|Slayer. (WENN.COM file photo)
By the end of the evening, headliner and closer Rob Zombie reawakened the dead but thrash metal band Slayer absolutely destroyed any competition earlier on the final day of Heavy TO Sunday at Toronto’s Downsview Park.
As for the extremely good sports in Billy Talent sandwiched between the two groups, let’s just say Justin Timberlake’s 2004 SARS-stock appearance was almost usurped for audience bottle tossing. But that’s for later.
The industrial-influenced hard rocker and horror film director Rob Zombie had a lot of eye candy in his performance which opened with Jesus Frankenstein. With flames, risers and a video backdrop providing vintage eerie visuals, Zombie emerged from behind a large half-suit of armor to the roar of the crowd.
Zombie also had the audience onside during Scum Of The Earth, Super-Charger Heaven before getting the “zombie party” going with the beefy Living Dead Girl and the up-tempo foot-stomping More Human Than Human. But while he definitely had the fans enjoying most of the numbers like Dragula, it paled to what transpired a few hours prior.
Whether it was a case of timing or the fact it’s easier to find possible severed limbs in a mosh pit while the sun’s still shining, Slayer’s 75-minute performance was hard to surpass. The group – who played Toronto last year on a bill with Megadeth – was ridiculously tight in their hellish blend of punk and metal on World Painted Blood and the closing Angel Of Death.
With three dozen Marshall amps behind them, lead singer/bassist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King caused an instant dust storm from fans near the front while others were content to head-bang or pump fists. Slayer ran roughshod over the audience with War Ensemble, Dead Skin Mask and the lengthy Seasons In The Abyss. Meanwhile the frantic, punishing Chemical Warfare, Raining Blood and Silent Scream each hit the mark.
Thankfully, a lot of hardcore metal fans – well, those who didn’t leave after Slayer -- also missed their intended mark during the early portion of Billy Talent’s set. The group, with the unenviable task of following up Slayer’s dazzling gig, was in for a rough ride from Devil In A Midnight Mass onward as bottles (and large water jugs) began raining down on them.
Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz tried to defuse the taunts and boos by acknowledging they don’t quite mesh perfectly with the heavy metal genre. However he seemed to ease the situation by reading some of the homemade posters opponents created, including a “Top Ten Ways To Kill Billy Talent” list and “Grow some talent and f--- off.” The small pocket of loyal Billy Talent followers lapped up Red Flag, River Below and Devil On My Shoulder which was dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse.
Elsewhere Mastodon – who didn’t know which country they were in – made their hour-long set interesting with thick, challenging metal on Blood and Thunder and Crack The Skye.