Angel of Death (song)

From Academic Kids

"Angel of Death" is a famous, and controversial, song by the band Slayer. The song is based on Josef Mengele. This in itself — a metal band writing about war and a serial killer — would not have raised many eyebrows; the controversy arose over the lack of condemnation in the lyrics.

The song was written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman, after reading about Mengele: "Oh yeah. Right before I wrote "Angel Of Death," I read a bunch of books about Mengele because he was pretty sick. That was how "Angel Of Death" came about." [1] (http://www.slayersaves.com/interviews_jeff3.htm). Hanneman, who as well as having a German-sounding name (the word is in fact Dutch), is also blond — facts which added to the controversy surrounding the song. Like many other musicians (including Ozzy Osbourne and Motörhead's Lemmy), Hanneman collected Nazi memoribilia. His interest began when his father, who had fought in World War II (for America), gave him a German medal.

Those criticizing the song generally tended to overlook the fact that both Tom Araya, Slayer's vocalist, and Dave Lombardo, the band's then drummer, are of distinctly non-Aryan heritage. The band addressed the criticisms in "Behind the Crooked Cross", a song from South of Heaven. Hanneman on critics misinterpreting the song: "I know why people misinterpret it — it's because they get this knee-jerk reaction to it. When they read the lyrics, there's nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me — well, isn't that obvious?! I shouldn't have to tell you that." [2] (http://www.slayersaves.com/interviews_jeff3.htm)

The song has appeared in other places since. It has been on the soundtracks of Gremlins 2 and Jackass: The Movie. The half-time riff was sampled by Public Enemy in their song "She Watch Channel Zero" and by KMFDM in countless versions of their song "Godlike."

In keeping with Heavy Metal's devotion to tertiary sources and questionable literary influences (see Iron Maiden or Anthrax), the song was also inspired by Ira Levin's The Boys from Brazil, and in particular, the 1970s film adaption. Phrases such as 'Sadist of the Noblest Blood' and 'Infamous Butcher' are lifted straight from Levin's text.

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