The Bloody Reign Of Slayer
by Joe Shooman
The prolific metal writer Joel McIver’s latest book picks up the reins of his ultra-successful Metallica biography by casting his expert eye over their rather harder compatriots and occasional rivals, Slayer.
As ever, the author’s attention to the music is paramount in a book that pulls no punches in its analysis of the thrash giants’ output.
Because McIver clearly knows the music inside out, he’s able to contrast the various albums with authority and getting stuck right into the technical side of matters is helpful in attempting to dissect and therefore understand the often complex rhythms and guitar lines of the blood-raining bastards.
For the fan, there’s plenty to argue about and no doubt hardcore followers of Slayer will find things at which to pick, which is inevitable in any extended profile like this.
Whilst this is an unofficial biography, there are some sixty original interviews herein, from contemporary bands and artists to the odd journalist and commentator. Best of all, the band themselves pop up with epithets told to the author, whose relationship with the band on a professional level goes back many years.
Watch an interesting video for ‘Raining Blood’ by Slayer
It’s also obvious that he himself is a fan, but one that reserves the right to be opinionated only when the text requires it. In tracing twenty-five years of Slayer’s career, there are several subtexts that ghost in and out of matters, from battles with the PMRC to court troubles and the constant allegations of Satanism.
McIver pops the bubbles of myth gleefully, presenting the band as heroes, if occasionally flawed ones at that (but then, all the best ones are). Drummers come and go (and come back again, and go again) but Slayer’s core members allied to strong self-belief and their truly unique fanbase manage to hold them together as they approach their fourth decade as a band.
A timely piece of work, then, and one that could find no better author, at least until the group themselves decide to do a warts-and-all expose of their extra-curricular activities – which is a different kind of book entirely. But as a biography that presents and celebrates the music of an influential act, this is the first and the last word.
The Bloody Reign Of Slayer by Joel McIver is out now through Omnibus Press