Slayer Need to Be Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019
"SLAAAAAAYYYERRRRRR!!!" An arena full of fans roaring the thrash band's name is a familiar sound to metal fans, and we're hoping to hear it at the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. From where we sit, Slayer is one of the Rock Hall's egregious oversights (one of many), but we hope that they rectify that while the band is still on their farewell tour.
From their early days as New Wave of British Heavy Metal loving, leather and spikes clad longhairs to their current status as living legends who have never embarrassed or let down their fans, Slayer have remained unwavering in their approach to delivering unsettling, subversive music that’s impacted both the mainstream and the underground.
Slayer may not have the raw, larger-than-life numbers to support their entry like their already enshrined metal contemporaries, Metallica and Black Sabbath, but they've taken metal to uglier, darker, faster and more extreme places.
Controversy has been synonymous with the California four piece, most infamously when “Angel of Death” led the groundbreaking Reign in Blood in 1986. Branded as Nazi sympathizers due to the subject matter -- the song was about the medical experiments conducted by Nazi physician Josef Mengele on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp (the band maintained that the lyrics should be seen as a documentary, not an endorsement). But crafting dark, disturbing music is what metal is about, and no one does that as horrifically as Slayer. The 28 minute adrenaline surge that is Reign in Blood extended the goalposts for extremism in metal through surgically precise, mechanized riffing from the Hell-ordained tandem of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, Tom Araya’s from-the-depths snarl and Dave Lombardo’s supercharged drumming and cliffhanger fills.
While Slayer’s third album was vital in lifting thrash metal’s status as the evolutionary step in heavy metal, it was the next generation of metalheads used it as inspiration in taking metal to its next extreme: death metal. Strip away Araya’s vocal shouts in favor of a less intelligible guttural bark and you’ve got a perfect death metal record — just listen to Cannibal Corpse’s "Eaten Back to Life" and you’ll find the collective fingerprints of Araya, King, Hanneman and Lombardo. Even so, Araya’s darting phrasings and inflections spurred soon-to-be death metal legends to focus less on singing and more on rhythmic cadences with grittier tones.
For many, Slayer define music at its most evil... and here, we have to harp on the lyrical significance of this band some more. The Satanic themes were not new to metal, but what distanced this quartet from their peers was their predilection for taking real life horrors and channeling them into song — you won’t find much fantasy in Slayer. Twenty years removed from “Angel of Death,” you’ll find “Jihad” and “Eyes of the Insane,” both off Christ Illusion, which only took their extremism further (and we can't forget to mention the album cover, depicting a mutilated Jesus Christ wading in a sea of blood surrounded by floating, presumably severed, heads).
As we would learn over the years, the members of Slayer weren’t actually sadistic practitioners of the darkest of arts. But part of what makes seeing any kind of live music -- including heavy metal -- great, is the ability for an artist to cast a spell for an hour or two. And any attendee at a Slayer show may have felt that they were descending to hell during the band's brutalizing concerts. For a few hours while they're on stage, Hell a very real place. There’s fire, inverted crosses, pentagrams… and oh yes, it rains blood.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s reputation for inducting acts far beyond their due date has caused ire among fans, who are slighted the opportunity to see their favorite artists recognized by what should be a prestigious organization while those artists remain relevant and, most importantly, alive. Jeff Hanneman’s death obviously checks one of those boxes and it would be an eternal blight on the Hall to finally call Slayer’s name years from now when Araya and King are both in their 60s, long retired. They've missed their opportunity to honor Motorhead; we hope to see Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (among others) on that stage in the years to come. But next year, while they're still a fearsome force, we want SLAAAAAAYYYERRRRRR!
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