Black Friday: Slayer vs. Metallica

Friday, December 26th, 2008 | musiX

This sounds like a no-brainer: Slayer slays Metallica for its latter-day sins, and drags its lifeless corpse back to a dark cave with the rest of the sell-outs.

I always thought it would be interesting to set these two metal titans loose on each other. It’s been written about before, but done very half-assed, usually summed up in one over-simplified conclusion: Metallica are pussies and Slayer fucking rules. Well, not so fast, my fine feathered-haired friend …

First, a little background. There are some interesting parallels in the bands’ careers. Both formed in 1981 in Southern California (Metallica, of course, later relocated to the Bay Area), and drew their influence from British metal bands like Venom, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Both bands were given their first breaks by founder and owner of Metal Blade Records Brian Slagel, who put them on his Metal Massacre compilations (Metallica on Metal Massacre I, Slayer on III). Metallica and Slayer released their debut records in 1983—Kill ‘Em All and Show No Mercy, respectively. They are both considered part of the “Big Four of Thrash” along with Anthrax and Megadeth. Both bands have a median age of 44. In their respective 28-year careers, both bands have had similar output—Slayer has released 10 albums; Metallica, nine. Both have had records produced by Rick Rubin. The majority of their songs touch on war and death and insanity—with very metallic titles like “No Remorse,” “Criminally Insane,” “Disposable Heroes” and “Expendable Youth.” Guess who wrote which.

So why is Slayer still a critically lauded metal band that can do no wrong in the eyes of its crazed devotees, while Metallica has been relegated to “They were once great, but started sucking ass in the early ’90s” status? That’s easy. Because Metallica was once great, but started sucking ass in the early ’90s. Oh … then there was the whole Napster debacle. Um … and we got to watch in disbelief as the members underwent $40,000-a-week therapy sessions, thus emerging as raging primadonnas in 2004′s Some Kind of Monster. Right.

BUT. There’s always a but. Take Slayer and Metallica’s best records—arguably Reign In Blood and Master of Puppets, respectively—and there’s no contest. Don’t get me wrong, Reign In Blood is a great record that deserves all the accolades it receives, but Master of Puppets is a flawless and deadly combination of musicianship, anger, production, speed and, above all else, the songs are just better. Stand those records side by side and Metallica slays Slayer. Match up their second-best: Metallica’s … And Justice For All and Slayer’s Seasons In the Abyss, and Metallica emerges again. Debuts? Kill ‘Em All is a raw slab of punk rock … kills Show No Mercy dead.

Yes, Metallica cheesed out in the ’90s. In a big way. But let me say this: Dr. Dre was also involved in the Napster lawsuit, but hasn’t caught nearly as much shit as Lars Ulrich. And Load and ReLoad were torpid and mediocre hard-rock records with stagnant production. Then again, Slayer hasn’t changed one bit, essentially rewriting the same riff hundreds of times over, while adopting a pretty predictable insert serial killer/Nazi war criminal name here lyrical template. There’s something to be said for evolving—although in the world of metal, the theory of evolution is as absurd as Intelligent Design is in real life.

Now it’s almost 2009(?!), which means the members of Metallica and Slayer are ancient in metal years. Do both bands still bring it? Of-goddamn-course. Does that mean they’re good? Meh. Metallica released Death Magnetic this year, a return to its former self, and made an eerie video for “All Nightmare Long” about a Soviet experiment gone wrong. The speed and the eight-minute, multi-part songs are back, but it could never be as good as Master of Puppets or … And Justice For All. And Slayer is set to release an as-yet-to-be-titled album in 2009 (I’m sure the title will include one of the following words: “death,” “God,” “die” or “Christ”), and it will sound exactly like Reign In Blood and Seasons In the Abyss, which, in itself, is impressive. But why not just listen to Reign In Blood and Seasons In the Abyss?

Now if you’ve read this far, you a) still give two squirts about these bands, b) are waxing nostalgic on your awkward teenage years, or c) were just morbidly curious as to how this death match would end. Well, the end is here. And both bands are still standing, for better or worse. So how can we settle this? Well, the album title Kill ‘Em All sort of set the stage early on for Metallica (good thing they didn’t go with the original title, Metal Up Your Ass). Guess we’ll just have to see what the fun-lovin’ fellas in Slayer come up with next year. There. I just wrote 800 words about Metallica and Slayer, and it wasn’t half-assed … perhaps three-quarters-assed.

“Psychopathy Red”Slayer (unreleased, from the forthcoming record)

Video for “All Nightmare Long” from Metallica’s Death Magnetic

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39 Comments to Black Friday: Slayer vs. Metallica

Dave
December 26, 2008

Mark, this is a great post – not at all 3/4-assed. I am by no means a Metallica purist, so their foray into pussified pop-metal didn’t bother me as much as it did others. I never would have listened to Master of Puppets if I hadn’t first been introduced to them through the Black Album (being quite the pussy myself). And even though it wasn’t a complete return to their former glory (because how angry can you be when you’re flying in a private jet from your place you keep in Paris to a show in Germany) I was pleasantly surprised by Death Magnetic.

Alexis
December 26, 2008

Yeah,why is everybody so angry all the time? I just don’t get it. And how are these people still alive anyway? If they are so obsessed with death and everything, I would think they’d have gotten it over with already. Just sayin’…
I’m with Dave on this one. Although, having an older brother got me into Metallica back in the good old days. Too bad he listened to the Scorpions, too. Ick.

Ramón
December 27, 2008

I was an avowed hater of heavy metal until I started learning guitar and my roommate made me listen to Orion. I almost peed in my pants, it was so insistent and beautiful. Metallica all the way!

I, for one, am very much in favor of musical expansion and exploration, even if it doesn’t really work. I say give ‘em credit for that at least.

Mark
December 27, 2008

Most bands do experiment, which is good, and always a savvy career move for when they “go back to their roots” later on. I respect Metallica for doing what they want to do—even if the Load albums were utterly boring. They wanted to swing and blues it up a little, and that’s fine.
Death Magnetic is pretty good. And Slayer’s next record will be a pummeler, although it will essentially sound like everything else. I’ll listen to and enjoy those records for a bit, but will always return to the old stuff when I’m in the mood.

ValkRaider
December 27, 2008

Metallica.

Who wants a band that never changes? I like each Metallica album for what it is. Sure some of them are way different than others, but my life has changed a lot since 1981 – why should a band not get the same lee-way?

The only thing that sucks about Metallica is they attacked internet music sharing when it was pre internet music sharing which made them in the first place. Lame move Metallica.

But Metallica wins this one, hands down.

Rich
January 3, 2009

Metallica had every right to experiment and is a more progressive band HOWEVER the argument is not that Metallica experimented, but that the quality of their music became a horrible muddied mess. James cant sing the way Bob Rock had him singing, and his songwriting skills took a severe dive compared to the concision and power of their earlier work, both lyrically and musically. As a Metallica fan of the time, it was a shame to see the quality dive (Memory Remains anyone?).

Sure Slayer has stayed the course and not deviated much, but they were’t about to put out a country song to try and prove their talent and diversity. And despite what you say, they aren’t writing the same song over and over. The new song sounds fresh and vibrant and every bit as angry as day one from Slayer.

Metallica is again doing what they are good at, but they will always feel like they are trying to live up to their past. Slayer will never have to make the same attempt.

AJ
March 6, 2009

These are both incredible bands. Name 2 other thrash-speed metal bands that have been writing albums as long as they have. I said thrash-speed metal bands so bands like kiss and rolling stones don’t count. These 2 bands maybe in the same music classification in the music store, but each band clearly has its own goal. Slayer and Metallica are as heavy as you can get. Slayer just does it 5 times faster. Metallica has changed in the past 2 decades, which may not be a bad thing. I just prefer the Black Album and Master of Puppets over the other albums. I can’t say that I love all of their albums. Every Slayer album was out of this world. Each one has it’s purpose. Slayer has always gotton it done. They could give 2 sh**s about politics and where there music is being downloaded from. They just love music. I tend to move to speed metal before streamline metal. In my opinion Metallica went streamline and started to play to the public instead of playing what they were known for…

Tyler
May 17, 2009

My vote goes to Metallica and the main reason is…

“Slayer hasn’t changed one bit, essentially rewriting the same riff hundreds of times over”
(bit of an overstatement but I agree to a point)

Metallica has never been about what the fans want or how will the fans react… did they care what kind of reaction they would get when they released the black album or load…. NO… did they care about the reaction they got when they released St Anger… probably not… and trust me there are going to release more albums that wont go over well with the fan base… you dont know what your getting when you buy a metallica album… with slayer you do.. you know exactly what your getting.

Another reason why I think metallica exceeds slayer is the live performance… if you were to go to an event where anthrax, slayer, megadeth and metallica were playing I think you would find that the metallica show would stand out more…. when I watch metallica play i feel an energy that i dont with the others even though slayer and the rest of the big 4 are great bands.

Sj
July 27, 2009

Metallica rules……. No matter what. Slayer is a kid in front of metallica….. Metallica Rocks.

Dominic
July 30, 2009

SLAYERRR

REIGNS

OVER

ALL

John
July 31, 2009

I’m sick of all the losers that know nothing about music. Sure, Metallica has a soft side, made some terrible albums, cut their hair, etc…and Slayer is a “cooler” band. But Metallica’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums are absolutley without a doubt BETTER than anything Slayer has ever done!!!!

Metallica has better…

-songs

-guitarists (kirk is a better soloist than kerry by far, and james is a better
rhythmic -player than kerry….by far)

-VOCALS….the most important part of any musical group

And by the way Lars is just as good as Lombardo….he can do anything just as good if not better

So to all you Slayer fans that are mad at the world and metallica…..learn to accept that Metallica is THE BEST METAL BAND OF ALL TIME!

Steph
August 7, 2009

SLAYER \,,/
yeah i went there. Slayer is the best. But i do like Metallica. but they don’t compare.

Ryan
September 3, 2009

Dave Lombardo absolutely destroys Ulrich. No question.

Lorenzo
November 20, 2009

slayer did,nt sell out there fans metallica did for A gramey slayer won two and did,nt have to bend over and take it up the ASS .I havent bought A metallica CD since JUSTIC there last great CD. POISON Imean metallica did,nt have the BALLS to stay true there fans who got them to where thre at.how many fans do you think they lost because they kerd .Ya they got mily vinely fans but lost the fans who made them dont get me wrong I Love there first five CD,s dont forget garage dayz but SLAYER will always REIGHN

George
December 8, 2009

this is ok but it sounds to me you’re going for Metallica more than Slayer and ended saying that they’re both tied….doesn’t make sense at all. And sure they are both kick ass bands but Dont You Ever Put Down Slayer!

Mark
December 9, 2009

I wanted to kick things off with the underdogs…being Metallica, since it would be way too easy to say, as I wrote: “Metallica are pussies and Slayer fucking rules.”

I left the ending sort of hinging on what Slayer’s (now released) new album sounded like. I think I’m going to make an addendum on this post. Stay tuned…

Amer
January 31, 2010

guys SLAYER were , and still the GODS of THRASH metal no question about that.
for more than 20 fucking years they were playing pure thrash metal and still , so when it comes to thrash metal SLAYER are much more better than Metallica.
Metallica changed their style over the years and actually nowadays well 2 me at least i can t consider them as a thrash metal band anymore , so if u want to compare metallica 2 any band it would be better to a heavy metal band not to the gods of thrash metal.
plus man when it comes 2 live performances ,well SLAYER they still play the same way they used 2 back in the old days , at least Tom araya is still a beast on stage , unlike james hetfield who s trying 2 become justin timberlake with his vocals…
and about Kirk hahahaha no comment man , this dude sucks, his solos are shittier than his wawa pedal.

I Hate You
March 25, 2010

Slayer can kick metallicas ass anyday.

I Hate You
March 25, 2010

Anyday Anywhere

alis
April 27, 2010

there is no band compearing to metallica . tho my fev band is metallica but i respect slayer cuz both band origne from rock.rock muzic is mother n mettal thrash black mettal etc r child.

john
May 25, 2010

metallica is alright but in all honesty slayer are much faster and heavier while metallica has slowed down so bad, slayer has stayed true to themselves and thats what being a metalhead is all about, staying true to your shit. and metallica clearly hasn’t done that so i think i speak for most TRUE metalheads when i say slayer smashes metallica anyday, Show no mercy slaughters Kill em all

Austin
September 20, 2010

Is this a joke? Metallica are way better than Slayer; They have Kill Em All, Master Of Puppets, Ride The Lightning, And Justice For All, The Black Album, and Death Magnetic (Load and ReLoad were okay, I didn’t like St.Anger). What does Slayer have? Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss and everything else is just boring crap. To the guy who published this article, go braid Kerry King’s beard and learn to appreciate good music.

Jose Pena
December 3, 2010

SLAYER is the best Thrash Metal Band of all time because they being been keeping it metal since they started with their first album Show No Mercy and all the way to thier latest album World Painted Blood.But look at Metallica I mean yes they 4 great albums Kill’Em All, Ride The Lightning,Master Of Puppets, And Justice For All…, but they couldn’t stay metal after The Black Album all their new stuff sucks I mean Metallica they are THE SELLOUTS OF THRASH METAL and SLAYER ARE THE KINGS OF THRASH METAL and I think that MEGADETH and ANTHRAX are more heavier if you watch the Historic Concert of THE BIG FOUR LIVE in Sofia,BULGERIA and watch ANTHRAX,MEGADETH,SLAYER,and METALLICA who is more heavier it would be ANTHRAX,MEGADETH,SLAYER. I didn’t like Metallica’s performce it kinda sucked.

Heavy Metal
December 7, 2010

To all who say that Metallica sold out I say this. Metallica toured for 3 years on the Black Album, plyaing the same songs over and over. They got drained by the industry. I dare any one of you to grab your 3 favorite Slayer albums and listen to them, and only them for 3 years. Don’t listen to anything else, no Megadeth, no Metallica, no Anthrax, just Slayer, and I guarantee you that at the end of those 3 years you’re gonna want to change course of what you’re listening to. Same thing with Metallica, and they’ll be the first to admit that they do what they want to do whether we the fans like it or not. I personally prefer Metallica, musically and lyrically they’re way better than Slayer. In my opinion Metallica can write music and lyrics like Slayer if they wanted to, but Slayer could never produce music and lyrics like Metallica. But in the end it’s all a matter of personal preference. Rather than endlessly argue for who is best, why not end things here and agree that they’re both kick ass bands like no other that we see in this shitty as modern day music world. HEAVY METAL!!!

SLAYER666
January 4, 2011

FUCK METALLICA FUCKING SELLOUTS. IT”S ALL ABOUT SLAYER!!!!!!!!

Gavin
January 10, 2011

Sad to see that even on this website people still post things like “slayer owns metallica, duh” and ” Slayers music sucks it’s just the same shit every song, I swear” It
seems to me that the people that Get on these websites are just one sided idiots, especially the person that said ulrich is better than lambardo when their drumming is totally different. I personally think in the pre-90′s metallica and slayer where equal but the only good song after that was Nothing else matters which is a beautifulnsong but the rest is just that song re-did in a crappier way and then you have the horrible, almost country sounding vocales from james and the I think less complicated drumming from lars. Kirk’s fine but guitar work can only go so far with the newer, simpler riffs and songs they’ve been putting out

Diego-blood
January 23, 2011

fuck everybody who like “shitallica”
SLAYER is TRUE THRASH and they dont make stupid things..
¡¡¡¡¡SLAYER 4LIVE!!!!! \m/

fuck metallica eat shit

TurboTimmy
March 14, 2011

its funny recently metallica and slayer played together and you know whats funny, slayer didnt even get half the crowd as crazy as MetallicA so all you slayer fans just suck as bad as slayer. Metallica Slayes Slayer.

Epitaph
March 17, 2011

Metallica plays Slayer covers. Never heard Slayer play a Metallica cover. Even Metallica agrees, Slayer is better.

chris
March 19, 2011

SLAYER ALL THE WAY FOR ME,slayer is more real,more evil,more aggressive,in my opinion the only metallica album that can compete with slayer is “justice”as a guitarist,slayer was far more of an influence to me,because once i learned how to play at slayer’s speed,i could play metallica easily,kerry king is the coolest realist guy in metal!!! and p.s. if it wasnt for slayer,there would be no continuation of metal(death metal,blackmetal,)

Glen
April 26, 2011

Metallica died when Cliff Burton passed away.

alex
July 19, 2011

ummm, Metallica slays slayer. Metallica have the best guitarist, basist. but lombardo is better than ulrich, though i’ve seen Metallica live and it was the greatest, metallica are better just admit it people. I am one of the biggest fans of metallica and I have tpo say that both bands are very popular in the thrash community and have great music, albums, styles but metallica are the better ones at the end of it all!! METALLICA 4 LIFE

Opeth
January 16, 2012

Both Slayer and Metallica suck imo.
People should pay more attention to better Thrash Metal bands like Overkill, Testament and Megadeth.
Anyway between the two I’ll choose Slayer.
Craptallica is the most boring, annoying, overrated band ever.

MetaleaD
January 28, 2012

Slayer sucks ass.
Metallica sucks balls.
The answer is Megadeth, they are better and more talented than Slayer and Shitallica put together.

Jake invic
February 26, 2012

From a purely metal perspective I’d have to say Slayer is superior to Metallica. I often wonder how different it would be had Cliff not died. Cliffs presence was important because he was really down to earth and,I believe< kept a balance that was lost when it became the James and Lars show. When Metallica was good they were extremely good-better than anyone at what they did, but I dont respect their choice with the Black album. Cliff would be rolling in his grave to hear that shit. It was a pure sell out. So obvious that they werent doing it for personal exploration but rather so many singles for the record company to put on the radio. That album killed it for me and it just seemed to get worse.Bob Rock should burn in hell for destroying a great band. I wonder if he has the power to turn Slayer into a band that sells chips! So overall? Slayer hands down.

Jose 'Jun' Nabansot
August 28, 2012

i hate metallica.i hate mullethead ulrich and hetfield.i hope they die from a plane crash shut down by north korean rockets.that will stop them from recording another turd album..then i will play postmortem by slayer.huwahahahahahaha…

Aniruddha
May 8, 2013

I have seen both bands live, what I think about their shows is that Slayer is by far more better than Metallica. Slayer has more entertaining songs. You can listen to the whole Reign in Blood album in thirty minutes, and when it comes Metallica, I only prefer Ride the lightning album and Justice, Master of Puppets has two songs which are completely boring to me, you might know which are those two songs I am talking about. Dave Lombardo can make Lars Ulrich cry. When it comes to Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, they were incredible to see. Sadly Jeff Hanneman is no more, he was the sexiest blonde and the best song writer of all time in thrash. So if you people think that Metallica is better than I guess you people are just biased due to their first RTL, MOP, AJFA. Reign in Blood, Rust in Peace and Ride the Lightening are the best from these bands. Personally I prefer Hell awaits more than Reign in Blood because it’s more sombre. And Slayer is worshipped by all the death metal bands in the world, they influences each and every death metal band of the world, they started a whole new era of Death Metal. Slayer for me wins by a long short.

Rishad
April 17, 2014

Metallica wins this one. Not only did their first four albums kick ass but they also experimented and contrary to most opinions on here, I think they did a great job. Fuel in fact is one off the better hard rock songs you’ll are ever likely to hear and some other tracks match up to that level too. Now St. Anger, the 2nd most criticized album of Metallica. If you ask me, I think St. Anger was good (not great). Invisible kid was good, St. Anger was good too. Some people just think they’re being more of a metalhead when they get to bashing those albums, but actually those albums aren’t bad. But on think i’ll have to agree with them. Lulu deserves no forgiveness, the album sucked from the word go, I’d prefer Taylor swift over that. Speaking off slayer, apart from the common grouse that their music has remained the same and repetitive in a way, I think i also despise how they’re so obsessed with Anti-religion, Anti-god and anti-christ bullshit. Let’s be frank I am a Christian but I don’t mind contrasting viewpoints. I do hear bands like Overkill and testament, but for me Slayer is obsessed with the shock value they get from that, kinda sucks.

Rishad
April 17, 2014

Overall among the big 4 so far as only thrash metal is concerned I’ll put Megadeth on top in a toughly contested battle. But overall I think Metallica are a notch above Megadeth even though Megadeth has had some good experiments with other genres too.

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