Slayer, a band of Southern California surfers turned rockers, has gained a measure of notoriety for its satanic stance.
The group packed the Warner Theatre Thursday night for a 60-minute dose of "speed metal," an unholy hybrid of punk rock thrash and heavy metal that attracts an almost all-male teen-age following.
Though the Warner stage was flanked by two green, glow-in-the-dark upside-down crosses, it seemed Slayer's highly hyped demonic shock is merely show biz schlock, a timely gimmick in the Alice Cooper tradition designed to capitalize on the recent music censorship flap.
Though they weren't always visible on the requisitely smoke-choked stage, there were four Slayers on stage (nine, if you count the five security guards who quickly joined them as the crowd crushed the front rows). Aside from a particularly nasty introduction to a song called "Necrophilia," Slayer proved to be little more than a garden variety speed metal band, releasing loads of overamplified adrenal aggression and specializing in morbid lyrics.
The band managed to work the words "death" and "die" into nearly every indistinguishable song, whose titles ranged from "In Praise of Death" to "Post-Mortem."
Over a jackhammer beat, Slayer's stun guitars created scraping sheets of corrosive metal noise, with occasional solos that sounded like squealing brakes, over which the singer-bassist emitted a larynx-lacerating growl-yowl.