|"Angel of Death"|
|Song by Slayer|
|from the album Reign in Blood|
|Released||October 7, 1986|
|Recorded||Los Angeles, California, 1986|
"Angel of Death" is the opening track on the American thrash metal band Slayer's 1986 album Reign in Blood . The lyrics and music were written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman. They detail the Nazi physician Josef Mengele's human experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.
Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.
Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and vocalist and bassist Tom Araya. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Slayer's current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and drummers Dave Lombardo and Jon Dette are former members of the band.
Reign in Blood is the third studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on October 7, 1986 by Def Jam Recordings. The album was the band's first collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, whose input helped the band's sound evolve. The release date of the album was delayed because of concerns regarding the lyrical subject matter of the opening track "Angel of Death", which refers to Josef Mengele and describes acts such as human experimentation that he committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. However, the band's members stated numerous times that they did not condone Nazism and were merely interested in the subject.
Although the lyrics describe Mengele's abuses rather than endorsing them, "Angel of Death" led to accusations of Nazi sympathizing and racism against the band, which they vigorously denied but which followed them throughout their early career. Despite the controversy and the resulting delay in the release of Reign in Blood, the song remains a live favorite, and has appeared on all of Slayer's live albums.
Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.
The song has been described as highly influential in the development of thrash metal or speed metal, and is highly regarded by some critics; AllMusic's Steve Huey called it a classic and the album "the pinnacle of speed metal".The half-time riff was sampled by Public Enemy in their 1988 song "She Watch Channel Zero?!."
Speed metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music that originated in the late 1970s from new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) roots. It is described by AllMusic as "extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding" music.
AllMusic is an online music database. It catalogs more than 3 million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on musical artists and bands. It launched in 1991, predating the World Wide Web. As of 2015, AllMusic is owned by RhythmOne.
Public Enemy is an American hip hop group consisting of Chuck D, Keith Shocklee, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and DJ Lord. Formed in Long Island, New York, in 1986, they are known for their politically charged music and criticism of the American media, with an active interest in the frustrations and concerns of the African American community.
Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman wrote "Angel of Death" after reading books about Nazi physician Josef Mengele while on tour with the band. —that's where the lyrics to 'Angel of Death' came from."He said that he remembered "stopping someplace where I bought two books on Mengele. I thought, 'This has gotta be some sick shit.' So when it came time to do the record, that stuff was still in my head
Jeffrey John Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Hanneman contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album up until his death in 2013 and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble," "South of Heaven," "Seasons in the Abyss," and "Angel of Death," all of which have been played at almost every live Slayer performance after their respective compositions. He had his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.
Josef Mengele, also known as the Angel of Death and the White Angel, was a German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and physician in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He performed deadly human experiments on prisoners and was a member of the team of doctors who selected victims to be killed in the gas chambers. Arrivals that were judged able to work were admitted into the camp, while those deemed unsuitable for labor were sent to the gas chambers to be killed. With Red Army troops sweeping through Poland, Mengele was transferred 280 kilometers (170 mi) from Auschwitz to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp on 17 January 1945, just ten days before the arrival of the Soviet forces at Auschwitz. After the war, he fled to South America where he evaded capture for the rest of his life.
The lyrics are written both from Mengele's point of view and from that of a detached observer condemning his actions.They detail Mengele's surgical experiments on patients at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Mengele's explorations were conducted on such groups as dwarfs and twins, and included both physical and psychological examinations. Among the tests he performed that are mentioned in "Angel of Death" are experimental surgeries performed without anesthesia, transfusion of blood between twins, isolation endurance, gassing, injections with lethal germs, sex change operations, the removal of organs and limbs, and abacination.
Dwarfism, also known as short stature, occurs when an organism is extremely small. In humans, it is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 147 centimetres, regardless of sex, although some individuals with dwarfism are slightly taller. Disproportionate dwarfism is characterized by either short limbs or a short torso. In cases of proportionate dwarfism, both the limbs and torso are unusually small. Intelligence is usually normal, and most have a nearly normal life expectancy.
Anesthesia or anaesthesia is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include analgesia, paralysis, amnesia, or unconsciousness. A patient under the effects of anesthetic drugs is referred to as being anesthetized.
Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment distinguished by living in single cells with little or no meaningful contact to other inmates, strict measures to control contraband, and the use of additional security measures and equipment. It is specifically designed for disruptive inmates that are security risks to other inmates, the prison staff, or the prison itself. It is mostly employed for violations of discipline, such as murder, hostage-taking, deadly assault, and rioting. However, it is also used as a measure of protection for inmates whose safety is threatened by other inmates.
The lyrics of "Angel of Death" delayed the release of Reign in Blood . The band were signed to Def Jam Records, whose distributor, Columbia Records, refused to release the album due to its subject matter and artwork, which they believed were "too graphic".Reign in Blood was eventually distributed by Geffen Records on October 7, 1986. However, due to the controversy, Reign in Blood did not appear on Geffen Records' official release schedule.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Geffen Records is an American record label, established by David Geffen and owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.
"Angel of Death" caused outrage among Holocaust survivors, as well as their families and the general public. The controversy led to accusations of Nazi sympathizing which have followed Slayer throughout their career.People took Hanneman's interest in Nazi history and his collection of Nazi medals, his most prized item being a German Knight's Cross, as evidence of sympathizing. Hanneman objected, stating:
I know why people misinterpret it – it's because they get this knee–jerk reaction to it. When they read the lyrics, there's nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me – well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that.
According to guitarist Kerry King: "Yeah, 'Slayer are Nazis, fascists, Communists'—all that fun shit. And of course we got the most flak for it in Germany. I was always like, 'Read the lyrics and tell me what's offensive about it. Can you see it as a documentary, or do you think Slayer's preaching fucking World War II?' People get this thought in their heads—especially in Europe—and you'll never talk them out of it."
The song drew accusations of racism, which the band has denied.The band members are often asked about the accusations in interviews, and have stated numerous times that they do not condone racism and are merely interested in the subject. Hanneman also wrote "SS-3", a song about senior SS commander Reinhard Heydrich, which appeared on the band's 1994 album Divine Intervention . The song "Jihad" from their 2006 album Christ Illusion has drawn comparison to "Angel of Death". "Jihad" deals with the September 11, 2001, attacks, and is told from a terrorist's perspective. Araya expected the subject matter to create a similar backlash to that of "Angel of Death", although it did not materialise, in part, he believes, due to people's view that the song is "just Slayer being Slayer".
At 4 minutes and 51 seconds, "Angel of Death" is the longest track on the album, which is 29 minutes in total.It is one of the most structurally conventional songs on the album, featuring prominent verses and choruses, which most of the songs eschew. Araya's vocal performance begins with a piercing, wordless scream. "[G]uitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman deliver their intricate riffs [and] drummer Dave Lombardo performs some of the most powerful drumming ever recorded" at 210 beats per minute.
When drummer Lombardo left Slayer in 1992, they recruited a full-time replacement in Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph.Bostaph made one mistake out of the nine songs the band trialled him with, on "Angel of Death". Before the "big double bass part" there is a lead section, which Bostaph could not understand, as he had to learn from live records recorded with Lombardo. Bostaph could not tell how many revolutions the guitar riff goes before the bass sequence. The band members told him there were eight, "perfecting" the song afterwards.
Although "Angel of Death" did not chart, it was highly praised by critics reviewing Reign in Blood. Clay Jarvas of Stylus Magazine observed how the song "smokes the asses of any band playing fast and/or heavy today. Lyrically outlining the horrors to come, while musically laying the groundwork for the rest of the record: fast, lean and filthy."Adrien Begrand of PopMatters remarked that "There's no better song to kick things off than the masterful 'Angel of Death', one of the most monumental songs in metal history."
South of Heaven is the fourth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer. Released on July 5, 1988, the album was the band's second collaboration with record producer Rick Rubin, whose production skills on Slayer's previous album Reign in Blood had helped the band's sound evolve.
Show No Mercy is the debut studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on December 3, 1983 by Metal Blade Records. Brian Slagel signed the band to the label after watching them perform the song "Phantom of the Opera" by Iron Maiden. The band self-financed their full-length debut, combining the savings of vocalist Tom Araya, who was employed as a respiratory therapist, and money borrowed from guitarist Kerry King's father. Touring extensively promoting the album, the band brought close friends and family members along the trip, who helped backstage with lighting and sound.
Hell Awaits is the second studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released in March 1985 by Metal Blade Records. The band's 1983 debut Show No Mercy became Metal Blade Records' highest-selling release, and as a result, producer Brian Slagel desired to release a second Slayer album. To that end, Slagel financed a recording budget and recruited several experienced producers to help in the studio.
God Hates Us All is the ninth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on September 11, 2001 by American Recordings. It was recorded over three months at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, and includes the Grammy Award-nominated "Disciple". Guitarist Kerry King wrote the majority of its lyrics, taking a different approach from earlier recordings by exploring topics such as religion, murder, revenge, and self-control. The band experimented, recording most of the album in C# tuning, with three songs in drop B and two others with seven-string guitars in B♭.
Undisputed Attitude is the seventh studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on May 28, 1996 by American Recordings. The album consists almost entirely of covers of punk rock and hardcore punk songs, and also includes two tracks written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 1984 and 1985 for a side project called Pap Smear; its closing track "Gemini" is the only original track. The cover songs on the album were originally recorded by the bands Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., D.R.I., D.I., Dr. Know, the Stooges, and Verbal Abuse, whose work was prominently featured with the inclusion of cover versions of five of their songs.
David Lombardo is a Cuban-American drummer, best known as a co-founding member of American thrash metal band Slayer. Lombardo played drums on nine Slayer albums, including the 1986 album Reign in Blood and the 2006 album Christ Illusion, for which he received critical praise. Lombardo's music career has spanned forty years, during which he has been involved in the production of thirty-five commercial recordings covering a number of genres. He has performed with numerous bands, including Grip Inc., Fantômas, Testament, and Suicidal Tendencies, in addition to Slayer. Lombardo is currently playing drums with Fantômas, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Cross, and the Misfits.
Haunting the Chapel is an extended play (EP) released by American thrash metal band Slayer in 1984 through Metal Blade and Enigma Records. Slayer's debut album Show No Mercy became Metal Blade's highest-selling, leading to producer Brian Slagel wanting to release an EP. Recorded in Hollywood, the recording process proved difficult when recording drums in a studio without carpet, although it resulted in drummer Dave Lombardo meeting Gene Hoglan who was to become an influence in his drumming style and speed. It was during the recording of this session that Lombardo first had the double bass added to his kit. Hoglan, working for Slayer at the time, sat at the kit and played a double bass for the first time. Lombardo was impressed and although Hoglan never gave him lessons, he did give him tips regarding the use of the double kick drum.
Live Intrusion is a home video by Slayer which was released in 1995 through American Recordings and filmed at the Mesa Amphitheater in Mesa, Arizona on March 12, 1995. The video features a cover of the Venom song "Witching Hour" performed by Slayer with assistance from Chris Kontos and Robb Flynn of Machine Head. It was reissued on DVD on August 17, 2010. Live Intrusion received positive reception from the few critics that reviewed the video.
Diabolus in Musica is the eighth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer. The album was released on June 9, 1998. Although receiving mixed critical reviews, the album sold 46,000 copies in its first week to peak at number 31 on the Billboard 200. Guitarist Jeff Hanneman wrote most of the album's content which has been described as Slayer's most experimental album. It is the band's first studio album to be played mostly in C♯ tuning. The album's title is a Latin term for "The Devil in Music", a musical interval known for its dissonance. Lyrical themes explored on the album include religion, sex, cultural deviance, death, insanity, war, and homicide.
War at the Warfield is a concert video by Slayer which was released on July 29, 2003, through American Recordings. Recorded at Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, California, on December 7, 2001, it is the band's second video album. The DVD's contents were announced by MTV on July 25, 2003. It is the last release by Slayer with drummer Paul Bostaph, who left due to a chronic elbow injury. Bostaph was subsequently replaced by the original Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. War at the Warfield was well received by critics, debuting at number three on the Billboard DVD chart, and sold over 7,000 copies in its first week. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling over 50,000 copies in the United States. It also won a 2003 Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for DVD of the Year.
Still Reigning is a live performance DVD by the thrash metal band Slayer, released in 2004 through American Recordings. Filmed at the Augusta Civic Center on July 11, 2004, the performance showcases Slayer's 1986 album, Reign in Blood, played in its entirety with the four original band members on a set resembling their 1986 "Reign in Pain" tour. Still Reigning was voted "best live DVD" by the readers of Revolver magazine, and received gold certification in 2005.
"Raining Blood" is a song by the American thrash metal band Slayer. Written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King for the 1986 studio album Reign in Blood, the song's religious concept is about overthrowing Heaven.
Slayer is an American thrash metal band formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, who recruited vocalist and bassist Tom Araya, and drummer Dave Lombardo. Slayer's first two albums, Show No Mercy (1983) and Hell Awaits (1985), which were released on Metal Blade Records, did not chart in the United States. The band was then signed to Def Jam Recordings by Rick Rubin, who produced Reign in Blood (1986). The album helped Slayer break into the Billboard 200 for the first time, peaking at number 94. After South of Heaven (1988), Slayer signed to Rubin's new label, Def American, and released Seasons in the Abyss (1990). After the album was released, Lombardo departed Slayer and was replaced by Paul Bostaph.
Christ Illusion is the tenth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on August 8, 2006 by American Recordings. It was the band's first and only album featuring all 4 original members with their drummer Dave Lombardo since Seasons in the Abyss (1990), and also marked the first time since Divine Intervention (1994) that they recorded songs in D# tuning. The songs "Jihad", "Flesh Storm", "Catalyst", and "Consfearacy" were recorded in D# tuning, while "Catatonic", "Eyes of the Insane", "Skeleton Christ", and "Supremist" were recorded in Drop B tuning and "Black Serenade" and "Cult" in C# tuning.
"Jihad" is a song by the American thrash metal band Slayer which appears on the band's 2006 studio album Christ Illusion. The song portrays the imagined viewpoint of a terrorist who has participated in the September 11, 2001 attacks, concluding with spoken lyrics taken from words left behind by Mohamed Atta; Atta was named by the FBI as the "head suicide terrorist" of the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center. "Jihad" was primarily written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman; the lyrics were co-authored with vocalist Tom Araya.
"Eyes of the Insane" is a 2006 song by the American thrash metal band Slayer, taken from their 2006 album Christ Illusion. The lyrics explore an American soldier's mental anguish following his return home from the second Gulf War, and are based on an article entitled "Casualty of War" in Texas Monthly magazine. "Eyes of the Insane" was written by vocalist Tom Araya during pre-production for the album. The song was generally well received by critics, and also peaked #15 on the Danish singles charts.
Repentless is the twelfth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer. It was released on September 11, 2015, and is the band's first album since the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013. Gary Holt plays the guitar in his place while drummer Paul Bostaph makes his first appearance on a Slayer album since 2001's God Hates Us All. The album is also Slayer's first one to be released on Nuclear Blast and was produced by Terry Date, replacing Rick Rubin after twenty-nine years and nine studio albums as their producer or executive producer. The six-year gap between World Painted Blood and Repentless is the longest between two Slayer albums to date.