Still Alive Undead

My Life as a Slayer Discography

Still Alive Undead

KERRY KING AND TOM ARAYA Kelly O drew these in high school.

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SUPER BONUS HIGH SCHOOL ART Beauty marks and hair
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Stippling 4-ever!
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Eyebrows 4-ever!

1975: Nine months pregnant and giddy about becoming a mom for the first time, a pretty 24-year-old suddenly and unexpectedly loses her 43-year-old mother to a horrific motorcycle accident. The baby (me) is delivered healthy, though growing up, I tend to cry a lot.

1981: Somewhere in Los Angeles, two guitar-obsessed teenagers—Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman—meet and decide to practice guitar together. They hone their skills on Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Black Flag, and TSOL. One day, a kid pulls up in a pizza delivery car and asks if they want to start a band—his name is Dave Lombardo. He plays drums, and he plays them like a madman. King calls another neighborhood kid he met through his guitar teacher, a bassist and singer named Tom Araya. The four, who would later become the heaviest, scariest, most revered thrash metal band in the world, play one of their first shows (a bunch of cover songs) at South Gate High School on lunch break. Slayer are born.

1988: After running home in tears several times in junior high, I toughen up in high school. In a calculated move to hide the fact that I'm a poor white-trash farm girl, I buy a leather jacket and the toughest T-shirt I can find. I wear both every day until I get called into the principal's office. "Does that shirt really say 'Metal Up Your Ass'? Go home and change." I argue that there's nothing obscene about a sword rising out of a toilet, but I lose and walk home. This time I don't cry.

1988: I meet the "new girl"—a fast-talking California blonde—in the smoking pens outside Alpena High School's cafeteria. I trade her four marijuana joints for two beat-up cassette tapes, Slayer's Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood. Everything changes. Forever.

1989: Except for accusations of being Nazi sympathizers due to lyrical content, it's hard to find anyone—critics or fans—who'll talk smack about Reign in Blood. Nothing's ever sounded like it before. It's breakneck fast, and the lyrics are fantastical and frightening. With metal, everyone's trying to sound more evil than the next guy. Slayer conjure up more satanic imagery in two verses than Metallica or Megadeth do in an entire song. Reign gets zero airplay and terrifies record-store owners and parents. Even so, the title track from the LP—which was produced by rebel virtuoso Rick Rubin on Def Jam Records—becomes the first Slayer song to make the Billboard 200, and the album goes platinum in the United States by 1992. The band's decades-long reign of terror officially begins. And only the baddest of the bad kids listen to Slayer.

1990: Much to the dismay of my mom and my friends, and despite the fact that I'm a straight-A student, I start hanging out with an older guy—a dropout and dope dealer. He's not handsome, but he has a shitty white 1981 Chevy Citation and both new Slayer tapes, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss. One day, while waiting for him to sell some speed, the glove box spontaneously pops open and an electrical fire spills out, burning my knees. I draw him pentagrams and pencil sketches of Tom Araya, and he writes me angsty love poetry and signs his name with an upside-down cross using his own blood. For my 16th birthday, he scores me a fake ID. I finally get to go see Slayer.

1990: I tell my mom I'm camping, which wouldn't have been lying if I'd said I was camping five hours away, deep in downtown Detroit, spending the night in a motel room that had a TV set riddled with bullet holes and a bed without sheets or blankets. None of this matters, though—Slayer are playing at Harpos, and I am going whatever the cost. Harpos was a surreal place to see a Slayer show. Built in 1939, in Big Three–era Detroit, it still faintly glowed with the remnants of a once-gorgeous theater. Sometime in the 1970s it became a disco club. Then in the 1980s it became a heavy metal bar that served $1 pitchers of beer and well drinks. If you walked outta that place on your own two feet, you were lucky—all night, heshers were falling down drunk, vomiting, or getting kicked out. I'm one of about five girls in the whole place—I know this because I do a head count when the dark bar suddenly, hilariously, lights up because some jackass turns on the Saturday Night Fever–style checkered disco floor. The place is so full of men you can practically smell the testosterone. It smells like black leather and pain. We drink dollar pitchers and get brave. We move closer to the stage. Any sane person who's ever witnessed a full-blown Slayer pit knows to stay the fuck out of the way. It's not accurate to just call it a mosh pit—it's more like an all-male violence orgy. Guys tear off their shirts and shut off their minds. Their eyes roll back in their heads and they blindly thrash, push, and kick anything in their circular path. I've watched guys lose blood and teeth. This first night, I get too close and I'm immediately rewarded with an elbow to the face. The experience doesn't stop me from seeing Slayer 19 more times, though, 'cause like Mom always said: Nobody ever died from a bloody nose.

1991–93: I would see Slayer two more times with Dropout Boyfriend, including the Clash of the Titans tour with Megadeth, Testament, and a then-unknown Alice in Chains. Poor AIC, they probably had no idea how ridiculous a prospect it was to open for Slayer. Fans DO NOT GIVE A FUCK. This tour, like every tour, they chanted "SLAY-YAH, SLAY-YAH, SLAY-YAH!" until their wish was granted. People threw anything—bottles, shoes, a plastic water bottle filled with hot, fresh piss. AIC held their ground, though, and tons of kids bought copies of Dirt after the show.

1993: I mourn the loss of Dropout Boyfriend. I start school again, but he pushes his luck till it runs out. He doesn't land in jail for selling drugs, but instead for a bad-check-writing spree. And once he goes in, he just never comes out.

1994: It's impossible to find a new guy who likes metal as much as I do. My own luck runs out when I meet Sensitive Boyfriend. He's a carpenter and doesn't deal or do drugs, and by most people's standards, he's an attractive man. We date for a while. And one night after a fight, he shows up at my mom's house wanting to talk. We go for a walk under a bright summer moon. Suddenly, he's covered in blood. He's just slashed both his forearms vertically, wrist to elbow, and is trying to die on my watch. After I carry him to safety (read: a 7-Eleven where some cops are getting coffee and doughnuts, no joke), I numbly walk home. I do not cry. Immediately confronted by my mom, she starts screaming, "Oh my God!" In all the chaos, I never looked down at myself. I look like the cover of Stephen King's Carrie. Or maybe Kerry's King's "Angel of Death," half soaked in blood.

1995: When Slayer released Divine Intervention, fans rallied—especially ones who were disgruntled after South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss, both slower and more melodic than early Slayer. Divine was whiplash-fast again—some called it the Reign in Blood of the '90s. I ran away to Detroit. I hung my Slayer poster in my first few apartments, but eventually I lost it. I quit wearing all black and tried not to think of the past. I got straight A's in college, listened to hiphop and punk, and went to raves. Secretly, though, I'd still listen to Slayer—sometimes in the shower and always in the car. Driving around my new city, pounding the steering wheel with my fists, and singing, er, screaming along to Reign in Blood gave me strength. Slayer wasn't for the weak or meek, and neither was Detroit.

2009–present: This year is Slayer's 30-year anniversary. This year I'll go see them play for the 20th time. I've never gotten another bloody nose, but I have broken a toe, hurt my neck so badly I had to go to a doctor, and broken two cameras at Slayer shows. Last year in Seattle, Slayer played on my birthday, proper. recommended


Comments (38) RSS

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I love you, Kelly.
Posted by angela garbes on August 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Estey 2
Fucking awesome
Posted by Estey on August 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Larry Mizell, Jr. 3
see #1
Posted by Larry Mizell, Jr. on August 3, 2011 at 4:32 PM · Report this
First time I saw them was Halloween '86 at the Moore for the Reign in Blood tour. Kinda made Anthrax obsolete after that.
Posted by paulus on August 3, 2011 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Rotten666 5
Yeah, that was lovely. Most people don't get Slayer. Screw em.
Posted by Rotten666 on August 3, 2011 at 5:22 PM · Report this
"I trade her four marijuana joints for two beat-up cassette tapes, Slayer's Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood. Everything changes. Forever."

reading this choked me up because i know exactly what you mean. for me it was hearing Black Flag in '81 on late night Detroit radio. everything changed. forever.
Posted by legacy builder on August 3, 2011 at 5:31 PM · Report this
The many Slayer pits I've been in have been some of the nicest, friendliest pits ever. Slayer fans are fucking nuts, and Slayer shows have some of the best vibes of any show. I still feel compelled to raise the horns and yell "SLAAAAYYYYYEERRRR!" every time I see another person wearing their shirt.
Posted by Place on August 3, 2011 at 6:01 PM · Report this
You didn't "lose" your Slayer posters or that nasty black Slayer t-shirt (complete with rips and holes) - I still have them. I'm saving them to give to your daughter, so she can drive you half insane with some crazy, loud, cult music. Remember, what goes around, comes around; so enjoy yourself, sweet girl.
Posted by Momma on August 4, 2011 at 4:34 AM · Report this
Seeds 9
I love metal, I love going to shows, but slayer and slayer shows have been some of the most boring musical memories of my life. Maybe they were just too drunk the couple times I saw them in the 90s to be entertaining.
Posted by Seeds on August 4, 2011 at 8:22 AM · Report this
fuckin slayer.
Posted by jvh on August 4, 2011 at 8:35 AM · Report this
Slayer is beautiful. Marry me?
Posted by steakhaus on August 4, 2011 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Last time at Qwest Events Center? I 1)lost my friends; 2)lost my $30 Slayer shirt I had just bought; 3)lost my glasses; 4)woke up to a movie accidently filmed on my phone reminding me I shoved a late night hot dog in my mouth while crouching next to a dumpster. I'm in my 40s. I love Slayer.
Posted by SLAAAAAAAAAYERRRRR!!!! on August 4, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
All true- All true.
Posted by crazyshamandude on August 4, 2011 at 12:23 PM · Report this
dan10things 14
Awesome, although this sounds more like the Cuff than a metal bar: "It smells like black leather and pain"
Posted by dan10things on August 4, 2011 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 15
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on August 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM · Report this
Best love letter ever. Mighty Slayer. Last time I saw them was with Soul fly at the paramount. We'll see you there Kelly.
Posted by SeMe on August 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM · Report this
I remember the 1st time I ever downloaded a Slayer ringtone for my cellphone. It truly made me feel like society was growing up.
Posted by Deevious Silvertongue on August 4, 2011 at 3:16 PM · Report this
crap bag 18
Awesome. Just fucking awesome. See you Saturday night.
Posted by crap bag on August 4, 2011 at 8:05 PM · Report this
that was fanfuckingtastic KO. God hates us all!
Posted by Todd Hamm on August 5, 2011 at 1:01 AM · Report this
Wait hang on, her boyfriend tried to KILL HIMSELF? Can we hear more about this?
Posted by GlassMoon on August 5, 2011 at 6:24 AM · Report this
The most amazing blood sacrifice to a band I've ever seen is when a kid did scarification on the inside of both forearms, writing the word SLAYER on them at one of their shows.
Posted by CornsilkSW on August 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Report this
@21 - I've seen that in photos, and it gives me the heebie jeebies...
Slayer fans are nuts. I mean, what if this guy was standing in front of you at a show?!?!……

@20 - stitches, staples, and counseling.
Posted by Kelly O on August 5, 2011 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Repeat #1. See you there tonight.
Posted by neurospace on August 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM · Report this
kelly O you fucking rule!!!! thank you so much for saving my slayer experience; I still owe you that drink!
Posted by Ocelot Omelet on August 7, 2011 at 12:28 PM · Report this
Excellent article based on truth and experience. Finally, some music coverage of a band with substance and actual musicianship. Kelly O fucking rules. Slayer Slayer Slayer Slayer!!!
Posted by yaya666 on August 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM · Report this
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biju 27
Nice write up Kelly.
Posted by biju on August 8, 2011 at 12:51 AM · Report this
Posted by devinderry on August 8, 2011 at 8:37 AM · Report this
@24 - Happy to help!
Posted by Kelly O on August 8, 2011 at 2:25 PM · Report this

Bored by Slayer?

My cool-detector is redlining.

Posted by Can I Sit By You At Lunch on August 8, 2011 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Slayer rules. Now I miss Swarming Hordes shows and getting drunk and arguing about who rocked harder. I'm still going with the Hordes.
Posted by seniorrobot on August 9, 2011 at 11:52 PM · Report this
Paul Pearson 32
Well, Kelly, there you've gone and written the most beautiful piece about Slayer that'll ever be.
Posted by Paul Pearson on August 10, 2011 at 2:31 AM · Report this
I loved this Kelly. Dang beautiful. You might like this TV show I work on about a metal kid who battles evil at his high school. I'm gonna pass your article around set. Everyone will love it.…
Posted by paltrovsdog on August 10, 2011 at 8:29 AM · Report this
Someone needs to post this on the blue. It really is the most beautiful Slayer article ever.
Posted by Sq on August 10, 2011 at 8:49 AM · Report this
8 for the win! Mothers RULE.
Posted by STJA on August 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Grrr 36
Saw Slayer at a small venue in Oklahoma City in the 90's. So sad for openers Puya and System of A Down. They just couldn't compete. The moshpits were hella crazy too. Thank you for making me remember those moments for a bit today, Kelly O.
Posted by Grrr on August 10, 2011 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Nice article, Kelly. However, I hope when you have kids of your own they do TWICE and many "scary" things behind your back - karma.
Posted by Momma on May 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
i don't remember any of this, and i cant believe how well you turned out especially with all that horribly bad influence. who gives a grrl a gift in a room w bullet holes in the tv how tacky lol

SLAYER the only thing that will ever remain real and forever
Posted by Slaytanic on January 15, 2014 at 5:29 AM · Report this

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