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Slayer: Still Reigning (2004)

Not Rated  |  Video  |  Documentary, Music  |  2 November 2004 (USA)
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8 May 2013 | by See all my reviews

The 2000s were an awkward time for Slayer. Simply put, metal was deader than a doorknob; the nu-metal/rapcore fad was thankfully on its way out, and the teenybopper long bangs metalcore fad was the new flavor of the week. Slayer were resigned to the uneasy negotiation between pandering to that new mad-at-dad metal audience and staying true to their roots, because hey, they're capital-letters-exclamation-points SLAYER. The resulting albums around this time revealed a sort of bland middle-of- the-roadness to the band's approach at staying relevant that didn't really appeal to anyone except kids. But, as Still Reigning may secretly intend to prove (despite no evident implications in the title), they're still the band that wrote Reign in Blood! I guess. I mean, they look more like a gang of truckers and pirates and homeless people now, but still!

To be honest, I never liked Slayer shows, because I think the band's image was always in severe discordance with the artistic content they brought to the table. Their innovation was in throwing blues out the window 100% and embracing chromaticism, turning mechanical brutality into a hellish ambiance that can recall Bruckner or Beethoven at their most stormy. Meanwhile, the lyrics connected Satanic imagery with war and real life horror in a way that draws everything into the same mythology, always pointing to something greater beyond sight. What do cheap gimmicks like fake blood have to do with that? It's hard not to be disappointed in their general audience--the meatheads, the self- mutilating losers, the trashy pierced cows flashing their pale pancake boobs at the nearest camera--and to some extent the band itself, who, despite accidentally making some ART in the 80s, were really always about cocaine and horror movies. I guess the performance is fine, they rip through the album gracefully enough (besides Tom, who had long since abandoned his articulate, regal approach in favor of a sort of "tough guy" growl). The editing is disastrous. Lots of incongruous pseudo-artsy black & white shots littered among cheap Windows Movie Maker effects.

Basically, Slayer was a band who never really understood what made their best stuff tick. They should have disbanded around the time Tom stopped being able to hit that Angel of Death falsetto. And no, I can't give a DVD where he doesn't hit that high note a very good score.

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