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Slayer’s Christ Illusion controversy October 7, 2006

Posted by K in Abstract Ramblings, contemporary, God, Reviews/Rants.

Christ Illusion Cover Art
Slayer’s new album is generating quite a bit of controversy. The cover art has pissed off Christian Bodies in America and now India. They’ve been forced to change their cover for their american audiences, and now, as EMI announced yesterday, they will be pulling off all copies of Christ Illusion from stores, and destroying them.

The objection seems to be largely with depicting Christ as an amputee, and the lyrics also seem to draw some flak, although that could just be a facade. Many bands have objectionable lyrics- I don’t notice purists latching on to them.

I must confess I do not see what the problem is with depicting Christ with a missing eye and limbs, and looking extremely bedraggled. How is it an insult to show someone as disabled? Do they mean to say that people will missing eyes and limbs are dispreputable? That they are imperfect? Or is the problem that Christ, the Perfect Being, cannot be shown to be touched by human suffereing?Did he not take on the suffereing of the Human race? It’s got to show! And wasn’t Christ a human being? And showing a bedgraggled Christ (no where, btw, is it explicitly mentioned that the gentleman depicted on the cover is Jesus; it’s an inference that is drawn. Now whether the inference was meant to be drawn or not is irrelevant- the point is the observer draws an independant conclusion.) can be a mere symbol of the state of todays world- religious and other wise.

Ofcourse the art could be a publicity stunt- and if it is that and only that, then I abhor what they’ve done. Publicity stunts in all shapes and colours are reprehensible- especially in a creative field.

Ok, now I’m not a Slayer fangirl. I don’t like thrash metal. But I have a problem with the problems raised against them –

1) The depiction of Christ on the cover

2) The lyrics of some songs, especially Jihad.

3)The (bad) reputation of the band.

The cover I’ve already gone over, and I see nothing wrong with it. I quite like it. It arouses the same kind of feeling in me as does the Emaciated Buddha. I strongly suspect that the objection raised by the Christian Bodies is linked to their own fears and insecurities about an ideal they are not sure enough of to be secure in. I’m sure Christ is having a laugh, or even solemnly agreeing with the art.
The lyrics; you judge. This is Jihad (written from the point of view of the terrorists)

5. Jihad

[Lyrics: Araya; Music: Hanneman]

have witnessed your death
I’ve seen it many times
Your tortured scrams
Your decrypted little mind
A father’s son
With pathetic eyes that bleed
Twins in the end
Begin and let the brothers fall

I will see you buried alive
Screaming for your God
I will watch you die again for him

God won’t touch what I’ve done
He cries upon my feet
A privilege pain
Beneath buried are your dead
On splintered bones I walk
Sifting through the blood
Besieged in fear
Await the coming of the God

I will watch you die again for him

Blood is raining downward
The stain reflects the sun
Conquer divide within
Terrorize the mind
I have seen the end it’s yours
Rosary in hand
Your selfish flesh it melts
Spilling from the sky

I will see you burn alive
Screaming for your God
I will watch you die

This is God’s War
God’s War
This God’s War
God’s War

War of Holy principles
I’m seeking God’s help in your destruction
Slit the throat of heathen man
And let his blood dilute the water
Bury your dead

Fuck your God erase his name
A lady weeps insane with sorrow
I’ll take his towers from the world
You’re fucking raped upon your deathbed

This is God’s War
God’s War
This God’s War
God’s War
Fucking Holy War

(Lead – Hanneman, King)

Be optimistic, happy and calm
Show no fear or anxiety
Smile at the face of God
And your reward will be eternity
Holy warriors
Your patience will be justified
Everything is for him
You must not comfort the animal before you kill it
Strike as champions at the heart of the nonbelievers
Strike above the neck and at all extremities
For it’s a point of no return for almighty God
God will give victory to his faithful servant
When you reach ground zero you will have killed the enemy
The great Satan


Not the most eloquent, or the best written lyrics, but it is meant to be a representation of how the “other side” thinks. Again, i’m not a fan of their lyrics, but i don’t see skin head tendencies in them either.


As for their reputation- I heard they got a lot of flak aftr some fanstrashed a seminary on 06/06/06. I don’t have much info on that, so comments will be welcome.


To end a not-so-coherent post, this is what a band member has to say about the art-“We wanted Christ in a sea of despair. The first version that came back looked like he was just chilling out in the water!



1. scherezade - October 10, 2006

But doesn’t black/ thrash metal and Christianity depend on such controversy to sell? Cat-screaming and institutionalization alone can’t guarantee record sales. If memory serves me right, the cover of Mayhem’s – “Dawn of the black hearts” was a testament to this.(Generate hype through whatever you can)
And yeah, they can justify anything including christ in a sea of despair!
Metal and Christianity coupled could take on any reality tv show for boosted ratings.

p.s.: Nice blog

2. sporadicblogger - October 10, 2006

I don’t have much idea about black/thrash metal, and how different it is from Heavy metal (the good old metal) ideologically. Do the good(oxymoron? lol) thrash/black metal bands also rely on cheap publicity?
Slayer, I’ve found out consequent to my post, has had a fair few controversies in the past. The people I spoke to (ofcourse, their sizing up of slayer will depend on how much they like/dislike theb band) felt that slayer rakes up dirt to get noticed.
However, number of controversies isn’t much to go by. Maiden got slammed in the US after the Number Of The Beast album released in the US…They got accussed of devil worship and of being Satanists, which was funny,because they are not. They’ve also been slammed for being satanists on other occassions which makes me wonder (even more) about the maturity of the so-called Christian pundits.
I guess,now, Slayer chose the cover knowing and anticipating the backlash, but I still cannot see any justification for the protests about the cover art, per se.
Youre right, Metal vs Christianity on TV will break all TRP records πŸ™‚

And thank you πŸ™‚ Nice of you :):)

3. kanishka - March 22, 2007

Umm Slayer is “death” metal.

Metallica used to be “thrash” metal.

“Heavy Metal” is a genre that technically should not exist, because to my mind I have never heard a band being described as a “heavy metal” band. Apart from uninformed journalists/critics, that is. I mean, no ardent follower of metal ever categorizes any band as “heavy metal”. AC/DC is “hard rock”, Iron Maiden are “old school power metal”, Iced Earth are “new school power metal + a little bit of thrash”.

I personally hate these terms, and none more so than “heavy metal”. Its silly. All these bands are playing rock music. They should leave it at that. Some of it is faster and some is slower. Some is melodic and some is more rhythm oriented. Thats all.

Stupid terms.

4. sporadicblogger - March 22, 2007

Ah, they are death, are they? sorry, I get these distinctions wrong πŸ™‚

Actually any kind of categorisation is dangerous and self-defeating. You’re right, it’s only critics that would tend to go into that. Maiden, for instance, doesn’t like to categorise itself. It is difficult to do so as well, because you mention ‘old school power metal’, some say melodic metal, some say they are not metal. One can end up tying oneself up into knots trying to reach an acceptable ‘category’.
Me, I like to keep it at NWOBHM, though that is applicable no longer πŸ˜€

5. kanishka - March 23, 2007

Do you have any of bruce dickinson’s solo albums? Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth are absolute heaven!

NWOBHM is looooooooooong. I personally like the phrase “British Metal”. Did you ever notice how all the original great rock bands came from england?

Beatles, Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cream…funny na?

Oh btw have you noticed I never know when to put apostrophes?

6. sporadicblogger - March 23, 2007

I only have tyranny of souls..not seen any other released in delhi, atleast. I have chemical wedding the song, and one more..born in 58. You have the albums or downloaded?
Yeah, British Metal is a cool phrase πŸ™‚ The Britts are cool, the have one of the nicest accents, the coolest bands, and ofcourse, they spawned eddie, ha.
Apostrophes? I don’t even try. After my capitals flew out the window i.e πŸ™‚

7. Straker - March 24, 2007

ha slayer death metal, wow after listening to slayer for 10 years,I learn all of a sudden they are death metal.Wow you can learn something new every day.

8. sporadicblogger - March 24, 2007

Hello Straker. Like I said, I’m no fan. I know next to nothing about Slayer. Anyway, the point of this post was not the categorisation of the band- but the controversy arising out of the cover art.
Would be glad to know what you feel about this.

9. kanishka - March 24, 2007

I have Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth – with bonus and hidden tracks, and one in which bruce sings in spanish.

I am going to stick to one forum of communication from now on…

I also realize I have deviated off topic – but straker I follow metal-reviews.com categories of metal, (becaue metal-reviews is by far the most mature metal site i have come across) and Slayer is death acc to that.

And as far as the album cover is concerned, I do think Slayer did it to create controversy. Not that this makes the position of the Christian groups correct, though.

10. kanishka - March 26, 2007

From metal-reviews.com:

“The actual definition of Death Metal is more streamlined, often dealing with specific themes within the music. Here, we’re mainly listing bands with death-like vocals. Vocals in the Black Metal genre are usually higher pitched with varied themes, and Extreme metal can be a mixture of both, or sometimes be a higher-octaned, more technical brand of music.
———————————————————TRY THESE BANDS OUT:
Amon Amarth
At the Gates
Broken Hope
Cradle of Filth
The Crown
Fear Factory
God Dethroned
Immortal Dominion
Lamb of God
Morbid Angel
Six Feet Under
All That Remains
Beyond the Embrace
Children of Bodom
In Flames
Raise Hell
Sins of Omission

11. kanishka - March 26, 2007

heh for someone who doesnt like labels and terms, I sure seem to be very interested in them…

12. sporadicblogger - March 26, 2007

heh heh. Thanks for that though. Needed that info, but too lazy to look it up..

13. duke7of9 - December 6, 2007

slayer is very controversial and always has been but i dont understand how they are any worse than the drunken sexual rednecks of the country music industry

14. JaCk - January 6, 2008

1) Its Slayer, what do you expect?
I think the lyrics/artwork are part attention whoring, but are also the band trying to make a point.

2) Slayer are very much a THRASH metal band. They are part of the ‘big four’ thrash bands. Although Slayer directly created death because of their influence.

15. F*CKINNG SLAAAYYYERRR!!!!! - December 2, 2008

I will now end this conversation about what kind of genre Slayer are; they are a THRASH metal band with DEATH metal influences. Duh!

Mike - October 1, 2011

They existed before deathmetal was thought about

16. NoxnoctisProra - September 23, 2010

haha Slayer is a thrash metal band and to these posts the term “heavy metal” applies to ALL of the metal bands, from AC/DC to White Zombie and everything in between, when people say british heavy metal or nu metal or industrial metal those are SUBGENRES of heavy metal.

17. brad - December 1, 2010

the way i see the album cover is when jesus descended to hell.

18. Andrew Miller - May 17, 2011

here is my thing. slayer isn’t about being clotheshorses for controversey. their lyrics make sense in the terms of what you think of. they maybe anti christian lyrically, but the guy who writes the songs, Kerry King, has that right under the first amendment to state what he believes. that’s the whole thing. slayer writes what they believe in and what is wrong in the world, like the lyrics for Disciple include

“the beauty of death we all adore”

we adore death and glorify it in america, so what is the big deal? turn on the tv, there’s more violence and rape on tv than on a slayer record. people of the fundamentalist christian faith are just trying to get attention because they know their religion is a bunch of bullshit and lies

19. Mike - September 30, 2011

Tom Araya is a proclaimed Christian while Kerry King is and Atheist and Jeff is intrigued by WWII because of his family. All members contribute to the songs and the songs do not reflect the belief of all members of the band. As far as Slayer being Death Metal…nope, that was not even a classification back when they started. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax are pretty much the founding fathers of their brand of music and classifications are just wrong. Much like paintings and books the lyrics, performance and stage show is an art form and should be viewed as such. If the music and cover art disturb you then just move on but don’t think you have a right to force your opinion on others about what you may think is art or trash. Not saying anyone here has. Freedom of speech is not just for a select few and I didn’t spend 22 years defending it for others to take it away because some artwork or lyrics offend them. Slayer has gotten me through some rough deployments over the years and I thank them. By the way, you find a lot of Atheists in foxholes and the ones most afraid of dieing are the devoutly religious…go figure that one out!

20. The former sporadicblogger - October 13, 2011

I see this one still finds commenters πŸ™‚

Since it’s been 5 years, I refreshed my memory by going through all the comments. Mike, I will agree now more than ever that classifications are very debillitating. When I first got into Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM bands I found myself trying to negotiate why I absolutely adored Maiden and disliked Metallica. Which took me to a lot of other metal bands and metal band forums where classifications got bandied about were sometimes an end in themselves in proving points of superiority. It’s because I did not understand the distinctions between classifications that I tried so hard to understand them. The result was that I began to accept the existence of such classifications (read them as an indicator of my musical immaturity) and it’s only been very recently that I’ve learnt to let go and simply enjoy the music πŸ™‚

Thanks everyone for stopping by to comment.

21. Bullshit - October 25, 2011

What the fuck? Slayer is thrash metal, not death metal.

Bullshit - October 25, 2011

Oh wait, you already corrected it.

22. the former sporadicblogger - October 29, 2011

“Ok, now I’m not a Slayer fangirl. I don’t like thrash metal.”

I believe I started by classifying Slayer as thrash. Commenters then agreed/disagreed. Now we agree to not bother classifying at all πŸ™‚

23. Chowder - June 30, 2012

Well,this is an old post,but I feel like commenting anyway XD
Slayer has always being controversial. The album Reing in Blood(1986) caused similar reaction. And I like the band’s position to no back up and change their lyrics.It’s what they see it,and it’s most of the time a fact. A lot of their songs talk about serial killers or historical facts,it’s how they make their music,it’s their style. If people can say/show terrible thing in documentaries,why they can’t do it on their music?
Nice blog,anyway ; )

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