Slayer ( biography)
Origin Huntington Park, California , U.S.
Genres Thrash metal
Years active 1981–present
Labels Metal Blade Def Jam American Nuclear Blast
Associated Metallica Megadeth Anthrax Exodus
acts Testament Cannibal Corpse
Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California , formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King . Slayer rose to fame with its 1986 release Reign in Blood , and is credited as one of the “big four” thrash metal bands, along with Metallica , Megadeth, and Anthrax .
Between 1991 and 2013, the band sold 4.9 million albums in the United States.
Early years (1981–1983)
Slayer was founded in 1981, when guitarist Kerry King met drummer Dave Lombardo . Upon meeting, the two quickly discovered they had similar taste in music and in their aspirations.
Kerry soon introduced guitarist Jeff Hanneman and recruited Chilean-born bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, who had played with King before in the band Quits (previously known as Tradewinds). The band played cover versions of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs at clubs and parties in Southern California .
Early shows relied on a Satanic image, which featured pentagrams , make-up, spikes, and inverted crosses.  Rumors that the band was originally known as Dragonslayer, after the 1981 movie of the same name , were denied by King, as he stated: “We never were; it’s a myth to this day.
The band was invited to open for Bitch at the Woodstock Club in Anaheim, California , performing eight songs, six of which were covers. While playing Iron Maiden’s ” Phantom of the Opera” the band was spotted by Brian Slagel, a former music journalist who had, at the time, recently founded the label Metal BladenRecords. Impressed with Slayer, he met with the band backstage and asked them to record an original song, “Aggressive Perfector”, for his upcoming Metal Massacre III compilation. The band agreed and the song created underground buzz, which led to Slagel offering the band a recording contract with Metal Blade.
Slayer released its first live home video in 1985, dubbed Combat Tour: The Ultimate Revenge .
The video featured live footage filmed at New York’s Studio 54 club, on the band’s 1984 tour with Venom and Exodus. By early 1985, Show No Mercy had sold over 40,000 copies,which led to the band returning to the studio to record a second full-length album. Metal Blade financed a recording budget, which allowed the band to hire producer Ron Fair.
Reign in Blood (1986–1987)
Following the success of Hell Awaits , Slayer was offered a recording contract with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin’s newly founded Def Jam Records, a largely hip hop -based label.
The band accepted and with an experienced producer and major label recording budget, the band underwent a sonic makeover resulting in shorter, faster songs with clearer production. Gone were the complex arrangements and long songs featured on Hell Awaits , ditched in favor of stripped down, hardcore punk influenced song structures.
Def Jam’s distributor, Columbia Records, refused to release the album Reign in Blood due to its graphic cover art and themes.
For example, ” Angel of Death ” detailed Holocaust concentration camps and the human experiments conducted by Nazi physician Josef Mengele . The album was distributed by Geffen Records on October 7, 1986. However, due to the controversy, Reign in Blood did not appear on Geffen Records’ release schedule.
Although the album received virtually no radio airplay, it became the band’s first to enter the Billboard 200 , debuting at number 94,and the band’s first album certified gold in the United States.