Slayer performing at Fields of Rock in 2007.
Background information Origin Huntington Park, California, United States Genres Thrash metal Years active 1981–present Labels Metal Blade, Def Jam, American, Columbia, Sony Music Associated acts Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Malice, Whiplash, Grip Inc, Forbidden, Body Count, Truth About Seafood, Cannibal Corpse, Exodus Website www.slayer.net Members Tom Araya
Past members Tony Scaglione
Slayer is an American thrash metal band formed in Huntington Park, California, in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Slayer rose to fame with their 1986 release, Reign in Blood, and is credited as one of the "Big Four" thrash metal acts, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.
Slayer's musical traits involve fast tremolo picking, double bass drumming, and shouted (or chanted) vocals. Hanneman, King, and bassist/lead vocalist Tom Araya, contribute to the band's lyrics. King and Hanneman create and arrange the music with additional arrangement from drummer Dave Lombardo and sometimes Araya. The band's lyrics and album art, which cover topics such as serial killers, Satanism, religion and warfare, have generated album bans, delays, lawsuits and strong criticism from religious groups and the public.
Since their debut album in 1983, the band has released two live albums, one box set, six videos, two extended plays, and eleven studio albums, four (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss, and Divine Intervention in 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1994 respectively) of which have received gold certification in the United States. The band has received five Grammy nominations, winning two of them; one in 2007 for the song "Eyes of the Insane", and one in 2008 for the song "Final Six" (both from 2006's Christ Illusion). Slayer has played music festivals worldwide, including Unholy Alliance, Download, and Ozzfest.
Early days (1981)
Slayer was founded in 1981, when guitarist Kerry King met Jeff Hanneman while auditioning for a band. They recruited Chilean bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, who had played with King before in the band Quits (previously known as Tradewinds). Drummer Dave Lombardo was recruited when he met King while delivering a singing telegram. The band played cover versions of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs at clubs and parties in Southern California. Early shows relied on a Satanic image, which featured pentagrams, make-up, spikes, and inverted crosses. Rumors that the band was originally known as Dragonslayer, after the 1981 movie of the same name, were denied by King, as he stated, "We never were; it's a myth to this day."
The band was invited to open for Bitch at the Woodstock Club in Los Angeles, performing eight songs — six being covers. While playing Iron Maiden's "Phantom of the Opera" the band was spotted by Brian Slagel, a former music journalist who had, at the time, recently founded the label Metal Blade Records. Impressed with Slayer's performance, Slagel met with the band backstage and asked them to record an original song, "Aggressive Perfector" ( sample (help·info)), for his upcoming Metal Massacre III compilation. The band agreed and the song created underground "buzz", which led to Slagel offering the band a recording contract with Metal Blade.
Show No Mercy, Haunting the Chapel and Hell Awaits (1983–1986)
Without a recording budget, the band was forced to self-finance its debut album. Combining the savings of Araya, who was employed as a respiratory therapist, and money borrowed from King's father, the band entered the studio in November 1983. The album was rushed into release, hitting shelves three weeks after tracks were completed. Show No Mercy, released in December 1983 by Metal Blade Records, generated underground popularity for the band, and the group began its first national club tour in 1984 to promote the album traveling in Dave Lombardo's Camaro towing a U-Haul trailer. The tour gave the band additional popularity; sales of Show No Mercy reached more than 20,000 in the US and another 20,000 worldwide.
In August 1984, Slayer released a three song EP titled Haunting the Chapel. The EP featured a darker, more thrash-oriented style than its predecessor, and laid the groundwork for the future direction of the band. The opening track, "Chemical Warfare", has become a live staple, played at nearly every show since 1984. After the release of Haunting the Chapel, Slayer made its live European debut at the Heavy Sound Festival in Belgium opening for UFO, returning to the US to begin the Haunting The West Coast tour.
Following the tour, King joined Dave Mustaine's new band Megadeth. Hanneman was worried about King's decision, stating in an interview, "I guess we’re gonna get a new guitar player." While Mustaine wanted King to stay on a permanent basis, King left after five shows, stating Mustaine's band was "taking too much of my time". The split caused a rift between King and Mustaine, which evolved into a long running feud between the two bands. Following King's return, the band embarked on the 1984 Combat Tour, with Venom and Exodus, and released a live album titled Live Undead in November.
Slayer released its first live home video in 1985, dubbed Combat Tour: The Ultimate Revenge. The video featured live footage filmed at New York's Studio 54 club, on the band's 1984 tour with Venom and Exodus. By early 1985, Show No Mercy had sold over 40,000 copies, which led to the band returning to the studio to record a second full length album. Metal Blade financed a recording budget, which allowed the band to hire producer Ron Fair.
Released in September 1985, Slayer's second full length release Hell Awaits expanded on the darkness of Haunting the Chapel, with hell and Satan as common song subjects. The album was the band's most progressive offering, featuring longer and more complex song structures. The intro of the title track is a backwards recording of a demonic-sounding voice repeating "Join us", ending with "Welcome back" before the track begins. The album was a hit, with fans choosing Slayer for best band, best live band, Hell Awaits as 1985's best album, and Dave Lombardo as best drummer in the British magazine Metal Forces' 1985 Readers Poll.
Reign in Blood (1986–1987)
Following the success of Hell Awaits, Slayer was offered a recording contract with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin's newly founded Def Jam Records, a largely hip hop-based label. The band accepted and with an experienced producer and major label recording budget, the band underwent a sonic makeover resulting in shorter, faster songs with clearer production. Gone were the complex arrangements and long songs featured on Hell Awaits, ditched in favor of stripped down, thrash metal influenced song structures.
Def Jam's distributor, Columbia Records, refused to release the album Reign in Blood due to its graphic cover art and themes. For example, "Angel of Death" detailed Holocaust concentration camps and the human experiments conducted by Nazi physician Josef Mengele. The album was distributed by Geffen Records on October 7, 1986. However, due to the controversy, Reign in Blood did not appear on Geffen Records’ release schedule. Although the album received virtually no radio airplay, it became the band's first to enter the Billboard 200, debuting at #94, and the band's first album certified gold in the United States.
In October 1986, Slayer embarked on the Reign in Pain world tour, with Overkill in the US, and Malice in Europe. The band was added as the opening act on W.A.S.P.'s US tour, but just one month in, drummer Lombardo left the band: "I wasn't making any money. I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally, on a major label, I wanted my rent and utilities paid." To continue with the tour, Slayer enlisted Tony Scaglione of Whiplash. However, Lombardo's wife convinced Dave to return in 1987. At the insistence of Rubin, Slayer recorded a cover version of Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" for the film Less Than Zero. Although the band was not happy with the final product, Hanneman deeming it "a poor representation of Slayer" and King labeling it "a hunk of shit", it was one of their first songs to garner radio airplay.
South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss (1988–1993)
Slayer returned to the studio to record their fourth studio album. To contrast the speed of Reign in Blood, the band consciously decided to slow down the tempos, and incorporate more melodic singing. According to Hanneman, "We knew we couldn’t top Reign in Blood, so we had to slow down. We knew whatever we did was gonna be compared to that album, and I remember we actually discussed slowing down. It was weird—we’ve never done that on an album, before or since."
1988's South of Heaven received mixed responses from both fans and critics, although it was Slayer's most commercially successful release at the time, debuting at #57 on the Billboard 200, and the second album to receive gold certification in the United States. Press response to the album was mixed, with Allmusic citing the album as "disturbing and powerful", and Kim Nelly of Rolling Stone calling it "genuinely offensive satanic drivel". King said "that album was my most lackluster performance", although Araya called it a "late bloomer" which eventually grew on people.
Slayer returned to the studio with co-producer Andy Wallace in 1989, to record their fifth studio album. Following the backlash created by South of Heaven, Slayer returned to the "pounding speed of Reign in Blood, while retaining their newfound melodic sense". Seasons in the Abyss, released on October 25, 1990, was the first Slayer album to be released under Rubin's new Def American label, as he parted ways with Def Jam owner Russell Simmons over creative differences. The album debuted at #44 on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold in 1992. The title track spawned Slayer's first music video, which was filmed in front of the Giza pyramids in Egypt prior to the Gulf War.
Slayer returned as a live act in September 1990 to co-headline the European Clash of the Titans tour with Megadeth, Suicidal Tendencies, and Testament. During the sold out European leg of this tour tickets fetched up to 1,000 Deutschmark ($680 USD) on the black market. With the popularity of American thrash at its peak, the tour was extended to the US beginning in May 1991, with Megadeth, Anthrax and opening act Alice in Chains. The band released a double live album, Decade of Aggression in 1991, to celebrate ten years. The compilation debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200.
In May 1992, Lombardo quit the band due to conflicts with other members, as well as arguments over his wish to bring his wife on tour. Lombardo formed his own band Grip Inc, with Voodoocult guitarist Waldemar Sorychta, and Slayer recruited former Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph to fill his place. Slayer made its debut appearance with Bostaph at the 1992 Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington. Bostaph's first studio effort was a medley of three Exploited songs, "War", "UK '82", and "Disorder", with rapper Ice T, for the Judgment Night movie soundtrack in 1993.
Divine Intervention and Undisputed Attitude (1994–1997)
In 1994, Slayer released Divine Intervention, the band's first record with drummer Bostaph. The record became the band's highest charting at that time, peaking at #8 on the Billboard 200. Divine Intervention was certified gold. The album featured songs about Reinhard Heydrich, an architect of the Holocaust, and Jeffrey Dahmer, of apartment number "213", where he murdered, raped, and tortured eleven victims. Other themes included murder, the evils of church, and the lengths to which governments will go to wield power, Araya's interest in serial killers inspired much of the content of the lyrics.
Slayer geared up for a world tour in 1995, with openers Biohazard and Machine Head. A video of concert footage, Live Intrusion was released, featuring a joint cover of Venom's "Witching Hour" with Machine Head. Relations between Slayer and Machine Head have since badly deteriorated. Following the tour, Slayer were billed third at the 1995 Monsters of Rock festival, headlined by Metallica.
In 1996, Undisputed Attitude, an album of punk covers, was released. The band covered songs by Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., D.R.I., D.I., Verbal Abuse, Dr. Know and The Stooges. The album featured three original tracks, "Gemini", "Can't Stand You", "Ddamm"; the latter two were written by Hanneman in 1984–1985 for a side project entitled Pap Smear. Bostaph left Slayer shortly after the album's release to work on his own project, The Truth About Seafood. With Bostaph's departure, Slayer recruited Testament drummer Jon Dette, and headlined the 1996 Ozzfest alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Danzig, Biohazard, Sepultura, and Fear Factory. Dette was fired after a year, due to a fallout with band members; Bostaph returned to continue the tour.
A lawsuit was brought against the band in 1996, by the parents of Elyse Pahler, who accused the band of encouraging their daughter's murderers through their lyrics. Elyse was drugged, strangled, stabbed, trampled on, and raped as a sacrifice to the devil by three fans of the band. The case was unsealed by the court on May 19, 2000, stating Slayer and related business markets distribute harmful products to teens, encouraging violent acts through their lyrics, and "none of the vicious crimes committed against Elyse Marie Pahler would have occurred without the intentional marketing strategy of the death-metal band Slayer". The lawsuit was dismissed in 2001, for multiple reasons including "principles of free speech, lack of a duty and lack of foreseeability". A second lawsuit was filed by the parents, an amended complaint for damages against Slayer, their label, and other industry and label entities. The lawsuit was dismissed; Judge E. Jeffrey Burke stated, "I do not consider Slayer's music obscene, indecent or harmful to minors."
Diabolus in Musica (1998–2000)
Diabolus in Musica (Latin for "The Devil in Music") was released in 1998, and debuted at #31 on the Billboard 200, selling over 46,000 copies. The album received a mixed critical reception and was criticized for adopting characteristics of nu metal music such as tuned down guitars, murky chord structures, and churning beats. Blabbermouth.net reviewer Borijov Krgin described the album as "a feeble attempt at incorporating updated elements into the group's sound, the presence of which elevated the band's efforts somewhat and offered hope that Slayer could refrain from endlessly rehashing their previous material for their future output", while New York Times' Ben Ratliff had similar sentiments by saying: "Eight of the 11 songs on Diabolus in Musica, a few of which were played at the show, are in the same gray key, and the band's rhythmic ideas have a wearying sameness too."
The album was the band's first to primarily feature dropped tuning, as featured on the lead track, "Bitter Peace" ( sample (help·info)), making use of the tritone interval referred to in the Middle Ages as the Devil's interval. Slayer teamed up with digital hardcore group Atari Teenage Riot to record a song for the Spawn soundtrack titled "No Remorse (I Wanna Die)". The band later paid tribute to Black Sabbath by recording a cover of "Hand of Doom" for the second of two tribute albums, entitled Nativity in Black II. A world tour followed to support the new album, with Slayer making an appearance at the United Kingdom Ozzfest 1998 alongside Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Foo Fighters, Pantera, Soulfly, Fear Factory, and Therapy?.
God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion (2001–2008)
After delays regarding remixing and artwork, including slip covers created to cover the original artwork as it was deemed "too graphic", God Hates Us All was released on September 11, 2001. The band received its first Grammy nomination for the lead track "Disciple", although the Grammy was awarded to Tool, for "Schism". The September 11th attack on America jeopardized the 2001 European tour Tattoo the Planet originally set to feature Pantera, Static X, Biohazard and Vision of Disorder. Dates were canceled or postponed due to flight restrictions, with a majority of bands deciding to withdraw, leaving Slayer and Static X remaining for the European leg of the tour. Pantera, Vision of Disorder and Biohazard were replaced by Cradle of Filth and other bands dependent on location; Amorphis, In Flames, Moonspell, Children of Bodom, and Necrodeath. The Birmingham, England date on the tour though only featured Slayer, Biohazard, Cradle of Filth and Raging Speedhorn due to Static X pulling out over previous commitments, instead playing their scheduled dates in Germany. Drummer Bostaph left Slayer before Christmas in 2001, due to a chronic elbow injury which would hinder his ability to play. Slayer's "God Hates Us All" tour was unfinished so King contacted original drummer Lombardo, and asked if he would like to finish the remainder of the tour. Lombardo accepted the offer, and stayed as a permanent member.
Slayer toured playing Reign in Blood in its entirety throughout the fall of 2003, under the tour banner "Still Reigning". Their playing of the final song "Raining Blood" culminated with the band drenched in a rain of stage blood. Live footage of this was recorded at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine, on July 11, 2004 and released on the 2004 DVD Still Reigning. The band also released War at the Warfield and a box set, Soundtrack to the Apocalypse featuring rarities, live CD and DVD performances and various Slayer paraphernalia.
From 2002 to 2004 the band performed over 250 tour dates, headlining major music festivals including H82k2, Summer tour, Ozzfest 2004 and a European tour with Slipknot. While preparing for the Download Festival in England, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was rushed to hospital with a mysterious illness, and was unable to perform. Metallica vocalist James Hetfield searched for volunteers at the last minute to replace Ulrich; Lombardo and Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison volunteered, with Lombardo performing the songs "Battery" and "The Four Horsemen".
The album Christ Illusion was originally scheduled for release on June 6, 2006, and would be the first album with original drummer Lombardo since 1990's Seasons in the Abyss. However, the band decided to delay the release of the record as they did not want to be among the many, according to King, "half-ass, stupid fucking loser bands" releasing records on June 6, although USA Today reported the idea was thwarted because the band failed to secure sufficient studio recording time. Instead, Slayer released Eternal Pyre on June 6 as a limited-edition EP. Eternal Pyre featured the song "Cult", a live performance of "War Ensemble" in Germany and video footage of the band recording "Cult". Five thousand copies were released and sold exclusively through Hot Topic chain stores, and sold out within hours of release. On June 30, Nuclear Blast Records released a 7" vinyl picture disc version limited to a thousand copies.
Christ Illusion was released on August 8, 2006, and debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling over 62,000 copies in its first week. The album became Slayer's highest charting, improving on its previous highest charting album, Divine Intervention, which had debuted at #8. However, despite its high positioning, the album dropped to #44 in the following week. Three weeks after the album's release Slayer were inducted into the Kerrang! Hall of Fame for their influence to the heavy metal scene.
A worldwide tour dubbed The Unholy Alliance Tour, was undertaken to support the new record. The tour was originally set to launch on June 6, but was postponed to June 10, as Araya had to undergo gall bladder surgery. In Flames, Mastodon, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, and Thine Eyes Bleed (featuring Araya's brother, Johnny) and Ted Maul (London Hammersmith Apollo) were supporting Slayer. The tour made its way through America and Europe and the bands who participated, apart from Thine Eyes Bleed, reunited to perform at Japan's Loudpark Festival on October 15, 2006.
The video for the album's first single, "Eyes of the Insane", was released on October 30, 2006. The track was featured on the Saw III soundtrack, and won a Grammy-award for "Best Metal Performance" at the 49th Grammy Awards, although the band were unable to attend due to touring obligations. A week later, the band visited the 52nd Services Squadron located on the Spangdahlem U.S. Air Force Base in Germany to meet and play a show. This was the first visit ever to a military base for the band. The band made its first network TV appearance on the show Jimmy Kimmel Live! on January 19, playing the song "Eyes of the Insane", and four additional songs for fans after the show (although footage from "Jihad" was cut due to its controversial lyrical themes). Slayer toured Australia and New Zealand in April with Mastodon, and appeared at the Download Festival, Rock Am Ring, and a Summer tour with Marilyn Manson and Bleeding Through.
The band released a special edition of Christ Illusion, which featured new cover art and bonus track, "Final Six", which was given a Grammy Award for "Best Metal Performance". This is the band's second consecutive award in that category.
World Painted Blood (2009–2011)
In interviews with Thrash Hits and Worcester magazine, Araya states uncertainty with the future of the band, and that he could not see himself continuing the career at a later age. Once the band finished World Painted Blood, which was the final record in their contract, the band would sit down and discuss its future. King was optimistic that the band would produce at least another two records before considering a split: "We're talking of going in the studio next February  and getting the next record out so if we do things in a timely manner I don't see there's any reason why we can't have more than one album out... I think the time's gonna come when somebody just says: 'I'm done. I don't wanna do this any more.' But I'm having a blast."
Slayer, along with Trivium, Mastodon, and Amon Amarth teamed up for a European tour titled 'The Unholy Alliance: Chapter III', throughout October and November 2008. On January 27, it was confirmed that Slayer will be headlining the second Mayhem Festival in the summer of 2009. Slayer along with Megadeth also co-headlined Canadian Carnage, the first time they performed together in more than 15 years when they co-headlined four shows in Canada in late June 2009 with openers Machine Head and Suicide Silence. This was followed by further dates in Canada and also in the US during the Summer and Fall of 2010 with openers Testament and Anthrax.
The band's tenth studio album World Painted Blood has been released on American Recordings. It was available on November 3 in North America and November 2 for the rest of the world. The band has stated that the Painted Blood takes parts of all their previous works including Seasons..., South of Heaven, and Reign in Blood.
Slayer, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time on June 16, 2010 at Bemowo Airport (Warsaw, Poland). It was the first performance of that bands played as a part of Sonisphere Festival series, one of the following (Sofia, Bulgaria, June 22, 2010) was sent via satellite in HD to cinemas. They also went on to play in Switzerland (June 18, 2010), Milovice, Czech Republic (June 19, 2010), Bucharest, Romania (June 26, 2010) and then in Istanbul, Turkey (June 27, 2010) also as part of the Sonisphere Festival. On December 18, 2010, it was announced that Megadeth and Slayer will join forces once again for European Carnage Tour in March and April. Also the "Big Four" will play couple of dates again at Sonisphere in England and France for the first time ever. Slayer will be returning to Australia in February and March 2011 as part of the Soundwave Festival and will also play in California with the other members of the "Big Four".
In early 2011, Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis. According to the band, doctors say that it likely originated from a spider bite. In light of this situation and Slayer's participation in the Australian Soundwave Festival tour set to kick off on February 26, the band made the tough decision to play the dates without Hanneman. Gary Holt of Exodus has been announced as Jeff's temporary replacement. Metal website Metal Underground used this to their advantage when they posted a joke article on April 1, 2011 that suggested Hanneman had actually left the band. The article was picked up and distributed by other sites and social media, leading to initial dismay from fans.
Cannibal Corpse guitarist Pat O'Brien will fill in for Exodus' Gary Holt when Holt leaves the Slayer European tour to play with his own band Exodus at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile on April 10. Holt's last show with Slayer will be April 4 in Padova, Italy, O'Brien will join the band for the April 6 show in Croatia, and will finish the European dates with Slayer that wrap up on April 14 in the Netherlands.
Next album (2011-present)
In a May 2011 interview with Geeks of Doom, drummer Dave Lombardo was asked if Slayer was going to make another album. He replied, "Yes absolutely. Although there's nothing written but there is definitely plans. Of course. We have to! Why not?! [laughs] I'm not retiring and I don't think Kerry's retiring either so... Charlie Watts is somebody I look up to and for someone to be on those drums for as long as he's been up there then I'm on my way! I'm right behind him, man! [laughs] I'm one of those guys. I like longevity and a true musician never abandons his art." However, according to bassist/vocalist Tom Araya, Slayer will not begin writing a new album until Jeff Hanneman's condition improves. On November 21st 2011, Guitar World posted an announcement that Dave Lombardo had posted via a tweet that they were starting to write new music. The tweet went as follows. "SLAYER is writing a new record and PHILM is about to start mixing their debut record. Looking forward to touring again with new music.". This means that Jeff Hanneman has improved on his condition dealing with his health and is ready to enter studio again.  The band will also once more play Reign In Blood live in 2012 at the All Tomorrow's Parties 'I'll Be Your Mirror' festival at Alexandra Palace, London. 
Writing and style
Early works were praised for their "breakneck speed and instrumental prowess," combining the structure of hardcore tempos and speed metal the band released fast, aggressive material. The album Reign in Blood is the band's fastest, performed at an average of 220 beats per minute. The album Diabolus in Musica was the band's first with drop D tuning, God Hates Us All the first with C# tuning. Allmusic cited the album as "abandoning the extravagances and accessibility of their late-'80s/early-'90s work and returning to perfect the raw approach," with some fans labeling it nu metal.
Hanneman and King's dual guitar solos have been called "wildly chaotic," and "twisted genius." Drummer Lombardo uses two bass drums, instead of the double kick which is used on a single bass drum. Lombardo's speed and aggression earned him the title of the “godfather of double bass” by Drummerworld. Lombardo states his reasons for using two bass drums: "When you hit the bass drum the head is still resonating. When you hit it in the same place right after that you kinda get a 'slapback' from the bass drum head hitting the other pedal. You're not letting them breathe." When playing the double bass Lombardo uses the "heel-up" technique.
Hanneman, King and Araya contribute to the band's lyrics, and King and Hanneman create and arrange the music with additional arrangement from Lombardo and sometimes Araya. Final Six (from Christ Illusion) is the only song by Slayer which Araya co-wrote the music for, whereas Lombardo has not received any writing credits in Slayer's history at all. Araya has formed a lyric writing partnership with Hanneman, which can overshadow the creative input of King. Hanneman states writing lyrics and music is a "free for all"; "It's all just whoever comes up with what. Sometimes I'll be more on a roll and I'll have more stuff, same with Kerry— it's whoever's hot, really. Anybody can write anything; if it's good we use it, if not we don't."
When writing new material, the band writes the music before incorporating lyrics. King or Hanneman will use a 24-track and drum machine to show band members the riff they have created, and to get their opinion. Either King, Hanneman or Lombardo will mention if any alterations can be made. The band will play the riff to get the basic song structure, and figure out where the lyrics and solos will be placed. Hanneman, King and Araya tend to have different lyrical influences. Hanneman's lyrics deal with Nazis, religion, warfare and similar topics. King's lyrics are generally just very anti-religious. Araya's lyrics usually deal with less controversial topics than Hanneman's and King's, such as serial killers and warfare.
Awards and nominations
Year Nominated work Award Result 2002 "Disciple" Best Metal Performance Nominated 2007 "Eyes of the Insane" Best Metal Performance Won 2008 "Final Six" Best Metal Performance Won 2010 "Hate Worldwide" Best Metal Performance Nominated 2011 "World Painted Blood" Best Metal Performance Nominated
Slayer are one of the most influential American heavy metal bands. Steve Huey of Allmusic believes the musical style of Slayer makes the band stronger than the other members of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, all of which rose to fame during the 1980s. Slayer's "downtuned rhythms, infectious guitar licks, graphically violent lyrics and grisly artwork set the standard for dozens of emerging thrash bands" and their "music was directly responsible for the rise of death metal" states MTV, ranking Slayer as the sixth "greatest metal band of all time", also ranking number 50 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Hanneman and King ranked number 10 in Guitar World's "100 greatest metal guitarists of all time" in 2004, and were voted "Best Guitarist/Guitar Team" in Revolver's reader's poll. Lombardo was also voted "Best Drummer" and the band entered the top five in the categories "Best Band Ever", "Best Live Band", "Album of the Year" (for Christ Illusion), and "Band of the Year".
The band's 1986 release Reign in Blood has been an influence to extreme and thrash metal bands since its release. The album was hailed the "heaviest album of all time" by Kerrang! Magazine, a "genre-definer" by Stylus Magazine, and a "stone-cold classic upon its release" by Allmusic. In 2006 it was named the best metal album of the last 20 years by Metal Hammer. Richard Christy, former member of Death was blown away by Dave's performance on the album Reign in Blood, as was Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz.
Drummer Lombardo has been an influence on many modern metal drummers including Ray Herrera, formerly of Fear Factory, Pete Sandoval of Morbid Angel, former At the Gates, The Haunted, and Cradle of Filth drummer Adrian Erlandsson, and Krisiun drummer Max Kolesne. Patrick Grün of Caliban's inspiration to play drums came from Lombardo, with Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall inspired by Lombardo's double bass, utilizing double bass when starting his own music career. Weezer mentions them in the song "Heart Songs" from their 2008 self-titled "Red" album. The verse goes: "Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Slayer taught me how to shred..."
Slayer has been accused of holding Nazi sympathies, due to the band's eagle logo bearing resemblance to the Eagle atop swastika and the lyrics of "Angel of Death". Angel of Death was inspired by the acts of Josef Mengele, the doctor who conducted human experiments on prisoners during World War II at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and was dubbed the "Angel of Death" by inmates. Throughout their career, the band members were asked about these accusations, and have stated numerous times they do not condone Nazism and are merely interested in the subject. It has also been noted several times that the album was produced by Rick Rubin who is Jewish, and that it would be irrational for Latino American band members Araya and Lombardo “to benefit the Aryan race.”
Slayer's cover of Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White" raised questions about a possible message of white supremacy in the band's music. The controversy surrounding the cover involved the changing of the refrain "guilty of being white" to "guilty of being right", at the song's ending. This incensed Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye, who stated "that is so offensive to me." King said it was changed for "tongue-in-cheek" humor as he thought the allegation of racism at the time was "ridiculous".
In a 2004 interview with Araya, when asked, "Did critics realize you were wallowing in parody?", Araya replied, "No. People thought we were serious!...back then you had that PMRC, who literally took everything to heart, when in actuality you're trying to create an image. You're trying to scare people on purpose." Araya also denied rumors that Slayer members are Satanists, but they find the subject of Satanism interesting and "we are all on this planet to learn and experience."
The song "Jihad" of the album Christ Illusion sparked controversy among families of the September 11 victims. The song deals with the attack from the perspective of a religious terrorist. The band stated the song is spoken through perspective without being sympathetic to the cause, and supports neither side.
Seventeen bus benches promoting the album in Fullerton, California were deemed offensive by city officials. They felt the Antichrist and skull were inappropriate, and felt the name "Slayer" pertains to a murderer. City officials contacted the band's record label and demanded that the ads be removed. All seventeen benches were removed.
In India, the album was recalled by EMI India after protests with Christian religious groups due to the nature of the graphic artwork. The album cover was designed by Slayer's longtime collaborator Larry Carroll and features Christ in a "sea of despair", while having amputated arms, missing an eye, while standing in a sea of blood with severed heads. Joseph Dias of the Mumbai Christian group Catholic Secular Forum in India took "strong exception" to the original album artwork, and issued a memorandum to Mumbai's police commissioner in protest. Although since 2011, Sony music has started selling imported stock of the album in India. On October 11, 2006, EMI announced that all stocks had been destroyed, noting it had no plans to re-release the record in India in the future.
- Tom Araya – lead vocals, bass (1981–present)
- Jeff Hanneman – guitars (1981–present)
- Kerry King – guitars (1981–present)
- Dave Lombardo – drums (1981–1986, 1987–1992, 2001–present)
- Tony Scaglione – drums (1986–1987)
- Paul Bostaph – drums (1992–1996, 1997–2001)
- Jon Dette – drums (1996–1997)
- 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)
- Undisputed Attitude (1996)
- Diabolus in Musica (1998)
- God Hates Us All (2001)
- Christ Illusion (2006)
- World Painted Blood (2009)
- TBA (2012)
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Look at other dictionaries:
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