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“Because God isn't real, that's why”
Slayer are an American thrash metal band from California, USA led by frontman Tom Araya, guitarist Kerry King, drummer Dave Lombardo and former guitarist, the late Jeff Hanneman. Slayer came to be in the mid-eighties during the emerging thrash metal scene, being the only band at the time to actually thrash. Slayer have a large and diverse collection of lyrical themes; despite rumours Slayer are Satanists (albums like "South of Heaven" and "God Hates Us All", complete with pentagrams on the front cover, don't help), their lead lead singer is a devout (although slightly dated and a bit medieval) Catholic and has had to tolerate bandmate Kerry King's Atheist speeches for over twenty years.
Slayer started around the same time as the other three thrash bands - Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax - in the eighties. Before then, Kerry King was a pizza boy, having been fired from his job as a priest after he gave a long lecture about why God isn't real and why the Church choir should be replaced with Iron Maiden. A hoarder named Jeff Hanneman had ordered a pizza, and so they sent Kerry King. King arrived at his house, and saw Hanneman head-banging to AC/DC, and joined him. For unknown reasons, the two decided to start a band whose music did not sound like AC/DC. After discussing the band, the two realised they both played guitar. After tossing a coin (half of Hanneman's life savings) to see who would be stuck on the bass, their coin fell down the sink, so they both became lead guitarists.
Hanneman phoned his friend Tom Araya, who worked as a therapist. Araya, who was in the middle of consoling Kurt Cobain's parents with their marriage issues, left in the middle of the session to join the band, abandoning the Cobain parents and therefore never prevented the divorce. Cobain, however, mistook the therapist who caused the divorce for Axl Rose, hence Cobain's deep hatred of the singer. Meanwhile, Dave Lombardo was unsuccessful at joining bands, because back then all bands had generic, simple beats, and Lombardo's fast, thrashing drum solos would not fit the early 80s' gentle Pop sound. He was delighted to learn his friend Tom Araya was allowing him to join a band.
edit Early Years
Slayer began as a GWAR-like band, performing light-hearted glam rock music about loving everyone while simultaneously wearing demon face-paint and spiked armour. When not performing one of their two self-written songs, they would play various Judas Priest and Iron Maiden covers. After managing to make several EPs with their home-made recording machines, Kerry King kept them in his closet until they needed them. Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, angry at King for leaving Megadeth, broke into King's house and stole the records, releasing them under his name before King could notice.
Realising they had to change their style or be sued by Mustaine. Slayer chose a less "dragon-slaying viking-demons" image and just released whatever they damn-well pleased. Slayer finally recorded an album that would be too Satanic for other Thrash bands' tastes. Slayer's debut album, Reign in Blood, was a success and cemented them as the thrash metal band they are known for being today. Slayer attributed the success to the fact that no-one can understand Tom Araya's fast-paced talking (yes, talking) and thus don't realise that what he is saying is actually a description of Hell itself (translated from the first, uncensored draft of the Quran).
edit Reign in Blood
Released in 1987, Reign in Blood was a successful thrash album that defined the genre. The album is well known for having spawned Criminally Insane, written by Hanneman as a song about his double-life as a serial killer, Angel of Death, an anti-Nazi song that somehow led to rumours of Slayer being Nazis, and Raining Blood, a song by Kerry King about a particularly heavy period he was having at the time.
edit South of Heaven
Released in 1990, Slayer originally recorded South of Heaven at the same fast tempo as Reign, but after the recording a producer spilt tea on the machine which slowed the tempo down. Slayer did not realise this until 1993, and realising how much outrage this could cause, they claimed they had slowed it down deliberately because they "wanted a change in style".The album includes such hits as South of Heaven, which musically is a great instrumental masterpiece, but lyrically it consists of 4-and-a-half minutes of blasphemy; Behind the Crooked Cross, that song off Doom; and Silent Scream, a song by Araya about abortion, and presumably the fastest song on the album.
edit Seasons in the Abyss
Seasons in the Abyss was originally known as "Seasoning the Obese", and was written in a slower tempo to back up their claim that South of Heaven was deliberately slow. It contains Skeletons of Society, the only Kerry King song that does not consist entirely of insults aimed at religion (although it is, in fact, about religion); Seasons in the Abyss, a song Tom Araya wrote while cooking some of his own marmalade (many believe this song has a deep, metaphorical meaning: it does not); and Dead Skin Mask, another song by Hanneman about serial killers, presumably himself.
edit God Hates Us All
In 2001, Kerry King, still not convinced that everyone knew what his beliefs were, wrote the album God Hates Us All; the record label decided the 11th of September would be a good date and released God Hates Us All on the 11th of September 2001. This led to everyone accusing Slayer of being pro-terrorism, just as they were accused of being Nazis back in the 80s.
edit Slayer nowadays
By the 2000s, Dave Lombardo was fired and replaced with various stock drummers found on the streets somewhere. Outside of the band, time was not being kind on Tom Araya, and soon he wound up looking like an barely-thawed caveman dug up in the Arctic. Jeff Hanneman had disappeared from the public eye to work at a corner shop on a seaside village, and in 2013, while hanging out in his hot-tub, he was bitten by a spider. Hoping he would gain spider powers and become a superhero, he died. The Emmy Award ceremony the next year would ignore his death, just as they had with Layne Staley and Dimebag Darrel. Despite the fact that Dave Lombardo is still alive, Kerry King decided not to rerecruit him. Tom Araya's opinion is unknown, because Kerry King refuses to let him express it.
edit Slayer Inc
With Hanneman and Lombardo out of the way, Kerry King went on to finally complete his life dream of owning a corporation. In 2013, King founded his own company, Slayer Inc, which was essentially Slayer, except it was a company, according to King. No-one actually understands what this statement means. Fans were angered by King's decision. When question on why he chose to found his own company, King stated "I founded this company because God isn't real" and claimed the matter was over. The company also includes a guitarist from Korn and some stock drummer purchased on eBay.