California’s thrash metal explosion was a legendary turning point for heavy metal becoming a larger-than-life phenomenon.
Obviously, Slayer‘s influence can’t be understated. However as they were cutting their teeth in California, they were made well aware of Metallica.
In a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Slayer guitarist Kerry King spoke about seeing Metallica in the very early 80s when Dave Mustaine was still in the band. He said,
“They were great at that point. They were ahead of us by at least 16 months to a year. They were doing originals and we were still doing covers. I think we opened for Metallica with Mustaine, I can’t recall, but I know me and Dave [Lombardo, Slayer drummer] definitely saw them in a club and we were blown away by Mustaine.”
King had heaps of praise to lay upon Mustaine’s guitar playing, saying,
“Still to this day, he’s a fucking great guitar player. It was very awesome, it wasn’t big clubs, you could see from anywhere, and I was very enamored with seeing Mustaine play these insane leads and James [Hetfield] playing these insane rhythms and barking out these lyrics.”
He then further gives props to Metallica, saying that their presence in heavy metal at the time was a big influence for his own work and musicianship.
“It was way more extreme than what I thought metal was or could be, it was like another arm of it, so to speak. We all came out around the same time, but Metallica certainly influenced me.”
Speaking of shows, he adds an aside about playing with hair metal bands early in his career, saying,
“We actually played after W.A.S.P. once, when they had this raw meat and the girl on the rack and all of this stuff. We were a bit like, ‘OK… this is interesting, how’s this going to work?’, and when we came on, no one left! We thought, ‘Hmm, something’s happening here!’
It’s nice to see King give props to Mustaine in this way. Check out the interview here.