From the first day of December 2019, we enter a dark, horrifying new era. Life without Slayer.
Sorry. Life without SLAAAAAYYYERRR!!!
There, that’s better.
From the moment I discovered Slayer on a compilation album called Speed Kills back in 1985, my life was changed forever. Just the sound of their name was enough. Everything you needed to know about the band encapsulated in two perfect syllables, especially when screamed at an ear-splitting volume or when chanted with thousands of other like-minded blood-hungry psychopaths.Continue reading →
We were gathered at The BB&T Pavilion to pay respects to the life and times of the almighty Slayer. Joining us here in the congregation is Cannibal Corpse who showered us in hymns new such as ‘Red Before Black’ and old, like ‘Hammer Smashed Face’. A funeral pyre of from Amon Amarth which included ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’, ‘As Loke Falls’ as well as Raise Your Horns’. A fitting tribute.
Go and see your heroes at least once before they are gone. I say this once a week to friends of mine. I hear all the time that “I can’t believe I missed so and so and now they are done”. For some of us, that list is long. Luckily, I have seen almost everyone on my bucket list, minus a few glaring omissions (AC/DC with Bon Scott,Queen). I’ve seen Slayer in all their iterations. Every lineup and era since 1991, which was my very first time. All of them ruled. However, when they announced their start of this farewell tour, it wasn’t a question to me if I was going or not? It was a question of how many times will I get to go? How many times will they come around? That number is up in the air as of this writing, but I am tickled that I got to go to see them at Mohegan Sun Arena in Montville, Connecticut. Thanks to my brother for life Dan Christian for hooking me up with a ticket and the great hangs. I saw a bunch of my metal brothers and sisters at the show and everyone was damn happy to be there, even if it also felt like a New Orleans funeral march at times with grave, sweaty faces. Continue reading →
On January 23rd, Slayer announced that it would wrap up its 37 years together with one last tour around the globe. Before the band begins that final sojourn, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt sat down and talked about all things Slayer. Continue reading →
Exodus headlined two nights at The Chapel in San Francisco this past weekend, and as promised, Rob Dukes, Paul Bostaph and Rick Hunolt joined them on stage for the special performances. Continue reading →
Reactivated Italian thrashers Sadist opened the show. Hailing from Genoa, a neighboring Italian city, they received a warm welcome from the crowd. Vocalist Trevor’s cackling black metal vocals reeled in their local fans. Unlike most bands that open for Slayer, they didn’t get booed off the stage.Continue reading →
With the possible exception of Iron Maiden and Faith No More, no album has been more debated by fans and the critics before a note had been heard in 2015, than Slayer’s new album Repentless (Nuclear Blast). Their historical position as a leader and a lightning rod for all of heavy music has had varying consequences to their reputation over time. Nearly oblivious to change with the exception of a couple of albums, Slayer does what Slayer wants to do. Similar to AC/DC or Motörhead, if every fan everywhere and every critic bashed this album to death sight unseen, the band might hardly notice anyway.
However, listening to Repentless in full, there is an undeniable void heard on the album, one the band makes no apology or concession to, the loss of Jeff Hanneman, Jeff is not replaceable, nor have they tried to do that honestly. Recall there were entire albums where Jeff barely had any songs or solos, but he is so clearly part of the soul of this band, his licks and style coded into the very DNA of their songcraft. At the same time, this album belongs to Kerry King and Tom Araya to the fullest, and they totally own it like their life depends on it. The future of Slayer’s career surely does.
Opening with the sinister intro track ‘Delusions of Saviour,’ I look forward to hearing many a future concert begin with this gem. The title track comes next and it is fiery in tempo and anger. It is definitely off to an inspiring start. ‘Take Control,’ another recent single is a little more straight-ahead thrash, though it has all the familiar bells and whistles you want from them. Araya sounds as frightening and strong as ever vocally. His delivery makes up a lot of the strength of this album.
Slayer, photo by Andrew Stuart
‘Vices’ is a terrific, groovy track and reminds me a lot of Paul Bostaph’s work on Divine Intervention (American). Paul’s return is a solid one. He has a few highlights and the outro of the track is one of them. The dueling harmonized guitars and solo parts bear the proper Slayer mark. ‘Cast the First Stone’ and ‘When The Stillness Comes’ also makes up some of the meat of familiar part of the album. ‘…Stillness’ has the Seasons In The Abyss (Def American) vibe that will drive some purists away, while others will love it. I fall into the latter category.
‘Chasing Death’ has them treading on some Exodus or even Pantera territory jamming out on the power grooves they pioneered. Another killer delivery from Tom sells this badass tune. ‘Implode’ was to my ears, the least impressive track and repeat listens didn’t make it grow on me. ‘Implode’ is one of the few tracks where it does seem to lack some of the old (Black) magic of the band. ‘Piano Wire’ is lone Hanneman composition on the album and it is definitely one of the best. I’d like to think Jeff would approve. ‘Atrocity Vendor’, at least in its first few measures sounds like it could have come off of ‘Haunting The Chapel’. That intro is so old-school, it might shock you. Kudos for doing something more akin to something Overkillor Anthrax would try. More great lyrics on this track and some more killer lead work as well.
‘You Against You’ is a nod to more recent albums from the band. The mid-tempo seems to be where this album lives mostly, so when it kicks into overdrive it definitely perks your ears up. It is the most “Jeff” sounding track on the album. ‘Pride And Prejudice’ ends the album on a heavy note with a screed on the current state of the world and a dim view for the future.
Armed with 12 new ditties toasting humanity’s self-destruction, the new Slayer album is a complex one. That they have made a complete album in 2015, should surprise none. Whether it lands in the pantheon of their greatest works, I’m not so sure about that one. Things that hold the album back from greatness are the differing styles of producers Greg Fieldman and Terry Date, the choppy mixing, and perhaps a lack of the uniqueness where a lot of the songs just sound like tributes to their past. Perhaps next time Gary Holt can chime in and co-write some tracks too. Overall Repentless is an enjoyable, fierce album that sounds essentially like a Slayer album should.
Slayer’s new album Repentless is fast approaching its September 11th release date from Nuclear Blast. The band has released a video of members Tom Araya, Kerry King, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt talk about working with metal producing legend Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Soundgarden). You can watch the clip at this link or below:
They had just completed their first “real” tour supporting Testament and Exodus across North America, and unlike their previous DIY style tours supporting club sized acts, they learned quickly the wrong and right ways of surviving on the road.
“The last one we were with (Testament/Exodus) – that was a real get up and go,” explained drummer Rob Garza. “We were still learning and now we’re way more focused and way more on time. We’re trying not to get on anyone’s bad side especially we don’t mess up too much,” he said, about the quick learning curve.
Testament frontman Chuck Billy is no stranger to the Shattered Sun camp, as he is one of their co-managers from Breaking Bands LLC and has been mentoring the guys over the past year.
“[We’re] basically learning how to do things the right way. When we first got on the Testament and Exodus tour with them this past April, we were all fan boys over Testament and Exodus, but then Chuck’s biggest role in the band is as a mentor. He could just say ‘just relax…we’re all here as a team. We’re all family on this tour and every tour you’re gonna be on. These are your peers,’ “ he said.
“We’ve got him to calm us down the fan boys in us. Also outdoing each show – we had a decent show yesterday. Today we did better so basically we keep on pushing so we put on a better show every day.”
Joseph Guajardo of Shattered Sun. Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada.
Already from the Mayhem Fest they have gone from performing in from a largely older crowd to a younger demographic that leans towards the newer style of bands featured on the Victory Records side stage.
“The guys and myself were talking about that yesterday. Even the bands that were on tour – no disrespect to Testament and Exodus – they’re more of our age group. You go with the Testament and Exodus and it’s strictly that thrasher crowd. There’s nothing wrong with that. On this one, you have that all around, different genres of music collectively. It’s a different feel. We like it. We’re digging it.”
While the band’s sound comes from the heavier side of metal and their band name is a modified version of an Unearth tune, Garza spoke about their range of influences that helped shape their overall sound.
“When we first started jamming, our guitarist Daniel [Trejo] named our band after an Unearth song ‘Shattered By The Sun.’ So he was really into Unearth and still is to this day. We all are,” he said.
“We try to stick with melodic metal and keep it thrashy, and we’re all fans of other genres as well. One of my favorite drummers and bands of all time is the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. I try to incorporate as much groove into our thrash beats. It’s a combination of a lot of stuff. It’s like ‘I was listening to this today. I want to try to see how this would sound on this song.’ “
“On this album, we tried to cover all grounds because where we’re from, everyone in our area is real biased. We’re not heavy enough for the hardcore kids or we’re not soft enough for the older crowd. We just wanted to make a CD and just bring as much of everything in. We get known as bands that plays a lot of different kinds of music. We just try to throw it into one thing so we try to cover everyone’s demographic on that one.”
Henry Garza of Shattered Sun
Being on the road, Garza and the Shattered Sun members have experienced many different things but also being from a small Texas town, they also found new and unusual things.
“I believe it was on the last tour, we were in South Carolina and they were selling roasted peanuts. It looked weird, just there in a jar staying warm. Just small things like that that freak us out. But we Google what it is and say ‘uh ok…let’s try it out.’ “
“What I wanted to do when we were in Canada, I wanted to go to McDonalds and see if they had the Royale With Cheese. I didn’t get a chance to do that. I’m trying to cram a bunch of different things into my demographic right now.”
Plus the rare time off of the road has given them time to enhance their road home known as their van. While they have accepted the fact that they will be calling it home for the next year, they have slowly made moderations to it.
“This time we’ve actually built a bunk in our van. ‘OK what can we do differently?’ We’ll probably try to put another bunk in there, a shoe rack, because right now everybody’s shoes are thrown all over the place. We even have our inverter so we routed our power strips so we can charge our phones in the back. We’re learning tour by tour.”
All of the touring experience has now landed them an upcoming North American tour supporting metal heavyweights Soulfly, Soilwork and Decapitated. Garza himself is excited about the upcoming tour but has his eyes on meeting another drumming idol.
“I’m actually really pumped because one of my favorite drummers is Dirk Verbeuren from Soilwork. On our last tour, we had Gene Hoglan and Tom Hunting, and on this tour we’ve got Paul Bostaph and Vinnie Paul, and the next tour I’m going to have Dirk Verbeuren. To be on the same tours as these great drummers is amazing. I’m looking forward to picking that guy’s brain. Getting to tour with Soulfly – those guys are legendary. We all grew up listening to them.”
Learning from past mistakes, Garza admits he is trying his hardest not to have a Wayne and Garth’s ‘I’m Not Worthy’ moment on this upcoming tour.
“Deep down we have, but then it’s like be cool. On the outside, we’ve got to play it cool. On the inside, I’m crying a little bit.”
He admits there is one stop on the upcoming tour he has his eye on.
“I’m just waiting until we get to Milwaukee so I can say ‘it’s pronounced Mil-WAKEY’, from Alice Cooperon Wayne’s World Part 1.”
The Rockstar Energy Drink MayhemFestival kicked off this weekend in California with Slayer as the headliner. As part of the bands career-spanning set, they performed the new singles from their upcoming album Repentless in the form of ‘When The Stillness Comes’ and ‘Repentless’. You can watch videos of each song below:
Repentlesswill be released on September 11th from Nuclear Blast.