4/29/15 – The Sinclair

After seeing the Sinclair’s stage littered with cigarette butts and splintered pieces of a smashed guitar, it didn’t seem like the Converse Rubber Tracks concert series could get any rowdier than the Replacements’ performance on night one. Fortunately, Passion Pit brought a night of reprieve—their music doesn’t exactly inspire circle pits. Night three welcomed Californian thrash metal pioneers Slayer to Cambridge, along with local openers Rozamov and Doomriders. Unlike the previous shows, security patted down and searched concertgoers extensively in preparation for the moshing, stage-diving metalheads.

Rozamov

Open a show for one of the most recognized names in all of metal music—easy, right? Even as Boston’s Rozamov hit the stage, a wave of Slayer chants echoed through the concert hall as impatient fans chatted and joked over the opening chords. But the local thrash/doom band fought for the spotlight, raging through a tight set of sludge-filled metal grooves.


They didn’t necessarily wow the crowd, especially those not well versed in the drawn out, occasionally monotonous style of doom metal. Rozamov surprised the audience with their final song, debuting the track “Ghost Divine,” written for their upcoming split with Deathkings. The song contained unexpected jazzy guitar solos and a trippy, atmospheric breakdown that turned a lot of heads. Doom fans should get excited for the promise of this solid trio.

Doomriders

What’s a great metal band without a few side projects? Often these diversions miss the mark, but for Nate Newton, longtime bass player for Boston hardcore/punk outfit Converge, Doomriders certainly proves otherwise. His hook-heavy approach to writing thrash-punk anthems makes for some insanely catchy metal riffs that never waste the listener’s time. The self-titled track from their 2013 release “Grand Blood” got the circle pit churning early on with haunting leads and a non-stop assault on drums.

The building screams for Slayer never stood a chance against the electrifying intensity of Doomriders. Songs like “Black Thunder” and “Lions” raced through dizzying drum beats that experimented with odd time signatures. Newton took command over the audience, though plenty of fans screamed every word of every song. Doomriders’ attention grabbing, manic speed may take cues from modern punk rock, but their relentless thrash metal gallops were the perfect local warm up for Slayer fans.

Slayer

At last, the Sinclair met the demands of metalheads’ deep throaty chants of “Sllaaaayyyyeeerrr.” If any other band were about to take the stage, the incessant screaming during tuning and sound check would have seemed obnoxious, but for Slayer, it’s nothing new. Slayer last played a Boston club nearly 15 years ago at the Avalon, the former favorite seedy nightclub replaced by the massive House of Blues in 2008. Watching these legends play to a crowd of fewer than 600 was simply breathtaking.

“You guys came out to have some fun, right?” The horde of upraised fists and devil horns roared in response. Lead singer/bassist Tom Araya couldn’t wipe the smile off his face for the entire set.

Mounting doubts haunted Slayer after the passing of their original guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013. Fans and critics alike wondered if the group would disband, most arguing that the legendary guitar player was simply irreplaceable. But after months of discussion, the band reemerged with a new guitarist named Gary Holt and a drive to keep Slayer alive in honor of their fallen friend.

2015 marks Araya and company’s sharpest year. Overpowering the deafening mob chants, they hit their opening song hard. Their most recent single, 2009’s “World Painted Blood,” lit the fuse for a night of raucous, heavy metal mayhem. Without missing a beat, Slayer immediately followed up the recent song by launching into 80’s classics like “Postmortem” and “Die by the Sword.”

For a band with songs about “Mandatory Suicide” and spilling blood, Slayer looked sincerely happy to be onstage. Slayer fans of old and new screamed the band’s name at any chance. Every break between songs warranted more Slayer chants, even though they were mid-set. Answering relentless cheers, the band didn’t bother leaving the stage completely before returning for the encore. By the time hit songs like “Raining Blood,” “South of Heaven,” and “Angel of Death” were brought out, the once modest mosh pit burst wide open, parting the crowd to span the entirety of the dance floor. The whirling circle continued to grow outwards each time another audience member dove in to join the chaos.

As the crowd departed from the venue, Converse generously handed out free show posters rolled in black poster tubes. Only a few minutes passed before Slayer fans decided to use the tubes as drum sticks. They loudly banged their tubes against every light post lining the street to the Harvard Square T stop as they chanted… well, you know.

Converse Rubber Tracks: Slayer, Doomriders and Rozamov
Pros
  • Slayer playing every song you'd want to hear in an intimate club setting.
  • Doomriders full of memorable thrash metal hooks; they deserve more attention!
  • Rozamov steadily improved throughout the set; their final song sounded highly promising.
Cons
  • The unstoppable Slayer cheers were funny for a while, but got exhausting and overdone.
  • Lineup did not feel as stacked or exciting as other nights.
  • That annoying Converse animation in the background really ruined the dark atmosphere of a Slayer show.
9Thrash Metal Throwback

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