Jihad (song)

Last updated
"Jihad"
Song by Slayer
from the album Christ Illusion
ReleasedAugust 8, 2006
Genre Thrash metal
Length3:32
Label American
Songwriter(s) Jeff Hanneman
Tom Araya
Mohammed Atta
Producer(s) Josh Abraham

"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.

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 American thrash metal band

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.

<i>Christ Illusion</i> 2006 studio album by Slayer

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 album to feature original 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.

Contents

"Jihad" received a mixed reception in the music press, and reviews generally focused on the lyrics' controversial subject matter. The song drew comparisons to Slayer's 1986 track "Angel of Death"—also penned by Hanneman—which similarly caused outrage at the time of its release.

"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.

Joseph Dias of the Mumbai Christian group "Catholic Secular Forum" expressed concern over "Jihad"'s lyrics, and contributed to Christ Illusion's recall by EMI India, who to date have no plans for a reissue in that country. ABC-TV's Broadcast Standards and Practices Department censored the song during Slayer's first US network television appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! . Only the opening minute was broadcast over the show's credits, thus omitting 40% of the lyrics.

Mumbai Megacity in Maharashtra, India

Mumbai is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. As of 2011 it is the most populous city in India with an estimated city proper population of 12.4 million. The larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region is the second-most-populous metropolitan area in India, with a population of 21.3 million as of 2016. Mumbai lies on the Konkan coast on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2008, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires among all cities in India. Mumbai is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and the city's distinctive ensemble of Victorian and Art Deco buildings.

EMI British music recording and publishing company

EMI Group Limited was a British Transnational conglomerate founded in March 1931 in London. At the time of its break-up in 2012, it was the fourth largest business group and record label conglomerate in the music industry, and was one of the big four record companies ; its labels included EMI Records, Parlophone, Virgin Records, and Capitol Records, which are now owned by other companies.

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan.

Origins

Mohamed Atta, who left behind a "motivational" letter following the September 11, 2001 attacks. An excerpt of these words was later used in a spoken text format for "Jihad"'s climax. Mohamed Atta.jpg
Mohamed Atta, who left behind a "motivational" letter following the September 11, 2001 attacks. An excerpt of these words was later used in a spoken text format for "Jihad"'s climax.

Primarily written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman, "Jihad" features lyrical contributions by vocalist Tom Araya. [2] Both Hanneman and Araya had previously written about controversial lyrical matter in past Slayer tracks; while Hanneman had written songs like "Angel of Death" and "SS-3" which explored the atrocities committed by Nazi figures such as Auschwitz concentration camp physician Josef Mengele and Third Reich henchman Reinhard Heydrich, Araya had delved into the lives of serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein in the tracks "213" and "Dead Skin Mask" respectively. "Jihad" is written from the perspective of a 9/11 terrorist, and imagines the thoughts that "the enemy" might have. [1] [3] The climax of the song features spoken text taken from a motivational letter left behind by Mohamed Atta, [1] who was named by the FBI as the head suicide terrorist of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Jeff Hanneman American guitarist

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.

Tom Araya American singer and bassist

Tomás Enrique Araya Díaz is a Chilean-American musician, best known as the lead vocalist and bassist of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Araya is ranked fifty-eighth by Hit Parader on their list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time.

Josef Mengele Nazi SS doctor who experimented on prisoners at Auschwitz

Josef Mengele 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.

Guitarist Kerry King has been outspoken in his defense of "Jihad", and has claimed that the song has the "coolest angle" on Christ Illusion. [1] "These new songs aren't political at all," King states, "'Jihad', 'Eyes of the Insane'—it's what's spewing out at us from the TV." [4] He further clarified that the band was not attempting to promote the terrorists' perspective of the war, nor their ideological beliefs, although he expected others to assume that Slayer was doing so. [1] They did not wish to dwell on the topic "because every band on the planet already has" and "came from a certain perspective", so felt they had to present an alternative viewpoint. [1] "We're Slayer, we have to be different" was King's assertion. [1]

Kerry King American musician

Kerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist and songwriter for the American thrash metal band Slayer. He co-founded the band with Jeff Hanneman in 1981 and has been a member ever since.

American singer/songwriter Steve Earle attempted a similar concept in penning "John Walker's Blues" (from the 2002 album Jerusalem ), written from the perspective of the Washington-born John Walker Lindh, a Taliban member captured during the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan. [1] [5] Earle was criticised for this track; King anticipated a comparable reaction to "Jihad": [1] [5] "People make an assumption before they (read) the lyrics. It's definitely not only human nature, it's very American-natured." [5]

Steve Earle singer-songwriter, recording artist and producer

Stephen Fain Earle is an American rock, country and folk singer-songwriter, record producer, author and actor. Earle began his career as a songwriter in Nashville and released his first EP in 1982.

<i>Jerusalem</i> (Steve Earle album) 2002 studio album by Steve Earle

Jerusalem is the 10th studio album by alternative country singer Steve Earle, released in 2002. A concept album, it has a political theme, and contains songs about a post–September 11, 2001 world.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Musical structure

"Jihad" is played in standard 4/4 time and runs for 3 minutes and 31 seconds. [6] A skittering vamp played by Jeff Hanneman leads into the track, while Dave Lombardo shimmers his hi-hat. [6] Smoothly mixing up tempos, the band builds the song with a fast, [7] "wonky, catchy and angular" [8] guitar riff reminiscent of the breakdown in 1986's "Angel of Death". [9] This guitar riff decelerates before bursting forward again in two-bar stretches underpinned by Lombardo's pounding, fifth-gear drumming. [7]

IGN reviewer Andy Patrizio was dismissive of the song's musical structure in comparison to other tracks on Christ Illusion: "'Jihad,' 'Flesh Storm,' 'Skeleton Christ,' 'Supremist,' and felt there was too much similarity in the riffs, tuning, tempos, and arrangements." [10] MusicOMH.com's Ian Robinson was also negative, remarking that the song "concludes with the 'now getting slightly old hat' Slayer trick (but still atmospheric) of over sampling voices over the solo." [11]

Reception and criticism

"Jihad"—alongside fellow Christ Illusion album tracks "Eyes of the Insane" and "Cult"—was made available for streaming on June 26, 2006, via the Spanish website Rafabasa.com. [12] The album was Slayer's ninth studio recording, and was released on August 8, 2006. During reviews "Jihad" received a mixed reception.

Blabbermouth 's Don Kaye gave the opinion that "a handful of songs" on Christ Illusion "are either too generic or the arrangements are too clumsy to work well", and specifically singled out the track: "I'm looking at you, 'Jihad' and 'Skeleton Christ'." [13] Ben Ratliff of New York Times remarked that the song is "predictably tough stuff, but let's put it on a scale. It is tougher, and less reasoned, than Martin Amis's recent short story 'The Last Days of Muhammad Atta.' It is no tougher than a taped message from Al Qaeda." [7] Peter Atkinson of KNAC.com was equally unimpressed, describing the group's choice of song climax as: [14]

..the same sort of detached, matter-of-fact tactic Hanneman and Araya have employed for "difficult" subjects in the past—Josef Mengele's Nazi atrocities in "Angel of Death" or Jeffrey Dahmer/Ed Gein's ghoulish proclivities in "213" and "Dead Skin Mask"—with great effect. But here it feels atypically crass and exploitative, as if it was done purely to get a rise out of people... And Slayer's usually a lot more clever than that.

Not all reviews were so negative. Thom Jurek of Allmusic observed that "the band begins to enter and twist and turn looking for a place to create a new rhythmic thrash that's the most insane deconstruction of four/four time on tape." [6] The Austin Chronicle's Marc Savlov asked readers to "listen to the eerie, stop-start cadence of lunacy in 'Jihad,' with Araya playing the role of a suicide bomber almost too convincingly." [15]

King would have appointed "Jihad" as the group's nomination in the "Best Metal Performance" award category at the 49th Grammy Awards, deeming the chosen track "Eyes of the Insane" "the poorest representations" of the group on ninth studio album Christ Illusion. [16] Despite King's statement, "Eyes of the Insane" won Slayer their first Grammy award. [17] The Slayer guitarist has also stated; "I like playing 'Jihad' because I'm back changing my guitars, and Jeff starts it and he starts it quietly so you can hear the fans go crazy about it and you can't always hear that at the beginning of a song." [18]

Controversy

"Jihad"'s lyrical matter provoked controversy from several quarters. Peter Atkinson of KNAC.com remarked that the song, "no doubt will be Christ Illusion's most controversial track." In May 2006, World Entertainment News Network announced that revelations of the song's lyrical content had angered the families of 9/11 victims. [19]

Joseph Dias of the Mumbai Christian group "Catholic Secular Forum" (CSF) issued a memorandum to his police commissioner, in which he expressed concern that "Jihad" would offend "the sensibilities of the Muslims...and secular Indians who have respect for all faiths." [20] EMI India met with the CSF, apologising for the album's release, and recalled all copies, with no plans for a reissue. [20] On October 11, 2006, it was announced all stocks had been destroyed. [21] The track, alongside the album's controversial Larry Carroll painted cover art and provocative lyrics, were the specific reasons for EMI India's decision. [20] Araya had expected "Jihad"'s treatment of the events of 9/11 to create a backlash in America, [3] however it failed to materialise. This was in part, he believes, because of peoples' view that the song was merely "Slayer being Slayer". [22] Hanneman expected that the Muslim community would either "embrace" or hate Slayer for penning the track, or that the victims of 9/11 would criticize the band over the song's subject matter. [23]

"Jihad" was one of six songs performed by Slayer during their first US network television appearance on ABC-TV's Jimmy Kimmel Live! (January 19, 2007), although only the opening minute of the track was broadcast. [24] ABC-TV's Broadcast Standards and Practices department censored "Jihad", and approached Slayer the day prior to broadcast with roughly 40% of the song lyrics deleted. [25] King has since confirmed that the group were ten minutes from withdrawing from the show, but eventually decided to "just go do it." [25]

Comparisons to "Angel of Death"

Cquote1.png Yeah, that was blown out proportion. People thinking they know what it says without really reading it. And that will happen with every record for everybody, because people like to take an opinion without being informed about anything. It's easier to just shoot your mouth off because the more noise you make the less basis in fact your argument has to be because people are too dumb to recognize the difference. Cquote2.png
-Kerry King, KNAC.com [1]

On a number of occasions the song has been compared to "Angel of Death", [1] [26] a Hanneman-penned Slayer track from 1986's Reign in Blood , which was lyrically inspired by Nazi physician Josef Mengele. [27] "Angel of Death" focused on human experiments conducted by Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp in World War II. [27] KNAC.com's Peter Atkinson commented upon the similarities, to which King responded that the whole affair "was blown out of proportion". [1]

Making the connection, King remembers thinking "Great, now we're gonna be answering for this one!" after listening to a playback of the song. [26] "But as with 'Angel [of Death],' we're not endorsing anything. It's just not an 'anti' song, either." [26] Hanneman emphasised, "Like 'Angel of Death,' it's just a documentary." [23]

Personnel

See also

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