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Coulda Been Better - 60%

corviderrant, March 20th, 2007

A live album from legends Slayer ought to be raw and evil and intimidating, right? This thing sounds like mud from start to finish, and while some would argue that this is the idea somehow, I'd prefer a somewhat more polished sound to reflect their status as a professional band. "Somewhat" being the key word, as metal shouldn't be *too* clean sonically; a balance needs to be struck and Slayer didn't do too good a job doing that on this album. I think that their quality standards needed to be shored up, and this goes for the material itself as well as the performances.

I only gave this a 60 because this, in my opinion, shows just how Slayer were starting to go downhill at this time. You can especially hear it in Dave Lombardo's drum performance; he claims that he was having back problems and that Rick Rubin told him to raise his drum throne, and when he did it affected his double kick technique, which I think is a bunch of nonsense. His playing on this album is weak and sloppy and disappointing.

The soloing is disappointing as well; Jeff Hannemann sound like he plays the same solo on most every song and Kerry doesn't fare much better. Araya, ugh, how the mighty have fallen is the first thing that comes to mind on this album. His patter between songs is unimaginative and minimal and sounds like he says the same thing every night in every city. And his vocals are even worse live than they'd become in the studio by this time. He doesn't even come close to pulling off the scream at the beginning of "Angel of Death" or adding anything other than weak whining to the songs at hand.

The material is for the most part pretty good, don't get me wrong. But the horrid sonics and the lifeless, unimaginative, phoned-in performances render them powerless; even the last gasp of aggression known as "War Ensemble" suffers terribly from these factors. But they just had to go and stick several of the slower, interchangeable tunes from "Seasons in the Abyss", like "Expendable Youth", on this, and I hated that song--then again I hated half of that album due to the fact that half the songs were boring and interchangeable.

So overall, this is far from what I'd call essential. Get everything up until and including "South of Heaven" and forget about everything else they've done since then.