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!