Much like the guys who wear Sonic Youth tees, most people with Slayer shirts don’t care for the band and all have the same shirt--the 1991 eagle print. My friends and I do, however, like Slayer and between us we have enough of their tees to start a Slayer fashion museum. Here, in chronological order, are my favorites.
Here are two classic Show No Mercy-era shirts. The sleeveless one is an original, probably from '83, while the one beneath is more likely to be from 1984 or later, since the "Haunting The Chapel" EP came out after Show No Mercy. It's their best record and the best shirt too.
This Live Undead shirt has a killer back print with the tour dates on headstones. There's something very funny about the words "Fall 1985," it's kind of sweet. Hey Americans, just call it autumn like an adult.
The next Slayer long-player, Hell Awaits, had the logo only on the front, with details on the back. The bottom one is a 1991 reissue.
Ah, the Slaytanic Wehrmacht shirts. These were insanely popular when I was growing up and I had a bootleg one from the market without the back print. Over time the Wehrmacht guy evolved from a funny kid’s doodle to a grinning Nazi metal maniac. The middle one with the Show No Mercy back print is a bootleg, you can tell because Slaytanic is misspelled on the front.
1986’s Reign In Blood tees are probably the most sought after Slayer shirts around, as some of them were stamped with “DefJam” after Rick Rubin took them there until he formed American Records. The devil guy is pretty stupid looking.
More Reign In Blood merch, this time featuring the album's cover inside the Slaytanic pentagram and a terrible hand-drawn image from the back of the LP.
The only shirt I couldn't find good pics of from this era is the "Altar Of Sacrifice" shirt, which features a priest impaled on the altar by two guitars. It's as cool as it sounds and there's a small pic of it here.
This one is from the 1987 European Reign In Pain tour. The front was actually the cover of the "Postmortem" single and features the DefJam logo once again. This was one of the last designs with the DefJam logo.
By 1988, when Slayer released their fourth studio record, South Of Heaven, a shift in thrashion meant that black shirts were now being coupled with white versions. Prior to these, I think they only had a white sweatshirt, circa Reign In Blood. The World Sacrifice shirt isn't all silk-screen printed, some of it is dyed into the fabric, notably the blood on the front and the gray logo under the tour dates on the back.
This "Mandatory Suicide" shirt was banned. Due to its notoriety, this is among the most expensive of all Slayer shirts, especially if you can find it in white (which you probably can't).
By the 90s they had settled on a formula. There was maybe one good shirt after the Decade Of Aggression one, but like their music, it was mostly downhill from there. Oh, and you might remember the collection of Slayer shirts on the cover of our 2004 Obsessions Issue.