Rick Rubin Says Slayer Invented Black Metal
Internet commenters love a big “gotcha” moment, and one story making the rounds this weekend offered a superb example of such a moment much to the misfortune of legendary producer Rick Rubin.
Rubin, who has produced landmark albums by Slayer, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Danzig, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, System of a Down Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine and a bazillion others, is hosting a new podcast called The Broken Record with writers Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam. On the latest episode featuring producer/songwriter T Bone Burnett, Rubin said the following about Slayer, for whom he produced three albums, Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss:
“Something I noticed relatively early, working with different artists that was interesting was… one of the bands I worked with is called Slayer, heavy metal band, very… one of the inventors of black metal… very aggressive metal, and the lyrics were very dark and heavy. Some people would look at that as negative content, and then I would go to a concert and see an arena full of kids who were very much like the guys in Slayer, who were so filled with joy listening to this music. It was speaking directly to them. It was completely nourishing them…”
Did Rubin misspeak or does he actually believe Slayer invented black metal? While it could certainly be argued that some elements of Slayer’s sound would go on to influence black metal, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes they invented it. Those honors go to bands like Venom, Hellhammer, and Bathory, of course, with Venom having released their watershed album Black Metal in 1982, four years before Reign in Blood came out.
While it’s certainly possible Rubin did misspeak — especially since the bit about black metal is just an aside to his overall point about fans connecting with metal’s “negative content” — he has also developed a reputation as an absentee producer who only pops his head in the room from time to time and takes a bird’s eye approach rather than getting down and dirty with the tracks. He also cut his teeth in the hip hop world, not in metal, and could simply be mistaken. So: what do you think? Sound off below.