Slayer is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Slayer rose to fame as a leader of the American thrash metal movement, with their 1986 release Reign in Blood, which has been called "the heaviest album of all time". The band is credited as one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands, along with Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax.

Slayer are known for their distinctive musical traits, involving fast tremolo picking, guitar solos, double bass drumming, and screaming vocals. The band's lyrics and album art, which cover topics such as serial killers, satanism, religion, warfare and the Holocaust have generated album bans, delays, lawsuits and strong criticism from religious groups and the public.

Since their debut record in 1983, the band has released two live albums, one box set, and ten studio albums, selling over four million albums in the United States. The band has received two Grammy nominations, winning one in 2007 for the song "Eyes of the Insane", and headlined music festivals worldwide; including Ozzfest and the Download Festival.

Slayer formed in 1981, when guitarist Kerry King met Jeff Hanneman auditioning for a band. The two recruited bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, who had played with King in a band calls Quits, and drummer Dave Lombardo, who met King delivering pizzas. The band began playing cover versions of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs at clubs and parties in Southern California. Early shows relied on a satanic image, featuring pentagrams, make-up, spikes, and inverted crosses.

In 1982, Slayer recorded their first demo — a rehearsal featuring the songs "Fight Till Death" "Black Magic" and "The Antichrist". The demo was widely traded in the 1980s underground tape trading scene and the band were offered to open for Bitch at the Woodstock Club in Los Angeles. While performing "Phantom of the Opera" the band was spotted by Brian Slagel, a former music journalist who had recently founded Metal Blade Records. Slagel convinced the band to record an original song, "Aggressive Perfector" for his upcoming Metal Massacre III compilation, released in July 1983. The song created underground buzz, which led to Slagel offering the band a recording contract.

Show No Mercy (1983-1984)

Without a recording budget, the band was forced to self-finance their debut album. Combining the savings of Araya, who was employed as a respiratory therapist, with 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. Slayer began their first national club tour in 1984 to promote the album, traveling in Araya'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.

In August 1984, Slayer released a four song EP, entitled 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 their live European debut in 1985 at the Heavy Sounds Festival in Belgium opening for UFO, returning to the US to begin the Haunting North America 1985 tour. Following the tour, King temporarily left Slayer to join 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 rejoined Slayer after five shows, stating that Megadeth 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 the Live Undead EP in November. Although the record label indicates the EP was "live in concert", it was recorded in a New York recording studio, with fans brought in to provide crowd noise.

Hell Awaits (1985-1986)

Slayer released their 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. After the videos release, Show No Mercy had sold over 40,000 copies, which lead to the band returning to the studio to record their second full length album. Metal Blade financed a recording budget, allowing 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 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.

Following the success of Hell Awaits, Slayer were offered a contract with Rick Rubin's newly founded Def Jam Records, a largely rap-based label. 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, hardcore influenced song structures.

Def Jam's distributor, Columbia Records refused to release Reign in Blood, due to its controversial graphic cover art and lyrical themes. "Angel Of Death", detailed the Nazi concentration camps and human experiments conducted by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. The album was distributed by Geffen Records on October 7, 1986; due to the controversy, did not appear on the label's release schedule. The album received no radio airplay, but became Slayer's first record to enter the Billboard 200, debuting at #94, and the band's first album certified gold in the US.

In October 1986, Slayer embarked on the Reign in Pain world tour, with Overkill in the US, and Malice in Europe. The band were then added as the opening act on W.A.S.P.'s US tour, but just one month in, drummer Lombardo left the band. Later stating his reasons for leaving, "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, Lombardo's wife later convinced Dave to return. 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 were not happy with the final product, it was the first to garner radio airplay.

South of Heaven (1988-1989)

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 tempo; the "Behind the Crooked Cross" and "Mandatory Suicide" incorporate melodic singing, rather than screaming. As a result, 1988's South of Heaven received criticism from longtime fans, although the album was Slayer's most commercially successful release at the time, debuting at #57 on the Billboard 200, and the second album to be certified gold in the US. Press response to the album was mixed, with All Music Guide citing the album as "disturbing and powerful", and Rolling Stone calling the album "genuinely offensive satanic drivel". South of Heaven featured a cover version of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor", the band's first cover song released on a studio album.

In 1988 Slayer embarked on the World Sacrifice Tour with openers Nuclear Assault, and in the summer were added as special guests on Judas Priest's Ram it Down tour. Following nearly six years of constant touring, the band took time off in 1988.

Seasons in the Abyss (1990-1993)

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 new found melodic sense. Seasons in the Abyss, released in October 1990, was the first Slayer album to be released under Rubin's new Def American label. The album debuted at #44 on the US Billboard charts, and was the band's first record to attain platinum status. The title track, "Seasons in the Abyss", spawned Slayer's first music video, shot in front of the Giza pyramids in Egypt.

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. 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 recorded a double live album, Decade of Aggression in 1991, to celebrate ten years. The compilation debuted at #55 on the Billboard top 200.

In May 1992 drummer Lombardo was fired, due to conflicts with other members, and his desire to bring his wife on tour. Lombardo formed his own band Grip Inc, with Voodoocult guitarist Waldemar Sorychta,[21] and Slayer recruited former Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph to fill his place. Slayer made their first 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 Judgement Night movie soundtrack in 1993.

In 1994 Slayer released Divine Intervention, the band's first record with drummer Bostaph. The record became the band's highest charting, debuting at #8 on the Billboard 200. The album featured songs boasting about Reinhard Heydrich, an architect of the Holocaust, Jeffrey Dahmer, "213" his apartment number where he murdered, raped, and tortured seventeen victims. Other themes included murder, the evils of church and government. Araya's interest in serial killers inspired much of the lyrical content.

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 fourth at the 1995 Monsters of Rock festival, headlined by Metallica.

In 1996, Slayer released Undisputed Attitude, an album of punk covers. The band covered songs by Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., D.R.I., D.I., Dr. Know, Verbal Abuse and Iggy and the Stooges, and featured three original tracks, "Can't Stand You", "Gemini" and "Ddamm" written by Hanneman in 1984-1985 while in an unnamed side project. Bostaph left shortly after the albums release to work on his own project, The Truth about Seafood. With Bostaphs departure, Slayer recruited Testament drummer Jon Dette and headlined the 1996 Ozzfest. Dette was fired after a year, due to a fallout with band members, with Bostaph returning to continue the tour.

A lawsuit was brought against the band in 1996, by the parents of Elyse Pahler, accusing 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 that 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, an amended complaint for damages against Slayer, their label, and other industry and label entities. The lawsuit was dismissed, Judge E. Jeffrey Burke stating "I do not consider Slayer's music obscene, indecent or harmful to minors".

Diabolus in Musica (Latin for "The Devil in Music") was released in 1998, immediately debuting at #31 on the Billboard 200, selling over 46,000 copies. The album was the band's first with drop D tuning, as featured on the lead track, "Bitter Peace", making use of the musical range referred to in the Middle Ages as The Tritone or Devil's Scale.

Slayer teamed up with digital hardcore group Atari Teenage Riot for the Spawn soundtrack. The band later payed 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.

After delays regarding remixing and artwork, including slip covers created to cover the original artwork, God Hates Us All was released on September 11, 2001. The band received their first Grammy nomination for the lead track "Disciple". On January 8, 2002; the winner was announced with the Grammy going to Tool, for "Schism". Promotional material announcing the album title and release date drew an unintended connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The attacks 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 decided 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. Drummer Bostaph left the band shortly after, due to a chronic elbow injury, stating it would hinder his ability to play. He was replaced by original drummer Lombardo.

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 fake blood. Live footage of this was recorded at the Augusta Civic Center 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; H82k2, Summer tour, Ozzfest 2004, Download Festival 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.[34] 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 set for release on June 6, 2006, but was scrapped due to the band not wanting to be part of the "parody".It was to be the first album recorded with original drummer Lombardo since 1990s Seasons in the Abyss.Instead, Slayer released Eternal Pyre on June 6, a limited-edition EP featuring the song "Cult", a live performance of "War Ensemble" in Germany, video footage of the band recording "Cult", and a five minute video of a Slayer fan, carving the band's name onto his forearm. Five thousand copies were released and sold exclusively through Hot Topic chain stores, selling out within hours of release.

Christ Illusion was released on August 8, 2006, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200, and selling over 62,000 copies in its first week. The album became Slayer's highest charting album, improving on that of their previous highest charting album, Divine Intervention, which debuted at #8. Despite its high debut, 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, The Unholy Alliance, 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 underwent gall bladder surgery. In Flames, Mastodon, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, and Thine Eyes Bleed were supporting Slayer. Most of the bands (including bloodsimple) who participated reunited to perform at Japan's Loud Park Festival on October 15, 2006.

The video for the album's second single, "Eyes of the Insane", was released on October 30, 2006. The track was featured on the Saw 3 soundtrack, and won a Grammy for "Best Metal Performance". A week later, the band visited the 52nd Services Squadron located on the Spangdahlem U.S. Air Force Base in Germany. This was the first visit ever to a military base for the band.

Slayer is credited as one of the “Big four” thrash metal bands along with Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth, all of which rose to fame in the early 1980s. These four bands have had a great influence on thrash, death and black metal scenes. "Their downtuned rhythms, infectious guitar licks, graphically violent lyrics and grisly artwork set the standard for dozens of emerging thrash bands, and Slayer's music was directly responsible for the rise of death metal" states MTV, ranking Slayer as the sixth "greatest metal band of all time".

The band's 1986 release, Reign In Blood has been a 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 All Music Guide. In 2006 it was named the best metal album of the last 20 years by Metal Hammer. The record influenced former Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera stating that "the 80s, when shit was pure", along with Metallica’s Kill 'Em All.

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 song Necrophobic is the band's fastest, at 250 beats per minute. The album Diabolus in Musica was the band's first with drop D tuning, God Hates Us All the first with drop B tuning utilizing seven-stringed guitars. All Music Guide cited the album as "abandoning the extravagancies and accessibility of their late-'80s/early-'90s work and returning to perfect the raw approach", with some fans labeling it Nu-metal.

Hanneman’s and King’s dual guitar solos have been called “wildly chaotic”, and “twisted genius”. The two ranked #10 in Guitar World's "100 greatest metal guitarists of all time" in 2004. Drummer Lombardo uses two bass drums, instead of the double kick which is used on a single bass drum. Two drums are used as feedback is received by using two pedals on one drum. Lombardo's speed and aggression earned him the title of the “godfather of double bass” by Drummerworld.

As of 2007, Araya and King have an ongoing feud with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. It began when Mustaine proceeded to convince King to stay with Megadeth rather than the "lame spikes" and "eyeliner" with the "poseurs" in 1984. Mustaine proceeded to tell Araya that he liked it when he "sucked his dick" at the 1991 "Clash of the Titans" tour. Araya rebutted calling him a “homo” on stage. Since their falling out at the tour, King lashed out at Mustaine in several interviews stating he is a "cocksucker", "everybody hates him", and he is a "dictator".

Relations between Machine Head and Slayer deteriorated when King labeled Machine Head as “sell-outs” after the release of their 2001 album Supercharger. King continued to criticize the band stating "They're responsible for rap-metal", "they fooled me into thinking they're metal", "'they have no integrity left." Machine Head front man Robb Flynn stated King was not provoked, and that these comments had come from nowhere. Flynn, who once idolized King rebutted “Oh, Mr. SUM 41 video has so much fuckin' integrity now!? Shit?!” after King appeared in Sum 41's music video "What We're All About", also stating that "King's eaten so many cheeseburgers his brain's starting to clog up."

Slayer have been accused of holding Nazi sympathies due to the eagle logo bearing resemblance to the Eagle atop swastika, Schutzstaffel stickers on guitars, and the lyrics of "Angel of Death". The lyrics were inspired by the acts of Josef Mengele, the doctor who conducted human experiments on Jewish and Roma prisoners during World War II at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and was dubbed the "Angel of Death" by inmates. The band have stated numerous times that they do not condone Nazism, and are merely interested in the subject.

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".

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 are satanists, stating they are not satanists but 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 that the song is spoken through perspective without being sympathetic to the cause, and rectifies neither side. Seventeen bus benches promoting the album in Fullerton, California, were deemed offensive by city officials. They did not approve of the antichrist and skull logo, stating the band's name pertains to a murderer. City officials contacted the band's record label; asking the company they hired to put the ads in place, remove them. All seventeen benches were removed, due to the city receiving attention through the press and online exposure.

In India, the album was recalled by EMI India after protests with Muslim and Christian religious groups due to the nature of the graphic artwork. The album cover depicts Christ mutilated, missing arms and an eye, in a sea of blood with severed heads. 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.

Studio albums

* 1983: Show No Mercy
* 1985: Hell Awaits
* 1986: Reign in Blood #94 US,[14] #47 UK[72]
* 1988: South of Heaven #57 US,[14] #25 UK[73]
* 1990: Seasons in the Abyss #40 US,[14] #18 UK[74]
* 1994: Divine Intervention #8 US,[14] #15 UK[74]
* 1996: Undisputed Attitude #34 US,[14] #31 UK[75]
* 1998: Diabolus in Musica #31 US,[14] #27 UK[75]
* 2001: God Hates Us All #28 US,[14] #31 UK[75]
* 2006: Christ Illusion #5 US,[14] #23 UK[75]

EPs/Box Sets

* 1984: Haunting The Chapel
* 2003: Soundtrack to the Apocalypse
* 2006: Eternal Pyre

DVDs/Live CDs

* 1984: Live Undead
* 1991: Decade of Aggression
* 1995: Live Intrusion
* 2003: War at the Warfield
* 2004: Still Reigning


Current members

* Tom Araya - bass, vocals (1981-present)
* Kerry King - guitars (1981-present)
* Jeff Hanneman - guitars (1981-present)
* Dave Lombardo - drums (1981-1986, 1987-1992, 2001-present)

Former members

* Paul Bostaph - drums (1992-1996, 1997-2001)
* Jon Dette - drums (1996-1997)
* Tony Scaglione - drums (1986-1987)Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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