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I Could Take It Or Leave It - 70%

pinpals, January 8th, 2010

The only reason I bought this album was because I magically found it in a local record shop's bargain bin for $3 ($2 if you count my discount card...whoopie!). I wouldn't have minded seeing Slayer "back in the day," when they apparently actually moved around on stage and were exciting and stuff. However, I questioned the ability of a live album to capture the intensity that supposedly made Slayer such a great live band a long time ago. So is this worth getting or isn't it? Well...

The track-listing is excellent; this album was recorded during the tour for "Seasons in the Abyss." I happen to really like that album, and it is well-represented here. This comes at the end of a fairly long string of superb releases, so there's plenty of high-quality material to choose from. "Hell Awaits" continues to be a killer opener and pretty much every release is well-represented...

...with the exception of the album "Hell Awaits." This is less of a detriment for me because aside from the first two songs, I'm rather lukewarm towards "Hell Awaits," but many Slayer fans will see this as a major slight. That killer "Your time...slips...uh...way..." break in "Raining Blood" lacks the power of the original. Jeff Hanneman doesn't use the wah-pedal at all, leaving some of his solos to pale in comparison to their studio counterparts. The majority of the songs are (for the most part, just slightly) inferior to their studio versions....

...However, on disc two, there is a section with several songs from "Show No Mercy" and "Haunting the Chapel" where the live versions are so intense and may even surpass the originals. Slayer really gets into a groove and the best part is album closer "Chemical Warfare." The songs from those first two albums sound slightly thrashier and Araya's more mature vocals add more menace than was present on the originals. Dave Lombardo does a fine job, as is expected, and he really adds something to those older songs now that he's more experienced. The guitar-playing throughout is pretty spot-on, including the solos for the most part.

So is it worth the money? I'll let that be up to you, although if you can find it in a bargain-bin like I did, it's a must-have. I'm sure I will only listen to it every once in a while, but when I'm in the right mood, it really hits the spot. Perhaps this album would have benefited from stronger representation from the first two albums, but considering which tour this is from, it is to be expected that nearly every song from "Seasons" would be played. Sadly, "Decade of Aggression" marks the beginning of the end for Slayer, it would only go downhill from here.