So, this is how it ends. With a juggernaut slipping gears until it finally gives out. I so wanted to like this film and it makes me sad to know that the band that was so central to my musical upbringing needs to wrap this up and bring it all to a close.
I first heard Slayer in 87. ‘Hell Awaits’ made them MY band of the big four. Ok, there was a lot of Satan hokum but it was done in a way that sounded, for want of a better word, evil. Then, they released THAT record. To this day it stands the test of time. Just under 30 minutes of on-the-edge aggression. There are few albums you absolutely have to listen all the way through in one sitting - it’s a story. Not even Metallica managed that!
A couple of solid albums later and then came the game changer - but not in a positive way. - the live album. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great and then Dave left. They were not the gang anymore. This was followed by the dodgy Punk covers album and with it, Tom gave up singing. He just shouted. He hasn’t stopped since.
Albums were churned out and as the tuning gets lower and the guitars less defined, the worse it became. Yes, there were occasional moments where the brutality was still art, but it was rare. Then Jeff died and with him, the heart of Slayer. Don’t get me wrong, the new guys have done a remarkable job in a tough position, there is no hate aimed at Gary and Paul here.
The announcement of the final tour was met with some shock but in a way little surprise. And as part of the farewell we have this film….
….The “film” is split into two parts. A 40 minute mini-film based around 3 promo videos and a 90 Minute concert film.
First of all - the mini movie. Yes, it’s bad. I was quite entertained by the pre film released song videos when I saw them and my interest was peaked to get the full story. Acting wise we have Danny Trejo (from countless horror films), Jessica Pimentel (from Orange is the New Black), Richard Speight (from Supernatural) and several other familiar faces. I’ve seen this a few times and I’m still not up to speed with what’s going on. Now, I can find my way around a David Lynch movie, so I’m no slouch, but this movie is so dull you continually drift off during yet another irrelevant speech full of inane platitudes or snooze through the continual cascade of bloody effect shots and before you know it you’ve lost the plot again. And just to reiterate - there are lots of bloody effects, many in slo-mo….less can be more guys!
Slayer themselves only have to ‘act’ very briefly, and boy - they’re bad. Guys, you only have do one simple thing FFS!!!
And then the concert. Yes, they play the tracks you would expect them to play, but the sound! It’s just a muddy mess and the guitars are mostly to blame. They need to sound crisp but they sound like a cheap 15 watt practice amp on the Thrash modelling channel, with lots of reverb - treacle. The band play well enough, as you’d expect but these guys were never a stadium band or a big theatre band for that matter. I don’t need Tom asking me ‘Are you having a good time?’, this is Slayer not Kiss. I once saw them in a club in Birmingham - perhaps the best gig of my life - this is a million miles away (possibly not literally!).
All in all, avoid going to the cinema for this one. See it, if you must, when someone sneaks it onto your favourite streaming platform. One positive though, it did encourage me to go and listen to ‘Hell Awaits’ again though. Pull the plug, finish the tour, but maybe do one small gig for the Old Bridge militia!
Website - www.slayer.net
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/slayer/
Review - David Hancox