Steven Wilson Compares Slayer to AC/DC, Says Metal Fans Can Be ‘Conservative and Reactionary’

According to prog rock legend and Porcupine Tree leader Steven Wilson, he has nothing but respect towards thrash metal titans Slayer. While having two of these major names appear in the same sentence isn’t exactly the most common thing, Steven reflected on Slayer while talking to Rob Moore in a recent interview, even comparing some of the band’s approaches to music to AC/DC.

The whole story came up as Wilson was discussing how younger generations keep forming bands that, more or less, sound like copies of old metal artists. He explained (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“Most music is made within a set of generic tropes. Sometimes, I wonder what the appeal is to form another death metal band. Even today, kids are forming bands that sound like Slayer or Metallica, and I’m thinking, ‘What’s the appeal?'”

Steven Wilson - The Harmony Codex

But although he doesn’t see the real appeal in doing the same thing over and over again, as opposed to finding unique artistic identity, he admitted to having major respect towards a band like Slayer. When asked what he thinks of them and whether it’s hard to respect them since, obviously, the band is known for not straying away too much from their old thrash metal formula, Wilson replied:

“It’s not a matter of whether I respect them, because I do.”

Despite being known for rustling some feathers with his sudden change of styles, Steven adds that “any band who’s made ‘Reign in Blood’ deserves my eternal respect.”

SLAYER - Still Reigning : Reign In Blood (2004) Live

“To be fair, that is what most musical acts do,” he continued, analyzing the band’s work. “They find a formula and they do tens [of records]. And there’s nothing wrong with that… It’s the opposite of progressive, but who said you have to progress?”

“Well, I did,” added Steven, “but I’m coming from a very, very personal perspective, which is based on the kind of artists that I grew up feeling were the most magical.”


Despite his approach to constantly changing things, he’s more than respectful towards old bands who stick to the formula and keep getting great results from it:

“There’s no reason why you should [progress]. AC/DC have never made a record that sounded like anything other than the original AC/DC blueprint.”

Explaining it further, Wilson also added that this “original AC/DC blueprint” is applicable to what Slayer was doing during their lengthy run:

“It’s an amazing sound, they’ve been doing it for 50 years, and their audience is still as passionate and dedicated as ever, and they will always have my respect for that. And Slayer is a little bit like that.”

But discussing the matter, Steven also reflected on the biggest of The Big Four of Thrash Metal. Plenty of times in the past, Metallica tried to reinvent themselves or simply try out something outside of the boundaries of the classic material they’re known for and we all know how the most of their fanbase reacted. Steven continued by offering:

“And then you have the other side of the coin, where a band like Metallica have tried to reinvent themselves, and the metal community can be one of the most conservative and reactionary you can possibly imagine.”

Lou Reed & Metallica: The View (Official Music Video)

Apart from “St. Anger,” which felt like a deliberate dive into nu metal of the early 2000s, there’s also the infamous “Lulu” record that Metallica did with Lou Reed. While some “St. Anger” songs do occasionally appear in the band’s live setlist, “Lulu” was never even considered, and Steven feels like it’s a real bummer that they’re now discouraged from experimenting:

“So, when Metallica made their album with Lou Reed, the kickback on that was brutal. There’s a lot of that, ‘Well, just keep making ‘Master of Puppets’ over and over again. They still have that to this day. And that’s a shame.”

Maybe it comes down to building a fanbase that will enjoy a variety of musical styles. Wilson is very well-known for breaking the mold with almost all of his albums, and, in another interview from earlier this year, he was very open about not wanting to play the “industry game,” saying:

“I’ve tried, but I just can’t do it. Early on in Porcupine Tree, we were signed to Atlantic in America. We were pressured to try to write a grunge radio anthem. I did it, but I felt so dirty. The audience saw through it, too.”

Steven Wilson - What Life Brings

“It’s one thing to be able to do it. It’s another to convince your audience. I’ve never gone back there, but I’m happy to do whatever I need to promote an album: talk about it, do in-stores, edit songs down for radio.

“I’m in the enviable position of having a fanbase who almost expect me to do the unexpected. If they feel I’m trying to make concessions to the music industry, they spot it a mile off and rightly pick me up on it.”

The Most Underrated Musical Genius Reveals Why He Never Sold Out | Steven Wilson

Photo: joergens.mi (Steven Wilson (ZMF 2016) jm13867), Leonardo Zainotte (Kerry King 2)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.