Genre: Thrash metal
Is it not enough to have one of the Big Four of thrash metal playing at Sonisphere? Not satisfied with Metallica? Oh go on then, thought the organisers, we’ll give ‘em Slayer too. You can’t really argue with that, can you?
Well, many might. This is, after all, the band that possibly writes the most controversial lyrics in rock. Angel of Hell, about Josef Mengele’s experiments on inmates at Auschwitz, was about as extreme as it ever got for a band that has also been accused of being Satanists. I guess it’s lyrics like “the target’s Fucking Jesus Christ, I would’ve led the sacrifice, and nailed him to the crucifix” that got people wondering. “Beware the cult of purity, infectious imbecility, I’ve made my choice. Six six six.”
Or the one about September 11 seen through the terrorists’ eyes: “Fuck your God erase his name, a lady weeps insane with sorrow, I’ll take his towers from the world, you’re fucking raped upon your deathbed.”
I guess if you find it uncomfortable listening to songs about Nazis, white supremacists, serial killers, warfare, destruction and just about anything else that isn’t very nice, then you won’t think much of Slayer. Other than that, they’re a damned fine thrash metal band. Slayer have always insisted that these are just themes that they find interesting and that work well with their sound and that they don’t support any of them. They’re probably right. People watch horror movies, they play videogames that involve killing things, they laugh at sick jokes … it doesn’t mean they like that kind of stuff for real. So if Slayer want to sing about them, is there any difference?
After all, your average Dungeons and Dragons player may spend his life mutilating zombies, but I can’t say I’d be too scared if I ran into him while walking home at night with his twelve-sided dice as his only weapon. Anyway, we could do this Slayer debate for hours, fact is, they’re at Sonisphere.
The Californians are entering their third decade in the business, and are showing no signs of slacking picking up Grammys as recent as 2007 for Eyes of the Insane and 2008 for Final Six. And as drummer Dave Lombardo said last year, “I’m not retiring and I don’t think Kerry is retiring either so… I like longevity and a true musician never abandons his art.” And it’s good to hear there are still people like that around in this fickle day and age, even though he did actually quit Slayer and not return until 2003, and on the disagreements that led to that decision has said that “Kerry was the only one I ever had a problem with.” Other than him, the rest of the band has always been the same.
The more recent concern has been that of guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s health. As frontman Tom Araya explained “Jeff ended up contracting a bacteria that ate away his flesh on his arm, so they cut open his arm, from his wrist to his shoulder, and they did a skin graft on him, they cleaned up… It was a flesh-eating virus, so he was really, really bad.” It would seem he’s okay now, though.
Did you know: Cliff Richard’s forthcoming album is a tribute to the band, containing twelve cover versions of some of his favourite Slayer tracks. Actually, I just made that up.
1. World Painted Blood
2. Hate Worldwide
3. War Ensemble
5. Psychopathy Red
8. Spirit in Black
11. Dead Skin Mask
12. Hell Awaits
13. Mandatory Suicide
14. Chemical Warfare
15. Silent Scream
16. Seasons in the Abyss
Encore: 18. South of Heaven
19. Raining Blood
20. Black Magic
21. Angel of Death