I’m sure most of you are familiar with the classic metal band Slayer. They’re still around now, albeit without two of their original, key members, and they’re about to go on what they’re calling their farewell tour. Slayer were, and are, one of what us metalheads like to call ‘The Big Four of Thrash’, or just simply ‘The Big Four’. Thrash metal is a sub-genre of metal music that first started to rear its unkempt head around the early-80’s, mostly around San Francisco and the Bay Area and California in general, though its roots spread much wider than that. Thrash came about as a synthesis of sorts of another sub-genre called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which included bands like Motörhead, the mighty Iron Maiden, Saxon) and punk and hardcore. As a musical style it is characterised by a fast tempo, aggressive vocals with lyrics often concerned with anti-establishment or violent or apocalyptic themes, rapid, often double-bass-heavy drumming, heavy and complicated song structures and often virtuoso-esque soloing.
It’s the tits, in other words. I absolutely love it, and I could (and often do) talk about it all day. Especially the old stuff.
Of course, in music just like in any creative endeavour, genres are fluid and any attempt to put too strict lines of demarcation around things like this can ultimately devolve into meaninglessness. Nevertheless, if someone really needed to know what thrash metal represented you would point them at The Big Four. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer—and especially all their 80’s output. Metallica are the template in many ways; Megadeth the slightly faster, more acerbic offshoot; Anthrax the anarchic jokers of the pack. And then there’s Slayer. Slayer, the fastest, meanest, darkest, most uncompromising fuckers of the lot. Where the others often introduced slower tempos or atmospheric dynamics, Slayer, more often than not, kept the bricks on the accelerator and spat blood as they pummeled their way through barriers of decency and auditory comfort.
You can imagine then, that covering Slayer is not exactly a walk in the park. Especially if you’re trying to do justice to their what is arguably their signature tune, ‘Raining Blood’ (off their 1986 masterpiece album, ‘Reign In Blood’). This is what it usually sounds like:
Isn’t it beautiful? That’s why I get up in the mornings.
Now in terms of covers, I thought I’d already seen the best the world had to offer.
Ice-T and Body Count for one:
And obviously my man Kmac here, shredding it on a goddamn Fender Telecaster:
But, this morning, uh-oh, player 3 has entered the game!
Go give them a follow on YouTube.