Bangalore houses what might be an outsize share of India’s metal heads, so it’s appropriate that this was the city that thrash metal band Slayer picked for their first show in India. The band played in one of the city’s outlying suburbs, and drew a crowd from all over, including Vietnam, as they played a set list that stretched back through albums such as “Reign in Blood,” to “Show No Mercy,” their debut album from 1983.
“The special part for me is we’ve never played India. So we can pretty much play anything we’ve ever played,” guitarist Kerry King said at a press conference for the event.
Slayer began in 1981 when guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman met at an audition for another band and decided to form their own act. Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, who had worked with King previously, was roped in and drummer Dave Lombardo was recruited when he delivered a pizza near the King household, and met the “boy with all the guitars.”
The band’s style is hard to duplicate: fast, slick guitar riffs backed up by Lombardo’s thundering double-bass drums and Araya’s shouted vocals. Slayer is the sort of band that stands astride the scale of noise to musical genius. People usually hate it or swear by it.
Their lyrics have gotten them into trouble over the years. Slayer’s songs are about war, serial killers, religion, Satan, post-traumatic stress disorder and the end of the world. A song about Nazi doctor and torturer Josef Mengele and the horrors he inflicted on Jews and other concentration camp inmates led to Slayer being branded pro-Nazis and racists. In its 31 years, the band has denied charges like these.