06.06.06: SELAMAT HARI SLAYER SEDUNIA!!
Last night we were hard at work scrunitising our computer monitors, the clock chimed midnight, I-Lann turned to me and said, “Selamat Hari 666!”
Yup! It’s SLAYER day! A few months ago somebody forwarded a link of an American site called National Day of Slayer which was urging people to “listen to Slayer at full blast” on June 6th 2006. And that’s today.
Typical of Americans though, the site myopically refers itself as “National”, which is USA lah! Fuck that! I propose a Global Slayer Day instead. Slayer has been blasting minds and bodies all over the world since the release of their first album Show No Mercy back in 1983. Me and friends back then, who were staunchly listening to nothing but punk rock and related (“modern music” & reggae), were also infected.
Around 1984/85, a school mate of mine (known as Mat Boya), who was studying in Woolongong, Sydney (and is still there) wrote to me about all these metal bands that were mixing raw hardcore punk rock in their music. That letter piqued my interest to check out this thing called as “Speed Metal”.
Before that, us punk rockers in Terengganu were always making fun of rock and metal bands as “cheesy poodle-hair” mat rock (a comment which we also pointed out at the local bands those days, right from Search, Lefthanded, Whitesteel, Ella & The Boys, etc.). For us then “mat rock” were just copying the 70s, trying to be as flashy as Led Zep or Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow or Deep Purple. We, on the other hand, were proud products of the international punk rock “revolution” which has arisen out of hatred for such bands; because (as Morrissey said it later), “they were saying nothing to me about my life” and also because of the silly tight spandex they all wear.
One memorable incident happened way back in 1981. Me and my gang somehow got hold of a live video by The Stranglers. So we all congregated at Kampung Mengabang Telipot, which was where a lot of Terengganu punk rockers were centred. It was a small fishing village north of Kuala Terengganu, quite near to the current Terengganu Airport. Back then, there were two kampungs in KT which housed quite a number of punk rockers and new wavers, the other one was Kampung Tanjung, which is situated at the mouth of the main river. Both camps used to tease each other as “posers”, which would usually ensued with running battles all over Kuala Terengganu.
Anyway, so we got this VHS video and there’s only one VHS player in the whole kampung. luckily it’s one of our punk friends’ house. We all went there, eager to see Jean Jacques Burnel pounding his bass and Hugh Cornwell slashing his guitar.
As we neared the house, strains of Led Zep music permeated, growing louder with each step we took. Turned out that our friend’s older brother and his friends were taking up the front room watching Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same.
So we had a stand-off. Young punks on the steps and older mat rockers in the front room, and they had the control of our much needed VHS player. Of course, we were too chicken shit to pissed them off but we were muttering under our breath about how crap rock music is; “fucking bell bottoms, long-hairs and guitar solos that took forever, etc.”
The older guys however realised our frustration and somehow stopped their movie halfway and emptied the room. Hooray! Punk rock won! And yeah, fuck you hippies!!
Fast-forward 4 years later and I was sitting in my rented room in a small, almost collapsing wooden house at Jalan Pusara, Terengganu. I was then on my Politeknik practical, studying petroleum engineering at the Esso’s Training Center nearby. So there I was sitting in my room, blasting away Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All on the stereo. Engrossed in all the cacophony while going through the lyrical content, I can hardly hear the comments made by a friend who suddenly appeared at my window.
It was Shahlan, hanging by his shoulders with his feet dangling. “What the fuck are you doing listening to metal, man?!!,” he bellowed again shocked by what he’s heard. I laughed and ushered him in the room. “You gotta listen to this!,” I said. “This is no typical metal, man! Check out the lyrics, check out those Misfits and Broken Bones t-shirts the band is wearing! Check out the Ramones-style torn jeans! No spandex with this lot!”
“And yeah, listen to the music! Isn’t that Discharge meets Motorhead meets Maiden meets Rattus?!!” Shahlan cocked his ear, and sat down and so there we sat listening in awe to this excellent new noise we’ve just discovered. “It’s called Speed Metal”, I told Shahlan. “Other bands sounding like this are Voivod, Celtic Frost, Venom and Slayer!,” I pointed out the names quoted by Mat Boya in his letter. “They are punks who like metal,” I added.
So yeah, the very next day Shahlan came around again and borrowed the tapes. Soon after some more punk rockers started going crazy over this “updated” hardcore punk sound – a bastard chile of the hardest punk and the wickedest metal. And as you may have known, it culminated with our discovery of bands like Punisher, Nemesis, Rator and X-Qs germinating a thrash metal scene in KL in 1987/88. By that time “speed metal” has been updated as “thrash metal”, and it goes on to splinter into many other metals – death, technical, black, etc.
It’s been yoinks since all that above, many so called Thrash metal bands have gone under the bridge, but to this very day, there are only three bands from that era which I would still die for.
First, Canada’s Voivod. They put out three excellent albums in the mid-80s – Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross & Nothingface, gradually progressing from generic thrash metal to post-punk meets space-rock, like Die Kreuzen meets Pink Floyd! The band broke my heart when they released Angel Rat and started to sound like a heavier version of fellow Canadian prog-rockers Rush. Voivod is still going, with Jason Newsted on bass now, but there’s nothing like their early days. Those days they were so good even local thrashers then didn’t understand the band! Now, that’s a sure sign of a good band!
Second, Switzerland’s Celtic Frost. An amazing thrash/death metal band that was always ahead of the pack, expanding their sound beyond the generic. Building upon the wicked blocks pioneered by Venom’s Black Metal album, Celtic Frost went darker, with better musicianship and much more intelligence than the usual meat-alhead. Those interested, do check out all of their albums – especially earlier ones such as Morbid Tales, Emperor’s Return mini-LP, To Mega Therion, Into The Pandemonium (where they did a Wall of Voodoo cover, Mexican Radio) and the Tragic Serenades 12″. All crucial listening!
By the time the band put out Cold Lake, they started to look like typical glam rock bands. This incensed the fans, but I still like their music then. Celtic Frost looked upon Roxy Music and David Bowie as heroes and influences, now where can we find that in a barnstorming metal band these days?
And then, the third and last band in that crucial triumvirate; SLAYER! So where do I start with Slayer? Anywhere during their nearly 25 years of existence really. Slayer never chickened out. They moved with the times, even recorded collaborations with some hip-hop stars, but unlike Metallica, the band stayed true to the METAL. Right to this very day, they would still shock your parents to the nearest heart hospital.
Those album sleeves above are my all time Slayer faves, especially the bigger two; Reign in Blood and Hell Awaits. If you have those albums, put them on repeat for the whole day. I am. The cats are all now running away into the kitchen, and my whole home office is rattling, and I’m in (South of) Heaven!!!!
‚Äì Mat Boya, my friend in Woolongong, Sydney was sharing a house with a bunch of Malaysian students back in the early 80s. These guys went on to form Cromok! When I went to visit Mat a few years ago, he brought me to meet Cromok’s first guitarist, also a Malaysian who never came back. He has a nice home overlooking a lake there. He’s no longer playing guitar but now a successful designer for women handbags!
– Shahlan, mentioned above went on to form the first few Terengganu punk bands in the mid-80s, Stoned Crows and Malaria. He was also Carburetor Dung’s first proper vocalist back in 1992/93. Shahlan joined us as a drummer and then a vocalist and later the second guitarist until he left the band in 1996. Now he runs a car workshop in Cheras.