THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE III (Live) – Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon, Amon Amarth

at Oslo Spektrum, Norway, November 24, 2008

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

All photos by Karolina E. Piwko

It was time for the third edition of Unholy Alliance; a concert concept led by Thrash Metal legends of Slayer. The previous tours have included the bands Slipknot and Hatebreed (Unholy Alliance I), Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom and Thine Eyes Bleed (Unholy Alliance II). The only bands that have played on all of the three tours are Mastodon and, of course, Slayer. On the bill of the third tour was, along with Slayer and Mastodon, Swedish Viking Metallers Amon Amarth and American Metalcore/Thrash Metallers Trivium.

Due to the fact that Metal Express Radio got a ticket to the Slipknot concert, a concert that took place two weeks earlier, instead of The Unholy Alliance III ticket they were supposed to get, it took a lot of time before Metal Express Radio got a new ticket from Live Nation. This resulted in a late entrance, and therefore the review of Amon Amarth is a bit amputated.

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth seemed in great shape and had a lot of energy on-stage. When Metal Express Radio finally entered the venue they had started the energetic “Cry Of The Black Birds” from With Oden On Our Side. There was a lot of headbanging going on and for those in the crowd that needed a little more Death Metal than what the other bands on the bill could provide, this was no doubt a highlight for the evening. Vocalist and front man Johan Hegg communicated with the crowd in Swedish and made sure he had their full attention. The last song in their set was very fitting for the country they played in; “The Pursuit Of Vikings” (off Fate Of Norns).


Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

As reported earlier on tour Mastodon’s second guitarist Bill Kelliher was hospitalized earlier on the tour, but the band decided to finish the tour without him. Their on-stage performance suffered from this. They seemed uninspired and lacked the great communication Amon Amarth had with the crowd. Not even once did they bother to talk to the crowd. They simply played their set and went off stage.

The highlights of their set was the opener “Blood And Thunder” off their second release Leviathan and “Colony Of Birchmen” off Blood Mountain, but these two were also played without any visible inspiration on-stage. Sure there were some headbanging every now and then, but they looked like they’d rather be somewhere else, and the crowd was standing still like solid rocks for a greater part of their set. Though they compensated for only having one guitarist by having a set of Marshall amps on both sides of the stage, the crystal clear sound Amon Amarth had on stage was gone and left was a more dirty guitar sound that stung in your ears.


Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

With Trivium the sound was great again and you could feel every kick from the drummer’s bass drum in your entire body. While the crowd wasn’t engaged enough by Mastodon’s New Wave Of American Metal, Trivium’s mix of Metalcore and Thrash Metal lit a spark in the crowd. Their set was dominated of songs from their new album Shogun, and great songs like “Into The Mouth Of Hell We March” and “Down From The Sky” had people in the mosh pit going crazy.

Though they mainly played new songs, they included three older songs as well. The big surprise is perhaps that they only played one song off their previous album The Crusade (“Becoming The Dragon”). While Ascendancy was represented with two (“A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation” and “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr”). Though it’s understandable that they want to focus on promoting the new material it would have been great with a few more songs off The Crusade as well.

While Mastodon never communicated with the crowd through words, guitarist/vocalist Matt Heafy spoke a lot and flirted with the pretty girls in the front. Heafy jokingly explained that even though they don’t have a love song in their set he would dedicate “Throes Of Perdition” to all the chicks in the venue. After a song he said “tusen jævla takk” with very good Norwegian pronunciation of a term that can’t be directly translated to English, but it’s very close to “thank you so f**king much.”

The guitarists, Heafy and Corey Beaulieu, were all over the stage all the time and together with bass player Paolo Gregoletto they did a flawless performance with hectic riffs and fast and melodic solos. Drummer Travis Smith was great as always and showed why he is considered one of the better drummers in the scene today.

Trivium did a great show and hopefully everyone will enjoy new stuff from these guys for many years to come.

Trivium setlist:
1. Kirisute Gomen (off Shogun)
2. Insurrection (off Shogun)
3. Becoming The Dragon (off The Crusade)
4. Into The Mouth Of Hell We March (off Shogun)
5. Throes Of Perdition(off Shogun)
6. Down From The Sky (off Shogun)
7. A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation (off Ascendancy)
8. Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr (off Ascendancy)


Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

Slayer came on stage to the sound of “Metal Storm/Face The Slayer” (off their debut album Show No Mercy) playing over the PA. They went right into “Flesh Storm” from their newest album Christ Illusion and continued with three war songs; “War Ensemble,” “Chemical Warfare” and “Ghost Of War.” The sound during the Slayer concert wasn’t optimal. Guitarist Kerry King’s solos drowned a bit in the mix in the beginning, but it sounded better after a while.

After three old war songs, they went into a song dealing with an even more relevant topic of these days. “Jihad” opens with a guitar riff that doesn’t really sound like Slayer, but as the band kicks in it gets raw, fast and brutal. Next was a new treat for the crowd. “Psychopathy Red” is a new song that will be featured on their next studio album. The song sounds much like the good old stuff from the Reign In Blood era and a lot reminiscent of “Raining Blood” and “Postmortem.” If the rest of the upcoming album can hold the standard of this song then faithful Slayer fans have a lot to look forward to.

Next was “Seasons In The Abyss” which functioned great for variety in the set as it was the only song they played that has a slow intro. “Dittohead” was the only song from their more disputable Hardcore/Punk experimental period of the mid-90s, while “Live Undead” was a great flashback to the late 80s before they went back to playing newer material again. First was “Cult” from Christ Illusion and next perhaps the most God-hating song of all Slayer songs; “Disciple” off God Hates Us All. The fans seemed to know most words to both new and old songs, even though it’s hard to sing as fast as Tom Araya at times. Araya even had the crowd sing the chorus to the next song “South Of Heaven” by themselves a few times. After “South Of Heaven” the crowd was in for a real treat; Slayer would play the entire Reign In Blood album from the very beginning to the crushing end.

The classic album that has a running time of approximately thirty minutes consists of ten fast and energetic songs, and though the guys have turned forty they still managed to play these songs with the sufficient amount of energy that they crave. The highlights from this part of the show (if you at all can single out great songs from a bunch of great songs) were the fastest and most badass song of the album, “Jesus Saves,” the song about Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s horrifying experiments during World War II, “Angel Of Death,” and of course “Raining Blood” that the kids probably know best from the Guitar Hero III video game.

Slayer had a big screen behind the drum kit instead of a backdrop like the previous three bands had. The big screen must be some kind of huge dinosaur from the 90’s because this wasn’t exactly HD quality. The resolution was poor and at times it was difficult to say what images they were showing up there. Often they displayed the Slayer logo or album art for the album the songs were taken from, but they also displayed pictures you could relate to the lyrics of certain songs. For instance they would show military airplanes, tanks and war pictures during “War Ensemble,” Osama bin Laden, George Bush and the devil during “Jihad,” crosses that would turn upside down during “South Of Heaven,” pictures of execution, Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and Adolf Hitler during “Angel Of Death” and Jesus on the cross during “Jesus Saves.”

The guys are getting old, there’s no doubt about that. In spite of excessive headbanging at times they didn’t seem as energetic as they once were. Dave Lombardo, however, was amazing on the drums. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King riffed merciless and their solos were practically as great as on record and though they added a bit spontaneous play to their solos, they basically played them as they do on the albums. The band play by their own rules and a proof of that is that they didn’t bother with the whole “let’s-go-off-stage-and-come-back-on-and-do-an-encore” routine. They played their set and that’s that.

Slayer is one of the most important bands to have hit the Metal scene in the last thirty years, and they continue to release groundbreaking music even in these days.

Slayer setlist:
1. Flesh Storm (off Christ Illusion)
2. War Ensemble (off Seasons In The Abyss)
3. Chemical Warfare (off Haunting the Chapel EP)
4. Ghost Of War (off South Of Heaven)
5. Jihad (off Christ Illusion)
6. Psychopathy Red (new song off upcoming album)
7. Seasons In The Abyss (off Seasons In The Abyss)
8. Dittohead (off Divine Intervention)
9. Live Undead (off South Of Heaven)
10. Cult (off Christ Illusion)
11. Disciple (off God Hates Us All)
12. South Of Heaven (off South Of Heaven)
13. Angel Of Death (off Reign In Blood)
14. Piece By Piece (off Reign In Blood)
15. Necrophobic (off Reign In Blood)
16. Altar Of Sacrifice (off Reign In Blood)
17. Jesus Saves (off Reign In Blood)
18. Criminally Insane (off Reign In Blood)
19. Reborn (off Reign In Blood)
20. Epidemic (off Reign In Blood)
21. Post Mortem (off Reign In Blood)
22. Raining Blood (off Reign In Blood)


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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