on 30 June 2008
A biography on Slayer was long overdue and I immediately purchased this upon its release. Long term Slayer fans will be very disappointed with this, as most of the anecdotes and quotes from the band are lifted entirely from interviews which have appeared in magazines down through the years, and will be very familiar to most. (The author conducted these interviews in his defense)
The reviews of the albums are one dimensional, the authors train of thought is Fast Slayer Songs = Good, Slow = Bad. It becomes tiresome after a while, especially when you reach Seasons In The Abyss and the author is claiming Dead Skin Mask and Seasons in the Abyss are poor tracks based on the above arguement! You could nearly guess what songs the author is going to rubbish before reading.
Overall there is very little here that potential readers will not know already, there is no real insight into the recordings or the bands personal lives that you wouldn't have read elsewhere prior to this.
A wasted oppertunity.
I've never been a massive Slayer fan, they're good and I actually own almost all their albums but not being direhard fan I don't know a terrible about them, so I bought this on the off chance of picking up a few snippets of info about them and how they function. To that end it's very good read, plenty of annecdotes about life in the band and plenty of info about how the career has progressed from a group of kids messing about to one of the most solid and reliable metal bands on the planet. If you're a diehard fan, you will most likely know all the bits and pieces in this book and may want it just to add to your collection of Slayer stuff.
I enjoyed it but can't say I would read it again. The flaws, hmmm, where to begin. The writing style is not very easy to stomach it lurches from point to point sometimes just chaging tack suddenly with no warning. Mr McIver, as has been pointed out in other reviews, is obsessed by the speed and ferocity of their songs. Anything less that 180bpm is almost immediately dimissed as slow and plodding, this comes over in the reviews of each song ( more about that in a minute! ). He reviews each number and anything ferocious and 180+ bpm gets a long glowing review, anything slower get dimissed as plodding and usually recieves less than 20 words.
The one thing I have never got about Slayer, despite listening to them since the Hell Awaits album, is this so called evil vibe they are supposed to exude. Never seen it myself, just four blokes with a great chemistry and a stunning ability to write superb metal numbers, yet everyone always goes on about how evil they sound and behave on record. I was hoping the book might explain this oddness but it merely enforces this myth that they are supposedly evil by banging on about it even more!
Joe McIver gushes over every track of Reign in Blood, which I admit is a damn good album, practically working himself into frenzy over it, yet he gets all critical about every other album they done. Yes it was a great album for the time, I well remember my mates and I liking it, except we were 15 at the time so we could get away with it being in our 40s now we have grown up as have a lot of the band's fans, McIver needs to as well.
Ah yes, track reviews. Every track, and I mean every track, receives a complete critique, which some might find interesting but I have the feeling McIver was being paid by the page so he felt the need to pad out the book with these pointless opinions on what he does and does not like about every Slayer track! Joe, it's a biography, it's about the people in the band, those who helped to get the band where they are and the things that happened along the way. By all means a quick review of the album, but two pages to describe the Seasons in the Abyss promo video? Not good! We like the music and the band, we have our own opinions on which tracks we like and why, so yours are rather annoying and shatter the flow of the text.
At the start of the book McIver bemoans the fact that Slayer declined to comment or give their blessing to an official biography. Well Joe after reading the book, two reasons spring to mind. One they are very shy and reserved individuals who would rather not have someone picking every detail of their lives to pieces, as true and very professional artistes prefer to let their huge volume of work and achievements speak for them. The second reason is that they must have had an inkling that the book would most likely not be up to to the extremely high standards that they have always asked of themselves. Something that would represent them and their extremely high standards, that would not be under their control probably worried them, having read the book I think they made the correct choice.
It's not a bad book and I appreciate it must have been hard to write only relying on third-party information, but it might have been better to have waited until the band were ready to commit and give it the polish it so rightly deserves.
on 22 May 2012
For any Slayer fan (be it casual or hardcore - not that you get a 'casual' Slayer fan), this book is definitely a must-read, as it tracks their entire career up to and including 'World Painted Blood'! It gives an interesting history of Slayer, and is littered with things many Slayer fans would not ordinarily know. I would give this book a 5 star rating, but the one downside is that Joel McIver INSISTS on reviewing each album track by track, and his opinion generally follows the trend that "fast = good" and "slow = bad", but if anything it just makes you want to listen to the songs and make your own opinions.
At such a cheap price, any Slaytanic warrior should be ordering this fine book!
on 13 October 2008
I have to disagree with the previous reviewers if only because I don't think that the author is to blame, more that the members of Slayer are not particularly interesting people and it seems that trying to get deeper than skin is all but impossible with them!
For instance, there is a passage in the book where McIver talks about Hannemans sister having died in a car crash and, when he mentioned this to, I think, Kerry King, he had not heard about this relatively recent event! Now, I'm not one for personal tragedies being used in print as a 'story', but when levels of communication within the band are this reserved, then they are not going to be very open when it comes to relating hilarious anecdotes and deep insights to a journalist and I reckon McIver had quite a task in building up this book into more than a list of reviews and tour dates. I've read his Metallica book and that was a cracker so he CAN write, given decent material.
So it's not a bad read, just don't expect 'The Dirt- Part 2'!
Maybe Slayers' own official book, if it ever appears, will find a better angle than bandmembers personalities to hang their tale on...