AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE / CHIMAIRA
The Rave (Eagle's Ballroom); Milwaukee, WI; 11/24/01
Reviewed by Jason Savage
Throughout the preceding week I had been
anticipating this show like a child awaiting Christmas. It's a given that Slayer
would kick ass as always and, since I've seen them a few times, I didn't expect anything less.
I arrived at the venue after my three hour trek from Central Wisconsin. I had a 6 p.m. interview scheduled with Chad Hanks from American Head Charge so I knew I was in for an interesting night (click here to read the candid interview). The opening act was Cleveland, Ohio's Chimaira. I had only heard one Chimaira song of prior to this night so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. They provided a brutal nu metal onslaught that was way heavier than I ever expected. Mark Hunter spewed forth classic gravel tinged shouting as the rest of the band headbanged and jumped up and down in unison onstage. To see five guys doing this simultaneously was quite cool indeed. I can see why RoadRunner signed these guys after witnessing this half hour bombardment of the ears.
Next up was American Head Charge, a seven man wrecking crew that ran around
the stage like pissed-off hornets whose hive had just been smashed open by a destructive teenager. Vocalist
Martin Cock towered above the crowd on his altar, preaching messages of mayhem. Martin's vocal
prowess never ceases to amaze me. He can scare the shit out of you with his growls and
do a complete turnaround to sing you a lullaby with his low range dirge. They tore through 45 minutes of
anthems from their "War of Art" CD, a must buy for any metalhead's collection. Songs such as
"Pushing the Envelope," "Seamless," Never Get Caught," and their closer "Violent Reaction," kept
the rabid Slayer fans entranced. As we all know, Slayer fans are a breed of their own and to keep
their attention as they await their true love is no easy task. But AHC pulled it off. Their show was
chaotic as Bassist and founder Chad Hanks ran back and forth, grinning from ear to ear whilst
plucking away on his bass. Christopher Emery's drumming kept the masses heads bobbing as
guitarists Wayne Kile and David Rogers provided a solid twin axe assault that left me
cowering in the corner. Keyboardist Justin Fowler seemed the most intense as his instrument fought him
throughout the show. The crazed look on his half-shaved mohawked head said it all as he pounded
away, eventually chucking the smashed keyboard to a lucky teenager out past curfew in the
audience. Amidst all this, Aaron Zilch provided more aural terror as he bounced insanely around the
stage with his mixer. Overall, they put on an awesome show. If you don't have the "War of Art," GET
And now, the Reigning Kings of Blood ... SLAYER!!! After several minutes of fans chanting: "SLAYER, SLAYER, SLAYER," Slayer stormed the stage to the delight of the Slaytanic Wehrmacht as "Darkness of Christ" rumbled within the innards of the gothic Eagle's Ballroom. I love this venue, it's so dark and menacing. It reminds me of Rome when Gladiators battled it out for supremacy. Tonight Slayer were the members of the Roman Senate as they watched the Gladiators battle it out in the pit! Tearing through many tracks from their 20 year old catalog, Slayer proved they still had what it takes to make an audience bleed. Standing up front near the speakers, I will admit my ears rang for two days.
Blending the old and the new, Tom Araya spilled forth his pain on classics such as "War Ensemble," Post Mortem," into "Raining Blood," "Hell Awaits," "Chemical Warfare," Die By The Sword," "Dead Skin Mask," "Seasons in the Abyss," "Mandatory Suicide," "New Faith," and "Bloodline" off the Dracula 2000 soundtrack. Their stage set complemented the gothic atmosphere depicting the insides of a church set upon a huge tapestry that filled the backdrop of the stage. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman were at their best with machine gun riffs in tow as Paul Bostoph hammered relentlessly on his double bass. The pits were brutal but I must say somewhat tamer than what I witnessed a few weeks ago at the Pledge of Allegiance Tour in Madison. I didn't get hit by wayward body surfers either but I was beckoned to loft a few of them in the air to get 'em started. As they left the stage, the metalheads chanted for them once again. Moments later they obliged, cranking into two of their most brutal songs "South of Heaven" and "Angel of Death." The night had come to a close as the battered Gladiators left the arena, ready to battle again when Slayer returns ...
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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.