Don't tell their fans this, but Slayer has never really been that scary. Sure, there are some religious types who may get chafed by the band's choice of words and/or artwork, but Slayer's always been more entertaining than evil. They've never actually burned down a church or engaged in ritualistic murder like some of their European death-metal contemporaries, nor have they sold their soul to reality TV (or some other kind of monster) to make another buck.
Slayer fans, on the other hand, sometimes scare the band. "You get a lot of kids screaming in your face," singer/bassist Tom Araya says with a laugh from his ranch in Texas, where he lives with his wife and kids, consciously divorced from his job of performing for a bunch of testosterone tragedies. "They make you nervous," he continues, "because they get all nervous and start shaking or convulsing." Perhaps there's not as big a difference between a Slayer concert and an ol'-fashioned tent revival as their respective supporters would have you believe.
Twenty-five years after donning black eyeliner and playing big, theatrical metal riffs with SoCal punk speed, the foursome who came charging out of Huntington Park (not Huntington Beach, as they'll emphatically reiterate) are doing pretty much the same thing sans makeup. And given the scarily anemic state of the rest of heavy metal, that's a very good thing.
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Slayer perform as part of the Unholy Alliance Tour with Lamb of God, Mastodon and more at the Long Beach Arena, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 436-3661. Sat., 6 p.m. $29.50-$39.50. All ages.