the show despite never having played any of their songs. And it’s not like I hadn’t tried to request them at least during Jacki’s morning show either only to be told that songs about war criminals don’t make for classic rock fare before getting a “request” for Doucette’s “Mama Let Him Play” for my troubles. At least when Diana DeVille turns down your Slayer request on WildSide, the alternative doesn’t always suck. But as neither were present at the show that night their powers were useless against the crowd of a good 5,000 or so.

From the opening riffs of “God Hates Us All” to the frenetic climax of “Angel Of Death”, Slayer proved that night that 25 years on of delivering some of the most powerful and defining sounds in heavy metal they still can command, generate and raise an aura of excitement in a big stadium as if they were playing in a small club. Not to mention that they can dominate a stage in such a menacing manner that few of their contemporaries from the heyday of 80’s thrash metal can seem to match anymore. Guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman marched all over the stage as if they’ve just placed a down payment on it, Tom Araya – despite sporting that out-of-place beard from the “Eyes Of The Insane” video – still seduced the crowd with every word he uttered, whether it was announcing the next song about “people coming together” (as was the case with “Cult”) or announcing that, “It’s pretty fucking cold outside, isn’t it?” (which prompted the first front row to throw their jackets up onto the stage) and Dave Lombardo abused the hell out of his massive drumkit on every song, standing out particularly on “War Ensemble”, “Hell Awaits”, “South Of Heaven”, “Dead Skin Mask” and the climax to “Seasons In The Abyss”. The band also made a strident effort to play some lesser-known classics from their catalogue such as “Necrophiliac”, “Tormentor”, “Die By The Sword” and “Captor Of Sin” among others alongside the current offerings such as Christ Illusions’ “Flesh Storm”, “Supremist”, “Eyes Of The Insane” and “Skeleton Christ” among others. Even the lesser-cared-for mid-90’s catalogue such as “Stain Of Mind”, “Dittohead” and their rather standard cover of “I Hate You” sounded reborn and awash with new energy that night, although I would’ve preferred that that song had been omitted in favor of “Chemical Warfare” which I was screaming out to be played that night. Regardless of what they did and didn’t play, it was difficult to see anyone leaving the stadium that night after the last song disappointed.

Crowd highlights from the show that night: as Slayer concerts are often the talk of legend with much to do with the crowd that show up as much as the band’s performance – included one person high on mushrooms jumping 50 feet off the nearest ledge near where my seat was located and suffering no more than a sore foot upon his landing, another guy in his 50’s who was in the pit during the whole show, was morbidly obese, shirtless and making me wish Kerry King had his trademark nail-studded armband so that I could heave my face onto it and blind myself and not a sign of Pascal or Andy attempting to rush the barricades into the floor section during the show. The ride home was just as interesting as I ended up chatting with a group of people who were endlessly discussing King Diamond’s relevance to music with one guy in particular who could emulate his vocals perfectly despite his ability to hold an argument on why he’s not a fan of his music (“he has a vocabulary of at least 200 words!”). We did talk about how awesome Pentagram and Trouble were but by that time they reached their stop at the Rideau Center to take an alternate bus route home. And by the time I arrived home I had about 7 hours of sleep so that I’d be fresh for preparing an English lesson on the French side of town and on that day not even having to hear repeated playings of “If I Had A Million Dollars” during the lesson for the benefit of the recently-emigrated young couple from Brittany who were learning about conjunctional verbs could phase me.

Although they enjoyed my brief recap of Slayer’s performance from the night before. It was just not enough for them to convert.

Their loss.

P.S.: Thanks to Pascal and Andy for helping to make my first Slayer experience a memorable one and sincere apologies to Crystal, who hopefully got some use out of those box seats that night.

“Thanks for being good little penguins tonight and making the march!”Tom Araya



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