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SLAYER | Unique, Detailed Biography | Rockdetector

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YEARS 1981-1984, 1985-1986, 1987-1989, 1990-1995, 1996-2007

First product of 1985 was a VHS video dubbed 'Combat Tour - The Ultimate Revenge', documenting live footage of four tracks filmed on SLAYER's US trek alongside VENOM and EXODUS captured at New York's Studio 54 club. With second studio album 'Hell Awaits' arriving in September 1985, SLAYER provided ample defiance to those that sneered with the music easily equal in ferocity to the debut. SLAYER were clawing their way up and the British rock magazine 'Metal Forces' readers poll was a case of SLAYER sweeping the board gaining honours for best band, best live band, best album and best drummer.

SLAYER began to make serious headway when Rick Rubin, Owner and producer of Def Jam Records, signed the band in 1986. First fruits of this liaison was the 28 minute 'Reign In Blood' opus, a pure thrash album that took the genre to new levels of extremity. Quite incredibly the album was to break into the American Billboard top album 100 charts, the first of many.

'Reign In Blood' would come to define the very essence of both SLAYER and extreme Thrash Metal. Indeed, it would prove so pivotal to the band's career that in 2004 special show in Augusta, Georgia on 11th July would be filmed for the Dean Karr directed DVD release 'Reign in Blood Live: Still Reigning'. This saw the band running through the entire track listing of the record. Specially re-instated for these dates would be the bands 80s eagle backdrops and inverted crucifix lighting rig.

'Reign In Blood' also embroiled SLAYER into political condemnation almost immediately for the lyrics to the opening track 'Angel Of Death'. The song dealt with the infamous SS Auschwitz extermination camp doctor Joseph Mengele and many were quick to accuse SLAYER of fascist sentiments. The mighty CBS corporation, distributors of Def Jam, refused to handle the album.

The band retorted that this was merely an observation and not a belief, citing that Araya himself was far from being an all American white boy. The obviously Ayran Hanneman compounded the problem however by frequently wearing SS collar patches, iron crosses and insignia in photos and by adorning one of his guitars with cuff titles of notorious SS panzer divisions such as 'Totenkopf' and 'Das Reich'. SLAYER's tour T-shirts of the time proudly declared that the band were 'Slaytanic Wehrmacht' and featured a skull encased in a World War II German helmet. SLAYER seemed quite content to be stoking up their reputation as number 1 bad boys.

The band provoked further adverse reaction by their use of a new logo, a Nazi eagle with the swastika replaced with the SLAYER logo. The furor over 'Angel Of Death' was so great that British distributor Geffen, owned by the Jewish entrepreneur David Geffen, dropped the album from their schedules. Ironically Geffen had been quick to capitalise on SLAYER's dumping by CBS earlier.

SLAYER, on the 'Reign In Pain' tour for the first time enjoying the comforts of a tour bus, toured America with OVERKILL before European dates with openers MALICE. Such was the headliner's extreme loyalty that MALICE were very often the subject of ugly scenes, having to endure booing and, sadly, more often than not, spitting.

With the band's burgeoning popularity, former label Metal Blade were quick to capitalise releasing 'Live Undead' in limited edition a picture disc format. Kerry King unexpectedly found himself all over the radio during 1986 albeit not with SLAYER. The guitarist had donated a suitably manic solo to fellow Def Jam crew the BEASTIE BOYS number 1 'Licensed To Ill' album track ‘No Sleep ‘til Brooklyn’.

Between albums, and whilst in the midst of an American tour, Lombardo announced he was quitting in December 1986. Rumours circulated that the cause of the split was an argument over Lombardo's wife being on the road. Nonetheless, SLAYER continued with substitute T.J. Scaglione of WHIPLASH. As the tour rolled on SLAYER hooked up with W.A.S.P., an ill fated union that witnessed a bitter war of words between the two bands as to which act viewed itself as selling the more tickets.

Credit/s: Garry Sharpe-Young
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Last updated: 20 August 2006

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