Less Is More Satanic

A Prescription of Restraint and Subtlety for Slayer

by Monte Williams

11 August 2010


After Screaming "Fuck Hell Die!”, Where Else Is There To Go?

Just as Trent Reznor’s “I wanna fuck you like an animal” is neither as subversive nor as sexy as “I wanna hold your hand” by the Beatles or “I wanna hold your little hand if I can be so bold” by the White Stripes, Slayer’s “Strangulation, mutilation, cancer of the brain / Limb dissection, amputation, from a mind deranged” isn’t half so unsettling or persuasive as Johnny Cash’s stark, mean “Folsom Prison Blues” highlight, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

That “strangulation, mutilation” bit is from a Slayer track called “Necrophobic,” which ends in a bit of satanic haiku so comically inept I find it endearing:

Can’t control the paranoia
Scared to die!


But wait, there’s more!

Here’s a lovely bit of poetry from a track called “Black Seranade,” off 2006’s Christ Illusion:

Your repulsiveness reminds me of dead flesh
Rotting corpse the smell of your putrid fucking soul…

Destroy the empty shell
Smash away the haunting fear
I hate your endless stare
Watching as I fuck your corpse


Now, think back to Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” from Murder Ballads. It’s narrated by two characters: a young woman named Elisa Day, and her first lover, who also proves to be her killer. It is a soaring, beautiful piece of music, and it’s also more chilling than Slayer’s “Black Seranade,” not least because the Elisa Day character narrates the tale in the past-tense, and yet she doesn’t seem to understand what has happened to her; each character begins a verse by detailing “the second day” of their courtship, but while the killer moves on to say “On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow,” poor Elisa says only “On the third day he took me to the river…” 

Nick Cave’s murderer character doesn’t scream his triumph or spew profanities or throw an impotent tantrum. He kisses her goodbye and gives her a flower.

Compare, then:


Rotting corpse the smell of your putrid fucking soul… Watching as I fuck your corpse

Nick Cave:

I kissed her goodbye, said, “All beauty must die”
And I knelt down and planted a rose between her teeth

At this point, I needed a break from Slayer’s lyrics, and so I visited their website: http://www.slayer.net/us/home. And what did I see?

Something evil. Chilling. Creepy. Godless. Behold, if you dare:

Celebrate the release of Slayer: Pinball Rocks. THIS WEEK ONLY: $7.99 Slayer catalog sale on iTunes.

Slayer is about to enter the app age with the launch of Slayer: Pinball Rocks, a new pinball game app.

“As a life-size pinball player, this looks so awesome,” said Slayer’s Kerry King. “It looks really fun and entertaining, with a shot of evil, and it could definitely keep me up all night with a few shots for myself.”

Slayer: Pinball Rocks continues the rich legacy of iconic metal and rock bands making pinball tables. In Slayer: Pinball Rocks Slayer meets the king of arcade games in one loud, fast, flipper-thrashing frenzy. With hyper-realistic pinball gameplay set to a backdrop inspired by the band’s latest head-banging masterpiece, World Painted Blood, the game includes multi-ball play, and a full tap-along mini-game in a pinball environment straight out of your worst nightmare featuring spinning razor blades, guitars, amps, concert lights, and a skull that eats your ball and spits it out through its eyeball.

Yeah… let’s look at some more lyrics.

For proof of how little Slayer have matured as lyricists in nearly thirty years, I have compiled the opening lyrics from the opening track of each of Slayer’s studio albums. Here they are, in order:

“Evil Has No Boundaries” from Show No Mercy (1983):
Blasting our way through the boundaries of Hell
No one can stop us tonight
We take on the world with hatred inside
Mayhem the reason we fight

“Chemical Warfare” from Haunting the Chapel (1984):
Frantic minds are terrified
Life lies in a grave
Silent death rides high above
On the wings of revelation

“Hell Awaits” from Hell Awaits (1985):
Existing on damnation’s edge
The priest had never known
To witness such a violent show
Of power overthrown

“Angel of Death” from Reign in Blood (1986):
Auschwitz, the meaning of pain
The way that I want you to die
Slow death, immense decay
Showers that cleanse you of your life

“South of Heaven” from South of Heaven (1988):
An unforseen future nestled somewhere in time
Unsuspecting victims no warnings, no signs
Judgment day, the second coming arrives
Before you see the light, you must die

“War Ensemble” from Seasons in the Abyss (1990):
Propaganda death ensemble
Burial to be
Corpses rotting through the night
In blood laced misery
Scorched earth the policy
The reason for the siege
The pendulum it shaves the blade
The strafing air blood raid

“Killing Fields” from Divine Intervention (1994):
You know the feeling
When adrenaline takes control
Can’t beat the rush
That leaves a suicidal hold
Instinct spares no one
Destroying the human heart
The taste of blood
Can rip your soul apart

“Bitter Peace” from Dioabolos in Musica (1998):
Initiate blood purge
Coalition in massacre
Mechanized high tech
Wholesale death in effect
Mutually assured
Destruction will occur
Genocide revised
Same pain through diverse eyes

“Darkness of Christ” from God Hates Us All (2001):
Mankind in his insatiable search for divine
Knowledge has discarded all biblical teachings
Realizing that the strength of religion is the repression of knowledge
All structures of religion have collapsed
Life prays for death in the wake of the horror of these revelations

(God Hates Us All earned Slayer the tag of Loser of the Week in Entertainment Weekly for bad timing; it features a track called “God Send Death,” and it was released during the week of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York. Oops.)

“Flesh Storm” from Christ Illusion (2006):
Take a deep breath
‘Cause it all starts now
When you pull the fuckin’ pin
The shrapnel burns
As it tears into the skin
Ever wonder what it takes
To be questioning your faith
This is what it’s like
When it happens every goddamn day

“Cult” from Eternal Pyre (2006):
Oppression is the Holy Law
In God I distrust
In time His monuments will fall
Like ashes to dust
Is war and creed the master plan?
The Bible’s where it all began
Its propaganda sells despair
And spreads the virus everywhere

“World Painted Blood” from World Painted Blood (2009):
Disease spreading death
Entire population dies
Dead before you’re born
Massive suicide
Vicious game of fear
It’s all extermination now
Poison in your veins
Global genocide

Clearly, just as there is no arc or escalation in a given Slayer song, there has been no arc or maturity or development or growth throughout Slayer’s career.

In scouring the band’s lyrics to tally each appearance of “dead” and “death”, I noticed other words that recur often enough to qualify the band’s entire catalog as an exercise in self-parody. In Slayer’s eleven studio albums, these are some of the words that appear most often: “decay” (appears 10 times), “evil” (appears 24 times), “soul” (84), “Satan” or “satanic” (27), “scream” (28), “god” or “lord” (50), “blood” (78), “insane” or “insanity” (35), “rot” (13), “die” or “died” (56), “hell” (55), “lie” or “lies” (47), “kill” or “killing” (58), “burn” (34), “war” (37), “night” or “tonight” (46), “eyes” (51), “fight” or “fighting” (28), and “fear” (19). Finally, “dead” or “death” appears 195 times in Slayer’s songs.

I was surprised to note that “fuck”, “fucked” and “fucking” only boast a combined 12 appearances throughout Slayer’s entire catalog.

Still, Scar the lion never had to sing it even once.

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