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 Unholy Alliance Tour: Slayer, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God & Mastodon Review

by Matthew Hastie

There's a difficult place we all find ourselves in when it comes to touring bands. On one side, you have the big tours and festivals; you can see all your favorite bands and a few new ones. The down side of this is that you don't get to see your favorite bands for more than an hour. The other side is to have fewer bands and longer sets, but then you run into the really annoying band getting to play for an hour when they should've only had 20 minutes. Living in Oregon, we are not fortunate enough to have Ozzfest stop at our doorstep; we have to commute to Washington or California. However this year the Metal Gods smiled upon our souls and gave us The Unholy Alliance Tour featuring Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, and Children of Bodom. When I was approached to review this show I was just stoked to be going to see Children of Bodom whom I've been rocking out to for a while now. I wasn't really into Mastodon or Lamb of God, but still Slayer was a killer band and I figured they were a safe bet for a good show.

Upon getting to the venue I was already worried that the show was going to suck. First I couldn't find any batteries for my digital camera. Somehow in my fervor to leave my house to go partake in the ritualistic sacrifices at The Unholy Alliance, I was a bone head and forgot batteries. So I raced to the nearest store and got my camera working in fine order. Upon getting inside I found that I couldn't get a copy of any set list but Slayers' which makes it hard to tell you what songs some of the bands destroyed on and what wasn't so good. But aside from this, I am glad to say that the Unholy Alliance Tour is a must see for any fan of metal. Yes, it isn't Ozzfest, but it was great to see these bands in a closed, dark, arena which is where all metal should be witnessed. I'm sorry, I just don't think metal is impressive out in the sun; I'd rather see pyros and corpses and blood.

Mastodon took the stage early on and I have to say quickly changed my mind about them. They blazed through song after song of their set and I immediately realized that they deserve to be at the front lines of the Metal Army. Perhaps it's because of the lack of metal exposure here in Oregon that I had not realized how big they were, but for the most part you have to look for this genre on your own here. Their backdrop was amazing and featured some demons hunting a sperm whale. I don't know if it's just the fact that I am a guy, but the thought of hunting a whale and listening to Mastodon sounded like a weekend of fun. They did awesome and if you ever get a chance to see them alone or in a headlining spot, you won't be disappointed.

Lamb of God is all over in magazines like Revolver and AP. The first few songs I heard from them I didn't really like, but I didn't dislike. There's been a great deal of buzz around their latest release "Sacrament" and I was hoping to hear some of it on the tour, maybe it'd be the album that pulled me in. Lamb of God as well changed my mind, but not to the level of Mastodon. While Mastodon made me want to go sharpen a spear and smear myself with the blood of wild animals, Lamb of God seemed more fit for Ozzfest and just general rocking out. Maybe they were on an off night, but I really didn't think they were too ground breaking. They did have a good stage presence and the crowd seemed to know most of their songs. A fan was telling me that he'd seen Lamb of God four times and that for some reason they weren't "blowing people away" at this show. Maybe they partied too hard the night before as I have seen at a lot of metal and hardcore shows in Oregon. Many musicians don't take our state too serious and play some lackluster shows here. This is probably because only about 5% of out concerts actually sell out. On a high note, I did get Lamb of God's drums sticks.

Thankfully Bodom owned the stage as I had expected. They tore through a great deal of their catalogue and made sure to not play all off of one CD. That is one thing that irritates me at some shows when a band only plays their new songs. Yes, play some new songs, but play the classics as well! There are few bands I have seen that have just commanded the stage as well as Bodom did, and at the end of the set (even though I already am a musician), my mind ran rampant with that old childhood feeling of wanting to be a rock star. They could've just stood their and stilled hypnotized the entire crowd with just the music. I will definitely look forward to seeing them again; hopefully they will play a longer set.

And now we come to the end, Slayer. What can be said about this fantastic band that hasn't already been said? They rank right up there as the leaders of thrash metal, and Kerry King is a god to guitarists. I have to say, I was expecting a little more. Don't get me wrong, the show was phenomenal, and I don't think my bones have rattled more at any concert. But it's Slayer! I'm expecting something huge and satanic, maybe a live sacrifice, I don't know. Maybe Satan got delayed in traffic. There was so much hype and excitement about them that I almost felt like maybe other venues were getting better shows than us. Kerry King is bigger in person though than you can imagine, and he could domineer the stage all on his own. Lyrics aren't even needed, just him. 

All in all it was an amazing night, but I was beset by one more tragedy. Every photo I had taken didn't come out at all. Even with a brand new battery! So when I got home I took my laptop outside and blasted some Bodom, and wished I had a Mastodon CD, and proceeded to thrash my digital camera against the pavement and then ran it over with my car. I won it anyways, it's not like a paid for it. Plus I'm pretty sure it was the Wal-Mart special or something like that. As I write this, I am listening to a mix I made of all the bands at the show and no CD or DVD will compare to it. It just has to be seen to be believed.

Slayer's Set-List:
" South of Heaven 
" Silent Scream 
" War Ensemble 
" Blood Red 
" Cult 
" Disciple 
" Mandatory Suicide 
" Seasons in the Abyss 
" Chemical Warfare 
" Dead Skin Mask 
" Hell Awaits 
" Raining Blood 
" Antichrist 
" Angel of Death

Rating:(10 out of 5 stars)

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