Warning: this article’s text contains gruesome imagery and discussion of the atrocities of World War II
Metal Heads and Rocksmith fans, welcome to HELL!
This week’s Rocksmith DLC is a Five pack from one of the most defining still active metal bands out there, @Slayer!
Now often at The Riff Repeater, we get things wrong. We predicted Oasis when it was Green Day, Def Leppard when it was Bob Dylan, and probably some other things you might remember, but I’ve never been happier to have assumed we wouldn’t get Angel of Death in this pack only to be proven completely wrong by @UbisoftStudioSF!
Let’s talk a bit about the significance of Angel of Death in a music game.
When Guitar Hero: Metallica was announced it was a pretty big deal, of course with Guitar Hero titles there are always side-bands included (unlike Rock Band’s band-centric titles like Green Day and The Beatles). Slayer was almost a given and most people were hoping to see one of Slayer’s most iconic and controversial songs, Angel of Death.
Metallica selected songs from their catalog that “pretty evenly represent all the different phases” of the band. Lars Ulrich noted that the band stood up for the inclusion of the band Slayer against Microsoft‘s concerns on the explicit lyrical content of the group’s songs. Alan Flores, lead designer for the game, noted that they had originally cleared Slayer’s “Angel of Death” but had to pull it at a late date due to pressure on the song’s background, instead, at the urging of Ulrich, successfully cleared “War Ensemble” and rushed to include it in the game.
So basically @Activision was unwilling to include the song due to it’s subject matter. Shortly after Guitar Hero: Metallica of course was Rock Band’s inclusion of Slayer’s Black Magic (off their 1980 album Show No Mercy) as part of a DLC Pack featuring bands on the 2009 Mayhem Tour. Finally in 2010 @Harmonix gave Slayer it’s due with a three pack of songs from Slayer (two of which make up our Song pack this week) featuring a Pro Guitar upgrade for Raining Blood (a popular roadblock song on Guitar Hero III).
Either Harmonix wasn’t interested in the risk of including such a controversial song, the record label/band didn’t want to license it, or the fans didn’t want it (doubtful).
But why is Angel of Death such a controversial song?
Well it’s a song that educates the listener on the horrors of Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele who conducted horrific medical experiments on prisoners in Auschwitz. Among the tests detailed through Jeff Hanneman’s lyrics include surgery with no anesthesia, transfusion of blood between twins, isolation endurance, gassing, injections with lethal germs, sex change operations, the removal of organs and limbs, and abacination.
The controversy lies in the unspoken motive behind the song, was Jeff a neo-nazi or was he simply interested in the horrific history and acts committed surrounding the Holocaust?
Angel of Death (as a song) is so controversial it delayed the release of the album it was released on, 1986’s Reign in Blood.
The lyrical content of “Angel of Death” contributed to the delay of the release of Slayer’s 1986 album Reign in Blood. The band were signed to Def Jam Records whose distributor, Columbia Records, refused to release the album due to lyrical themes and artwork concerns, deeming the artwork “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.
Over @Slayer’s career they have had to constantly address the questions regarding the song, here is what Jeff and Kerry (King) had to say.
“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.”
– Jeff Hannenman
“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 f***ing World War II?’ People get this thought in their heads—especially in Europe—and you’ll never talk them out of it.”
– Kerry King
(0:00-1:50) Bands in Israel discuss Angel of Death
So what other three songs await you in this week’s Slayer song pack?
Off the 1990 album Seasons in the Abyss we not only get the title track but also my most wanted Slayer request, Dead Skin Mask! Yes, finally we can learn the beautiful love song detailing serial killer, Ed Gein. Rounding off the pack is the title track of 1988’s South of Heaven which I listened to a lot due to it’s inclusion in Zero Skateboard’s Misled Youth.
- Slayer “Angel of Death” – Eb Standard – [XBL] / [Steam]
- Slayer “Dead Skin Mask” – Eb Standard – [XBL] / [Steam]
- Slayer “Raining Blood” – Eb Standard – [XBL] / [Steam]
- Slayer “Seasons In The Abyss” – Eb Standard – [XBL] / [Steam]
- Slayer “South of Heaven” – Eb Standard – [XBL] / [Steam]
It’s all Eb Standard this week!
Are you excited to learn these five Slayer songs? Or is this not metal enough (no, seriously.. What is wrong with you? lol). Or are you sick of Metal and looking forward to the variety of weeks to come? Let us know!