As I currently write this it is cold, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl, and Slayer is calling it quits. Now if you know me well you know which of these things matters the most to me. The shock of the Eagles beating the Vikings 38-7 has worn off, and I don’t really mind the cold. For those of you who don’t know me, Slayer takes precedence at the moment. Earlier this week, the California thrashers have announced that they are planning a farewell tour. They announced this tour in a brief hellish video, profiling their incredible 37 year career. This run includes both a North American and World tour. On this tour they will be bringing Lamb of God, Behemoth, Anthrax, and Testament along for the ride.
I was introduced to Slayer around the age of 12 when I had exhausted all the classic rock from my system (or so I thought). My older sister’s friends listened to metal and even played in a band together. I was introduced to bands like Metallica, Slipknot, and Lamb of God. At the same time a lot of my friends and peers were also into metal; meeting new friends just by wearing a Metallica t-shirt. I was what I like to call a metal sponge; absorbing all I could of these bands that were old but new to me. A binder of CDs was eventually passed down to me. I downloaded gigabytes of metal at a time, sometimes dedicating hours to the process of transferring music from friends CDs. Dark and macabre music that I never heard before. This was the moment I was dragged down to Hell and introduced to Slayer. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King had a guitar partnership that could never be matched in ever. Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo provided the galloping horse for these shredding guitars to ride on. It was ripping, disgusting, and morbid. Araya’s demonic vocals told apocalyptic premonitions, fables of inferno, and tales from Nazi gas chambers. It was something I could never conjure in my worst nightmares. It was breathtaking. Eventually I would collect my own CDs, copying them onto my own PC’s hard drive and lending out to friends. Since then you can find me screaming “SLAYER!” wherever I go.
I’m almost embarrassed to mention how late it had taken me to see Slayer live. I was told Slayer was a captivating force and I finally saw them in 2012 on the Mayhem Festival circuit. My high school career consisted of times anticipating Mayhem Festival and the day of Mayhem Festival. It came around the country each summer and metalheads would converge onto the then Susquehanna Bank Center for a day of sweat, mosh pits, and metal. It was a great way for a metal sponge like me to take in as much new and old music as possible. Smaller bands would play during the day each having about a half hour set to tear it up. The evening was for more popular mainstream groups to take the main stage. I was very excited to see Slayer headlining the festival. Although I would be seeing them from a distance, it was still a fun time to throw down in the field. Slayer played their set at dusk. Their stage was simple and straight to the point. Their Marshall stacks behind them were in the shape of inverted crosses. They came at you with the Noise, like you hearing it for the first time. The sky fading to black made the mosh pit pandemonium that much more exciting. But the special moment of that day of that day was hearing the opening riff of South of Heaven I stared up at the Moon. It had just enough cloud cover to match the eerie atmosphere the song provided. It was truly a captivating moment in metal for me.
Since then I have seen Slayer a total of 3 times. Each show had its own stunning moments and positive vibes I shared with great friends of every gender, color, and sexual orientation. When I found out Slayer was calling it quits I was happy. I was happy that I was fortunate enough to see this band enough times and live in a time where I could consume as much Slayer media as I could. I’m also happy that these guys are ending their very successful career now. With bands like Motley Crue and Black Sabbath, they will end how they started: on stage. They have been a band for 37 years with members phasing in and out. Since the start they have stayed true to their gut wrenching sound and no fucks given attitude. When other bands were changing their sound with the times, they were able to stay unchanged and relevant. Slayer will hold a legacy in metal for all time. Anytime you hear a fan scream “SLAYER!”, a demon gets its wings. If that’s not metal, I don’t know what is.
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