Slayer’s concert proved why the band is among the Big Four in the thrash league. When the lead act takes the stage is where lies the difference between the masters and the students.

Metal fans will tell you that this October has been one helluva month. They’d barely recovered from the ‘deathly’ performance by Finnish metal band Children of Bodom last week, when the foreboding spell of Slayer was cast upon them on Saturday.

Opening for American thrash metal band Slayer on day one of the Rock ’n India festival were Indian bands Inner Sanctum and Brahma. While Inner Sanctum started up the show, Brahma had the unenviable task of warming the stage up for Slayer to an audience that was already running low on patience.

Spirited openers

Indian metal bands have often faced a curious lack of support from their countrymen. But Brahma’s act was furious and well-performed, and guest-featured one of the godfathers of Indian metal, Verhnon Ibrahim of Millennium. They performed tracks such as Destroy the Destroyer from their first album all the way to Kasab, a number from their upcoming album Brahma3 on the infamous Pakistani terrorist.

Slayer burst on to the stage with their hit number, World Painted Blood. It is usually the defining moment of any concert when the lead act takes the stage; and there lies the difference between the truly matured international acts and the growing ones — the masters and the students.

The sheer energy, the fabric of sound and the musical prowess and precision that mark such outstanding bands all contribute to their longevity amongst fans. On seeing the distinctive visages of Tom Araya on lead vocals and bass and Kerry King on the guitars, the crowd roared, matching the sound of their entrance.

What followed was a continuous assault on the senses. Playing their classics such as War Ensemble, Seasons in the Abyss and God Hates Us All, Slayer left their fans with little time to recover between numbers. One would realise the relative ferocity of the vocals only when Araya would now and then take a break to speak to the crowd in modest tones, thanking them for coming and their love and support.

Enduring themes

War and religion have been the enduring themes Slayer has addressed over their 30 years, themes that are still relevant to Americans.

They avoided songs from their controversial album ‘Christ Illusion’ which had been taken off the shelves in India due to its offensive graphics.

For the sceptics, Saturday’s concert bore testament to why the band, which is one of the leading founding members of American thrash metal, is among the Big Four in the thrash league.

All forgiven

Playing other hits like Hell Awaits, Angel of Death and Mandatory Suicide, they rounded up their encore with the classic Raining Blood to bring the evening to an end. It was perhaps apt that the mild drizzle that persisted throughout the evening completed the effects for the song and a great evening. The pricey tickets — going at Rs. 2,500 per head — the distant location, the conspicuously high security and intermittent rain were all forgiven for the chance to see these demigods.

It’s not over yet

This edition of the Rock ’n India music festival marks five years of the festival.

Over the years, it has featured some of the greats of this genre — from Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica to Slayer now. However, its vacillating formats — they’ve also tried to impose pop acts such as Backstreet Boys and Richard Marx much to the ire of rock fans — have held it back.

The organisers (DNA Networks) have split the festival over two weekends this year, with legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana set to perform on Friday, at Bhartiya City, Thanisandra Road.

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