South of Los Angeles lies a string of beach towns, each with their own style and substance. Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach... these enclaves have reared a range of musicians over the years, from Snoop Dogg to Slayer.
Indeed, Huntington Beach circa 1982 was the setting for the formation of the metal rock band Slayer. Bassist/vocalist Tom Araya, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, and drummer Dave Lombardo got their feet wet by covering tunes by metal legends like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Adding a touch of Satanism to the mix boosted their following in no time and Metal Blade Records took notice.
The company included Slayer on the Metal Massacre, Vol. 3 compilation before issuing their debut, Show No Mercy. They had solid thrash chops and fans came a calling. Two subsequent 1984 EPs – Haunting the Chapel and Live Undead – were followed by Hell Awaits in '85 which went really, thematically.
Among Slayer's new fans was Def Jam's Rick Rubin who signed them to his label and helmed their next set, Reign in Blood. It was so graphic, though, Def Jam's parent company, CBS, declined to release it so Rubin took it to Geffen and an instant speed metal classic was born, ranked alongside Metallica's Master of Puppets.
Breaking their previous mold with South of Heaven, Slayer lost a few fans, but gained them back with the more appealing Seasons in the Abyss in 1990. MTV's Headbanger's Ball pushed videos for the title track and "War Ensemble."
The double live set Decade of Aggression came next, after which Lombardo split to start Grip Inc. The rest of the band took it easy for a spell, save a collaboration with Ice-T for the Judgment Night soundtrack.
As they headed into the studio to make Divine Intervention for 1994, Paul Bostaph was recruited to be the new drummer. Death metal was all the rage and Slayer was at the heart of the action with a number eight debut on the Billboard 200.
Another drummer change found Jon Dette stepping in on Undisputed Attitude, but Bostaph coming back in 1998 (for Diabolus in Musica) and Lombardo returning in 2002 after a return to Def Jam and the release of God Hates Us All.
A four-disc retrospective, Soundtrack to the Apocalypse, dropped in '04 with Christ Illusion coming two years later. As usual, a solid tour schedule supported the releases before returning with 2009's World Painted Blood.
Claiming their place as speed metal icons, Slayer joined Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, for 2010's Big 4: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria.