In a brand new interview with RVAMag, SLAYER guitarist Kerry King addressed the central crisis in hard rock and heavy metal right now, which involves nostalgia and the problem of how a veteran band like SLAYER grows old gracefully in an art form that is about doing absolutely nothing gracefully.
“We definitely thought about not releasing new music anymore,” King stated. “Maybe even doing what DOWN did and just release four songs before every tour, but, really, until the time comes that albums are obsolete, you better believe SLAYER‘s going to be making records.”
King did admit, however, that SLAYER is, to some degree, resting on its laurels. “We’re living on our history for sure,” he said, “but so is everyone else, yet we’re the ones trying to push ourselves forward. I would say [IRON] MAIDEN and METALLICA, no offense, are living on past success. METALLICA has toured forever on the ‘black’ record which a lot of people don’t like. I actually like it. It’s heavy as can be. Is it ‘Master Of Puppets’? Of course not, but it’s a great record. IRON MAIDEN, for me, is living off their first three records. Have they made good songs since then? Yeah, but they haven’t made great records. I like to think we’re still making great records and as much as people come out wanting to hear ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Angel Of Death’, they also want to hear ‘Disciple’ or even ‘Implode’.”
Part of the problem, King explained, is that records aren’t selling quite at the level they used to, giving bands and labels little incentive to produce new music. “It’s true, but it’s just a sign of the times because people get their music differently,” Kerry said. “It’s not all about [Nielsen] SoundScan anymore. That’s the last thing I remember, because you remember what you had growing up. There’s different technologies and different ways of doing a number of things, but when I grew up, I knew SoundScan and we are way off of SoundScan now. That’s because people get music for free. One person downloads it and shares it with five people. It’s not the same as it used to be. I can’t be bitter about it because that’s just how time has changed.”
Kerry added that SLAYER‘s success is measured through concert attendance, not through record sales. “My barometer is the live show where people show up,” he said. “That means people are into the music, whether the record is selling or not. They have it, they know it, and we can play it and have them sing it right back to us. That’s pretty much how it shows me people are still into, regardless of sales.”
King‘s latest comments echo statements he made in an interview with The Irish Times last September, when he said: “They [METALLICA] are really living on the first five records, I think. I’m not sure a new record makes sense for them. ‘Death Magnetic’  was a nice version compared to ‘St. Anger’ . Hopefully, they keep going along that line and get some of the riffs back.”
SLAYER‘s latest album, “Repentless”, debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200, having shifted 50,000 equivalent album units in the week ending September 17.
In terms of pure album sales, “Repentless” opened with 49,000 copies, marking SLAYER‘s highest-charting album yet.
“Repentless” now also holds the record as the band’s career-highest chart debut in Germany (No. 1), Holland (No. 2), Australia (No. 3), New Zealand (No. 8), the U.K. (No. 11) and on the Japanese International Chart (No. 1). It bowed at No. 3 in Finland, No. 4 in Belgium, and No. 5 in both Sweden and Greece. Additionally, the album debuted in the Top 10 in France (No. 7), Italy (No. 8), Hungary (No. 9), and Japan (No. 10).