Slayer is an American heavy metal music group, founded in Huntington Park (not Huntington Beach as has often been reported), California in 1982 by Tom Araya (bass guitar, vocals), Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (guitars) and Dave Lombardo (drums). Lombardo has been in and out of the group several times, but the others have remained constant. Hanneman and King are the group's main songwriters.
Slayer (along with Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and others) are often credited with creating thrash metal, by speeding up the sound of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden and Venom. Slayer were great fans of hardcore punk, influenced by the likes of Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys and The Misfits, and borrowed some of that music's emphasis on extremely fast tempos in many of their songs.
Slayer have found moderate commercial success, and are known for their devoted cult following. Their lyrics and album art content (such as violence, serial killers, warfare and Satan) have occasionally generated strong criticism. The band has also been accused of holding Nazi sympathies, primarily due to the misunderstanding of the lyrics of the song "Angel of Death" from the Reign in Blood album. The lyrics were inspired by the grisly acts of Josef Mengele, the doctor who committed scientific atrocities on Jewish and gypsy prisoners during World War II, and who was dubbed the "Angel Of Death" by the concentration camp inmates.
Though Araya has never used the low "grunt" vocal style usually associated with death metal, Slayer's music (most notably on the albums Hell Awaits (1985) and Reign in Blood (1986) are generally regarded as having exerted a major influence on death metal and black metal. Moreover, Reign in Blood was the first of many albums to be produced by well-known and respected Def Jam Co-Founder, Rick Rubin.
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Slayer's first few albums are sometimes regarded as promising, but a little uneven. The powerful Reign In Blood, however, has been called an "undisputed masterpiece" and has been credited with "almost single-handedly inspired the entire death metal genre (at least on the American side of the Atlantic)" while never "crossing the line into self-parodic overkill."Kerrang! described Reign as "the heaviest album of all time".
South of Heaven disappointed some fans by slowing down the tempos a bit and adding touches like acoustic guitars. Many later critics have praised the album, however, as demonstrating Slayer's desire to grow musically and avoid repeating themselves.
Seasons in the Abyss (1990) is regarded as one of the seminal works of thrash metal, along with Metallica's Master of Puppets and Megadeth's Rust In Peace.
In 1996, a lawsuit was brought against the band by the parents of Elyse Pahler, who accused the band of encouraging their daughter's murderers through their lyrics. The lawsuit was thrown out in 2001.
In late 2003, Araya threatened to leave the band unless contractual obligations were met.
Dave Lombardo left the band in 1986 briefly during the Reign in Blood tour and was replaced by Tony Scaglione of Whiplash. However, after the tour was over, Lombardo came back and asked to rejoin Slayer. Lombardo left the band again in 1992 (most believed for good) and formed a band called Grip Inc.
King recruited former Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph who remained in the band until 1996. Bostaph left the band to join a project called "The Truth About Seafood"; he was replaced by Jon Dette. Jon Dette left Slayer in 1997, because things did not work out with the rest of the band.
Slayer asked Bostaph to return to the band. Bostaph agreed and stayed in Slayer until 2001. Bostaph claimed he had sustained an injury that would hinder his ability to play. Shortly thereafter, he announced he had joined the Bay Area band Systematic. Lombardo rejoined Slayer once again during the God Hates Us All tour and has remained there since.
- Jamey Jasta – Vocals (Filled in for Araya for part of a show in 2003)
- Paul Bostaph – Drums
- Jon Dette – Drums
- Tony Scaglione – Drums