Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
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Slayer and Megadeth fulfilled the dreams of my rat-tailed, sleeveless-Pantera-shirt-wearing inner seventh-grader Saturday night at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom by ripping through two of my favorite metal albums ever: 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss and Rust In Peace, respectively. The show served as not only a 20th anniversary celebration for the two albums, but also of 1990’s legendary Clash Of The Titans tour with Anthrax. For historical accuracy, the same tiny gathering of batshit religious protestors that undoubtedly picketed the Titans tour stop in East Troy 20 years ago was also on hand. Needless to say, the protestors’ attempts to sway concertgoers were typically drowned out by screams of “Fucking Slayer!”
Before the audience could finish chattering about how Anthrax (whose set I missed due to waiting in line for 40 minutes to park behind The Rave) totally killed, Megadeth came onstage in ascending order of poofiest hair—starting with drummer Shawn Drover and ending with shred-master, vocalist, and ultimate poodle-mop Dave Mustaine—and dropped an A-bomb in the form of “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due.” Drover’s dual kick-drum attack locked into the busy bass runs of David Ellefson, keeping pace under the chunky riffing of Mustaine and ex-Jag Panzer guitar virtuoso Chris Broderick. “Some people risk to employ me / Some people risk to destroy me / Either way, they die!” Mustaine growled with the help of hundreds of fans.
As the band blasted its way through the nuclear war-themed Rust In Peace, Mustaine and Broderick swapped dozens of pristine guitar solos. Mustaine frequently switched guitars and even brought out Megadeth’s longtime skeletal mascot, Vic Rattlehead, to sing “Dawn Patrol.” Before turning the stage over to Slayer, the mighty foursome threw a few miscellaneous classics in the form of “Trust” from 1997’s Cryptic Writings, “Symphony Of Destruction” from 1992’s Countdown To Extinction, and the dynamic blast of “Peace Sells” from 1986’s Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? Megadeth properly atoned for 1999’s God awful radio-rock anthem “Crush ’Em” with its set.
When the lights went out for Slayer, all of the I’m-too-fucking-old-to-deal-with-this-shit folks took several huge steps back, and the band blasted into the speedy punishment of “World Painted Blood.” (The guy next to me gave me a nudge and shouted, “What the fuck? I thought they were playing Seasons!”) After one more tune from Slayer’s latest effort (and final contractual obligation for longtime label American Recordings), World Painted Blood, bassist-vocalist Tom Araya confronted the crowd. “Are you ready to do a little ballroom dancing? Are you ready for…‘War Ensemble’?” The crowd roared with approval and held its horns high as the band blasted into one of its most ferocious thrashers. Guitarists Jeff Hanneman (whose guitar sports a Heineken logo, with his last name swapped with the brand name) and Kerry King played with blurry hands, as the wildly influential Dave Lombardo pounded out rhythms with crushing speed underneath. Hanneman, clad in a Raiders jersey (a Tyrone Wheatley jersey to be exact), shared dive-bomb guitar solo duties with the massively tattooed King as the band ripped through the whiplash dynamics between tunes like the Ed Gein-themed “Dead Skin Mask,” “Blood Red,” and the doom-laden “Seasons In The Abyss.”
After the foursome took a quick breather after Seasons, Slayer re-emerged with a nasty rendition of “South Of Heaven,” before launching into the “Raining Blood.” Throughout the evening, there were two primary mosh pits with a barrier of bystanders blocking them from one another. As soon as Slayer pounded into the song’s crushing opening section, the barrier of people basically went flying, and the two pits converged into one massive sinkhole of brutes. Hanneman and King harmonized their sinister guitar lines under Araya’s punk-inspired screams. “Pierced from below / Souls of my treacherous past / Betrayed by many, now ornaments dripping above!”