One of the biggest ongoing disputes in metal is which of the “Big 4” of thrash – Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer – is truly at the top of the list? Well, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo has weighed in, and unsurprisingly, he feels that he played with the best of the bunch.

In the latest issue of Metal Hammer, Lombardo shares his brief but sufficient reasons for why Slayer was the most extreme ­and commendable of the quartet. “Ha ha ha! Who else could I pick?! We were brutal man, we were on top of our game, and if you watch the videos we were on fire. We really showed everyone else how it should be done – we tore everyone a new one,” he boasts.

Elaborating on the band’s ambitions and accomplishments in the face of other thrash – and death metal – acts, Lombardo continues [via Metal Hammer]:

We’d watch a lot of those bands from side-stage anyway. I remember whispering to [Slayer guitarist Jeff] Hanneman, “We’re better”, or “We’re faster”, ha ha! It wasn’t necessarily arrogant, but it was inspiring if we watched a band that couldn’t deliver the ferocity we were because it made us feel amazing, like, “Oops, failure!” It was a youthful approach – you want to be better than the guy before you, you want to blow everyone away, and that was our mantra.

That said, he also admits that while Slayer was undoubtedly “competing” with the other three in the “Big 4” – in addition to virtually every other in-your-face ensemble at the time – it was never “in a negative way.” He explains [via Metal Hammer]: “We wanted to be the best, we wanted to be the heaviest, the fastest. So our rivals were any band that’d open up for us – we’d be like, ‘Let’s blow ’em out the water!’ I can’t think of a single band we had a real negative relationship with.”

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To his credit, he’s offered plenty of praise to his genre siblings over the years. This past August, for instance, he openly condemned people who disrespect his “very good friend” Lars Ulrich:

I saw Mario Duplantier recently talking about Lars, saying some kind words. I feel Lars is an essential part of [Metallica] – anybody else and it just won’t sound the same. I admonish the people who talk shit about him, I don’t like that. You have to embrace who Lars is, and his contribution to Metallica’s sound. They’re such an inspirational band, and everybody wants to be as big as they are, and you can only do that by taking risks.

Last week (Oct. 16), Lombardo took to X (formerly Twitter) to help stir up Grammys attention for his first solo album, 2023’s Rites of Percussion, and for Dead Cross’ 2022 LP, II. You can see those posts below:

So, do you agree with Lombardo’s assessment of Slayer? Let us know!

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