In 2009 what do people really need from Slayer? This is a band who set the bar at a breathtaking high over 20 years ago, releasing intense, condensed concrete slabs for albums, if concrete slabs can be dripping in blood and goat entrails. The quartet’s early thrash metal divinations have left an entire generation in awe, seeking to capture some of the fury and bad intention harnessed within. As the pretenders to their blood-splattered throne gather round, 2009’s World Painted Blood album revisited many of Slayer’s most virulent moments without the slightest suggestion that any could surpass them.
They seem either unwilling or unable to break free from their early three-part template of relentless complex twin riffing from axe masters Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, arguably some of the best drumming rock has to offer from Dave Lombardo, and some fraught lyrical tenets via the ravaged larynx of Tom Arya.
Like any great original – the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan being apposite examples here – Slayer trade on legend as much as current form, boasting a truly memorable live show. Their visit to the Academy last year was a spectacle in more ways than one, the band uniting two crowds – the old-school crowd there to see them and hordes of teens there to witness youthful upstart metallers Trivium. This time, however, they revisit the Barrowland, and cliché though it may be, it’s the kind of venue that was made for them: dark, intimate, loud as hell and dripping (literally) with atmosphere. And for a show that demands heads-down indulgence over thoughtful consideration, they have yet another opportunity to remind us why live, they’re still prime contenders.
Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 22 Nov