FORMED: 1982, Huntington Beach, CA
Slayer came to life in the LA. Surburb of "the Huntington Beach Area". Soon they won the reputation of "the Huntington Hooligans". The band was started by Kerry King, a guitarist who was looking for other muscians to start a band. Prior to that, he had been in another band, with Tom Araya. Kerry discovered Jeff Hanneman, another guitarist, who was very interested in the punk movement that was going on at the time. Later the two teamed up with a very skilled drummer by the name of Dave Lombardo.
Slayer became a reality when singer and bassist Tom Araya joined the band after Jeff Hanneman talked to him about joing the band. By the time, Jeff asked Tom, Tom worked in a nearby hospital as a respiratory therapist.
Slayer first played in 1982, performing other artists songs. Artists such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. At first, Slayer started playing at small clubs, later they also played in weekends and so the snowball started rolling...
However, it was first in 1983 things really started to happen for the band. While performing in a local club called "Woodstock", a guy named Brian Slagel who owned Metal Blade records, watched them perform. After the show, Brian Slagel went backstage with an offer to Slayer about making a number for the upcoming compilation "Metal Massacre III". Tom & co. was hooked on the idea and they agreed to make a song but only if Brian would help them record a record. Slayer then did the number "Aggressive Perfector" for the compilation lp.
Brian Slagel then helped Slayer producing their own record, it was called Show No Mercy and it came out in December 1983. Show No Mercy was instantly hailed as a masterpiece by heavy freaks and magazines around the US. and Europe. Many critics laughed of it though. The cover shows a goat/satan type thing and it looks like some sort of a cartoon figure. But ok, back in '83 all that satan stuff was new and exiting.
In 1983, another classic album also came out - you guessed it, Metallica's "Kill 'Em All". Metallica started in 1981, just as Slayer did.
Show No Mercy consisted most of a lot of screams, guitar solos and fast drumming. One thing was clear for everyone; Tom, Jeff, Kerry and Dave was appreciated as fine muscians who could play their instruments very well. For example, in one magazine it said: "Dave Lombardo is a far better drummer than Lars Ulrich". No Shit!
While Show No Mercy came out in the US. late '83, it first came out in Europe in '84 due to unknown reasons. That same year, Slayer also recorded "Chemical Warfare", a song that was hailed as the fastest and heaviest song ever recorded. They also brought us "Captor Of Sin" - another Slayer classic.
In 1985, Slayer moved on, and recorded the album Hell Awaits. That album was also produced by Brian Slagel and also came out on Metal Blade Records. Hell Awaits, which - as the title says - is more satanic and "dark" than its predessor. With a 100.000 copies sold in a very short order in the US. alone, major record companies began to take notice of Slayer. Hell Awaits is more mature and shows us a more mature band - a band which also can handle the slow-paced material. Classics such as "At dawn they Sleep", "Kill Again", "Necrophilliac" and "Hell Awaits" can be found on the album. What a treasure!!!!
To say it short: Hell Awaits is made out of broken glass and rusty razorblades and only the stupid were laughing anymore.
Because of all that success of Hell Awaits, Slayer was contacted by producer Rick Rubin, a producer who's been involved with such artists as "Run DMC" and "Beastie Boys". When Slayer joined Rick's label, Def Jam - it was Rick's first metal band.
The almighty Reign In Blood - the finest Thrash Album Ever!
The year 1986 brought something special to the world. What it was it needless to say really, but I'll say it anyway:
"REIGN IN BLOOD".
An album that killed speed metal as we know it, because no other band could come even close to touch it.
It still stands as The Ultimate ThrashSpeed Album.
The opener of the album is the notorious "Angel Of Death" which deals with the cruelties of Joseph Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz doctor, who's terrible tests with human beings never will be forgotten. The song was written by Jeff Hanneman. The blond guitarist have long had the interest of Nazi Germany (SS - Waffen SS etc.). He also has a fairly big collection of German war- and nazi medals.
Because of that (and the song "Angel Of Death"), many people have accused Jeff and the rest of Slayer of being nazists (which they aren't!). But in a way it is understandable that some people think Slayer are nazizts. They use an iron eagle as a band logo and thier fanclub is called "Slaytanic Wehrmacht". In the US. and Canada, Slayer also experienced concertbannings and CBS, a major record-distribution company refused to have anything to do with Reign In Blood.
That is why Reign In Blood came out on Def Jam Records in October 1986. Actually, I've tried writing to the Wehrmacht several times, but I've never received an answer. I know that I am not the only one facing that problem. Unfortunately!!
However, Slayer fans in Europe had to wait till January 1987, before they could lay their hands on the album.
It is pointless to mention which songs on the album that are classics, because they all are!! Lyric wise, Reign In Blood consisted most of satanic + gore infected lyrics.
The first Gold-Record, a step to glory
Reign In Blood resulted in Slayer's first gold-record. It surpassed everyones expectation and sold well over 500.000 copies in the States, despite being one of the most uncompromising musicial-efforys ever being recorded. With actually no airplay, it also came on the US-Top 100.
That same year Slayer also recorded a cover of the Iron Butterfly song, "In A Gadda Da Vidda", for a soundtrack for the movie "Less Than Zero".
The LA-Quartet also won very quickly the reputation of being super-energetic on a stage - resulting in amazing concerts whereever they performed. No other band dare taking Slayer as a support band, because the headliners would simply be blown out of the sky.
By the way, the "Grr" picture on the back of Reign In Blood was shot during the "Heavy Sounds" festival in Holland. Short after, many other bands did the same kind of "Grr" pictures on their records.
Reign In Blood was and is a very influcial album and a vast number of other speed/thrash metal bands followed in Slayer's wake.
Another band, Metallica, had also brought something special - the "Master of Puppets" album, which is a very good album!. Personally I prefer Reign In Blood.
However, all is not well in Slayer. In some time there has been problems within the members of the band. Tom, Kerry and Jeff on one side, Dave on the other. The problems got so serious, that Dave dropped out of the band for a while and was briefly replaced by Tony Scaglione from the thrashband "Whiplash". He did not do very well though and luckily for Slayer, Dave returned to the fold and the band resumed their tour in the US. and Canada.
The yeay 1987 was one long tour for Slayer, and the year after, 1988, a new Slayer record came out.
On and on South Of Heaven...
"South Of Heaven" came out in 1988. South of Heaven was not, as many at that time expected, as brutal and fast as Reign In Blood. It was a lot slower and heavier that Reign In Blood. Because of that South of Heaven was at first dismissed by many, but was later accepted by the fans. South of Heaven was mostly written by Jeff Hanneman and Tom Araya. Kerry King have always been a "faster" songwriter than Jeff, so that may be one of the reasons why South of Heaven is a slower album. South of Heaven was also Tom Araya's first major songwriting input.
Instead of all the gore, South of Heaven was about topics such as nazism, war, abortion and tv-preachers. "South of Heaven", "Mandatory Suicide" and "Silent Scream" are songs everyone knows.
Like Reign In Blood, South of Heaven was also produced by Rick Rubin. Slayer then did some massive touring around the US. and Europe, and that finally brought them to Denmark. They delivered a killer-concert in Saga in Copenhagen. Unfortunately I did not attend to the show.
Personally I think South of Heaven is a brilliant album and also somewhat overlooked by many, which is a damn shame. Despite the circumstances South of Heaven sold well, and Slayer also received a gold-record for that album.
A sizeable reputation...
Slayer had now built a reputation as one of the premier thrash bands of all time and they also belonged to the so-called "big-four", Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer.
Slayer had now existed in 7 years. And still they were impressive live performers. In 1988 they did a show at the Hollywood Palladium. The show was totally sold out and nearly a 1000 people had to stand outside and listen. It resulted in a major fight and the police was alarmed. It the news it was said that it was Slayer that started the problems! (Which they did not!). There was some problems though.
Because of all the controversal songs like "Angel of Death" and "Behind The Crooked Cross", Slayer had now been the unwilling idols for a growing band of white supremacists and neo-nazists all over the US. and Europe. In some German neo-nazi magazines, Slayer was (and is) rated as a cult band. A band that "supported the reich" (or something like that!). Slayer is very controversal, no doubt - and that is very cool. They dare to say things, noone else does.
Jeff Hanneman also wore an iron cross and a German eagle on his jacket. And he still has some "nazi" stickers on his guitars. But he is no nazi, just interested in that time period - like myself. As mentioned before, many people can't deal with that (Slayer's so-called "nazi" image). Fuck Them!!!. It must be their problem and not Slayer's.
All seasons come to an end...
The year 1990 was (as 1986) a benchmark for Slayer. Why? Seasons In The Abyss came out. Seasons was an album that combined old and new influences. An album alot heavier than South of Heaven and also features an aggressive vocal from Tom Araya, who's singing on the album is just stunning. Tom contributed alot with a lot of his own lyrics. It is wellknown that Tom is very fascinated with serialkillers and the classic "Dead Skin Mask" is about Ed Gein, a(nother) serialkiller.
The song "War Ensemble" is about strategic warfare and that song is just perfect at a concert. The mid-paced tune "Expendable Youth" is about gangviolence. There is also some fantasy-lyrics from Kerry King, "Spirit In Black", "Born Of Fire" and "Skeletons Of Society" to name some.
Seasons In The Abyss is Slayer's biggest selling album to date and it very quickly sold gold. I think it also has sold platinum in the States which is great (1.000.000 copies). Seasons was well received by the fans and magazines around the world and the album received rare and brilliant reviwes.
The Clash Of The Titans
That same year, 1990, a well-known tour was undertaken. The "Clash Of The Titans" tour. As far as I know it was Slayer who took the initiative but Megadeth claimed it was their idea! The bill in Europe and in the US. was not the same. In Europe it was as followes: Suicidal Tendencies, Testament, Megadeth and Slayer. In the US. it was: Alice In Chains, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer.
Slayer and Alice In Chains got along very well. They even shared dressing rooms! Slayer and Megadeth was fighting constantly - verbally offcourse.
It was also Slayer who walked away as the clear winners of that tour. As soon as (co) headliners Slayer started slaying the audience completely changed. The other bands couldn't keep up with Slayer and Slayer have always been blessed with somewhat fanatical fans. During some shows, the audience shouted "Slayer, Slayer" while Megadeth was playing!!! Megadeth was simply blown away by Slayer and their fans. Great! Since then, Slayer and Megadeth has not been the closest friends.
A Decade Of Aggression With Slayer
In 1991 Slayer wanted to celebrate their 10th anniversary. That's why the double cd came out. With the 2 cd's, there was also a booklet which contains some various photos of the Slayer dudes. Decade Of Aggression features songs from their whole career uptill 1990, including such classics as "Angel of Death", "Mandatory Suicide", "South of Heaven", "Chemical Warfare", "Raining Blood", "Black Magic" etc.
The album has a killer sound and Decade is probably the best heavy-live recording ever made! On disc 1 there is 11 songs, on disc 2 there is 10. Needless to say, it sold gold very quickly. I think it also did platinum. In support of the Decade Of Aggression discs, Slayer did a concert video. However, the guys in Slayer are very critical about what they do, and they decided not to release that video because they thought the quality was too low. The MTV videos, "Raining Blood" and "Black Magic" is taken from that video.
In Febuary/March 1992 all hell broke loose. The thrash world was shocked and with a reason; Dave Lombardo was kicked out of Slayer. There had been problems for a long time and now things have come to an end.
Unofficialy Tom, Kerry and Jeff referred to Dave and his wife Thresa as "Ken and Barbie" because Dave and Thresa spend alot more time together than with rest of the band. Dave didn't practice so much either as he used to because of some back problems he had and that affected his drumming .
Early 1992 was the time when Slayer had no drummer. Now what? Fortunatly for Slayer, Poul Bostaph had just quitted his band Forbidden. When Slayer knew that, Kerry King phoned Poul Bostaph and invited him to jam with Slayer. Poul was given a list of songs and 3 weeks later, he was tested as approved by Tom, Jeff and Kerry. Poul fitted well with the band, unlike Lombardo which has in later interviews accused Slayer and branding them for being lazy and beer-drinking alcoholics who watched tv all day long.
Dave Lombardo was not missed by his former bandmates. In fact, Slayer had such scant liking for Lombardo that they gave Poul Bostaph the platinum records that Dave played on and told Dave, that if he wanted a platinum disc, he could buy one himself!
The Monsters Of Rock: Slayer
The next challenge for Slayer was the Monsters of Rock concerts in Poland, Tjekkoslovakia, Germany and England. The year 1992 was the first time Slayer did the famous Donnington Festival. Some of the other bands on that day was: Iron Maiden, Skid Row and Wasp. Slayer did well on that day but unfortunately it was a very louy weather and most of Slayer's power dissapeared in the stormy/rainy weather. I've seen "War Ensemble", "Dead Skin Mask" and "Seasons In The Abyss" on MTV from that show and that looks really cool. I also have a bootleg from Slayer at Donnington '92 (It's called "Devils Desciples") and it has an absolutely divine sound.
Prior to the Donnington show, Slayer also did the Mannheim Super Rock Show, where they simply blew the other bands away with that power that had made them so famous. In 1992 they showed that there is plenty of hate and anger left in the old demon (if there should be any doubt).
Vanished without a trace...
Slayer then "dissapeared from the face of the earth and millions of fans began to wonder and fear the worst...
When Slayer was gone - some other bands tried to capture their throne of thrash. Bands like Sepultura and Pantera became very successfull and they reached the same level of Slayer. In 1992 Pantera also released "Vulgar Display Of Power" a cd which did the same for them what Reign In Blood did for Slayer 6 years earlier.
The world of metal also changed drastic about that time. Thrash was a dying genre and only very, very few thrash bands survived. For example bands like Violence, Death Angel and Dark Angel did not survive.
Slayer came back to life.
Late 1993 was the time when Slayer finally emerged. The emerged with a soundtrack for the movie called "Jugdment Night" with Emilio Estevez. The song was a medley with songs from "The Exploited". They did it with singer/actor Ice-T. The song is really 3 (!) songs: "War", "UK 82" and "Disorder", but Slayer decided to make the song as one.
Ice-T fits in great with Slayer and the whole song (which is called "Disorder") is the best 5 min. of music made in 1993!
News from the Slayer camp!
Late '93/ Early '94 there was also news from the Slayer camp. A new Slayer cd! It was said that it would be released in Febuary 1994. But then it was March 1994, June/July 1994 and August 1994. But in September 1994 the new record finally was here.
In August '94 Slayer played some monsters of rock concerts in Brazil. They played in 40.000 capacity stadiums with Kiss, Suicidal Tendencies and Black Sabbath + a few local bands. Slayer advanced to the next level of glory. All over the world, fans was exited to see and hear from Slayer again - that is understandable. No band can't even come close to Slayer's energy, rage and intensity.
The new cd was called "Divine Intervention" and show us a very brutal Slayer. Divine Intevention was being described as Reign In Blood in the 90s. It became very porpular and has sold 700.000 - 800.000 copies in little over 1 1/2 years in the US alone.
On its first week it sold nearly 100.000 copies and appeared on the US top 10, as number 8.
On the album Tom and Kerry was doing most of the work - Jeff did not do as much as used to because of unknown reasons. That is also why "Divine Intervention" is a very fast record. Classics such as "Killing Fields", "Dittohead" and "Divine Intervention" can be heard on the record.
Problems part III
"Divine Intervention" also features some material wtitten by Jeff Hanneman, and the song deals with SS-Hangman Reinhard Heydrich. The song is called "SS-3" and again there was many critics who said Slayer was nazists. Sepultura vocalist Max Cavelera started by attacking the Slayer and said they attracted neo-nazists at their shows. He also said that Slayer has a nazi-image. Then the ball started rolling and suddenly the Slayer - Sepultura disputes was a big media thing. On a French Tv-show, Slayer said that Sepultura was a bunch of lowlife cocksuckers from Brazil.
Slayer and Sepultura could have been a killer bill.
Recently I heard that Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Sepultura has been linked to some sort of a festival, very exiting news.
The European Tour 1994
In the fall of 1994, Slayer began their European tour. Slayer was supported by the much hyped band "Machine Head". In an interview Max Cavelera also said: "Machine Head will blow Slayer away because Slayer are old and tired". It was not a surprise that it did not happen that way. I would rather say, that Slayer blew Machine Head away! But Machine Head did ok, but if it wasn't for their own fans, noone would have payed any attention, fine band but it means nothing when Slayer are in the house! But the Slayer dudes like and enjoy Machine Head, like Kerry King said: "Machine Head is the perfect opening band for us".
On the European tour, Slayer also brought with them a very advanced high-tech show. There was alot of computers and that kind of stuff. On the 17th of December 1994 Slayer played in the KB-Hall near Copenhagen. It was my first concert ever and Slayer did not dissapoint. I totally blown away and overwhelmed by Slayer's force and power. Machine Head did good but was totally overshadowed by the gods.
Late December 1994 Slayer ended their European tour after playing at sold-out shows almost everywhere they went.
Back to "Divine Intervention". It was also a very controversal album because of the cd-inner sleeve that most knows by now. The fan that had sliced "Slayer" in his arms with a razor. As, I think it was Kerry, said: "He did it to show hia dedication to us, but also to get pussy..." It was now clear to anybody that Slayer have very dedicated fans - very loyal fans. Very, very few bands can match Slayer when it comes to fan-dedication. The scarification thing can also bee witnessed on Slayer's home video, "Live Intrusion"
Another fan is also very dedicated. Even the Slayer guys find the incident totally bizarre: A Slayer fan has sliced "Slayer" in his back in a tribute to his heroes. When a representative from American Recordings (Slayer's current label) asked him why he scarred himself, his only reply was: "SLAAAYERRRRR". Slayer have really fanatical fans.
The tour 1995
By January 1995 Slayer toured in the States, supported by Biohazard and Machine Head. In January 1995, American Recordings also threw a party to celebrate Slayer's sales of more than 4.000.000 records for American Recordings. All in all they received 32 gold records. Pretty cool pictures from that party can also be seen on "american.recordings.com .
After that Slayer toured in the States and it was a very successfull tour for Slayer with soldout houses everywere. They also got great along with Biohazard and Machine Head...
In late March 1995 they toured in the far East + Australia.
Metallica also emerged in that year, starting by choosing the bands for the Donnington '95 bill. Among them was Slayer and Machine Head. A usual Slayer put on an impressive show. As a magazine wrote "It seems like 65.000 people only are here to see Slayer!". Slayer themselves however, liked their Donnington performance in '92 better. I also have a bootleg from '95 with an amazing sound.
Slayer's "Live Intrusion"
The "Live Intrusion" home video, which was long awaited, came out in the fall of '95. As mentioned before, it opens with the scarification scene with the Slayer fan. The video contains 12 Slayer songs + a cover of Venom's "Whitching Hour", performed by Tom and Kerry + Rob and Chris from Machine Head. In between songs, there are private clips with Slayer.
The video became very successfull and landed on the US sales video chart as # 1.
An Undisputed Album with sad news in its wake
Slayer have always liked punk and in we all got the news that Slayer was going to release an album of punk-covers. An album of punk covers? That was not typical for Slayer to do such a thing.
Many people thought that Slayer in Poul Bostaph had found the perfect drummer, that was going to be in the band forever. But no! After the recording of the cover album, Poul quitted Slayer. He was bored with metal in general and wanted to work with the band "The Truth About Seafood". Short after, Slayer got the Testament drummer, John Dette. Prior to that, rumours circulated that Slayer, had invited former Machine Head drummer to join Slayer. Not true. There was also rumours that Slayer wanted to rejoin with Dave Lombardo, but that was only a rumour. As Kerry King Said "We did not even think of that, even as a joke!!"
One thing is very typical for Slayer and that is that most of their records are delayed. "Undisputed Attitude" was no exception. "Undisputed Attitude" was first called "Selected and Exhumed". "Undisputed Attitude" was available in May '96.
"Undisputed Attitude" features covers of such artists as: "T. S. O. L." , "D. I" and "Verbal Abuse". It also features 3 new Slayer cuts: "Can't stand you", "Drunk Drivers Against Mad Mothers" (DDAMM) and"Gemini". The "Gemini" is a very cool and slow-paced song with deals with the cruelties of a serialkiller (the "Gemini" killer). "Gemini" was originally recorded for a soundtrack, but was later dumped due to unknown reasons.
The two songs from Jeff Hanneman : "Can't stand you" and "Drunk Drivers Against Mad Mothers" are not real Slayer songs. It is two songs he once wrote for a punk-side project in 1984, that never came to be. All the 3 new songs are extremely cool, and I like them alot.
Slayer also made a video for "Undisputed Attitude", it is "I Hate You", and the song (and the video) is really great.
In May 1996 they also headlined the legendary heavy-festival "Dynamo Open Air" in Holland. The also appered on the largest rock festival in northern Europe, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. From what I heard, they blew Sepultura away, who played just after Slayer. 2 days after, Slayer co-headlined the "Graspop Metal Meeting" in Belgium with Iron Maiden.
A new - yet to be titled - Slayer album should be out in the first quarter of 1997. Personally, I do not think the new one is going to be as fast as "Divine Intervention". Jeff has allready written 3 songs and I know they currently have 4 or 5 songs done by now.
I don't know how much "Undisputed Attitude" has sold by now, but I do not think as well as the real Slayer records, but I really like "Undisputed Attitude", most of the songs are killer.
I also heard that a new Slayer home-video is due fairly soon (late '96). It is going to be more of a home video than a concert video. I am really looking forward to that video, because the guys in Slayer are very funny. Among others it should feature some stuff from Egypt, where they recorded the "Seasons In The Abyss" video.
In October, Slayer also did the OzzFest, arranged by Ozzy Osbourne. Among others played: Neurosis, Fear Factory, Biohazard, Sepultura, Danzig, Slayer and Ozzy Osbourne. I heard from reliable sources that Slayer performed good (as usual).
What Slayer do, they do best and no other band can match them in terms of fanloyalty, intensity, rage, power and controversy.
In 1986 Dave Lombardo quit Slayer, he was quickly replaced by ex-Whiplash drummer Tony Scaglione, unfortunately Scaglione did not fit in with the band and was replaced when Lombardo returned later in the year.
Interestingly enough, a similar situation occured in 1996 when Paul Bostaph quit the band and was replaced by former Testament skinsman John Dette. Dette did not fit in with the band and has since been replaced by Bostaph.
Not all Slayer songs are fictional, Blood Red is about the Tiananman Square Massacre, 213 is based on Jeffrey Dahmer (213 being his room number), Angel Of Death is about Nazi-doctor Josef Mengele and Gemini is a song about the infamous Zodiac killer.
The video for Seasons In The Abyss was recorded in Egypt during the Persian Gulf war.
The original title for Undisputed Attitude was Selected And Exhumed.