TidbitsMay 3, 2019 4:29 PM ET

Rick Rubin calls Slayer one of the inventors of black metal

On the latest episode of the Broken Record podcast -- the relatively new podcast featuring Malcolm Gladwell, Rick Rubin, and Bruce Headlam -- legendary producer Rubin said something interesting, if not flat-out incorrect. While speaking with guest T Bone Burnett, Rubin had this to say about Slayer, the band whose three iconic thrash metal albums (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss) he produced:
"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..."
Notice that Rubin called Slayer "one of the inventors of black metal." That assertion seems likely to raise the ire of European black metal fans who proudly (and correctly) cite Venom, Hellhammer, and Bathory among the genre's inventors. While Slayer is certainly one of the most influential metal bands ever, I know of no metal scholars who would name Slayer among the pioneers of the black metal genre. I mean, Venom released an album titled Black Metal a year before Slayer put out their debut LP, Show No Mercy, and Slayer has repeatedly acknowledged Venom's influence on their early output. Is it possible that industry titan Rubin didn't know squat about metal prior to partnering with Slayer for Reign in Blood? Does he think that using Satanic imagery makes a band black metal? Who knows, but prior to producing Slayer, Rubin was ensconced in the world of LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, and Run-DMC, among others, so it's quite possible that he has never bothered to learn much about the history of metal beyond Slayer's involvement. Discuss amongst yourselves.