A Tribute to Slayer

“It was the road warrior himself, Lemmy Kilmister, who had this to say in Sounds magazine in 1975, describing his legendary group Motorhead: ‘If you moved in next door [to us], your lawn would die.’ By that rationale, should you move in next door to Slayer, you should probably forget about your lawn, because your entire fucking town has most likely already been obliterated in a nuclear explosion. As dirty as Motorhead wanted to be in 1975 was as punishing as Slayer set out to be at the dawn of the eighties. Their music was a doorway that lead straight to a thematic oeuvre that none of us really wanted to walk through but couldn’t help ourselves not to. Slayer’s music is the soundtrack to a car crash. The symphony to a sadistic killing. A map straight to Hell. They took the raw, punishing sound of thrash metal and perfected it into a killing machine. They pilfered the basic concepts of shock rock, injected them with a surfeit of steroids, and created a look and a focus that was unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was unique. It was frightening. It was fantastic. And just as their show on November 9 at Madison Square Garden is being billed, “The Final Campaign” will be sure to conjure up memories in the minds of fans all across the globe. AQ would like to offer our sincere thanks to the contributing writers and artists who took time from their busy schedules to be a part of this special celebration of the greatest heavy metal band of all time. We’d also like to send a very extra-special thanks to the band’s publicist, Heidi Robinson-Fitzgerald, for her unwavering support and guidance. It will be sad to see Slayer finally head off into the sunset, but for me, it’s comforting to know they’ll be leaving behind a world completely painted in blood.”

—Daniel Alleva, Managing Editor of The Aquarian Weekly

Photo by Alex Solca

“January 24, 1987, was the first time I had seen Slayer—at the Capitol Theater in Passaic N.J., opening for W.A.S.P. I didn’t stay for W.A.S.P., since Slayer basically destroyed any chance they had to win over the crowd. Everyone was there to see Slayer, as Reign in Blood had come out about 3 months prior to the show and really started to make traction on WSOU. So, the band had a large following here in N.J. I remember Steve from Things From England (a record store in Cliffside Park, N.J.) telling me about them. He said, “If you dig Anthrax, you’ll love these guys.” And he was right. But, I think it wasn’t until seeing them live that I realized—though it was only 29 minutes long—Reign in Blood had changed the landscape for thrash metal bands. Thanks for 30-plus years of neck pain and tinnitus.”

—Chris Farinas, Publisher of The Aquarian Weekly

Photo by Frank White

“Guided by the diabolical twin-guitar genius of Kerry King and the late Jeff Hanneman, presented by the avuncular, grinning Tom Araya, and backed by Dave Lombardo, the Ginger Baker of metal, Slayer created a ruthless, precise, uncompromising sound that hooks and unites metalheads in a way few others can. Their gruesome lyrics, presented without humor, referenced the Holocaust, Satan, suicide, necrophilia, war, terrorism, etc. No taboo topic went untouched. And without the clownish makeup or goofy gimmicks of other bands that flirted with evil imagery, Slayer exudes a material sense of danger—the thought that these guys might actually be fucking serious. That forbidden aura, combined with their technical mastery and brilliant songwriting, made Slayer simultaneously a symbol of moral decline by Bible-thumping PMRC types, and a singular, inimitable paragon of American metal that you needed to experience. In the extreme metal consciousness, Slayer is biggest of the big four.”

—Patrick Slevin, The Aquarian Weekly Contributing Editor 

Photo by Neil Zlozower
Photo by Marty Temme

“I’ve known these guys since the eighties, and over the years, Anthrax and Slayer have toured together so many times, we’ve all become genuine friends.  We grew up together as musicians, and we’ve just become closer and closer over the years.  When we’re on the road, we hang out at the shows and on days off, I’ll have breakfast with Tom or dinner with Kerry, hang out with the crew or Mike LaTronico, their tour manager.  I know their families and they know mine.  These are really good people. I’ll miss standing at the side of the stage trying to make Tom laugh—which he never does during a show.  I’ll miss the “after show hangs” in Slayer’s dressing room with Kerry doing shots from his Jagermeister machine.  Nobody can drink like Kerry King can, so I always asked for a “half shot,” which came to be known as the “Bello shot.” One thing I won’t miss is having too many “Bello shots,” and spending way too many nights on the floor of the bathroom in our bus.  Anthrax played our last shows with Slayer last month in South America, and I remember watching their set from the side of the stage thinking, “I’m only going to see them play this song two more times after tonight.”  And then the next night, This is the second to the last time I’ll ever see them perform this song”  And when I see them at Madison Square Garden, it will be the last time I ever see them play those songs. With Slayer and Anthrax, our techs, our bus drivers, truck drivers—for so many years—it’s been a family. And it’s hard to say goodbye to your family.”

—Frank Bello, Anthrax 

Photo by Michael Lavine

“GOOD RIDDANCE! The brutality and sheer beauty that Slayer contributed to the world of music will live on forever. When we think of music we sometimes forget that it is an art, these guys painted it with different colors.”

—Charlie Benante, Anthrax 

Photo by Kevin Estrada

“I don’t say goodbye—I say, ‘See ya later!’”

—Scott Ian, Anthrax 

Photo by John Eder
Photo by Ken Schless

“Those guys are just cool—like road dogs. After all, their first tour was in a Camaro, famously. So, I think Slayer more than paid their dues. They are real guys and have maintained their Slayer-ness steady for 30 years now… they’re just great  dudes.”

—D. Randall Blythe, Lamb of God 

Photo by Neil Zlozower

“Slayer have influenced so many metal bands over the years. They are [the] reigning champions that continue to create extreme Slayer music and hold the flag high for metal. When that day comes that Slayer does their final performance, it will be an emotional event [for] the metal world. Horns Up!”

—Chuck Billy, Testament 

Photo by Paul Harries

“Slayer ruled my entire childhood! In high school, I had a bootleg copy of Show No Mercy duped by a buddy of mine that was totally warped and distorted, but I didn’t give a fuck, I still loved it! The tape was constantly getting mangled in my Walkman so I had to keep my trusty pencil handy to wind it back up again! Those who grew up in the late eighties know that the struggle was real! The beauty of Reign In Blood was that it was so short, the whole record fit on one side of a cassette… so you’d crank the whole album and just flip over the tape! I am also a proud survivor of Slayer’s pit at the completely oversold L’Amour back in the day… one of the most intense crowds I’ve ever been a part of!”

—Alan Robert, Life Of Agony bassist

Photo by Paul Natkin

“I never missed a Slayer show at L’Amour in Brooklyn between 1985 and 1989. I remember vividly the blood in the bathroom and in the mosh pit. I once lost both of my shoes in the pit and had to take the bus home drunk in my socks on a Saturday night.”  

—Kenny Hickey, Silvertomb and former Type O Negative guitarist

Photo by Kevin Estrada

“I was 12-years-old the first time I met Slayer. I was in my first band with a friend of mine from my neighborhood in El Paso, and we were psyched because we had tickets the next day to see the Clash of the Titans Tour—it was one of the biggest metal tours that year co-headlined by Slayer and Megadeth with Anthrax and Alice In Chains as the opener. So the day before my friend is at the shopping mall with his mom and he’s at Waldenbooks looking through Hit Parader and Metal Edge and some other metal magazines, and there’s this picture of Anthrax on one of them. He turns to this guy standing next to him and asks, “has anyone ever told you that you look like Joey Belladonna?” Well, it was him, and Joey tells my friend that all the bands are staying at the Embassy Suites across the highway, so if we wanted to meet them we should go during happy hour. All of us little metalheads—me and my brother, my friend and his little brother (who is now the guitarist for John Fogerty)—get a ride to the hotel and we bring along this newspaper clipping from the El Paso Times that had a cover story on the Clash of the Titans Tour with a picture of Slayer. We see the dudes from Anthrax and get their autographs—of course, we didn’t have cameras back then so there’s no pictures. And then we look to the glass elevator and coming down is Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. We went to meet them at the elevator doors, and they were shocked to see kids there holding stuff for them to sign. They say, “Give us a minute, we’re going to do happy hour.” So we wait in the lobby, but they have this table full of beer and we couldn’t wait longer. We were like, “Who among us has the balls to walk up to the table and ask them.”  My brother gives the paper to Jeff and he starts completely reading the article and Tom looks over at him and goes, “He asked you to sign it, not read it.” But sure enough we get our autographs and go on our way. We were starstruck. It was one of the coolest experiences for me as a kid, to meet one of my favorite bands.  And it’s amazing to think that 30 years later here I am with Ministry about to embark on month-long last tour for Slayer, and it’s such a special moment. But I always think back to that first time.”

—Cesar Soto, Ministry guitarist

Photo Mark Seliger

“I admire them for always staying true to their sound and themselves. They are the epitome of thrash metal; never straying from their original sound or going for the popular music trend to try and gain fame. They formed being thrash and they will go to their graves being thrash.”

—Chris Broderick, Act of Defiance and former Megadeth guitarist

Photo by Mark Seliger

Slayer: What can you not say about them? They have the most loyal fans. It is like they’re the Grateful Dead of metal. Why? Because they have stuck to their guns their entire career! I hate to see them retire, but their music will live on forever.”

—Eddie Garcia, Pissing Razors and former Overkill drummer 

Photo by Tom Tronckoe
Photo by Andrew Stuart

“Fucking SLAYER!!! I am sad that the anthem of my generation is ending.”

—Stephanie Cabral, celebrated west coast rock photographer

Photo by Martin Jausller

“I grew up on Slayer. They have defined an entity of their own. From the first note of “Captor of Sin” to “Relentless,” you know it’s Slayer when you hear it. All hail the kings!”

Steev Esquivel, Skinlab vocalist

Photo by Andrew Stuart

“Evil, wicked, mean, and nasty. Those were the words written on a shirt that Jeff Hanneman wore back in the eighties—and it pretty much sums up what Slayer were all about since Day One. Speaking of Day One, that day started for Slayer in 1981 when they first formed while all four original members were high school teenagers. That was 38 years ago. 38 years is a helluva run for a band, so, seeing them ride off into the sunset isn’t so much of a surprise, but at the same time, it’s unreal to think of a world without Slayer. Like, all of us older fans (heading towards age 50 now) who grew up with many of the greatest metal bands ever, we’re still used to having them in our lives. It’s October 2019 and we still have Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, and for a little longer, Slayer. What will life be like without them? I will miss them…I already have missed Jeff Hanneman, so I’ve had time for Slayer’s end to be softened a bit. Everything ends, right? I’m grateful for all of the music Slayer made and for YouTube—so I can go down memory lane and watch them in their glory in concert! Slayer are unquestionably one of the main bands who influenced me as a guitarist. Jeff Hanneman specifically inspired me to play faster and heavier—and he also inspired me to write the darkest lyrics of the sickest subject matter possible. If it wasn’t for Jeff Hanneman, I wouldn’t be the guitarist that I am today, and metal music wouldn’t be as interesting either. My love for Jeff’s music and respect for his attitude runs deep. I’m on a continuous mission to always fly the Hanneman flag high and promote his amazing legacy in my own special ways. Thank you, Slayer! Hail Hanneman!

—Jeremy Wagner, Broken Hope guitarist

Photo by Andrew Stuart
Photo by Andrew Stuart

“It’s sad to see them stop, but [I wish] the band nothing but the best.”

—Ross The Boss, Ross The Boss Band and former Manowar guitarist 

Photo by Andrew Stuart

“Slayer: it’s been a long, wild ride from damnation’s edge to a lacerated sky. Slayer was everything I wanted from an underground metal band. When they arrived during the mid-eighties, I was immediately struck by their style, drumming, unique vocals, and, of course, guitar sound. They were Satanic. They played fast and, at times, sang fast like my heroes in punk and hardcore. They were metal—the new, emerging thrash metal variety also influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Unlike other underground metal bands, they used harmonized guitar parts. They played solos that were not in the key of the song and they still made it work. And, they wrote songs you wanted to hear over and over. I usually don’t agree with populist arguments, but you can clearly see I’m not the only one who feels this way. It has been 33 years since the release of their masterpiece, Reign in Blood, which many still hail as the best metal album of all time. I certainly do. Thank you for everything, Slayer. You will be missed, but never forgotten.”

—Rob Lawi, Black Army Jacket vocalist and former publicist for Relativity Records

Photo by Andrew Stuart
Photo by Andrew Stuart

“The members of Slayer were too involved in Monty Python and the Holy Grail to realize another music journalist had entered their conference room. It was early spring, 1998 and they had gathered at Sony Los Angeles to preview their new album, tentatively title Violent by Design. The band’s laughter quickly subsided, however, when producer and American Records honcho Rick Rubin stuck his hirsute head through the door. “Have you thought about my title,” he smiled. “Yeah,” they collectively mumbled. Rubin’s suggestion, and the disk’s eventual title: Diabolus In Musica. For my interview, the last of the day, the band, the publicist, or the magazine’s editor—depending on whom you asked—had a fun, unique concept: attend a L.A. Kings versus Anaheim Ducks hockey game at the Los Angeles Forum. Seated near the ice on the left to a goal, Slayer and I faded into the capacity crowd. That was until singer Tom Araya roared at the action. Soon, a few people walked over to greet the band. Late guitarist, Jeff Hanneman laughed, “Once, a fan from the other side of the arena wandered over after hearing Tom through the crowd noise.” After the game, the band agreed to pose with me outside the arena. A drunken fan lumbered up and recognized the band members one by one. “Kerry King! Jeff Hanneman! Paul Bostaph! Tom Araya!” Tom laughed, “What? No love for Vinny?” The fan looked confused. Kerry added, “He’s our new keyboard player.” The drunken fan stood in stunned silence for a moment before stumbling away. Slayer shows are more than mere concerts, they are cathartic rites of passage. They are so aggressive they leave fans exhausted; spent of energy. It remains one of the few artists where media members would rather do battle in the mosh pit than watch the show from the confines of the VIP area. Former Relativity publicist and Black Army Jacket singer Rob Lawi, for example, never felt as if he had ever gotten the full effect of a Slayer show unless he came away with a fat lip or a black eye.”

—Vinny Cecolini, The Aquarian Contributing Writer

Photo by Troy Fisher

“My first experience coming into contact with Slayer would be in the nineties, in Gremlins 2, when Spike transforms into a spider while “Angel of Death” is blasting in the background. In the early 2000s I remember starting to go see Slayer concerts with a few different friends of mine for various tour packages at Starland Ballroom. At the 2003 Ozzfest, I remember seeing Kerry King and getting his autograph on a Jägermeister/Slayer poster. That following year Slayer was one of the headliners of Ozzfest 2004. My favorite memory of Slayer would have to be going to the Izod Center in 2010 with my friend Trafford to see Slayer reenacting the Clash of the Titans tour.  Slayer played their Seasons of the Abyss album in its entirety with a few tracks from their then new album World Painted Blood and ending in tradition with “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” and “Angel of Death.” This was the last time I got to see Slayer with their original line up and I hold this concert as a hallowed memory.”

—Nick Perkel, The Aquarian Contributing Writer

Photo by David Bonvillian
Photo by Tom Tronckoe