Slayer in Cleveland: Louder Than Hell. Seriously.


Last night’s Slayer/Marilyn Manson show killed. Or, rather, Slayer killed. Like half the audience, your duly delegated Scene representative didn’t stick around for Manson. If you’ve seen Slayer before, they were as good as they always were -- in fact, they were more revved up than usual. Maybe it was the lingering energy from the orange full moon two nights before. Or maybe it’s because they are, in fact, fueled by Satan. Their massive video-projection backdrop -- flying pentagrams and pictures of Christ in various stages of decomposition and torture -- suggested the later. If you read C-Notes regularly, you have the set list already, and you didn’t have to hazard a poor guess about what time the bill’s bigger draw was taking the stage. Check the video above -- that's Slayer in Australia -- to get a feel for what you missed. And read on for a play-by-play review of the massacre. 4:15 p.m. It’s hot as hell. And bright as hell, too. Nice day for a concert. The opening act, Bleeding Through, isn’t scheduled to start until 7. Slayer fans don’t fuck around; they’re lined up already. Think Seal’s “Crazy” can’t be deafening? It can when it’s being playing at full blast over the Tower City Amphitheater’s sound system, and there aren’t 4,000 hot bodies to soak up the sound. At the right volume, adult-contemporary hits from the ‘90s can kill you. Or make you wish you were dead. Seal, not Slayer, is the devil’s music. (Brief description of fans: Guys in camo hats. Girls with pink hair and big, black boots that ride all the way up their calves. Guys in dreads. Note to all balding guys with dreadlocks: Let it go, man. Let it go.) 4:30 p.m.: Sweat’s washing black-and-white makeup off the Manson kids. More notes on the crowd: Many girls in black corset-dresses, pink fishnets, and high-heeled boots. Girls at heavy metal shows did not used to look this good. You’ve come a long way, baby. 4:38 p.m.:: The Manson family outnumber the Slayer cult, but one dude in an original 1986 Reign in Blood tour shirt can easily take out ten Hot Topic shoppers. If some prison-riot shit goes down between the two disparate fan bases, it won’t last long. 4:44 p.m.: Apropos of nothing, some guy yells the first “FUCKIN’ SLAYER!” of the night. Many more will follow. 5:20 p.m.: Spotted: The first shirtless, puking, apparently underage kid with a Slipknot tattoo across the base of his neck. Many more will follow. 8:05 p.m.: As promised, Slayer takes the stage like an occupying force, to the canned sound of one of the songs from their debut, 1983’s Show No Mercy. Don’t think we’re poseurs for forgetting which one it was; the concert melted the brains of at least half the people there. The band launches into “Flesh Storm,” one of many songs about war, atrophy, black magic, and assorted forms of bloodshed. The 4/5-full tent is so packed there’s no room for much of a pit, just a massive crush of bodies pressed against bodies. Lift up your feet, and you won’t fall. Just like every Slayer for the last 20 years. 8:15 or thereabouts: Gray smoke wafting around them like battlefield fumes, Slayer launches into a double-shot of war songs: “Chemical Warfare” and “Ghosts of War.” Lucifer himself would be intimidated, or at least impressed. Tattooed from his fingertips to his skull, bald guitarist Kerry King is raging, pulling his guitar back and forth across his body like a Warlock furiously trying to kick-start his broom. 8:25 p.m.: Appropriately, it is goddamned loud. A coterie of Manson fans are hiding on the far side of a vibrating concessions building, where the ear-pulverizing volume is slightly less toxic. Back on the road between Tower City Mall and the amphitheater, a line of thrifty fans are watching from the chain-link fence. Their cochleas are probably bleeding, too. You can see the right outfield walls of Jacob’s Field from the amphitheater; if the stadium collapses any time in the next year, Slayer’s sound man may be sued, and the plaintiffs will have a case. I shit you not: people in Erie can hear “Payback.” 8:35 p.m.: In a steady haze of red smoke, Slayer’s playing so loud, they’re actually making the sun go down. The sound is echoing off surrounding brick buildings, killing trees. On the immediately adjacent Cuyahoga River, topless multi-tier boats and rowing crews float by. Aside from the whole soundtrack-to-total-and-complete-devastation thing, it’s quite a cosmopolitan scene. Down the block, some poor saps at the Sheryl Crow concert are probably peeing themselves from the encroaching metal. This point bears repeating: The Mighty Thor himself could not handle two hours of this volume; good thing Slayer’s scheduled for a 70-minute set. 8:50 p.m.: “Raining Blood,” one of the two best metal songs in the history of the multiverse. Strobe lights fill the tent like deadly lightning, and Dave Lombardo’s rolling double-bass is a thunderous apocalypse. If this is what the end of the world will be like, bring it on. I bet won’t be as loud. 8:55 p.m.: “South of Heaven,” a Satanic dirge. The human tidal wave roars back and forth. Drop a piece of coal in the crowd, and it’ll come out a diamond - if the sound doesn’t blow it to pieces. 9:10 p.m.: “Angel of Death,” fittingly, slays. Still reigning. On Saturday August 25, Slayer will stream an entire live concert via,,, and, starting at 11 p.m. EST. Be safe and bring some earplugs for that, too. Seriously. -- D.X. Ferris

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.