Southern, California’s Slayer may not be the biggest of Thrash Metal’s noted Big 4, but they are be far and away the heaviest and most aggressive. Founded in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, the banded was rounded out by bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, and drummer Dave Lombardo. Lombardo has been hailed as the Godfather of the double-bass, and is the only member of the band not to have stayed with the quartet continuously since its inception. Ranking Slayer is no easy task. These guys are the heavyweights of a heavyweight genre.
The other members of the Big 4; Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax have taken some noted left turns during their careers. Metal fans have often praised Slayer for never changing their style, and remaining true to themselves and their signature sound.
Slayer, more so than any of their thrash brethren set the table for and influenced much of the future of extreme metal. The band’s lyrical themes and album art, have covered topics such as serial killers, necrophilia, Satanism, religion, anti-religion, and warfare. This has generated album bans, delays, lawsuits and criticism from religious groups and the public. Still, there is no question as to their influence. Despite mainstream media’s habitual dismissal of heavy metal, Slayer has still managed to earn five Grammy nominations, two of which they won in 2007 and 2008.
Recently the band has endured turmoil with the ongoing health issues of guitarist Jeff Hanneman and the conflict over money with drummer Dave Lombardo. Exodus guitarist Gary Holt and former one time Slayer fill in Jon Dette have been carrying the torch.
The List represents and ranks the band’s 11 studio albums of original work. It does not include their 1996 punk covers album, “Undisputed Attitude” or their 1984 EP, “Haunting Chapel“.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2015: This article has been updated to include Slayer’s newest studio effort, Repentless which is the first without Jeff Hanneman, and marks the return of Paul Bostaph.
Click any photo to view list as a slideshow below then sound off with your own rankings.