Slayer: Reign Date
Orginally printed in Guitar World, September 2006.
As Slayer celebrates 25 thrashing years together, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman sit down to talk about the group's new album, the Unholy Alliance tour, and the setbacks that delayed them.
It all seemed perfect. Maybe a little too perfect. This year is both Slayer's 25th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the extreme mettaler's benchmark thrash recording, Reign In Blood. In addition, the Los Angeles band—which features singer and bassist Tom Araya and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman—recently reunited with its original drummer, Dave Lombardo. What better way to celebrate than to release a new album, Slayer’s first with Lombardo since 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss, and kick off a tour on that most evil of dates, June 6, 2006?
But the 6/6/06 date didn’t come about as planned. The recording of the new album, which is presently untitled and due out on July 25, ran behind schedule, and the launch date for the Unholy Alliance Tour: Preaching to the Perverted had to be pushed back after Araya underwent gall bladder surgery. A bit of divine intervention? Or perhaps divine retribution? God may not hate us all, but it wouldn’t be surprising if at this point He has it in for Slayer, at least a little bit.
But it’s doubtful that the band contemplated whether it was finally time to repent. Slayer managed to commemorate June 6 by squeezing out a limited edition EP. As for the Unholy Alliance tour—on which Slayer are supported by some of metal’s best and brightest acts, including Lamb of God, Mastodon and Children of Bodom (all of whom reveal more than a little Slayer influence in their own music)—is proving to be the fiercest bill of the summer.
The new album, meanwhile, is pure Slayer, mixing furious speed metal with downtuned, midtempo dirges of the type the band has become accustomed to in recent years. Araya’s raw-throat scream is considerably more corrosive than in the past, moving ever closer in tone and texture to the guitarists’ caustic, barbed-wire riffs. Then there are, of course, the shit-stirring lyrics. Two songs, “Eyes of the Insane” and “Jihad,” deal directly with the atrocities of war, the latter from the perspective of the terrorist, while the first single, “Cult,” is characteristic Slayer Bible-bashing, based around the refrain, “Religion is rape/religion’s obscene/religion’s a whore.” And if next year’s Grammys were to add a category for Best Song Title, Slayer would be a strong contender for the award with the album’s
closing track, “Flesh Storm.”
All of which would suggest that Slayer are still some supremely pissed-off dudes. But that proves to be far from the case when King and Hanneman, resembling nothing so much as evil beach bums in their black T-shirts, baggy camouflage pants and dark sunglasses, arrive at their management company’s West Hollywood headquarters on a warm afternoon in May. King takes a moment to test a beautiful flame-and-tribal-tattoo custom shop B.C. Rich Warlock that he plans to take out on the road this summer, while Hanneman examines the newest addition to his collection of signature ESPs, a black Strat-style model with the logo of his favorite beer emblazoned across the body. On closer inspection it is revealed that the word “Heineken,” much to the guitarist’s delight, has been replaced with “Hanneman.” In short order, the beverage that served as artistic inspiration for the instrument is brought into the room, and the two guitarists are ready to talk.