Between the moniker itself and the way it looks on their iconic logo, Slayer undoubtedly have one of the best band names in metal history. The simplicity, the aggro design and the word's insinuation that they're sword-wielding murderers is a perfect encapsulation of their gruesome sound and foreboding vibe — so much more so than the band's original name.
As Dave Lombardo mentioned during a 2015 Loudwire interview, the band's four original members — guitarist Kerry King, bassist-vocalist Tom Araya, guitarist Jeff Hanneman and drummer Lombardo — almost dubbed their soon-to-be-legendary act Wings of Fire instead of Slayer. While coming up with band names around the time of their 1981 formation, Lombardo said that the final decision came down to a choice between those two names, and had they gone wih the former, it could've had a completely different impact on their career. Wings of Fire is pretty badass, but in 2022, it sounds more like an Eighties power-metal or hair-metal band than a thrash group. It certainly doesn't have the same ring as Slayer.
"I remember we had just decided that the name of the band was going to be Slayer instead of Wings of Fire. Those were the two choices," Lombardo said while talking about drawing the iconic Slayer logo. "I remember we were in a living room and Tom's parents had this blue carpet and we were trying to figure out what the logo was going to look like. And I said, "Well, what does a murderer — a guy who kills — what does he do?"
At this point in the video interview, Lombardo made a carving gesture to mime the strokes of a blade-stabbing maniac. "So I carved it," Lombardo said. "Obviously I'm left-handed, so all the angles are all left-handed."
Who knows what the Wings of Fire logo would've looked like and how the band would've been received among their peers in the Southern California thrash scene, where other bands had one-word names like Metallica and Exodus. Of course, all of that is speculative, but we're glad they went with Slayer. What an un-fuck-with-able name.