ICYMI, Slayer shocked fans with reunion: Reactions, implications, and tours

Anthrax's Scott Ian and Kerry King's own guitarist had mixed feelings about Slayer's decision to un-retire for a few select shows.
Slayer, Anthrax & Lamb Of God In Concert - Sterling Heights, MI
Slayer, Anthrax & Lamb Of God In Concert - Sterling Heights, MI / Scott Legato/GettyImages

Earlier this year, Slayer shocked their fans by announcing a reunion for three festival performances this fall. This announcement came as a surprise to many, including Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian. Ian shared that he messaged Slayer guitarist Kerry King, humorously saying,"Thanks for making me look like a liar." He later clarified the comments were meant in a "lighthearted" way.

The timing of Slayer's reunion was particularly unexpected because King had recently revealed details about his solo project. Kerry King's solo band guitarist, Phil Demmel, had similar feelings:
"To have a Slayer gig announced before we've even played a show [with Kerry King's new solo band] was really weird to me."

He elaborated: "Slayer's none of my business — the 'why's and the 'when's, it's none of my business. I had questions when I first heard [about the reunion], and they were answered. And I'm a hundred percent at peace and good with everything that's happening."

He said, “I wrote to Kerry and said, ‘Thanks for making me look like a liar.’ We were on Slayer’s goodbye tour for over a hundred shows. During that year and a half together, I got the sense that if they said were ending, then that’s what was happening."

Did Slayer un-retire "too soon"?

Ian continued, “Personally, I felt it was too soon – the world needs Slayer – but I took them at their word on that." In a world full of untrue band retirement announcements, Ian really thought they would be the one band to retire and stick to it.

( As an example of another, albeit non-metal band that un-retired briefly, R.E.M. played at the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony recently – despite R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck previously saying "I think we quit at the right time," and that "It'd never be as good" live if they were to return to performing.)

King's response to Ian’s message about un-retiring Slayer was lighthearted. He wrote back, "Hahaha. Hey, it’s just three shows." Ian replied, "Yeah, we’ll see."

Why did Slayer retire in the first place?

It’s worth noting that King never wanted Slayer to disband. While no official reason was given for the breakup, band members have indicated that singer-bassist Tom Araya wanted to retire from touring. King has expressed that he would have continued the band if it were solely his decision. On the bright side, it did give him a chance to finally get his solo material out, explaining: "There's been so much hurry up and wait...This record's been done almost a year already, so [I've been] chomping at the bit for it to come out."

Kerry King's debut album, From Hell I Rise, came out on May 17th, followed by a summer tour with Mastodon and Lamb of God (you can try to nab tickets here).

Kerry King on his decision to tour with his solo project

King explained that he isn't still gigging because he loves touring: "I'm very into playing. It's not the travel. I love going to cities, of course, but getting to cities is a pain in the ass. I would love if I never traveled again; I'm cool with that, but I'm put here to perform and I enjoy performing."

More on the tours

Slayer’s exclusive reunion shows are slated for the fall, with performances at Riot Fest, Louder Than Life, and Aftershock. These festival appearances will be Slayer’s first shows since concluding their farewell tour at the end of 2019. Louder Than Life promoter Danny Wimmer declared it will be an "earth-shattering performance" and that he was working to bring them out of retirement for a performance at Louder Than Life.

Kerry King just performed his first shows with his solo band, with a club gig on May 7th in Chicago and a performance at the Welcome to Rockville festival on May 9th in Daytona Beach, Florida. He also played Sonic Temple on May 16th, and is joining the summer tour with Mastodon and Lamb of God.

Alongside Metallica and Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer are part of the Big 4 of thrash metal. Anthrax is currently working on their long-awaited follow-up to 2016’s For All Kings. They performed at the Sonic Temple festival on May 17th, and will also play at Louder Than Life and Aftershock in the fall. Additionally, they will embark on a UK/European tour with Kreator and Testament in late November.