One of the "Big Four" Thrash Metal bands, Slayer was formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, later joined by vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo. Deriving much of their sound from UK speed metal band Venom and focusing on dark, Satanic themes, they released their first album Show No Mercy in 1983. Due to its success, they were quickly pressed to make another album, which resulted in the Epic RockingHell Awaits.However, Slayer hit gold in 1986 with the release of Reign in Blood (their first album produced by longtime collaborator Rick Rubin), which demonstrated the signature sound for which they have become known and featured their best-known songs, "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood". The album has been recognized as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. A couple years later, they released South of Heaven. This was met with mixed reviews. While some enjoyed the slower, sludgier style, others decried them for being Black Sabbath wannabes. However, they combined the best of both worlds with the 1990 release Seasons in the Abyss. Most fans tend to look down on the eleven year period when Divine Intervention and Diabolus in Musica were released. However, they gained mass controversy with the release of God Hates us All (coincidentally released on Sept. 11th, 2001). With their 2006 release, Christ Illusion, more fans seem to be warming up with them since they are returning to their thrash metal roots, a trend that continued with World Painted Blood three years later.As Metallica is with its fans, Slayer is with the general public. Much of the content of Slayer songs is quite dark, sometimes focusing on Satanic and anti-Christian themes, and sometimes focusing on the major problems with the world (war, terrorism, religion, serial killers, etc.). Also, every single album cover can be described either as disgusting, unsettling, or horrifying. This has generated album bans and has led many Moral Guardians to decry the members of Slayer as Satanists. However, they fail to realize that vocalist/bassist Tom Araya is a Catholic and Kerry King (who writes virtually all the most stridently "Satanic" lyrics) is actually an Atheist. Despite writing these songs, King has constantly stated that he does not condone what the songs are about, instead likening them to horror movie-equivalent entertainment.Many critics have called Slayer the world's first death metal band. While they did inspire many of the death metal bands of nowadays, they are strictly thrash metal. Slayer has even said that they do not support death metal and call it "cookie monster music".Not to be confused with the AnimeSlayers or the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon himself prefers for it to be shortened as Buffy).Slayer has made ten studio albums:
Show No Mercy - 1983
Hell Awaits - 1985
Reign in Blood - 1986
South of Heaven - 1988
Seasons in the Abyss - 1990
Divine Intervention - 1994
Diabolus in Musica - 1998
God Hates us All - 2001
Christ Illusion - 2006
World Painted Blood - 2009
(Also included in the Slayer discography is an EP, Haunting the Chapel, released in 1984, and an album of Hardcore Punk covers, Undisputed Attitude, released in 1996.)Current lineup:
Tom Araya: vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King: guitar
Paul Bostaph: drums (1992-1996, 1997-2001, 2013-present)
Jeff Hanneman: lead guitar (1981-2013, died in 2013 of liver failure)
Tony Scaglione: drums (1986-1987)
Dave Lombardo: drums (1981-1986, 1987-1992, 2001-2013)
Tom Araya has an interest in serial killers, as noted in the songs "213" (Jeffrey Dahmer) and "Dead Skin Mask" (Ed Gein).
Jeff Hanneman was interested in World War II, since his relatives served in the military, and of Nazi history, despite the fact that in various interviews, he neither supported nor condoned Nazism itself.
Kerry King really doesn't like organized religion...which is ironic as Tom Araya is a devout Christian but is willing to sing anything that King comes up with (and in fact is pretty enthusiastic about singing stuff that he thinks is likely to piss people off; it helps that a lot, if not all, of what the band members write is about stuff that pisses them off).
Author Existence Failure: Jeff Hanneman's death has forced Kerry King to do all the guitar work for the band's upcoming album. It's expected that the album, if and when it's released, will be dedicated to Hanneman.
Cluster F-Bomb: Several songs on God Hates Us All, but "Payback" takes the cake.
Tom Araya was quite fond of doing this on the early albums, suddenly turning a single word into a high-pitched drawn-out scream, as seen in "Black Magic", "Chemical Warfare", "Necrophobic" and "War Ensemble".
Diabolus In Musica and God Hates Us All are mostly a solid 8, while Christ Illusion is basically half 8 songs and half 9 songs. World Painted Blood, however, generally stays in 9 territory.
Motor Mouth: Several songs, but "Reborn" and "Necrophobic" (both from Reign in Blood and the latter a full song in less than two minutes) are probably the best-known. "Hell Awaits" is another excellent example.
Not Christian Rock: Yes, Slayer of all bands has an example here: "Silent Scream" on South of Heaven is not only an anti-abortion song but is explicitly based on a rather obscure anti-abortion video entitled "The Silent Scream". The movie—most well known in evangelical Christian and Catholic anti-abortion circles where it is still used as a "scared straight" film—purports to depict a first-trimester D&X (dilation and extraction) abortion via ultrasound, and includes rather graphic descriptions of the dismemberment of the fetus and the "terror" of it trying to get away from the instruments of abortion including "screaming" (lending the film its name).
Old Shame: Diabolus In Musica, especially, is this to Kerry King.
Rated M for Manly: It's pretty much a certainty that there will be no line for the women's restroom at a Slayer concert.
Reflective Eyes: The entire video for "Eyes Of The Insane" is shot from this kind of perspective.
Refuge in Audacity: Invoked at least twice by Tom in interviews. First in explaining why he doesn't mind singing Kerry's anti-Christian lyrics, and second in explaining why the reaction to "Jihad" was so muted compared to, say, "Angel of Death." In both cases his explanation boiled down to, "It's just Slayer being Slayer."
Religion Rant Song: Present much more on recent albums like God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion, mostly of the Type 2 variety. However, there are still examples on earlier albums, such as South of Heaven's "Read Between the Lies" and Reign in Blood's "Jesus Saves".
Satan: Several of the band's earlier songs were about Satan or Hell. But once The Nineties rolled around the band stopped singing about him (although they still sing about things like war, Nazis, serial killers, anti-religion, etc.)
The Show Must Go On: Kerry King has confirmed that despite Jeff Hanneman's death, the band will continue.
Up to Eleven: Inverted with their fourth album, South Of Heaven. The band knew that they couldn't possibly top Reign In Blood, so they consciously decided to slow down, stripping away lightning-fast riffs in favor of a more melodic sound.
However, their next album, Seasons In The Abyss, combined the best of both worlds.
Villain Song: There are a lot of these in Slayer's song catalog. One of the band's trademarks is that they frequently sing from the bad guy's perspective, be it Nazis, Serial Killers, or even Satan himself.