Slayer is one of the most successful and influential thrash metal bands in history. The band was originally formed in 1981 in the Huntingen Beach Area, a suburb of Los Angeles in California, USA, under the monicker Dragonslayer which was soon dropped. The guitarist Kerry King was looking for other musicians to start up a new band. He found another guitarist Jeff Hanneman who was very interesting in the ongoing punk movement. These two guys were soon joined by drummer Dave Lombardo and singer/bassist Tom Araya. Tom had also been playing together with Kerry King earlier in another band.
The first time Slayer played was in 1982 and at that time they only played covers of well-known artists like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. In 1983 they performed at at local club called "Woodstock" where they were noticed by Brian Slagel, owner of Metal Blade Records. He offered them to record a song for his compilation "Metal Massacre III". They agreed to do it if he would help them record a full-length album and so the first deal was made. In December 1983 their debut release "Show No Mercy" was unleashed.
In 1985 they released their second full-length album called "Hell Awaits" which sold 100 000 copies in the US. Now major labels were taking interest in the band and they were contacted by the producer Rick Rubin (Run DMC, Beastie Boys...). They signed a new deal as the first metal band on Rick's label Def Jam. In 1985 they also went on their first European tour. In 1986 they released their album "Reign In Blood" which is regarded by many as the best thrash metal album ever. The album resulted in a gold record for the band and it sold more than 500 000 copies in the US.
Although the band was very successful they were having some internal problems which led to Dave Lombardo leaving the band for a while, being replaced by Tony Scaglione from the thrash metal band Whiplash. He didn┤t fit in the band though and Dave soon returned. Slayer also had problems with being accused of being nazis, a lot due to the fact that Jeff Hanneman was collecting items from the nazi time and also wore symbols from that time on his jacket. The band themselves say that they are not nazis and Jeff is only very interested in that time period. You will have to believe them.
In 1990 they released their biggest selling album "Seasons In The Abyss" which sold platinum (1 000 000 copies) in the US. That very year they also went on the legendary "The Clash Of The Titans" tour together with Suicidal Tendencies, Testament and Megadeth in Europe and Alice In Chains, Anthrax and Megadeth in the US. They didn┤t get along with Megadeth very well since they were competing with each other and in interviews they went on talking shit about the other band. In 1991 they celebrated their 10 year anniversary with a compilation album.
In February or March 1992 Dave Lombardo was finally fired from the band after a long period of internal struggles. The other band members were not happy with the fact that he spent more time with his wife than with the band and due to back problems he could not play as he had done before. The drummer of Forbidden, Paul Bostaph, had recently left his band and after rehearsing with Slayer he became their new drummer.
At this point Slayer disappeared from the scene for a while and at the same time bands like Sepultura and Pantera were beginning to gain a lot of attention. In late 1993 they did return again with a soundtrack for the movie "Judgment Night" starring Emilio Estevez which they did together with singer/actor Ice-T. Afte the release of "Divine Intervention" the band raised nazi accusations again due to lyrics about the SS-Hangman Reinhard Heydrick. The vocalist of Sepultura (Max Cavelera, now in Soulfly) said that Slayer had a nazi-image. On a French Tv-show Slayer said that Sepultura were "a bunch of lowlife cocksuckers from Brazil".
In the autumn of 1994 Slayer went on tour in Europe yet again with the newly emerged Machine Head. In 1995 they unleashed their home video "Live Intrusion" which starts off with a scene where a fan carves the name Slayer on his back with a knife. The video was very successful and topped the US sales video charts for some time. After the release of their punk cover album "Undisputed Attitude" in 1996 Bostaph left the band since he had grown tired of metal and wanted to work with a band called "The Truth About Seafood". The new drummer was the former Testament member Jon Dette.
Jon didn┤t last very long in the band due to problems with getting along and in early 1997 he was fired. Paul had for unknown reason left his old band and now he returned to the Slayer camp. The line-up has from then on been stable and Slayer is still active with a new album coming up. The band members have also done guest appearances on albums from Pantera and Soulfly.