A spot on the list of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands, alongside Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica, showcases Slayer's endless high energy. Since 1981, they've been destroying stages and causing mayhem all across the globe. With over 3.5 million albums sold in America alone, there's no doubt these heavy metal gods will go down in the rock-and-roll history books.
In a more than three-decade career, there are not many places that Slayer haven't appeared. American stages at the White River Mtn Amphitheatre in Seattle and the Civic Theatre in New Orleans have played host to the band. Elsewhere in North America, Slayer have played at the Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec and Foro Sol in Mexico City. On this side of the pond, they've made their way to the Limelight Complex in Belfast and Kiewit-Hasselt in Belgium. Upcoming shows have them gracing the stages of Newport Centre and the O2 Apollo Manchester.
With albums titled Reign in Blood and Haunting the Chapel, it's no surprise there are some dark secrets. If the intro of the song "Hell Awaits" is played backwards, for instance, fans can hear the words "Join Us" recited. Other songs might not be as easy to slow down, even when playing backwards. "Necrophobic," for instance, has almost 250 beats per minute throughout the song.
Slayer started out as a cover band which played songs from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The lineup originally featured drummer Dave Lombardo, vocalist-bassist Tom Araya, guitarist Jeff Hanneman and guitarist Kerry King. The four piece got noticed while playing the cover to "Phantom of the Opera," an Iron Maiden song. They were asked by the founder of Metal Black Records to record a song. The buzz generated from the recording landed Slayer a record contract with the new label. The band would gain popularity over the years, but not all members would stay around. In fact, only Araya and King remain from the original lineup. Drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt now round out the four piece.
Many fans would say that Reign in Blood (1986) was the band's breakthrough album, since it debuted at No. 94 on the Billboard 200. Others saw Hell Awaits (1985) as the real beginning of the band's journey. It was the most progressive release from the band at the time, and fans loved the demonic offering so much that Metal Forces magazine listed it as the best album of 1985, along with naming Slayer "best band" and "best live band.
Slayer have released over a dozen albums in their career, and most have landed somewhere on the charts. In addition to their first appearance on the Top 200, with Hell Awaits, the band would release Divine Intervention in 1994. The album reached No. 8 because the band, as one critic put it, "refused to sound like anyone but Slayer." Even into the new millennium, with 2006's Christ Illusion, Slayer found their way to No. 5 on the charts. The album produced "Final Six" and "Eyes of the Insane," both Grammy Award winners, and it created buzz and controversy thanks to lyrical themes linked to religion, warfare and terrorism.
Those with Slayer tickets are in for an experience they'll never forget. There will be mosh pits, whether it's in the middle of a crowd of thousands at an outdoor music festival, or in the aisles of an indoor theatre between rows of seats. The intensity of the crowd is only matched by the energy emanating from the stage. The hard rock is nonstop, and the most die-hard fans will be up in the middle getting knocked around in the pit. For those who don't want to take a few bumps and scrapes, it's suggested to stay a fair distance back from the main stage.
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