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Metal trailblazers bring farewell tour to Covelli

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Published: Wed, May 15, 2019 @ 6:04 p.m.
 

Slayer redefined the thrash-metal genre

By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

In a series of interviews released online last year, Slayer’s Kerry King, Tom Araya, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt talk about the early days of their band.

It’s an interesting and wildly fun conversation about the band’s formative period, but it’s not unlike a lot of other bands’ beginnings.

Slayer, however, is not any other band.

The influential act, formed in Los Angeles in 1981, redefined the thrash-metal genre in its four-decade career.

Last year the band surprised the metal world by announcing it was calling it quits – that is, after a global tour that will make its way to Covelli Centre on Monday.

In December, the band wrapped a leg of its tour that included Europe, the South Pacific, Australia and Japan. Before that, it crisscrossed North America, hitting Blossom Music Center and KeyBank Pavilion last summer.

Slayer’s return run through the United States and Canada includes another metal heavyweight in Lamb of God. Amon Amarth and Cannibal Corpse are also on the bill heading to Covelli, and to squeeze them all in the concert will start at 6 p.m.

Later this summer, the band will return to Europe and then play a smattering of festival dates in the fall, with the whole two-year victory lap coming to an end by Christmas.

By all accounts, the tour has Slayer playing as aggressively and brutally as ever, with headbangers manning the mosh pit in every city.

“The band hasn’t mellowed with age, and clearly, neither have the fans,” said metal website Loudwire in its concert review.

There is virtually zero crossover between thrash-metal and pop. If the two genres of music were made into a Venn diagram, they would be mutually exclusive circle – and metal’s circle would be tiny by comparison.

But Slayer’s swan song has focused attention on the band in a way it has never received before.

One indicator of its magnitude is the dedicated press website put up by the band’s publicity firm for the farewell tour. That almost never happens.

A quick gander at the site reveals the highlights of Slayer’s resume:

Two Grammy Awards – both in the Best Metal Performance category – out of a total of five nominations.

Six certified Gold albums and videos: “Reign in Blood” (1992), “Slouth of Heaven” (1992), “Seasons in the Abyss” (1993, “Divine Intervention” (1994), “War at the Warfield” video (2004), and “Still Reigning” video (2005).

Pretty much every award handed out by the metal press in the last 15 years, and permanent standing in the elite echelon of their genre, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.

Slayer – which dropped its 12th and final studio album, “Repentless,” in 2015 – is also known for putting its fans first. That helps explains its massive farewell tour that will hit more than 100 cities on four continents before the final note is played.

“Our fans don’t want us to be anything other than Slayer,” says guitarist and founding member Kerry King in the band’s video series.

“We’re popular because we play what our fans want to hear.”

———

10 FACTS ABOUT SLAYER

Thrash-metal masters Slayers haven’t said much about their farewell tour, preferring to let their performances do the talking. With that in mind, here are two handfuls of facts about the landmark band that you might not have known:

Getting started: The band formed in Huntington Park, Calif., in 1981 when bassist-vocalist Tom Araya was 20 years old and guitarist Kerry King was 17.

Controversy: The band’s controversial song “Angel of Death” – which is about Josef Mengele – riled critics because it did not point out that the Nazi doctor was a bad man. To explain the omission, then-guitarist Jeff Hanneman said, “I shouldn’t have to tell you that.”

Comics: Dark Horse Comics published a three-issue comic book series in 2015 based on the story concept of Slayer music videos.

High honors: Slayer was declared Best Band and Best Live Band Ever in a 2004 reader’s poll by Revolver magazine.

Grammy:The band earned Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance for “Eyes of the Inside” (2006) and “Final Six” (2007)

Soundtracks: Slayer has appeared on numerous film soundtracks, including “Bride of Chucky” (1998), “Jackass: The Movie” (2002) and “Saw III” (2006).

Tributes: The band and its music has been honored by a half-dozen tribute albums, including “The String Quartet Tribute to Slayer” (2003).

Wine: The band launched its own brand of wine in 2012, a Cabernet Sauvignon from California called Reign in Blood Red.

Sneakers: Slayer also launched its own brand of footwear in 2012.

Play it loud: The first International Day of Slayer was celebrated on June 6, 2006 (6/6/06). To observe it, fans were urged to listen to Slayer on full blast in a public place.



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