Slayer History

01. Cover Tunes, The Beginning (1981 - 1982)
02. Metal Blade, Show No Mercy & Haunting The Chapel (1983 - 1984)
03. Hell Awaits, First Tour In Europe (1985)
04. Reign In Blood, Reign In Pain (1986 - 1987)
05. South Of Heaven, World Sacrifice Tour (1988 - 1989)
06. Seasons In The Abyss, Clash Of The Titans, Judgment Night (1990 - 1993)
07. Divine Intervention, Live Intrusion (1994 - 1995)
08. Undisputed Attitude, Ozzfest (1996 - 1997)
09. Diabolus In Musica, Diabolus On Tour (1998 - 2000)
10. God Hates Us All, Touring, DVDs (2001 - 2005)
11. Christ Illusion, Grammy Awards (2006 - 2008)
12. World Painted Blood, Carnage, The Big Four (2009 - 2010)
13. 30 Years of Slayer! (2011)

To celebrate 30 years of Slayer I've put up this new and improved version of the "Slayer History". This is by no means complete and should only give you a quick overlook of what has happened in the last 30 years.

01. Cover Tunes, The Beginning (1981 - 1982)
Tour Dates: 1981 | 1982
Slayer were started by Kerry King (Guitar) in 1981 in the Los Angeles suburb "Huntington Park". Before the days of Slayer Kerry used to be in a band with Tom Araya (Vocals/Bass), that band broke up soon and the two of them did go their seperate ways. Tom was still working as a respiratory therapist in a hospital back then.

On his search of a good band to play in Kerry went to an audition, but that band was just horrible. The good thing was that the bands audition was upstairs in a building, and downstairs Jeff Hanneman (Guitar) was working and had his guitar and amp with him. After Kerry heard Jeff play he approached him and asked him if he wanted to start a band.

Soon after that Dave Lombardo (Drums) came into the picture. Dave was delivering pizza back in the day and came by Kerrys house one day asking if Kerry was the kid that had all the guitars. One thing led to another and soon Kerry, Jeff and Dave were in the early version of Slayer. Kerry still had Tom in mind and asked him if he wanted to join as they were still searching for a singer and bassplayer.

Tom eventually joined the band after Kerry gave him a list of songs to learn. The first rehearsal went really well for a band that never played together before. The name for the band was quickly found, the guys were inspired by the movie "Dragonslayer" but they thought the name was too long and cheesy so they shortened it to Slayer and there you go!

"I remember the day they walked in with their amps and guitars and I thought 'who the hell are these guys?' and we were still in highschool back then. Kerry gave me a list of songs to learn, and a week later they came down and when we played them I thought 'this is fucking awesome' "
Tom Araya, June 1998

One of the first live appearances ever by Slayer was on March 25th 1982 at Los Angeles' South Gate highschool during lunch break. In the early days Slayer were playing cover songs by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and various punk bands since Jeff was and still is a huge punk fan.

02. Metal Blade, Show No Mercy & Haunting The Chapel (1983 - 1984)
Tour Dates: 1983 | 1984

In 1983 Slayer were discovered by Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel, allegedly this happened on August 27th 1983 at the "Woodstock" in Anaheim, CA. Brian Slagel liked Slayers music and performance so much that he offered them a track on the "Metal Masscare 3" compilation.

The guys went out and bought the previous "Metal Massacre" compilations to see what was on them. It became clear to them that they could come up with something heavier than the bands on the previous releases. "Aggressive Perfector" was the outcome and was released on "Metal Massacre 3".

"One day Brian Slagel saw us at a show and he said he was putting together those metal compilations. 'You wanna do a song for the metal masscare?' And we went out and bought the previous ones to see what kind of metal music was on those records and we thought 'we can come up with something heavier and faster than this shit' "
Tom Araya, June 1998

After "Metal Massacre 3" and "Aggressive Perfector" were received pretty well, Brian Slagel asked Slayer if they'd be willing to record a full length album for Metal Blade Records. The recording process for "Show No Mercy" was quite an experience for the guys since they'd never recorded in a professional studio before. As we all know today "Show No Mercy" became a classic and consisted of a lot of screams and guitar solo fill-in's, sometimes sounding a bit like Judas Priest mixed with Iron Maiden on speed.

An interesting fact about the album is that it was recorded without cymbals on Daves drumkit since Brian Slagel had the opinion back then that it would sound better. The cymbals were edited in later in the process which is why they may sound a little strange sometimes. Bill Metoyer and Brian Slagel produced the album. "Show No Mercy" was released in December 1983 in North America and in early 1984 in europe due to distribution problems.

Touring in support of "Show No Mercy" proved to be an adventure, Brian Slagel allegedly booked some dates for Slayer and just said "We've got these dates, see how you get there!". The guys rented a U-Haul for all their equipment but soon found out that they wouldn't fit into the truck, so they took Toms Camaro aswell and hit the road.

"We ended up sleeping at peoples houses, fans or friends. Alot of times we didn't have any money, I remember thanksgiving 1984, we shared hamburgers"

"When we returned from the tour Brian Slagel was like 'Where's the money?' and we were like 'What money?'. 'The money you were supposed to give me from the shows', and we replied 'Oh, but was that was the only money we had to survive, to buy food!"
Tom Araya, June 1998

It quickly became clear that "Show No Mercy" was Metal Blade Records' highest selling album to that date resulting in Brian Slagel wanting to release an follow-up EP. "Haunting The Chapel" was recorded in Hollywood and the recording process proved to be difficult when you record drums without a carpet. Daves drumkit would move around while he was recording, so he asked Gene Hoglan if he'd hold his drumkit together while recording "Chemical Warfare".

The EP showed a more thrashier and darker side of Slayer defining their style of music and laying the foundation for the albums that were to come.

On a side note, "Live Undead" was recorded in a studio during a rehearsal in front of some friends of the band. The band didn't want the album to be released but due to their contract with Metal Blade Records they had no choice.

03. Hell Awaits, First Tour In Europe (1985)
Tour Dates: 1985
"Hell Awaits" would continue where the "Haunting The Chapel" EP stopped, Slayers sound became even darker and the lyrics more satanic. The album, produced once again by Bill Metoyer and Brian Slagel, went on to sell 100.000 copies in a very short time after it's release. This, of course, attracted the interest of major labels in Slayer.

"Hell Awaits" shows a band that evolved and could also handle slower songs like "At Dawn They Sleep". The songs were longer than on "Show No Mercy", a trend in the heavy metal scene at that time. When you listen to the intro of "Hell Awaits" backwards a voice will repeatedly say "Join us...".

In support of "Hell Awaits" Slayer went on the road with Exodus and Venom on the "Combat Tour". One of the shows at the Studio 54 in New York was filmed and later released on VHS video by Combat Records.

"Inside Venom's tour bus the band members got drunk with Venom, while listening to Hell Awaits. Araya entered the bus "hammered out of his mind," saying "I gotta take a piss! Where's the bathroom in this thing?" Venom singer Conrad "Cronos" Lant responded, saying "Right here right here in my mouth!" Araya took him literally and urinated on his hair. Cronos got up and punched him in the face, the two blamed each other all night, and Araya continued the tour with a black eye."
Dave Lombardo, 2006

It was also in 1985 that Slayer first played in europe, their first ever show on european soil was on May 26th 1985 in the Netherlands at Poperinge's "Heavy Sound Festival". That show was followed by a tour mostly through the Netherlands and Germany, supported in Germany by the legendary Destruction.

Due to the success of "Hell Awaits" Slayer were contacted by producer Rick Rubin of Def Jam Records. Rubin produced bands like Public Enemy, Run DMC or the Beastie Boys back then. Slayer were the first metal band when they finally joined Def Jam Records. Many people believed that Rick Rubin couldn't produce a thrash metal band like Slayer, but they were all to be proven wrong.

04. Reign In Blood, Reign In Pain (1986 - 1987)
Tour Dates: 1986 | 1987
1986 saw the release of "Reign In Blood", easily the best thrash metal album ever. It featured "Angel Of Death" which caused some controversy right away as it dealt with human experiments conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp by Josef Mengele who was called "the Angel of Death" by inmates.

Jeff Hanneman wrote "Angel Of Death" after he read books on Mengele during a tour. Jeff complained that usually people misinterpret the lyrics, the song was written to show the horrors people were going through back then.

Aside from that "Reign In Blood" was very well received and was Slayers first album that landed on the Billboard Top 100 to peak at #94. The album was certified gold on November 20th 1992.

Slayer toured the US in support of "Reign In Blood" on their "Reign In Pain Tour" together with Overkill. After a month of touring Dave Lombardo decided it was time to quit the band. He was replaced by Tony Scaglione from Whiplash so that Slayer could finish their tour.

"I wasn't making any money. I think I had just gotten married, and I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally on a major label I wanted my rent and utilities paid."
Dave Lombardo

Rick Rubin called Dave Lombardo almost daily to convince him to come back to Slayer, but Dave still wasn't sure. It was Dave's wife that convinced him to back to Slayer in 1987.

In early 1987 the band was supporting W.A.S.P. on their "Electric Circus Tour" through north america followed by another visit to europe on the european part of the "Reign In Pain" tour together with Malice.

"It was a tour that we did with W.A.S.P., that was ... alot of fun! (laughs) We would go on and play and everybody would leave and then W.A.S.P. would play to an empty house which was alot of fun. They got a lot of shit thrown at them even though they were on after us."
Tom Araya, June 1998

05. South Of Heaven, World Sacrifice Tour (1988 - 1989)
Tour Dates: 1988 | 1989
Being aware that they couldn't top "Reign In Blood", Slayer released "South Of Heaven" in 1988, a much slower and melodic album than its predecessor. Tom Araya moved away from his usual singing style and really "sang" some songs on this album. But afterall not everyone in the band was happy with the outcome.

"There was fire on all the records, but it started dimming when South Of Heaven came into the picture. And that's me personally. Again, I was probably wanting something else."
Dave Lombardo, 2006

The album wasn't received very good by hardcore Slayer fans as they were more used to the style the band had developed on "Hell Awaits" and "Reign In Blood", many thought it was too slow and commercially orientated. Over the years however, the album grew and is today being considered a classic. Slayer proved that they could also write slow and heavy songs instead of lightning fast all the way.

"South Of Heaven" entered the Billboard Top 200, peaked at #57 and was finally certified gold in 1992. Tracks like the title track or "Mandatory Suicide" still remain a must in Slayers live setlist today.

The song "Dissident Aggressor" was originally performed by Judas Priest and was chosen for this album due to it's war themed-lyrics

Slayer toured in support of the album on their "World Sacrifice Tour" which led them through north america and europe with bands like Danzig, Motörhead and Overkill. They also played some support shows for Judas Priest on their "Mercenaries Of Metal Tour 1988". In early 1989 the band went to europe for a 2nd time to play the last leg of the "World Sacrifice Tour".

06. Seasons In The Abyss, Clash Of The Titans, Judgment Night (1990 - 1993)
Tour Dates: 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993
Imagine a mixture of "Reign In Blood" and "South Of Heaven", that's just what you get on 1990s "Seasons In The Abyss". Realizing that they eventually slowed down a bit too much on "South Of Heaven" the band went for a heavier and faster sound again.

All time classics like "War Ensemble", "Dead Skin Mask" or the title track were and still are in a league of it's own. This album also introduced the "Slayer Eagle" logo inside it's booklet which is still used today on various merchandising articles.

Slayer also shot their first video clip for the title track of "Seasons In The Abyss", for that they flew to the middle east just before the gulf war broke out. The clip was filmed between the pyramids and is one of the coolest metal videos ever made. If you don't know it, check it out! Another promotional clip was released later for "War Ensemble", which was just a live montage with the sound from the album version.

"Seasons In The Abyss" peaked at #40 on the Billboard charts and was certified gold.

After a brief US tour dubbed "A Week In The Abyss" Slayer embarked on the european "Clash Of The Titans Tour" in late September 1990. The tour featured Slayer, Megadeth, Testament and the Suicidal Tendencies. This tour led them through the biggest indoor arenas in europe and was sold out almost everywhere.

Slayers immense touring schedule continued in January 1991 together with Testament ("Touring The Abyss") and from May until July 1991 the US version of the "Clash Of The Titans Tour" took place featuring Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax and Alice In Chains. Big arenas, big crowds, you can say thrash metal was at it's peak then.

To celebrate the bands 10th anniversary "Decade Of Aggression" was released in late 1991. The album was recorded at three different places and shows Slayer at their best playing all their classics. To support this release Slayer once again toured europe on their "Decade Of Aggression Tour 1991". Despite being a thrash live album it peaked at #55 on the Billboard charts.

"The main disc was [disc] one and then we had other songs that we played a different night that we added to the package, and that was our first live experience, the first anyone could have Slayer live unless it was a tape-trading kind of thing from way back when. So it was kinda cool, you know, we were proud of it."
Kerry King, 2010

A live video was also planned for "Decade Of Aggression" but was cancelled in the last minute, allegedly the band wasn't happy with the outcome of the material. The video clip for "Raining Blood / Black Magic" was taken from that footage, very unfortunate that the whole video never saw the light of day.

In May 1992 Dave Lombardo left the band for the second time, this time permanently. Reasons for his departure were conflicts with the other band members as well as wanting to bring his wife on tour which the other guys didn't want back then. It would have been much easier if Lombardo left his wife at home during tours and kept in touch with with

Dave's replacement was Paul Bostaph, former Forbidden drummer. Paul's first live performances with Slayer were some warmup shows in the US in the summer of 1992 and then some festivals in europe, including the "Monsters Of Rock" in Donington, England.

Paul's first recorded material was the song "Disorder" from the "Judgment Night" soundtrack togehter with rapper Ice-T. The song was a medley of three Exploited songs, "War", "UK82" and "Disorder". The soundtrack was released in September 1993 and was the first bit of studio recording from Slayer in almost 3 years.

07. Divine Intervention, Live Intrusion (1994 - 1995)
Tour Dates: 1994 | 1995
In a time when metal was practically dead Slayer released "Divine Intervention", which was exactly what the fans were waiting for, Slayer in it's purest form, some critics even caled it "the Reign In Blood of the 90s".

The album release was delayed quite a few times since the band was switching studios and producers. Kerry King says today that he doesn't like the sound of the album at all and if there'd be ever an album he wanted to re-record it would be "Divine Intervention".

Despite that the album was recevied very well, selling 193.000 copies in the first week of it's release in the US peaking at #8 on the Billboard Top 200

Lyrically the album took reality as a topic, the guys were inspired by the stuff that was on the news back then.

"For this one, I just kind of got inspired by watching TV. That gave me a whole lot of ideas. The whole idea about the dude with Slayer in his arms was brought about because reality is scarier than anything you can make up."
Tom Araya, CMJ, 1995

Starting in late 1994 was Slayers "European Intourvention" together with Machine Head, this took them out on the road over 6 weeks and closed down the year. In early 1995 the "Divine Intourvention" in north america started, once again with Machine Head and Biohazard added to the bill.

The last show on that tour on March 12th in Mesa, AZ was filmed for Slayers first live home video "Live Intrusion" which was released on halloween in 1995. The last half of the year was pretty quiet for Slayer, just some festivals in europe and thats it.

08. Undisputed Attitude, Ozzfest (1996 - 1997)
Tour Dates: 1996 | 1997
"Undisputed Attitude" was quite unusual as it was an album with punk cover versions by bands like Minor Threat, D.R.I., T.S.O.L. and The Stooges. Jeff Hanneman used two songs on this album he'd written in 1984 for a side project that never happened and finally there was one all new Slayer song, "Gemini".

Originally this album was planned as a heavy metal cover album with bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, UFO or Deep Purple, stuff that influeced the band in younger years. But Slayer soon realized that it wouldn't work out with their sound so they went for punk, which also heavily influenced them in the early days.

The album was released in May 1996 and peaked at #34 on the Billboard Top 200, not very well but that wasn't expected, after all this is just a cover album with one new song on it.

Shortly after the release of "Undisputed Attitude" Paul Bostaph left the band to work on his side project The Truth About Seafood. Slayer once again had to look out for a new drummer, their choice was Jon Dette from Testament. With him they went out on the small "Undisputed Attitude Club Tour" through the US aswell as some european festivals and clubs.

Later in the year they headlined the Ozzfest alongside Ozzy Osbourne, Danzig, Biohazard, Sepultura and Fear Factory. Jon Dette was eventually fired again in 1997 and Paul Bostaph came back to the band.

09. Diabolus In Musica, Diabolus On Tour (1998 - 2000)
Tour Dates: 1998 | 1999 | 2000
"Diabolus In Musica" is Slayers most experimental album to date, you can hear some influences of the then very popular "nu metal" genre like tuned down guitars, murky chord structures and churning beats. Many fans didn't really know what to think of the album, some songs were very experimental, others were the usual high speed neckbreaking Slayer songs.

The cover of the album also aroused some controversy among hardcore Slayer fans as there was a "new" Slayer logo shown. Needless to say, merchandise with that logo sold pretty poor and it was never to be seen again.

"Diabolus In Musica" was released in June 1998 and managed to sell 46.000 copies in the first week of its release peaking at #31 of the Billboard Top 200. Supporting the album was the "Diabolus On Tour" which in 1998, took Slayer almost everywhere. North america, european festivals, north america again, south america, japan, new zealand, australia, european arena tour and to close down the year some shows in south america again.

The following two years consisted of nothing but touring, another leg of the "Diabolus On Tour" and a slot on the infamous "Ozzfest 1999" among Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Primus, Godsmack and System Of A Down. In 2000 Slayer went to europe again to play the biggest festivals and some shows as a support on Iron Maiden's "Metal 2000" tour. Returning to the states the "Tattoo The Earth Tour" was finished and then it was off to the studio again.

10. God Hates Us All, Touring, DVDs (2001 - 2005)
Tour Dates: 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005
2001 started out with the "Extreme Steel" tour with Pantera before a new album was released. "God Hates Us All" finally saw the light of day on September 11th 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks in the US. Due to those attacks and cancelled flights some shows on the european "Tattoo The Planet Tour" had to be cancelled and re-scheduled.

"God Hates Us All" saw Slayer returning a bit more to their roots after their experimental approach on "Diabolus In Musica". The album sold 51.000 copies in the first week of it's release and peaked at #28 on the Billboard Top 200.

In late 2001 Paul Bostaph left Slayer due to a chronic elbow injury. Because the tour wasn't finished yet Slayer asked Dave Lombardo if he wanted to join the band for the tour, eventually Dave stayed permanently.

The album also brought Slayer's first Grammy Award nomination for the song "Disciple", the ceremony took place on February 27th 2002 with Tool winning the award. The rest of the year was nothing but touring first in north america, then off to europe for the festival shows and back to north america to play the "H82K2" tour with Soulfly and In Flames.

"I definitely wanted to put more realism in it, more depth. God Hates Us All isn't an anti-Christian line as much as it's an idea I think a lot of people can relate to on a daily basis. One day you're living with your life, and then you're hit by a car or your dog dies, so you feel like, God really hates me today."
Kerry King, Guitar World, 2001

Slayer's second home video "War At The Warfield" was released in the summer of 2003 and contains a show that was filmed at San Francisco's "Warfield" on December 7th 2001 (which makes it one of the last shows with Paul Bostaph).

The "Still Reigning" DVD was released in October 2004 and features the band performing the entire "Reign In Blood" album at the Civic Center in Augusta. At the end of "Raining Blood" blood is pouring down on the band.

Aside from that the following the years 2004 and 2005 were full of touring activities everywhere around the world and saw the band preparing to finally enter the studio in it's original line-up again.

11. Christ Illusion, Grammy Awards (2006 - 2008)
Tour Dates: 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Slayer intended to release "Christ Illusion" on June 6th 2006 (06/06/06) but as it always is with Slayer, the release got delayed. So instead of the album the band released the "Eternal Pyre" single featuring "Cult" on that day.

Slayer toured through the US on "The Unholy Alliance II" tour together with Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Mastodon and Thine Eyes Bleed without having the album released yet. The album was finally released in August 2006, the band got alot of attention for it because it was the first album since 1990s "Seasons In The Abyss" to feature the original line-up.

The album peaked at #5 of the Billboard Top 200 when it came out, the bands highest chart position in the US ever to date! "Christ Illusion" was a return to form after the very experimental "Diabolus In Musica" and the bit indecisive "God Hates Us All". Critics compared it to "Reign In Blood".

The "Christ Illusion Tour" started in south america and went through asia. In europe the touring trek was dubbed "The Unholy Alliance II Tour" featuring In Flames, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Mastodon and Thine Eyes Bleed. In 2007 the "Christ Illusion Tour" continued in north america, Australia, and Slayer played some european festivals.

In the summer of 2007 a special digipack version of "Christ Illusion" was released which featured a song that didn't make it onto the original album, "Final Six".

After finishing a successful summer arena tour with Marilyn Manson 2007 was almost over for Slayer. In late 2007 however they were nominated for a Grammy with "Eyes Of The Insane", this time they won the Grammy Award for the very first time just to do the very same thing one year late with "The Final Six".

12. World Painted Blood, Carnage, The Big Four (2009 - 2010)
Tour Dates: 2009 | 2010
"Canadian Carnage" were the words of the tour that fans had waited quite a long time for. Slayer and Megadeth on one bill, that hadn't happened since the "Clash Of The Titans" in 1991. Although it were only 4 dates in the summer of 2009 the fans knew, there had to be more to come.

After that Slayer embarked on the "Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Tour" together with Marilyn Manson and Bullet For My Valentine. In October Slayer headed to New Zealand and Australia, once again together with Megadeth. It was on this tour that Tom Araya began suffering massive back problems which resulted from almost 30 years of headbanging.

By the time the band played their Japan tour in late October 2009 the pain became even worse. Tom saw a doctor and immediately began with a treatment, because of that Slayer's planned european tour had to be cancelled.

"World Painted Blood" was finally released in early November 2009 and sold 41.000 copies in the first week of it's release peaking at #12 on the Billboard Top 200. Critics claimed it was right up there with "Seasons In The Abyss" continuing where Slayer left off in 1990.

The european tour had to be re-scheduled once again when it became clear that Tom had to undergo a surgery in the beginning of 2010. It was also announced that for the first time in history "The Big Four" (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) would be sharing the stage on selected "Sonisphere Festivals" in europe during the summer.

The four bands played to thousands of fans during those festivals, one of them has been released as a DVD "The Big 4: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria".

"The best thing of 2010 were probably the Big Four shows, because going in, I didn't think it was as special as it ended up being. I thought it was gonna be really cool for the fans and kind of cool for me, but I had the time of my life. It was fun. Being a part of it made me realize how important that tour was."
Kerry King, Revolver Mag, 2010

The US was also getting a special treatment on the "American Carnage Tour" that featured Slayer, Megadeth and Testament with part 2 of the tour even getting more classic featuring Anthrax instead of Testament. Slayer played the entire "Seasons In The Abyss" album every evening during those two tours.

13. 30 Years of Slayer! (2011)
Tour Dates: 2011
So now we are here, it's been 30 years since the band started, unbelievable isn't it? Slayer are still going strong and always remained true to themselves. For this year they have announced the "European Carnage" together with Megadeth aswell as more "Big Four" shows in Europe.

Rumors are spreading around the web that there will also be "Big Four" shows in the US, as always check Slayerized for more info!