This second work of the Californian quartet is the natural evolution from the simple-thrash metal sound of “Show No Mercy” and the pure violent Slayer’s thrash metal. This seven-songs CD contains the true, unmistakable peculiarities which made Slayer the fathers of death metal: without “Hell Awaits” it couldn’t exist “Reign In Blood” and without this last one now there wouldn’t be death metal. From the terrific introduction of the title song including hell’s noises, Satan’s voice and screams of damned, suddenly you discover the heavy and fastest-beats drums play by Dave Lombardo, the scarey climate created by Tom Araya’s bass and inimitable voice, the lead guitars Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King with their fastest, very difficult and amelodic solos – a tipical Slayer’s feature. Passing by the mystic “At Dawn They Sleep” until “Necrophiliac” with its dreadful lyrics, you will be captured by the scarey atmosphere created by them. Maybe songs have too lenght to be thrash metal songs, in fact the shortness of “Reign In Blood” album is one of the reasons why it has been a record hit. However if you like the hardening of sound, the music’s strenght and complexity cancels the problem. What else? If you like the purest musical violence, you must buy this album made by THE ONLY GROUP WHICH MAKES GUITARS CRY!!! HELL AWAITS YOU!!!
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It definitely comes down to this one and Reign in Blood, and it’s a tough decision. Agreed, Reign in Blood has the sound quality hands down, and it is THE classic Slayer album, but sometimes I have to go with Hell Awaits. Muddy recording cannot kill these demons. The title track is one of the most powerful moments in headbanger history. It is the soundtrack to the opening of the mouth of Hell. The imaginative instrumentation of At Dawn They Sleep maunders and mauls with the dementia of a rabid horde of bloodthirsty ghouls. All of the players are in top form.
Contrary to what many say, this music is not satanic. The lyrics are about demons and hell and butcherous hellspawn, but they are not satan worship. Kerry King likened Slayer’s lyrics to horror stories.
One of the most amazing albums from one of the most influential artists in metal.
“Hell Awaits” is classic Slayer! The confronting horrific imagery, the gruesome lyrics, the awesome shredding riffs, the fantastic crunching drumming, the anger drenched screaming vocals. It’s all here in all its glory. This album marked a real step up in ferocity for these US youngsters. After ripping holes in the metal scene with their debut, there was really nothing else for these thrashers to do but try to outdo themselves with its follow-up. This is a faster Slayer, a heavier Slayer, and a darker, more satanic Slayer. Everything got turned up a notch and their trademark sound was comprehensively built upon with enthusiasm and raw talent.
I don’t think there is a better introduction to an album than “Hell Awaits”. It’s no coincidence that the band started with this track for their also classic live album “Decade of Aggression”. The words “join us” repeated over and over backwards in what sounds like a background of Hell itself. Then the guitars take over. Each subsequent riff is pure unadulterated Slayer and segues perfectly into the next until it builds up to climax and payoff, all before a single word is spoken. Other highlights for me are “Kill Again” and “Necrophiliac”, both demonstrating the more ferocious side to this legendary band, but there are no filler tracks to be found.
I must admit that it took quite some time for this album to get its claws into me. I always preferred “Show No Mercy” and well…nothing compares with the legendary “Reign in Blood” that would soon follow. And yet 20 years on and this album really stands up tremendously well. What seemed fairly raw and chaotic at times when I was a teenager is now such a breath of fresh air when compared to the mechanical, occasionally lifeless proficiency of the modern generation of metal. That’s not to say this is messy, as Slayer were a well-oiled machine by this stage and Dave Lombardo in particular could never be anything but perfect. It’s just that there are riffs and solos flying everywhere. Tom seems to be struggling to keep up with the shredding music at times while blasphemously screaming out his lyrics. There’s very much a live sound throughout with a production that just oozes passion and hunger. This is thrash in its purest form and I love it more than ever. If only they were still this good!
Slayer’s second full length release “Hell Awaits” was a considerable improvement over their debut album “Show No Mercy”. With the exception of the rather lackluster closer “Hardening of the Arteries” every track is excellent. “Necrophiliac”, “Kill Again”, “At Dawn They Sleep” and the awesome title track are all thrash masterpieces. Lyrically the subject matter is focused mostly on Satanism, violence and other degenerate acts. It’s so over the top that it’s quite comical actual, but that’s part of the charm of the album. The only real problem with the album is the terrible production. Well at least the bass is audible. On the whole though this is a great album and should be in any metal enthusiasts collection. Satan commands you to buy it NOW!
Slayer’s third album (their second full length) isn’t their best effort, but, like “Reign In Blood” (this album’s successor and Slayer’s breakthrough), “Hell Awaits” does showcase the band in fine form. The rather shoddy production and aged sound quality that their debut, “Show No Mercy,” had is still apparent, and Tom Araya’s vocals are sometimes kind of annoying. But this album proves that nobody can match the sheer sonic ferocity and lightning fast velocity of Slayer. Every song is full of amazingly fast riffs and scorching solos, beeping bass notes, and thumping drums. The beginning of the album’s first track, the title track, is the only slow moment on the whole record (and it eventually hits high gear at about three minutes in). Tracks three, four, and five (“At Dawn They Sleep,” “Praise of Death,” and “Necrophiliac”) have great, ultra-fast guitar shredding including elongated solos and beeping bass lines. “Kill Again” is fueled by blindingly fast double bass work, four searing guitar solos, and some primal screams by Tom. Likewise, track six, “Crypts of Eternity,” has careening guitar work and a weird, long, falsetto yell. The album ends with “Hardening of the Arteries,” which is a catchy, rhythmic chugger. “Hell Awaits” should have been this band’s breakthrough album. “Reign In Blood” is definitely still my favorite Slayer album, but it isn’t their only five-star release. If you like great thrash, “Hell Awaits” awaits!