Released: 2008, Omnibus Press
McIver is just the guy to tackle this long overdue book, namely the history of Slayer. Released in 2008, I grabbed the nice hard cover weighing in at a generous 280+ pages. There are a couple dozen black & white photos, a discography and a nice foreword by the band Municipal Waste, with each member contributing a few thoughts.
McIver has written the definitive biography of this pioneering Speed Metal (or thrash if you prefer) band. It is meticulously researched and much of the material comes from over 60 interviews McIver has conducted with the band over the years. It’s laid out in an economical time-line system alternating chapters about the years and the bands albums.
No detail is spared over the bands career. Joel also very wisely focuses on all eras of the band with equal enthusiasm and professionalism. In his introduction, McIver, speaks to the phenomena of authors who dwell too much in the past, which is a pet peeve of mine as well. He says, “I deliberately avoided the mistake we drooling metal authors often make, which is too focus too much on a band’s early years in an attempt to look like serious, old-school fans who were born wearing a sleeveless denim jacket.” (p. ix). Accordingly, CHRIST ILLUSION gets just as much attention as SHOW NO MERCY. The early history of the band has been told many times over the years (although not in a detailed print form such as this) so I found the latter chapter, say post SEASONS, to be very interesting and informative.
Other highlights in THE BLOODY REIGN OF SLAYER were the discussions about the punk covers album and the occupancy and vacancy of the drum-throne, by various members. There is so much great info in here it’s almost overwhelming. Industry stuff, wrestling, reptiles, guest appearances, banned cover art, feuds with the Big Four and much more. I suppose by some standard of rock biographies it is a bit tame in terms of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, but Slayer have never been that band to crash their celebrity wife’s Ferrari on the Sunset Strip while having an underage, drug-addled groupie in their lap. I think the fans respect that. With Slayer it has always been about music. The image and lifestyle of Slayer is cool too but never at the expense of the music. Many band bios barely mention music (Ahem, Motley Crue, I’m looking in your direction) but McIver covers lots of musical components, writing, recording, playing live, hell even tuning!
When all is said and done, I think THE BLOODY REIGN OF SLAYER (clever title by the way) was best summarized by Tony Foresta, (vocalist, Municipal Waste) in the book’s foreword. He says, “Slayer? Fuck yeah!”