Ten SLAYER’S Influences

As I always say here as in inspiration of my masters: nothing comes out of the blue. No, nothing. Really. And when it comes to Metal, this is extremely the truth because Metal as a historical moviment, I mean, bands learn from the bands that came before. It wouldn’t be different even with the mighty Slayer. To influence, one must be influenced. Here are the 10 bands that influenced Slayer – you’ll be surprised by some:


This first one is easy to figure out. “We got to play with them on their first major tour of the States and I was on cloud nine, you know? Seeing Cronos every night — that was a big deal to me,” Kerry King told Metal Hammer in 2016. With spiked leather adopted from Judas Priest and reckless rippers about the Devil, it got Slayer thinking about heavier and more abrasive music. “Venom was a big influence on Kerry as far as the imagery and how we did the songwriting,” said Araya to ‘The Quietus’ in 2010 when reflecting on “Hell Awaits.”


For you that don’t know, Slayer started out playing covers of what band? Kiss? Nah, silly. Judas Priest. Where do you think they got all their guitar duels?


This surprised even me. But Tom Araya has only kind words to Jim Morrison and the gang. “One of my favorite singers at the time was Jim Morrison. I was into the Doors, so I think that played a big part in how I write, lyrically,” Tom Araya revealed to Fuse in 2013. Morrison’s phrasing was almost counter-intuitive to the music, giving it a sense of thrill and danger, something Araya has made a career out of. “There was something about him and what he wrote and how he wrote that I really admired,” he added, unable to pinpoint exactly what that characteristic was.



Piece of cake this one. Or no one’s never wondered. “We were really into them and that is why there are ten thousand riffs [on] all those [“Hell Awaits”] songs,” King related to Ultimate-Guitar in 2007. “But that album was the last time you could totally see an influence on us,” he added. “I think that was the last time when were impressionable.” Of course, “Reign in Blood” came next, making good on King’s notion.


Bill this one to Lombardo and love for rhythm and world music swing. “They were a band from Cuba but their jazz was so fast – it was Latin jazz but it was aggressive and that right there captured me because it made me feel like at that time, at that young age, that heavy music – let’s say at the time I was listening to Jimi Hendrix or some Deep Purple or Black Sabbath – there was heavy in jazz and in Latin music as well,” he described to The Quietus in 2012.


This one isn’t that hard to get if you remember that all pioneer Thrash Metal bands had a thing with punk rock and hardcore. Punk had no shortage of this and their affinity for impetuous speed helped shape Dave Lombardo’s playing. Jeff Hanneman, Slayer’s resident punk, introduced bands from the genre to the rest of Slayer and Lombardo recalled hearing the Dead Kennedys for the first time at a rehearsal in either 1983 or 1984. “As far as energy was concerned and how to execute the music; the drive, the relentlessness of the record and the sound, it just has bite, it has this aggression that’s just like a damn race car, y’know? A ripped raw, aggressive sound,” the skinsman explained to The Quietus in 2012. “They inspired Slayer in a lot of ways because we fed off it and we wanted to mimic that energy.”


So obvious, aren’t they? “‘Sabotage’ is one of their heaviest records,” King told Rolling Stone when assessing his favorite metal records. “From beginning to end, it never lets up. ‘Hole in the Sky,’ ‘Megalomania’ — those are just monster riffs. They never fail to floor me. If you want to learn what a great, heavy riff is all about, try those ones out.”


Classic, but still a surprise. Kerry King has expressed adoration for the groups and told Rolling Stone, “I would credit his work in Deep Purple as an influence on thrash,” nothing that on songs like “Highway Star,” “It seemed like Ritchie was more interested in playing faster rhythms than Sabbath.”


Another hardcore icon which helped to shape Slayer’s uptempo beats.


Yeah, you’ve got this one coming. The icons of NWOBHM just had to be here.