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"war stories for the school playground" - SLAYER, SLIPKNOT, LIVE REVIEW 2005

Pic by Sarah Bowles
National Indoor Arena, Birmingham
(©Neil Kulkarni, 2005)
   Shit. Where do I fit here? Walk from back to front and chart the changes. At the back, the likes of me, old fuckers, seen-it-all-before fake nonchalance, mainly male, overweight, desperately unattractive and waiting for the ever-awesome Slayer to play ‘Angel Of Death’ so we can prove we’ve still got it. They do this, tailing a typically ace set which has never lost its fuck-off power, its absolute hostility to the musical rules of every other band on earth.
   Frequently surging into peals of ear-splitting noise and terror that wouldn’t sound out of place on Constellation, Slayer are still punks who want to scare you shitless and will be gods forever. Down front, kids crush each other into delirium, building up bruises, headaches and war stories for the school playground tomorrow. Passing from prior owners to current inheritors of metal’s poisoned chalice, all you see is improvement (in look, in diversity, in openness to other music, in lack of meatheaded twattery). Good. I’ve never felt more comfortable at a metal gig in my life.

   In a sense, Slipknot’s moment has passed. Good. There’s an increased sense of tribal loyalty here tonight. No one is simply ‘checking out’ this band. Everyone here has stayed with Slipknot even though the ‘buzz’ has long since faded. So let the arbiters of modern rock feel faintly embarrassed that Slipknot and metal received so much attention a couple of years ago – we believers still know that when they slam into ‘People = Shit’ there’s no moment in metal more exciting. And if two years ago this place’d be rammed, then all we’ve lost is the fly-by-nighters and fairweather friends.
   As ‘Disasterpieces’ and ‘Eyeless’ send the pit frothing over in hormonal tsunamis, you sense that the death of nu metal’s hipness meant the rebirth of metal again, for those that always deserved it – the teenage, the lost, the spoiled, the stroppy. ‘Pulse Of The Maggots’ and ‘Three Nil’ fuckin’ hurt, ‘Duality’ gets sung like a new national anthem and ‘Wait And Bleed’ sends us home with a heavenly din in our ears that we won’t shake for a week. Good. Metal’s ours again, and all old snobs can fuck off and die. I’m just tryna figure out if that means me yet.


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