The World's Least Orthodox Christian

Tom Araya is the bass player and vocalist (and sometimes songwriter) of the thrash metal band Slayer. He's a mild-mannered, polite man and a firm (if somewhat unorthodox) Christian, who just happens to like writing songs about such things as vampires, serial killers, war and drug addiction, and doesn't step down from singing about Satan, concentration camps, demonic possession and all the other cuddly things that are common in Slayer lyrics. Definitely not faint-hearted, as far as Christians go.

He was born in Chile on the 6th June, 1961, although his family moved to the US (specifically, Los Angeles) in 1965. When Tom was a teenager, he learned to play the bass mainly by jamming with his brother (who played the guitar) -- who, incidentally, is now a guitar and bass technician for Slayer. Tom used to study to become a respiratory therapist, but eventually dropped his studies to focus on his music.

Style and Equipment

Tom's musical influences include Black Sabbath's bassist Geezer Butler, Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister and just about everything from Led Zeppelin to the Sex Pistols. He listened to quite a lot of punk rock as well as heavy metal. His style is quite minimalist, mostly being either the "shadow guitar" style (playing the root notes of the rhythm guitars), or bashing out simple lines on the E string matching his drummer's (usually monstrously fast-paced) rhythms. He always plays with a pick.

Tom has had an endorsement deal with ESP Guitars for years, and plays a signature instrument made to his specifications. ESP sells copies of this in three distinct models, the "ESP Tom Araya" (an exact replica of his bass), the "LTD TA-500" (a cheaper, mass-produced version of it) and the "LTD TA-200" (a cheaper replica of an earlier Tom Araya signature model). Like the two Slayer guitarists, he uses amps and cabinets from Marshall.

He's rarely featured in bass players' zines, because his bass is often tuned so far down that it's very difficult to hear in Slayer's studio recordings (something that happens annoyingly often in metal, in my opinion). His voice is a love-or-hate sort of thing, although it's hard to imagine another vocalist in Slayer. Notable songs he's written include 213 (about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer) and Dead Skin Mask, about Ed Gein.


  1. Slayer: Show No Mercy (1983)
  2. Slayer: Haunting The Chapel (1984)
  3. Slayer: Live Undead (1984)
  4. Slayer: Hell Awaits (1985)
  5. Slayer: Reign In Blood (1986)
  6. Slayer: South Of Heaven (1988)
  7. Slayer: Seasons In The Abyss (1990)
  8. Slayer: Decade Of Aggression (1991)
  9. Slayer: Divine Intervention (1994)
  10. Slayer: Undisputed Attitude (1996)
  11. Slayer: Diabolus In Musica (1998)
  12. Slayer: God Hates Us All (2001)

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