Murat Egyptian Room
Monday, Feb. 5, 8 p.m., $29.50
It took Slayer five long years to release a new album, but the metal band wasn’t resting on its laurels all that time.
“We were ready to start working and finish our music several years back,” singer/bassist Tom Araya says, “but then we got offers to make money, which required touring…. These past three years we’ve had some really good opportunities.”
Slayer finally left the road long enough to complete their tenth studio album, Christ Illusion, released last August. It continues the band’s long and controversial history of assailing organized religion and delving into war and death with graphic, unflinching first-hand accounts.
But times have changed. With Christ Illusion, Slayer suddenly stopped being a death-obsessed band and started being a political one in the eyes of many critics. It surprises Araya.
“We’re not voicing an opinion,” he says. “We’re basically writing what we see [and] what we hear. You can come up with your conclusions. [In] the band Slayer — how we view the entity — we’re the aggressor. We’re not the victims. Songs we write don’t portray [people] as victims but more as victors.”
Since 1986’s seminal release Reign in Blood, Slayer has been condemned as blackguards of popular culture. There’s no better example than “Angel of Death,” guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s biographical song of Nazi surgeon Josef Mengele, which cemented the band’s signature sound — screaming, hellish symphonies and go-for-broke percussion. Time has done nothing to cow them. The new song, “Jihad,” is written from the perspective of a terrorist. Araya helped Hanneman write it by absorbing books and documentaries about the Sept. 11 terrorists.
“You kind of come up with an evil way of writing it,” Araya says. “It’s using your imagination, and literally putting yourself in there, trying to describe what you feel and see. It’s almost like method acting, where you engulf yourself with those thoughts and try to create.”
The aplomb with which Slayer operates has put them in a select pantheon with their fans — so much so that over the years being their supporting act has become one of the tougher gigs around. Unearth gets the privilege when Slayer plays the Murat on Monday. Local favorite Demiricous opens.
“At this point, whether they can survive or not is basically up to them,” Araya says. “The idea is to come through with flying colors. There [are] not many bands who can pull through and survive that abuse…. I have no pity. (laughs) I’m more like, ‘sorry!’”
Note: For all you diehard Slayer fans who want free tickets, NUVO’s got you covered. Head to www.nuvo.net/slayer for more information.