The heaviest band in the world deserved a better biography than this.
Next week I’ll see one of my favorite bands of all time, Slayer, kickin’ ass again live here in Toronto, and in order to get ready to it how about reading their biography, called The Bloody Reign of Slayer? I have the Brazilian Portuguese version of it (“O Reino Sangrento do Slayer”), which has an “extra” introductory chapter from a guy called Tor Tauil (from the Brazilian horror punk band Zumbis do Espaço) who says something that cannot be more true: if you don’t have any of the Slayer albums, you don’t deserve to live. However, the book is not that good.
The English version of the book, published by Omnibus Press, has 320 pages and is basically divided by album: each chapter is dedicated to the years of the band following the release of their albums, for example, chapter SOUTH OF HEAVEN goes from 1988 to 1989 and chapter DIVINE INTERVENTION goes from 1995 to 1997. It goes like this until 2008 and makes some predictions about the future of the band; there’s nothing about World Painted Blood or the death of Jeff Hanneman, of course. Moreover, each chapter focus more on the songs or the meaning of the songs from each album, which is something we can get in any album review, instead of trying to show us a different angle of the band that no one knows about.
The first chapter is about the beginnings of the band, explaining where each member was born, how their lives were before forming Slayer, their musical influences etc. It’s good information for any Heavy Metal fan, although nothing really special or unique is told unless you had no idea Tom Araya was born in Chile and Dave Lombardo in Cuba. By the way, that’s the main issue I found with the book, the fact that it has a lot of information and details about the albums and tours, but it lacks depth in terms of the “secrets” of the band.
Many other bands and musicians are mentioned by the author Joel McIver in different chapters, especially the guys from Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and all other Thrash Metal bands that started together with Slayer, as well as new band members like Paul Bostaph, but again, they’re just part of the whole story and there’s nothing that can be considered “above and beyond” regarding the details provided. Jeff Hanneman (RIP) was the most obscure member of Slayer, so why not dedicating an entire chapter to his unconventional life? Of course the author didn’t know Jeff was going to die in 2013, but everyone knew he was not a regular musician and his personal life could add a lot more value to the book.
There are also some interesting pictures in the middle of the book and some funny quotes from each band member, and maybe these are the best moments of it. I cannot say that I wouldn’t recommend The Bloody Reign of Slayer, it’s just that if you’re a long-time fan of the band there won’t be much that you don’t know already about Tom, Kerry, Jeff and Dave in the book.
Anyway, if you’re still interested in knowing a little more about Slayer, you can find the book at Amazon.ca, or at Chapters.Indigo.ca in a Trade Paperback version or the Kobo Edition (eBook). The price is not bad, between 10 and 15 Canadian dollars, so I would say it’s worth the investment if you have some extra money and especially if you already have all Slayer albums, because their music is definitely a billion times more exciting than anything in this good but not marvellous biography.