We got mATT HEAFY and ALISSA WHITE-gLuz together to chat about why Slayer will live forever.
Neither Trivium nor Arch Enemy would exist without Slayer. We got frontpeople and lifelong Slayer fans Matt Heafy and Alissa White-Gluz to dissect the thrash icons’ legacy
it’s not just us fans that have been moved by the news about the end of one of metal’s all-time great icons. The musicians of our world have been, too. We sat down with Alissa White-Gluz of Swedish melo-death legends Arch Enemy, and Matt Heafy, a true heavy metal encyclopedia and leader of Trivium, as they mourned the thrash titans and remembered their legacy.
Alissa: So you guys actually co-headlined with Slayer, right? That’s crazy.
“Yeah, it was freaking insane. The
UK was our territory, and we came out in
Manchester [in 2008], where we had headlined before, and
I heard some booing.
So I said, ‘Everyone who loves Trivium make some noise!’
And about 75% of the crowd cheered. And then I said, ‘Everyone who hates Trivium make some noise!’ And the other 25% really screamed! Ha ha ha! And I said, ‘Ha! I even got the people that hate us to do something for me!’ But it was great, I can’t believe we got to co-headline with Slayer! One of the greatest bands in the history of metal, a band without which none of the sub-genres of metal would even have existed! It was an amazing tour, when you look at that line-up: Slayer, Trivium, Mastodon and Amon Amarth! If you did that tour now, it would be at least twice the size that it was then... and it was pretty big then! Crazy for us… I mean, I still remember the smell from the first time I heard Slayer! It was that powerful to me.”
Matt: When did you first hear Slayer? Alissa:
“I’m not sure I can remember the exact date, or even the song, but I do remember that I was young and was still predominately listening to punk rock rather than metal at that time, and they just seemed to fuse both of those things. It took me back a little, I was kind of shocked – the power, the ferocity… they were just this force of nature.”
Matt: “I was in [former Trivium drummer] Travis Smith’s car, this beat-up, old rickety thing – it was like something from Breaking Bad! I was sitting in the back but he didn’t have any seats, because they had all melted away, so I was just sitting on this moulded plastic and he said, ‘Hey, do you wanna hear something?’ and he put on Killing Fields from [1994’s] Divine Intervention and cranked it all the way up. That was the first time I’d ever heard Slayer. I can still remember being happily pulverised. I had never heard anything like that before. They’ve been such a big influence on everyone in metal.”
Matt: How have they influenced you?
“I don’t know if I’m influenced by them lyrically or vocally – although I think Tom is a really interesting vocalist – because I tend to write more with a melody or a vocal pattern in mind, and Slayer are so much more about just this beat pattern. A kind of, if you’ll excuse the pun, relentless punishment.”
Matt: “Yeah, It’s just a little bit more evil than stuff like Megadeth or Metallica.
It’s funny, because people consider Slayer an extreme band, and they definitely are, but it’s not got those Cookie
Monster vocals. Despite that,
I think Tom’s voice is just as extreme as someone like Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse.
Because it’s literally just yelling, it’s so strange, but it just works. The influence they have had on me is that whatever part of their music you hear, you know it’s
Slayer – the voice, the guitar tone.
It’s amazing that the guitar tone literally couldn’t be anyone else. A Slayer solo can only be a Slayer solo! Which is such a difficult thing to do. It’s so cool, that’s why they’re great.”
“I was happIly pulverIsed by
Alissa: “Yeah, I love Kerry, I don’t want to come across as biased when it comes to my favourite member of the band, but I know Kerry and his wife and we hang out a bit. And he’s such a great guy, and such an icon as well. Like, people that don’t know about metal know about Slayer, and they know who Kerry is.”
Matt: “Yeah, just the crazy Slayer guy with the tattoos on his head.
Even his head tattoos are more famous than some bands! I mean, I couldn’t possibly pick out one guy from that band as
a favourite member.”
Alissa: What’s your favourite Slayer album?
“As obvious as
sound, it has to be Reign In Blood.
I mean, that record is only 29 minutes long! For one of the biggest metal records of all time, that’s just a crazy fact. I went in a weird way getting into Slayer; I got into metal in 1999 and I got [1994’s] Divine Intervention first and then I got [1998’s] Diabolus In Musica. But when I got Reign In Blood, that is what really got me into Slayer, because it was just so different to Metallica, Pantera and Megadeth. And it really doesn’t matter if you’re into Power Trip or Cannibal Corpse or Emperor, you can find something on that record that relates.”
Alissa: “I really love [1988’s]
South Of Heaven. I think that would have to be my favourite record. I actually think there is something really wonderful and very interesting about the production on that record. It really has a creepy, frightening and brutal quality to it. The title track pretty much speaks for itself in terms of legendary metal songs, but then it’s also got stuff like Read Between
The Lies on it, too, which doesn’t get spoken about as much.”
Matt: “You know, I actually really loved Repentless as well. If that’s how they’re going out, then that’s a great record to end on. I love that it has
Gary Holt on it, who is such a perfect fit for them, since his work in Exodus did so much to shape the sound of thrash metal as well, and it felt like a really great capsule of everything Slayer ever did.”
Alissa: “I’ve actually not heard it that much, and I have no idea if it is a fan-favourite, but when I heard it I thought it was good. It had a lot of the punkier and faster stuff in it that you don’t often hear from bands of their age. That’s impressive. You’re right about Gary Holt; obviously it was a tragic, terrible thing when Jeff passed away, but they haven’t damaged their legacy at all by continuing.”
Matt: “And Jeff has taken on a life of his own in many ways. You now see people wearing the ‘Hanneman’ t-shirts at Slayer shows; he’s not been forgotten, he’s being really celebrated more than ever before.
The songs he wrote for that band can’t be understated. So, they’re doing right by him. Although, the selfish part of me hopes that this isn’t really the end, that we will see some more Slayer shows pop up in the future.”
Matt: Do you think we’ll see more Slayer shows?
Alissa: “Even if we don’t, they have become such a huge part of heavy metal, forever now. They never compromised, they always stuck to their guns, they always remained Slayer, remained extreme to the end.”
Matt: “That’s the thing – I love bands that experiment and try new things. I love Load and Reload and
I feel like Metallica needed to do that. But, there is also something amazing about a band who just go, ‘Nope.
This is us. Take it or leave it.’ And Slayer sounding like Slayer is just… right! That’s why people feel so devoted to them; that’s why their legacy is untouchable. There are two things you hear at every show shouted by the crowd now: ‘Freebird’ and ‘Slayer’! Skynyrd and Slayer are the last two constants in music!
That’s some legacy!” TRIVIUM’S THE SIN AND THE
SENTENCE IS OUT NOW VIA ROADRUNNER. ARCH ENEMY’S WILL TO POWER IS OUT NOW VIA CENTURY MEDIA