The sky is turning red
Return to power draws near
This two disc live album captures Slayer at the end of their first decade as a band. It’s their first live album and was eagerly awaited by their fan base. To fans who had spent ten years swapping poor quality cassettes, it was probably pretty great. To me . . . well, not so much. The band is certainly technically skilled; Dave Lombardo’s incredibly frenetic drumming is breath-taking. But I didn’t really feel like this one added up to much; I compare it to 101 Proof, the live Pantera album I listened to last year which, by comparison with this one, had much better sound quality, overall more intensity and more focus on really laying into those riffs. The sound quality is just okay here, I’d say, not particularly good. The balance is off; Lombardo’s drums, which, as I said, are really the centerpiece of the band to me, are mixed strangely low. They do have a disclaimer on the album that indicates no overdubbing was done, so I guess the rough, not entirely balanced mix is part of the aesthetic here. But still. I was pretty disappointed with this album actually; it isn’t dreadful and maybe it was a lost cause to try to capture the live experience of a band like Slayer on disc anyway. But I feel like it could have come closer than this. I’ve heard a lot of really intense live albums; it’s not impossible to pull off, but this one’s just bland and Slayer should never be bland. When the album actually does work, you get glimpses of what the whole thing could be; the version of The Anti-Christ here has some searing guitar work. Oh, one more thing. Could someone please tell Tom Araya to stop growling the song titles dramatically before they play the songs? We get it: you’re menacing. 2 stars.
tl;dr – live album lacks Slayer’s signature intensity and the sound mix is strangely unbalanced; only occasionally reaches anything like the excellence you’d expect. 2 stars.