In the early days of my growing love for music, I was drawn to more popular acts, bands that were safe, fun, catchy, and could be heard a lot on regular radio stations. Like old people, when I heard more extreme styles, I immediately identified them as noise and wrote them off. Well, blame it on being young, stupid, and unwilling to broaden my horizons. Fortunately, I learned the error of my ways and I now listen to all manners of music and styles. What does this have to do with Slayer and Live Intrusion? Simple enough, I used to lump Slayer in with the noise. I know, I know, please forgive me.
Even after learning to like Slayer, it still took some time to warm up to them and truly get into their hybrid of punk and metal, and very distinctive brand of thrash metal. If I were to have watched Live Intrusion back in 1995 when it was recorded, I don’t think I would have had the same appreciation that I do now. So, I guess it is a good thing that it took so long to arrive on DVD and, by default, my desk.
1995 saw Slayer touring in support of their 1994 album Divine Intervention, which was their highest charting album at the time, with its 8th place debut on the Billboard chart. It was also the first Slayer album I ever bought. I cannot say it is one of my favorite albums, although I do like the title track.
Live Intrusion was recorded on the last day of the American tour and captures the raw intensity of the band in the live setting. Do not be deceived by their in-your-face aggression, as there is a lot of technical skill to be found here. Just listen to those ear-blasting solos from the dynamic duo of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Now, take those solos and wrap them inside some skull-crushing riffs and you have the makings of some pit-churning thrash. Add in then-newcomer to the band drummer Paul Bostaph, and you are really building up some no-nonsense aggression. The final piece of the puzzle is Tom Araya delivering his trademark vocals and playing bass.
This concert was shot on videotape and lacks a lot of the polish that more recent recordings have. But to be honest, I don’t think I want it. Slayer is about getting down and dirty, taking to the stage and just ripping it up, polish be damned. The video is full frame, the colors are not the strongest, and it all feels a bit soft. On top of that, the camera work is not the greatest, with a little shakiness here and there, and I could not be happier. This recording does a fine job of capturing the band in their element.
Where the video is not the greatest, the stereo audio presentation is pretty strong. We get every note, every chord, every word, loud and in your face. There is also enough crowd noise to prove it is live, but never enough to be distracting. It is live, raw, and intense. Yes, I realize that I have said raw a lot, but can you think of a better word to describe Slayer live?
In addition to the concert, interspersed throughout are clips of the band backstage, at autograph signings, and just screwing around. It puts a smile on the face of the band that always seems so deadly serious. I would have liked to be able to watch the concert straight through, but these clips are not too bad and at times can be kind of funny. This is in addition to the opening clip of a hardcore fan having “Slayer” carved into his forearm. Yes, a little extreme, but there you go.
The set is a mixture of Divine Intervention tunes and some classics that you don’t hear all that often. Highlights of the set include “At Dawn They Sleep,” “Captor of Sin,” “Angel of Death,” and the Venom cover “Witching Hour,” with help from Robb Flynn and Chris Kontos of Machine Head.
Love them or loathe them, Live Intrusion is an adrenaline charged representation of what Slayer is, and it is a lot of fun to watch.