Metal Week Continues with Slayer

Slayer is the only band I’ve ever walked out of.

Before the concert started, there was this electrified enthusiasm for the band to come on. Girls were on dude’s shoulders and everybody was throwing the devil horns and yelling “Slayer!” It was really, really fun.

Then Kerry King et al took the stage. The music was punishingly loud. I noticed that an alarmingly high number of audience members were wearing earphones. Somehow I found out the bar was selling earphones. While they had plenty of beer, they were sold out of earphones.

I have no idea why you would do that. What is the logic in playing music so loud that it’s unbearable unless you wear earplugs?  You could just turn the volume down until it’s at the upper threshold of bearable and probably give people a much better time (music never sounds good through earplugs).

The show made me suspect that there are a lot of people out there who like liking Slayer way more than they actually like Slayer. The experience of Slayer’s music was so unpleasant a large number of Slayer fans resorted to using devices they’d probably otherwise hold in contempt to handle it.

There are a lot of compelling aspects to Slayer. They’re probably one of the best marketed metal bands of all time. But their music can be pretty boring, partially because a lot of the initially novel elements of their sound—their speed and use of the double bass drum—were adopted by so many other bands that it no longer sounds special. But also because their music is so direct. There’s nothing subtle or complicated about Slayer, and while sometimes it’s interesting how much closer their music is to the punk side of the aggressive music continuum than metal, it also makes almost all of their songs sound the same.

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