"Heavy metal is the last big burp of Christianity," said Anton LaVey. If the Black Pope was correct -- and why wouldn't he be, having been closer to Ol' Scratch than most music critics -- then Slayer is the loudest, longest burp on record. With a catalog that stretches back to 1983, Slayer has demonstrated a consistency (in both image and record sales) that defies all music-industry logic: The group has no singles. They are not pretty. They are not very chummy during interviews. They lost the greatest metal drummer of all time (Dave Lombado, natch) not once but twice. They refuse to play with an accompanying symphony orchestra or even write their own version of the heavy-metal power ballad. And yet they've not only survived the vagaries of style and sound of the last 18 years, they've conquered.The secret of Slayer's success, you ask? It's the unholy shriek of Kerry King's BC Rich Warlock and the red-mawed growl of Jeff Hanneman's ESP monstrosity. The combination of high-pitched attack and distorted crunch is the all-purpose soundtrack for daily life. Whether you are driving a delivery van through the outparceled wastelands of St. Charles, snorting Drano crystals under the bleachers during gym class or crouching in the darkness of a burned-out house on the last night of the full moon waiting for the return of Great Cthulu, Slayer should be your constant companion. King and Hanneman whip up furious scorches of chaos and noise that become excoriating whirlwinds, stripping away flesh and muscle and scouring the bones underneath to snowy, smooth whiteness. Under the influence of Slayer, the world becomes a slow-motion shadow play where every person moves with dreamlike grace, their words garbled and syrupy, their eyes pulsing in time with their decaying heartbeat. Death is everywhere, and Slayer has scored the death of the world with every album since Show No Mercy. And you, with your shining hell-skull and Slayer simmering in your blood, have a front row seat for the greatest show on earth. Nothing, not even Martha Stewart, will survive.