The Unholy Alliance Tour - 7/3/06 Montreal Show Report

July 15, 2006, 15 years ago

David Perri / Pic by Jackie Short


Slayer’s Unholy Alliance tour hit Montreal, Canada on July 3, drawing approximately 8000 metal fans of all stripes and ages to the Bell Centre. Highly reminiscent – in spirit, at least – to Slayer’s 1991 Thrash Of The Titans jaunt, the Unholy Alliance featured a cross-section of metal’s most promising showing off their prowess (some more than others… I’m looking at you, Alexi Laiho) to a rabidly receptive audience.

Unfortunately arriving at the Bell Centre after the thrashtastic Thine Eyes Bleed finished its set (the band is great live, having witnessed them at the Trois-Rivieres Metalfest in late 2005), as we got to our seats Mastodon was just beginning to unleash its monstrous assault. It’s always weird seeing these bands you’ve checked out in clubs play arenas (the first time I saw Mastodon was summer 2002 and there were a whopping 32 people at the show – yes, I counted), but Mastodon commandeered the large stage with the energy of a band unafraid of anything. ‘Megalodon’’s mid-song speed metal riff was appropriately mega, and when the group’s menacing ‘Blood And Thunder’ closed the show more than a few mainstream Slayer fans had been converted to Brann Dailor, Troy Sanders, Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds’ cause.

Children Of Bodom was up next and to say this band is metal’s new phenomenon is an understatement. Aside from Children Of Bodom’s first two records, I can’t count myself a fan of the Finnish group’s guitar ‘n’ keyboard wankfest; it doesn’t matter though, because it seems the vast majority of the sizable arena crowd was there for the Bodom crew. Children Of Bodom shirts in the audience were about as prevalent as Slayer gear (!), despite the fact that COB had no merch on sale (issues at the border possibly?). In that vein, the younger segment of the crowd headbanged to the group’s set with reckless abandon, singing along to each of Alexi Laiho’s wild-eyed anthems. Kids are completely eating this up at a huge rate, no doubt about it. Children Of Bodom did not disappoint its fanbase, bringing out hits ‘Silent Night, Bodom Night’, ‘Needled 24/7’, and ‘Hate Me!’ amongst others.

Lamb Of God’s set began shortly after Children Of Bodom’s and, as was expected based on previous performances witnessed, Lamb Of God’s burly, macho style doesn’t translate well live. While New American Gospel or Ashes Of The Wake work effectively on record, the group is too one-dimensional to pull it off in concert. It didn’t help that vocalist Randy Blythe’s stage moves and on-stage persona were highly reminiscent of Phil Anselmo back in the Pantera days (right down to Blythe’s in-between song banter, shaved head and wardrobe) - I mean, Anselmo hasn’t exactly been in everyone’s good books over the last several years… Regardless, Lamb Of God’s one-trick pony that manages to work on album was further rendered redundant by the ordinary delivery it was treated to on this night. And, by the way, a note to all bands: when in Quebec, don’t ask the crowd if they dislike Canadians as Blythe did (“Whatsa matter, you don’t like Canadians here?”). It’s knowingly or unknowingly opening a huge can of worms in this politically tumultuous province. I’ll give Lamb Of God the benefit of the doubt on this one, to be fair.

In a respectful move by Slayer, before the band’s set a gigantic photo of Dimebag (RIP) was projected onto the screen on stage and an assortment of Pantera’s most beloved tracks were played over the PA in remembrance of the affable guitar legend. A classy move from Slayer, the band that took Damageplan out on tour back in ’04 when no one else would (Dime and Vinnie’s words, not mine).

As Slayer began the first notes of its hate campaign, the crowd roared in approval. Starting things off with strange choice ‘South Of Heaven’ (why begin with a slow one?), Slayer then jumped headfirst into classics ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘Seasons In The Abyss’, ‘Raining Blood’ contemporary slasher ‘Disciple’ (from God Hates Us All) and new song ‘Cult’. The most (visually) striking thing about Slayer’s set was definitely the gigantic upside-down crosses that adorned the stage. These weren’t just any satanic symbols, mind you - they were huge upside-down crosses made out of stacked Marshall amps. A very cool idea that was executed perfectly.

Though Kerry was adorned in his usual tough guy clothes, Jeff wore his Raiders jersey (and Behemoth-like leg spikes), Dave was his punky whirlwind self and Tom continues to be just absolutely fucking menacing, there were tell-tale signs Slayer is starting to see the effects of age. Araya’s stage raps – and especially the one preceding ‘Dead Skin Mask’ – were predictable, while his range isn’t quite what it used to be. In fact, he let the crowd do the scream at the beginning of ‘Angel Of Death’, not even attempting the high-pitched hell cry. Also, the fact that the band only played two songs from Reign In Blood was a little disappointing, given that 2006 marks the record’s 20th anniversary.

All in all, Slayer’s Unholy Alliance tour fulfilled its mandate: it brought together a diverse set of metal fans under the same roof to celebrate metal’s contemporary flair as well as its classic, yet enduring, past. Looking forward to seeing if Slayer will continue with this type of successful package tour in subsequent years.

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