Slayer, Sonisphere UK Main Stage, July 8 2011

It seemed like such a descent to chaos.  At complete loggerheads to the born-again aesthetics of Mega Dave, who finished his set on the Apollo Stage just 30-minutes before, Slayer instantly bust Sonisphere up with amoral fundament – Tom Araya yelling incongruous ‘God Hates Us All’ on performance opener Disciple

The thrashy romp seriously caught a lot of people napping, but its agitation was delivered with such insane conviction that it served as immediate catalyst for mass pits.  A contagious rage spread, and Araya smiled with genuine disbelief at the unanimous positive response from all who had travelled to Sonisphere to see Slayer.

After announcing that ‘love is in the air’ with a cheeky grin, Araya led the charge into a ‘love song’, smashing into a Dead Skin Mask in a flux of aggression.  The four-piece might have launched into a void of madness, but it wasn’t blindly attempted.  Slayer’s intimidating sound was professionally siphoned – they had the edge for a reason.

From bumbling palm-mutes and rhythms to the carnal shredding made to look so casual, Kerry King brought a behemoth of riffing to the helm with such authoritative precision behind band-mate Lombardo’s powerful percussion.  At mid-point, Mandatory Suicide suggested that the mad-thrashing bastards weren’t going to do things by half and this run of excellent form would continue till the final chord rang out – and it did.

Raining Blood’s signature solo rally brought another bout of bouncing euphoria but the set was crowned by Angel Of Death, the opening track from the Reign In Blood album, concluding an unbelievable presentation of rugged, uncompromising force.

Perhaps Slayer were the traditionalist thrash fan’s choice on the afternoon.  Their stripped-down thrash, bombastic break-neck style and ‘who gives a fuck’ approach gave any organic thrash fan all the tools to successfully partake in the most hellbent of moshes.  In context of the Big Four, they’re grounded in, and proud of their untamed thrash roots and there’s plenty creative sustenance to not only maintain them, but keep them growing.

Calum Robson