Well, it’s official, god hates us all. If you’re the type to believe in whatever god or gods you may worship or fear, I don’t see how you didn’t already reach that conclusion. What’s really concluding though is the career of one metal’s fastest, heaviest and most brutal acts of all time. In January of 2018, Slayer announced that retirement would be their next and final career move. The band’s upcoming world tour will be their last ever. The US leg of the tour is already looking to be a heavy hitter, with Anthrax, Lamb of God, Testament and Behemoth joining them on their final trek across America. It is very safe to say Slayer leave behind a major legacy, being a part of the “Big 4” thrash bands and the first of that group to officially throw in the towel and call it a day.
I still remember the first time I heard Slayer. The year was 2002. I was in Vice City, the fictitious setting of the Playstation 2 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, driving recklessly in a stolen vehicle when the blast of “Raining Blood” screeched through the radio (shout out to Lazlow and V Rock for getting me into Megadeth and Iron Maiden at a young age as well). When I heard this song, I knew it immediately. This was my kind of music, and I was going to be a diehard fan of Slayer. A short couple years later in 2004, I went to my first concert, Ozzfest 2004. I’ve mentioned this concert countless times in my writings on this website, and one of the headliners that year was the incomparable Slayer. Now while I was only 13 and could barely see the stage from the far-back of the crowd, when Slayer hit the stage the whole place went fucking berserk. Every time I saw Slayer, this was the routine. Slayer comes on stage, first note of music, crowd erupts into one big violent mosh. I also saw Slayer in 2006 and in 2009, the latter is covered in an archival article on this site copied from my old last.fm journal and isn’t my best work, but man was it an amazing show. 2006 was the only time I actually saw Slayer as the sole headliner with a hungry Mastodon and a punishing Lamb of God opening, Children of Bodom were also there. A few weeks after that show, I was a first day buyer of Slayer’s then new Christ Illusion album, their first album to feature the Tom Araya/Kerry King/Jeff Hanneman/Dave Lombardo lineup since 1990’s stone cold classic Seasons In The Abyss. Now while I’ve been quite vocal about my dislike of Slayer’s choices in career moves since the death of Jeff Hanneman and the firing of Dave Lombardo (again), the world is objectively a worse place without Slayer there to provide the Soundtrack to the Apocalypse.
In recent years, I had caught some flack from friends for being an ardent supporter of the “real Slayer” instead of the “Slexoder/Slexodus” lineup featuring Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph and have not seen them live since 2009. I frequently turned down the offers to see Slayer in their current incarnation live, was not exactly eagerly awaiting the Repentless album when that got announced, and I even made the claim on several occasions that Slayer died with Jeff Hanneman. While Jeff was the main songwriter in their prime and had far superior guitar skills than Kerry, it’s still worth mentioning that Kerry wrote the vast bulk of God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion. Jeff’s increased input with the World Painted Blood album in 2009 made for what I consider Slayer’s best late career effort. World Painted Blood was the last CD I ever bought at a store on release day, I was coming back from finishing probation at the county courts and decided that the new Slayer CD would make a fine soundtrack for the drive back south as a free man.
With the breaking news that Slayer is retiring after one final world tour, it’s practically mandatory that I make the pilgrimage to the gathering ground for old times’ sake. Slayer’s music has been hugely influential to my personal tastes and have remained a constant in my listening rotation. I rarely if ever hit skip when a Slayer song comes up (okay, maybe if it’s from Repentless or God Hates Us All I’ll skip it, and even I won’t listen to Diabolus En Musica ever again). While all of their 80’s work is absolutely crucial, it has to be the heralded trilogy of Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss that will remain Slayer’s timeless contribution to humanity. None of their peers ever put out three consecutive studio albums with the quality of those, and yes I’m including Metallica’s first three albums and Megadeth’s Peace Sells through Rust in Peace run when saying that. But at some point, it comes time to call it a day. Slayer’s time has passed, and while they remain more popular than ever before in their last days, metal is a young man’s game and Slayer know when to go out without limping their way into irrelevance. Go see Slayer while you still can, always listen to Slayer’s music (specifically the 1980’s material), and keep your bibles in pools of blood so that none of it’s lies can infect you.