Released: 2004, American
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
As what seems like an eternity continues to pass as we wait for a new CD from Slayer, the band has delivered a rather interesting DVD that recreates what is arguably their—and metal’s—finest moment: a live rendition of the entire REIGN IN BLOOD album. Ranked as “essential” in even the most mainstream of magazines, the 1986 classic still packs a powerful punch nearly 20 years later. Tracks like “Angel of Death,” “Postmortem” and “Raining Blood” remain staples of the band’s mighty live set but others have never been played live before—until now. Brought to fruition from an idea by guitarist Jeff Hanneman, the band performed the entire album—in running order—but also added an effect inspired by its title: a downpour of “blood” during “Raining Blood.” Filmed on July 11th, 2004 at Augusta, Maine’s Augusta Civic Centre, the crowd is typically whipped up and are as much a part of the live show as the band and the music itself. Beautifully displayed in widescreen and with audio options of either Dolby 2.0 Stereo or 5.1 Dolby Digital, the concert was filmed with multiple cameras to deliver a fabulous experience for the home viewer. Also included are six bonus tracks (the rest of the show) and a new documentary, “Slayer: In Their Own Words.”
Some of these tracks need no affirmation to their importance in the heavy metal canon, but hearing “Piece By Piece” and “Reborn” performed live are the closest thing to nirvana that a Slayer fan will ever experience. “Jesus Saves” and “Postmortem” are among the most powerful versions I have ever heard here and the band (though not I) must be tired of trotting out “Angel of Death” yet ANOTHER time. Still, the expression on their faces shows that these all-too-familiar songs have taken on a new life when played alongside their rightful neighbors of REIGN IN BLOOD. Maybe it is the context of hearing these songs played just as they have been immortalized since 1986 makes them feel extra “special” but this half hour of mayhem has never sounded better. The band is flawless from start to finish, hitting every note (don’t miss the close-up of Dave Lombardo’s feet during the drum “solo” on “Angel of Death”) and Tom Araya, though obviously older, still hits the screams of the originals. Of course, the draw here is the “blood” during “Raining Blood.” The band looks as if they have been dipped in blood with the exception of Hanneman (it is explained in the documentary that he missed his mark) and the stage is literally a sea of blood pools. Araya is like a kid in a mud puddle during a rainstorm as he thrashes about dripping with the red stuff. He almost seems energized by it!
The six bonus tracks are the remainder of the concert from before the REIGN IN BLOOD finale. Most are from the band’s traditional setlist but the rarely played “Necrophiliac” from 1985’s HELL AWAITS release is a real treat. In typical too-cool Araya fashion, the singer prefaces the track by saying “This is our love ballad about older women.” The “Slayer: In Their Own Words” documentary is sort of a continuation of the piece on last year’s WAR AT THE WARFIELD DVD. Clocking in at around twenty minutes, the band describes it’s doggedly loyal fans (with proof of personal injury) as well as the early days of the band’s formation. The return of Dave Lombardo is covered with all members seemingly happy he has returned to the fold after a revolving door of drummers came and left. The blood rig setup is also shown as well as some soundcheck footage from before the show.
At a ludicrously low price (I’ve seen it for sale as low as $9.99), STILL REIGNING is a no-brainer for any metal fan to have in their collection. A heavy metal staple is redone—and even improved upon?—by its creators who seem rejuvenated by the fresh twist put upon REIGN IN BLOOD. For a person new to the band or unfamiliar with its legacy, STILL REIGNING is the perfect place to start. For us grizzled veterans of the traveling Slayer road show (five times and counting for me), this DVD shows that the band is hardly past its “best before” date. Now if we could just get some new music!!