Slayer’s Iconic Logo: From Creation to Evolution

In its various forms, Slayer's logo has been an artistic extension of the band's ethos, often finding itself at the intersection of design and debate.

Dave Lombardo
Dave Lombardo
Key Takeaways
  • Drummer Dave Lombardo created Slayer’s original logo using a pencil like a knife to carve out the band’s name, giving it a unique flair.
  • The logo evolved from a pentagram design in 1983 to a minimalist look in the ’90s, then back to its roots in 2015.
  • The “Eagle” logo stirred controversy for resembling Nazi symbols but remains iconic.

Picture this: You’re in Tom Araya’s garage, surrounded by young musicians rehearsing cover songs, still uncertain about the band’s name. Ideas are being thrown around—Kerry King pitches “Wings of Fire”, but it’s Jeff Hanneman who nails it with “Slayer”. The name resonates, and the rest, as they say, is metal history.

But what’s in a name if it doesn’t have an iconic logo to match? Enter Dave Lombardo, the band’s drummer, who was already flexing his artistic muscles by designing flyers. When the band needed a logo, who better to approach than Lombardo, the resident pencil art wizard?

Now, how does a “Slayer”—a term synonymous with killer or murderer—craft his signature? With a knife, of course. Lombardo recalls sitting on the floor, gripping a pencil like a knife, and slashing across paper to carve out the band’s name. Being left-handed gave the logo its unique flair, as Lombardo’s natural dexterity allowed him to cut the name out in a style that screamed “Slayer”.

Forget the rumors about the name being a shortened form of “Dragonslayer”—that’s just smoke and mirrors from an old interview. The real origin is as raw and visceral as the band itself, encapsulated in a logo born from the essence of what Slayer represents.

How Slayer Logo Changed Over the Years

In the world of metal, the Slayer logo is as iconic as the band’s killer riffs. But it didn’t just pop out of nowhere; it evolved, just like their music. Let’s take a time-traveling tour through the logo’s vibrant history.

Slayer logo 1983–1986
Slayer logo 1983–1986

Flashback to 1983, where it all began. The original logo was a sinister work of art. Picture a dark, black background setting the stage for a red inscription, surrounded by an incomplete pentagram formed by four swords—all enclosed in a gradient red circle.

Slayer logo 1986–1995
Slayer logo 1986–1995

Fast forward to 1986, and you’ll see a fresh coat of paint. The sword structure’s circular frame turned yellow, and the lettering amped up to a brighter shade of red. The swords themselves also got a cleanup, looking sharper and more menacing.

Slayer logo 1995–1998
Slayer logo 1995–1998

Then came the ’90s, specifically 1995, when the band adopted a more minimalist approach. The logo was stripped down to white and red letters, sharp and edgy, just like their music.

Slayer logo 1998–2001
Slayer logo 1998–2001

In 1998, the band went for a modern twist, introducing a sans-serif typeface that had a 3D flair thanks to its grainy texture.

Slayer logo 2001–2009
Slayer logo 2001–2009

But by 2001, they circled back to the original style—this time with lines that looked like pencil scratches, giving it an artisanal touch.

Slayer logo 2009–2015
Slayer logo 2009–2015

In 2009 logo witnessed a further metamorphosis, with the scratched logo adopting a lighter and wider stance, its uneven contours exuding a messy yet cool vibe, resonating well with the band’s identity during this phase.

Slayer logo 2015–present
Slayer logo 2015–present

The band played around with this scratched look till 2015, when they decided to pay homage to their roots. They reverted to the original logo but added the refined touches from their 1986 version. The result? A logo that screams confidence, stability, and the unyielding spirit of Slayer.

Controversy and Slayer go together like a mosh pit and metal music. But nothing stirred the pot more than their “Eagle” logo, which featured prominently in the 1990 “Seasons in the Abyss” album. This particular emblem raised some brows and rattled some cages, all the way from its design to its reception.

The band was already a magnet for accusations, what with Hanneman’s affinity for collecting Nazi memorabilia and the dark themes in their lyrics. Adding fuel to the fire was the fan club’s name, “Slaytanic Wehrmacht”, and the logo’s resemblance to the infamous “SS” symbol.

Rick Rubin, the band’s producer, was the one who proposed the eagle symbol. Despite being Jewish, Rubin seemed to relish the controversy, believing that it would manipulate public opinion and keep the Slayer name in the headlines. The eagle itself was lifted from a book on Nazi war medals, a suggestion that came directly from Rubin.

Tom Araya, Slayer’s frontman, lamented the misunderstandings surrounding the logo. To him, people saw what they wanted to see. The logo included upside-down crosses, but folks were fixated on the Nazi symbolism. Despite the swirling controversies, the band decided to let their music do the talking, tuning out the criticisms as background noise.

In the end, the logo joined the pantheon of Slayer’s visual history, a topic of heated debate but also an iconic part of their identity.