This intense death/thrash metal
quartet was formed in Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, USA, during 1982.
Comprising Tom Araya (b. Thomas Araya, 6 June 1961, Valparaiso, Chile; bass,
vocals), Kerry King (b. 3 June 1964, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar), Jeff
Hanneman (b. 31 January 1964, Oakland, California, USA; guitar) and Dave
Lombardo (b. 16 February 1963, Havana, Cuba; drums), they made their debut in
1983, with a track on the compilation Metal Massacre III. This led to
Metal Blade signing the band and releasing their first two albums.
Show No Mercy
were undiluted blasts of pure white metallic noise. The band played at
breakneck speed with amazing technical precision, but the intricacies of detail
were lost in a muddy production. Araya's lyrics dealt with death, carnage,
Satanism and torture, but were reduced to an indecipherable guttural howl. Rick
Rubin, producer and owner of the Def Jam Records label teamed up with the band
in 1986 for the recording of
Reign In Blood
. Featuring 10 tracks in just 28 minutes, it took the concept of thrash to its
ultimate conclusion. The song "Angel Of Death" became notorious for
its references to Joseph Mengele, the Nazi doctor who committed atrocities
against humanity (ironic, given that Araya has non-Aryan origins). They
themselves admitted to a right-wing stance on matters of society and justice,
despite being the subject of virulent attacks from that quarter over the years.
saw Rubin achieve a breakthrough in production with a clear and inherently
powerful sound, and opened up the band to a wider audience.
South Of Heaven
represented Slayer applying the brakes and introducing brain-numbing bass riffs
, but was delivered with the same manic aggression as before. The guitars of
Hanneman and King screamed violently and Araya's vocals were comprehensible for
the first time.
Seasons In The Abyss
pushed the band to the forefront of the thrash metal genre, alongside
. A state-of-the-art album in every respect, although deliberately commercial,
it is the band's most profound and convincing statement. A double live album
followed, recorded in London, Lakeland, and San Bernadino between October 1990
and August 1991. It captured the band at their brutal and uncompromising best
and featured definitive versions of many of their most infamous numbers.
However, it saw the permanent departure of Lombardo after many hints of a
separation, with ex-
drummer Paul Bostaph (b. 4 March 1964, San Francisco, California, USA; stepping
in. Lombardo went on to form Grip Inc., working with
leader Chuck Schuldiner. In 1994, the band worked alongside
on a cover version of the
's "Disorder" for the Judgement Night soundtrack, before
unveiling their sixth studio album,
. Bostaph was replaced by Jon Dette (ex-
, a covers album that demonstrated the band's punk influence and featured a
particularly inspired version of the
' "I Wanna Be Your Dog'. Bostaph rejoined the band for 1998"s
Diabolus In Musica