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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Slayer Hates Us All (Mighty Lambchop's Heavy Metal Nails #6)

Good morning and Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

Today's post is fitting for the holiday since it will be featuring artists whose speech has been deemed offensive and controversial but protected under the First Amendment. Bob love America!

Image via  last.fm

It's time to Get Thrashed, y'all! That's right, I'm talking about Thrash Metal today. Thrash was my first foray into "extreme" metal and I've never looked back. My first introduction was Metallica's Master of Puppets album. Good times.
So what makes Thrash different? First you need to understand that Thrash was largely influenced by the NWOBHM scene. What made it different was the use of  double kick/double bass drumming, tremolo picking, low pitch riffs and shouted vocals. This combined to make a faster and more aggressive sound. Thrash picked up elements of punk and hardcore which made it fairly crossover itself. You couldn't play too fast and you had better have a blazing lead guitarist. Naturally, the need for more, more, more led to the development of Death Metal but we will cover that later.
Thrash lyrical themes ranged from horror/occult to social justice and political polemics.
Thrash Metal is worldwide but just like Glam Metal, there was a regional scene that was loaded with talent and deeply influential. That scene was located in the San Francisco Bay area of California.
Bay Area Thrash is typically technical and progressive while New York Thrash is Hardcore/Punk influenced.
German Thrash is more melodic and Brazilian Thrash has more Death Metal riffing and sound.

There are four bands widely considered to be the Big Four of the genre, being the most influential and quite possibly the most successful. They are: Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer.
Metallica arose from the Bay Area and pretty much sounded like a faster, meaner NWOBHM heavy metal band. I have my issues with them but I love them and I will never discount their influence.
Megadeth was born after Dave Mustaine's ouster from Metallica and was a true innovator in thrash, adding jazz influenced guitar and complex arrangements. Nowadays, you get a nice helping of Mustaine's politics with your music. Cool...if you are down with right-wing philosophy.
Anthrax blazed out of New York with clear influence from the city's Hardcore scene and eventually tackled more topics of social justice in their music.
Slayer, well, Slayer was the nightmare of Southern California. Which is precisely why I am featuring them in depth.

Image via The Darksyde

Slayer was formed in 1981 by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman in Huntington Park, CA. They soon recruited Tom Araya on bass and vocals and added Dave Lombardo on drums. The band began a reign of terror that has found them sued, banned, accused of blasphemy, protested and proclaimed a danger to youth. 

Slayer
Left to right:
Kerry King, Jeff Haneman, Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo

Their lyrical themes have run the gamut from occult, serial killers, Nazi atrocities and a touch of politics.
They've been accused of being Nazi sympathizers thanks to many of the songs they've written but also because their logo used to feature an eagle much like that found in Nazi propaganda and the fan club is known as the Slatanic Wermacht. I find that interesting since Tom Araya is Chilean-American (Ed. Note:  Dave Lombardo is Cuban-American.) but then again, Nazi war criminals did escape to Chile and Argentina after the war so...yeah.
Anyway, I've found their lyrics regarding Nazi atrocities to be artful recitation of fact and not endorsement. But I could be trying to make that more palatable for myself, being a bleeding heart liberal and all.
Slayer once again found themselves accused of white supremacy when they covered Minor Threat's Guilty of Being White. Oy...you decide for yourself. Ian MacKaye, who wrote the song, has long maintained that it is not racist and stems from his experience of being in the minority population of his high school in Washington D.C. I don't like the song myself. I was really disappointed when Slayer covered it. However, the band reiterates again and again that they are not white supremacists and simply have an interest in Nazi history. I have to take them at their word.

In 1986, Slayer released the album that is considered to be their masterpiece, the mighty and unholy, Reign In Blood.  Seriously, that album is sublime. It was that album that brought them success and infamy. You NEED it. I always have it on my iPod. Trust me.
The 80s had Slayer mainly being protested by religious groups and singled out by the PMRC.
Shit got real in 1996 when the band was sued by the grieving parents of Elyse Pahler. They accused Slayer of directly influencing their daughter's killers with their music. That suit was thrown out because of free speech concerns as well as a "lack of foreseeability." (Meaning that Slayer couldn't have known that their songs would whip someone into a murderous frenzy.) The suit was later amended to be tried under deceptive and harmful marketing much like those against American Tobacco companies. Once again, the suit was dismissed. 
We'll sidebar here a bit to discuss the "dangerous" influence of not just Slayer but Metal music in general. Frankly, there is no evidence to support those claims. Studies have found that aggressive and angry music can actually be therapeutic and cathartic. It has been shown that some themes (i.e. misogyny, racism) do resonate but only because the listener is essentially having their own  previously held beliefs validated. 
But there is no clear and empirical evidence to support the accusation that Metal is destructive, unhealthy or capable of mind control. 
On a personal and totally anecdotal note, Slayer has not influenced me to kill, torture or maim any animal or person. Slayer has also not compelled me to worship Satan or make sacrifices to Satan. They are also not responsible for my atheism. (Which to some, is akin to Satan worship or worse. Take your pick.)
I won't front. There are some truly weird and aggressive fans of Slayer out there. (Hello guy who carved the band's name into your arm! And hello guy who had it carved into your head! P.s. Not linking to pictures. I'm sensitive to other's feelings about gore.) I'm pretty certain those people would still be that way, Slayer music or not. Just sayin'. 

Slayer is, in my opinion, the single most influential band of the scene. Without them, there would be no Death Metal and certainly no Scandinavian Black Metal. They laid the foundation for shocking album covers, lightning fast guitar, insanely heavy drumming and plenty of shocking lyrics. They even have their own unofficial holiday on June 6. I speak of the International Day of Slayer. It began on June 6, 2006 rather as a parody and continues to this day. Slayer themselves got in on it and released a limited edition t-shirt marking the occasion. (I was in Toronto, Ontario that day. And yes, I was listening to Slayer while looking through the windows of the Chanel boutique on Bloor St. Because that's how I do.) 

Slayer is still going strong today. They played a series of shows with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax in Europe and the U.S. There are plans to record a new album for release in 2013. Sadly, Jeff Hanneman has been unable to tour due to being treated for necrotizing fasciitis on his arm. Exodus' Gary Holt has been his touring replacement. 
The band has actually won Grammy Awards in 2007 and 2008 and  almost consistently been nominated in the Best Metal Performance category. Slayer keeps being Slayer and though it has been to their detriment at times, you can always count on them.

Personally, Slayer is my favorite of the Big Four. I discovered then in 1988 and was immediately scared witless. But they drew me in and have kept me all these years. Slayer is the one band I have seen in concert the most, starting in 1990. My very favorite was when I saw them on Valentine's Day in 2002 at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene. That show also sealed the deal for me with Matt. He'd never heard much of Slayer and certainly had never seen them in concert. But, he came with me and still wanted to marry me after having had the experience. Good man. 
In college, I even wrote a paper on Slayer for my writing class. I got an "A." Swag!
I don't think I can adequately explain why I love this band so much in spite of being troubled at times with their lyrics. Maybe it's because I like horror movies. Maybe it's because I'm a godless heathen who follows no spiritual/religious tradition. Or I'm just a jerk. You decide.

My picks for Slayer:
Everything. Except maybe Diabolous in Musica. It just wasn't very good.

This brings me to the manicure portion of the post. I wanted to do a manicure inspired by the song Raining Blood. (Link goes to a live performance with the "Blood Wall." So badass.) I won't lie, I have worked on this manicure for a long time. It was hard to create something that could capture the theme. I was primarily inspired by the chorus of the song: Raining blood, from a lacerated sky/Bleeding its horror

Here it is:



Damn right I got that shirt.

I started with two thin coats of China Glaze recycle. I swirled together ChG Lubu Heels and Zoya Posh and sponged them over Recycle. I added bits of Lubu Heels and Posh randomly after that. Then I added smidgens of WnW French White Creme. I was trying to create a stormy sky that might could begin to rain down blood. I used ChG Matte Magic on all nails but ring finger. I added the Slayer logo using Kiss Nail Artist Pen in black and topped it with Out The Door. I'm really pleased without how it turned out.



That will do it for my article on Thrash Metal and Slayer. Thrash is still one of my very favorite genres. I always found it empowering and inspiring.

Other Thrash notables you should check out:
Exodus
Testament
Death Angel
Powermad
Toxic Holocaust
Municipal Waste
Overkill 
Possessed - They are particularly important to Death Metal, having coined the term.
Kreator - Pioneers of the German Thash sound
Skeletonwitch - A hybrid of Thrash and Black Metal. They're really awesome.
Sepultura - Not quite as good as they used to be but still worthwhile. Brazil brings it! 




Hope all my U.S. friends have a fun and safe holiday. Remember to not drink and drive and don't let your friends do it either! To my friends in the rest of the world, have a terrific day!





5 comments:

  1. oh slayer. memories....
    many many moons ago i used to be next door neighbors with a dude who sang in a death metal band. that was a fun time.

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    Replies
    1. Deah metal neigbor, you say? I bet that was fun. Also, SLAAAYERRR! Thanks for coming by, glad you liked it. ;)

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  2. Well you know I'm a huge Slayer fan....Tom Araya cracks me up. My favorite Araya moment...an interview with some of the big 4, Tom puts his arm around Dave Mustane and says "And remember kids, God hates us all!" Then he laughs and kissed Dave on the cheek.
    Love the manicure, perfect Slayer tribute.

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