Live Report: Slayer at Madison Square Garden

Chris Krovatin is the author of three young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You, Venomous, and Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk. He is a contributing writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone’s collective ass. This piece below represents his opinions–and probably only his opinions.

The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York, November 27

  • Number of times this reporter screams “Slayer” before even entering the venue: Approximately six.
  • Number of times this reporter has seen Slayer: Too many to count–approximately 25.
  • Sad confession of the night: I think this will be my final Slayer show.
  • Reasoning behind previous statement: With the death of Jeff Hanneman, something vastly important to my love of this band has gone. Tonight should be a send-off—a final show with my favorite band, in honor of a fallen comrade.
  • Help in making this decision: The prices of everything. Jesus Christ, guys, $35 for a T-shirt? I can make a T-shirt for that much.
  • Merch observation: It’s awesome that Slayer’s shit is really Satan- and corpse-heavy now. Old-school aesthetic with cool new art.
  • Remember the ’90s: When Slayer were sold with much more of hardcore punk vibe in the wake of Undisputed Attitude? All chalk outlines and tribal designs and switchblades and shit.
  • Historical fact of the night: Slayer haven’t played Madison Square Garden since the Clash Of The Titans tour back in 1991.
  • Historical middle finger of the night: And 23 years later, they’re back.
  • Lesson to be learned from history: Just because you have to play a few Toad’s Place-sized clubs in the middle of your career doesn’t mean you won’t be filling the huge venues again soon. Keep at it.
  • First up: 4Arm from Melbourne, Australia.
  • Sounds like: Huge, muscular thrash in the vein of Battlecross and Warbeast.
  • Immediate observation: These dudes are very much the children of Slayer—black-clad, heavy as fuck, vicious, but straddling many styles and trends at once.
  • Secondary observation: Their big swinging riffs are decent, but man, these guys are best when they go fast as fuck.
  • Highlight of the set: “I Will Not Bow.”
  • Warm fuzzy feeling: If these guys haven’t taken off here in the US yet—and I haven’t heard of them until tonight—they will now.
  • Price of a Coca Cola at MSG: $5.50.
  • Things this Coke hopefully contains at this price: Gold flakes, king’s piss, cocaine, pieces of the Apple of Knowledge.
  • Reason this reporter is not consuming alcohol: I have to drive up to my family’s house later in the night for Thanksgiving.
  • Why this reporter is OK with this: At least I’ll have a good reason to get obliterated on Thanksgiving.
  • From Revolver Editor in Chief Brandon Geist: “Oh man, Slayer without beer goggles on. You might wake up and realize what a homely chick she is!”
  • Number of dressed-up Goths observed: Three.
  • Curious fact about Slayer shows: There are always a couple of kids in full buckle-and-ruffle Goth garb. It’s weird.
  • Up next: Gojira from Bayonne, France.
  • Sounds like: A black hole.
  • Multicultural experience: Seeing a French band named after a Japanese monster playing in New York.
  • Bands Gojira has toured with: Slayer, Metallica.
  • Bands left that Gojira really needs to tour with: Nah, they’re…they’re good.
  • Crowd reactions: Not as many moshers and headbangers as there should be.
  • Award easily won tonight: Gojira with Most Healthy-Looking Modern Metal Band.
  • Seriously, though: These guys must hit the gym on the road. They’re athletic as fuck.
  • Stand-out tracks of the set: “L’Enfant Sauvage”, “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe”, and of course, “Vacuity.”
  • Inspirational words from frontman Joe Duplantier: “This next song is about being a kid. We must all be kids in our hearts.”
  • From the kid in my heart: “Holy shit, Chris, what happened to you?”
  • Audience row-mate: Revolver and Guitar World staffers and alums Brandon Geist, Kory Grow, Jeff Kitts, and Brad Angle.
  • General venue lameness: Assigned seats for a Slayer show.
  • Price of a pit section ticket: If the price of everything else is indicative, I’m going to say $500.
  • Brutal truth: You could be down in the pit if you weren’t such a cheap press pass-loving jackass, Chris.
  • Finally: Slayer.
  • Sounds like: Fucking Slayer.
  • Slayer: SLAYER!
  • Opening track: “Hell Awaits.”
  • Crowd reaction: I can’t tell, I’m too busy throwing the horns and screaming along to every lyric at the top of my goddamn lungs.
  • Initial frontman observation: Man, Tom Araya’s sounding incredible tonight! He hasn’t always sounded this good during recent live performances.
  • Secondary frontman observation: Man, Tom is like the metal Santa with that beard. Dude is raw.
  • Set-list celebration: They’re playing only old, thrashy shit! “Captor of Sin”! “Mandatory Suicide”! “Die by the Sword”! “Necrophiliac”! “Spirit in Black”!
  • Holy shit: Are they playing “At Dawn They Sleep”?
  • Moment of clarity: It is 2013, and I am at Madison Square Garden watching Slayer play “At Dawn They Sleep.”
  • Awesome stage décor: Slayer’s simple backdrops surrounded by massive inverted crosses that slowly drift through the air around the band.
  • Best backdrop: Of course, the Heineken/Hanneman tribute appearing for the final tracks. It’s touching, honestly.
  • You crying, bro: Maybe a little.
  • Bummer of the night: Tom Araya having to pause twice during the set, once due to inappropriate fan behavior, and the other due to unnecessary roughness by venue security.
  • Stern reminder of the night: “These kids going nuts here paid for their tickets, and they’re the ones paying a big chunk of your salary.” Amen.
  • Class act: Slayer covering Exodus’ “Strike of the Beast” in tribute to founding Exodus guitarist and Jeff Hanneman-replacement Gary Holt.
  • Closing tracks: “South of Heaven” and “Angel of Death.”
  • Fan response: Epic.
  • Encore: None. A little sad, but what can you do?
  • Observation during exit: Smiles all around.
  • Decision: If this is my last Slayer show, I’ve ended on a high note.


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  • John

    great review !! I was there as well and loved every second. The Hell Awaits pics were a real treat and amazing. !!! Slayer once again brought it big time. If you cant call them the all time disputed kings of Thrash Metal, then somethings wrong !