Rock live review, Slayer/Trivium, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

"You are not moving. You are not metal!" cried Trivium's singer. You could almost feel sorry for them. Supporting Slayer - and appeasing Slayer's diehard fans - is notoriously difficult at the best of times. As for supporting these veterans when they decide to play their 1986 masterpiece Reign in Blood in its entirety - well, any group would be on a hiding to nothing. Still, Trivium's MySpace-generation thrash kept younger members of the audience entertained while the more jaded headbangers grumbled at the bar, and the barrage of dry ice and strobe lights went a long way to disguising any self-doubt that might have struck the band.

By contrast, Slayer's only concession to stagecraft was a gaudy computerised backdrop. If you've ever wondered what their scary, satanic skulls would look like viewed through the prism of Christmas bling, this was your chance. But this was never about the spectacle; it was about the songs. South of Heaven, Chemical Warfare, Necrophiliac - it was a set list most metal bands would kill for. ("We had joy, we had fun, we had Seasons ... in the Abyss!" teased frontman Tom Araya, before another oldie was blasted out.) Yet these were mere window-dressing for the main event.

From Angel of Death to the closing Raining Blood, the only clue that this ferocious half-hour album dated back more than 20 years was how effortlessly it was played. Even with something as visceral and immediate as thrash metal, it takes time to get this good, and Slayer were nothing short of superb. With squealing guitars shredded to within an inch of their lives, and blood once again "raining from a lacerated sky", the apocalyptic finale thundered to a close.

A shell-shocked crowd stood for a moment, then filed towards the exits. There was no encore. How could there be? What could possibly follow that?

Jamie Thomson

The GuardianTramp

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