Philip, how did you first discover Slayer and how did they fit into what you – as a musician – were doing at the time?
Philip Anselmo: I remember watching heavy metal closely as it evolved. I was about 15 years old or so and Metallica's Kill 'Em All really set the tone for that kind of metal, with the crunchy axe sound. Slayer's Show No Mercy was a great LP but it still posed a lot of questions as to where they'd go next. Then, Haunting The Chapel was a much more relentless offering, but still, it was only an EP. Finally, when Slayer released Hell Awaits, I, like many others, was sold. That record is still my favourite. Very Mercyful Fate influenced riff-wise but the point is: Slayer became more extreme, where bands like Metallica were heading in a more acceptable direction. I was a Slayer kid 100%.
Do you remember when you first heard Reign In Blood? Set the scene and tell us what your first thoughts were...
PA: I bought Reign In Blood on vinyl when it first came out. I really had no cash to do much of anything but getting that record was essential... Shit, I probably would have stolen it if it weren't for a friend lending me the cash to buy it. Anyway, all I had to listen to it on was my buddy's shitty turntable at the apartment I was living in and it skipped constantly – I was furious! But I eventually got the cassette and all was, well, crushing! There wasn't a single show I'd go to where RIB wasn't the talk of the night; it killed everything else even considered 'heavy'.
Which tracks stand out most and why?
PA: Where do I start? 'Angel Of Death', 'Piece By Piece', 'Altar Of Sacrifice', 'Jesus Saves', 'Criminally Insane', 'Raining Blood'. All of them are still brutal masterpieces. Slayer had trimmed down their riffing a tad on RIB, but still, they were complex enough to keep my attention and innovative beyond words. Extreme drumming, extreme vocals, extreme concepts, insane riffing and blistering out of key leads... like Black Flag possessed by a Catholic Satan. Gotta love it...
Did you – consciously or otherwise – take any aspect of RIB forward to Pantera material and if you did, which songs or feels are most heavily influenced?
PA: Of course. But there was a bit of influential magic here. I was the Slayer fan out of the Pantera boys – they were into Metallica, Motorhead and Def Leppard etc, so I was a bit of an outcast. But there was no denying Slayer's power and their popularity was growing, so it was tough for the fellas to ignore. Slayer was playing on a Saturday night in Dallas on the South Of Heaven tour and they'd gotten into town the night before. My great friend and boxing coach, Mad Maxx Hammer at Z-Rock (who was a DJ at that time) suggested to the Slayer guys that they should come to see us play on that Friday. Well, Tom, Kerry and Jeff came out, and to cut a very long story short, Kerry and I hit it off well. Kerry and Jeff even got up and jammed Reign In Blood with us that night. Several months later, Kerry called me and said that he wanted to come hang out (he was in between legs of touring) and jam with us. That jam session... teaching Dimebag Slayer riffs and Dime teaching Kerry our stuff was stupendously influential. Look no further than the end of 'Domination' to hear the Slayer influence, it's fucking obvious!
Slayer supported Pantera in 2001, what were your emotions having them support you given how you felt about their music?
PA: All I knew was that we had better jam our asses off every night. We really had to be on point. Playing after Slayer is no easy chore and dammit, when they'd kick into 'Angel Of Death' or 'Raining Blood'... my adrenaline still gets going just thinking about it! I'd get so pumped-up watching Slayer that I'd have to catch a second (or third) wind just to get up and play our set. It's true! Slayer was the craziest motivator ever... and I mean EVER.
Sum up where you think RIB fits into the overall fabric of heavy metal?
PA: It still stands the test of time and still kills – a pure, classic LP. To me, Slayer invented the style of heavy metal I adore: odes to Satan with discordant axe harmonies and thundering drums. They invented the style - that says everything. There may have been other great bands out there – great influential bands – but Slayer stands alone in my heart till I croak, period. And I think history will be kind to them. They're legends under my roof anyway.
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