Show Review

Slayer, Killswitch Engage

Murat Egyptian Room

Sunday, Nov. 7

After enduring election week, I was really, really looking forward to seeing Killswitch Engage and the legendary Slayer in concert. In the past, Killswitch has put on intense and graceful shows that I've enjoyed highly.

And Slayer, well, let's just say many a hazy evening was spent watching metal bands play at Market Square Arena in the 1980s. Metal shows in the 1980s were all-out affairs where the pot smoke was so thick you didn't have to smoke to get high. The whiskey fumes were so pungent they made you dizzy. And if someone throwing a punch was the worst thing that happened to you, it was a good night. A bad night meant the county lockup across the street from MSA.

In some ways, things haven't changed at all for Slayer since then. They still put on a powerful stage show, all muscles, bravado and testosterone. The young men and women who come to see Slayer look exactly like their 1980s counterparts.

The light show was full of strobes and other intensity-enhancing devices. The people in the pit were just as pissed off and having as great a time as ever.

What was missing from Slayer's show, however, was the fun. This band has been on autopilot for years and hasn't really done much of anything original since their 1980s heyday. So even a "greatest hits" tour like this seemed flat, unoriginal and more like a tribute band than the real deal.

Killswitch Engage, usually good for at least a headbanging good time in concert, also seemed flat. What in previous shows appeared to be innovation came across as imitation. The vocal mannerisms of singer Howard Jones, normally powerful, came through as contrived and false. Their songs, which usually pack a wallop, seemed dull and ordinary.

Maybe it was the national mood of mourning; I doubt it, though. It was the Jagermeister Tour and people were slamming down shots like crazy. The crowd was easily as drunk as most Slayer crowds.

It was the music that caused the overwhelming sense of meh. Maybe it was the lackluster attendance that had the bands depressed; maybe it was the disappointing lack of "raining blood" promised by the band; maybe it was none of those things.

At any rate, what it meant was that what could have been one of the most engaging and life-affirming shows of the year ended up being one of the dullest and most predictable.


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