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In their 30+ years of songwriting, Slayer have penned some of the angriest, sickest and most lyrical songs in thrash history. In interviews, guitarist Kerry King has discussed how the band typically touched on one of three taboo subjects: war, occult/religion, and murder.
But it's not just the subject matter of Slayer's songs that makes them so ghastly, it's the way the band addressed those subjects - often as if they were the culprits of the insidious acts Araya sings about - and how uncompromisingly she was with the lurid details they contained, savoring death, cruelty and blasphemy as if they were sources of sustenance. As a result, countless bands have been directly influenced by Slayer's bloodiest and most outrageous offerings.
What made the group's lyrics even more impactful was that the band's most disturbing songs were based on brutal real-life acts. Slayer specialized in writing about serial killers, including Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer, but they have also been shocked and impressed when dealing with historical atrocities of war and terrorism such as the Holocaust, torture in Japanese prison camps and 9/11 concerned. Below are the most twisted and unnerving passages from some of Slayer's most gruesome songs. Many are taken from the band's greatest hits, others are hidden in deep cuts. Most left indelible scars on the millions who heard them.
" Nekrophiler " ( Hell Awaits , 1985)
I feel the urge, the growing need
To fuck this sinful corpse
My tasks complete the bitch soul
Lies raped in demonic lust
Hanneman and Kerry King collaborated on this song, one of the most disgusting and self-explanatory songs in Slayer's catalogue. Just as chilling as the lyrics are Araya's hilarious introduction to the editing (see video above): “This is a song about older women. The kind you find six feet underground. You know, the best thing about older women is when you eat them up, you can hear the maggots in your teeth.Yummy."
"Engel des Todes" (Reign in Blood, 1986)
Pumped with fluid, in your brain
The pressure in your skull begins to press
through your eyes
Burning flesh, dripping
heat test burns your skin
Your mind starts boiling
Icy cold cracks your limbs
how long can you hold out
In this frozen water burial?
Jeff Hanneman wrote "Angel of Death" about Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, an Auschwitz doctor who performed barbaric human experiments on his victims, including sewing twins together back-to-back, gouging out people's eyes with different-colored irises, and injecting them foreign objects into patients to see how they react. What's most chilling about "Angel of Death" is that while it doesn't glorify the atrocities, it describes them in vivid detail and channels the perverse, fevered curiosity of the notorious "butcher."
" Opferaltar " ( Reign in Blood , 1986 )
Blood turns black, the change has begun
Feel the hate of all the damned in hell
Flesh begins to burn, twist and deform
Eyes dripping with blood knowledge of death
Conversion of five toes into two
Learn the holy words of praise, Hail Satan
Slayer's early albums had no shortage of songs about satanic rituals and devil worship. King's Altar of Sacrifice lyrics make it one of the best, depicting a gruesome scene of demonic transmogrification reminiscent of some of the most outrageous horror movies of the 80's.
"Mandatory Suicide" (South of Heaven, 1988)
Holes burn deep in your chest
Raked by machine gun fire
Screaming soul sent to die
Living compulsively suicide
Araya wrote the words to this lovely ditty that addresses the horrors of war more effectively than perhaps any other song in the Slayer catalogue. "Mandatory Suicide" bluntly conveys the twisted glorification and brutal fatalism of warfare, beginning with "a child's toy" and ending with "massacre on the frontline" -- between foul smells, screaming souls and "radical amputation". The singer delivers the lyrics with malice and nihilism, and live no audience can resist the song's incessant "suicide" chant.
"Dead Skin Mask" (Seasons in the Abyss, 1990)
Run my fingertips over the skin
The touch of dead, warm flesh soothes the remedies
Incised limbs adorn my being
admiring the skin in front of me
Written with disturbingly sensual detail and from a first-person perspective, "Dead Skin Mask" is Araya's homage to Wisconsin serial killer and grave robber Ed Gein, who in the late 1940s and early 1950s dismembered his female victims with their skin to make masks, to make a body suit, a belt out of nipples, chair covers and other trophies. Gein's atrocities inspired numerous horror films, includingTexas Chainsaw Massacre,The house of 1000 corpsesAndsilence of the Lambs.
"213" (Divine Intervention, 1994)
The excitement of dissecting is sweet
My skin crawls with orgasmic speed
An inanimate object for my submission
An obsession beyond your imagination
Primitive instincts a passion for meat
Original nourishment from the masses of death
Sadistically, a love seems so true
Chew part of you absorbingly
Continuing his fascination with serial killers, Araya wrote the words to "213" about Jeffrey Dahmer. In addition to vividly portraying Dahmer's grisly exploits, Slayer's singer returns to writing in the first-person perspective, entering the mind of the sociopath, necrophile, and cannibal who, according to Araya, sought genuine love from the 17 young men and boys he met between 1978 and 1991 killed.
"Disciples" (God Hates Us All, 2001)
God hates us all! God hates us all!
He fucking hates me
Pessimist, terrorist aiming for the next mark
Global chaos feeding on hysteria
Cut your throat, slit your wrist, shoot in the back, fair game
Substance abuse, self abuse in search of the next high
Sounds like all hell is spreading all the time
I'm waiting for the day the whole damn world dies.
One of King's most hateful diatribes, "Disciple" is a particularly venomous cut, even by Slayer standards, beginning with mid-paced vocals and building into a full hardcore onslaught of rapid-fire hostility. King must have been in a particularly bad mood while writing the song, which ends with lines that unequivocally announce to humanity and the world at large: "I reject this damn race / I despise this damn place."
"Jihad" (Christ Illusion, 2006)
Beat across the neck and on all extremities
For this is a point of no return for Almighty God
God will give Bahishti to His faithful servants
When you reach ground zero, you have killed the enemy
The Great Satan!
Hanneman and Araya collaborated to write thisChristus-Illusionoutstanding on Muslim extremism. On the surface, the words aren't particularly descriptive, but what makes the song so disturbing is that it's written from the perspective of a 9/11 terrorist. In fact, the cut ends with a line about the destruction of the World Trade Center penned by Mohamed Atta, one of the key organizers and hijackers of 911.
"Psychopathie Rot" (World Painted Blood, 2009)
Perversion, slow, painful death
Stitch around the eyes
Blood flow, warm taste gives me pleasure
Overshadow all reason
Pushing sperm, imitating her
Painful deed in vain
Organs boiled, potency bled
Now I'm complete now
After reading about Soviet mass murderer Andrei Chikatilo, Hanneman was inspired to write this twisted, graphic song about the murderous maniac, written in the first person of course. Of course, the guitarist had plenty of material to work with: Chikatilo mutilated and killed at least 52 women and children between 1978 and 1990, and famously described himself as "a mistake of nature, a mad beast."
"Einheit 731" (World Painted Blood, 2009)
Bacteria target, exploding eyes
Melting flesh through your mind
Become your madness madness wins
baby meat on the walls
Testing limits the pain threshold
Pull out teeth to observe
i want blood
Hanneman's lifelong interest in World War II led him to Unit 731, a secret Japanese biological and chemical warfare research laboratory that conducted brutal scientific experiments on mostly Chinese casualties. Researchers at the facility engaged in human vivisection without anesthesia, amputated limbs to study blood loss, removed organs, and infected prisoners with deadly diseases. Hanneman's words capture the brutality in all its visceral horror.