Slayer first burst onto the metal scene with Show No Mercy. This album showcased their songwriting talents(Die by the Sword, Black Magic) but overall was just mediocre, their follow-up(the “Hell” album) offered much of the same. It wasn’t until their third album that Slayer found the perfect formula for their type of music. It is called Reign in Blood.Reign in Blood offers furiously fast & extremely dark music. Slayer’s trademark barbaric chord progressions are still present(Angel of Death, Piece by Piece, Necrophobic, Reborn & Raining Blood) but the songwriting overall is much better. Jeff Hanneman finally matures as a writer & Kerry King contribtes his doomsday lyrics & bezerko solos as if he’s in Hell himself. Tom Araya’s vocals & Tom Lombardo’s brilliant technical drumming add the finishing touches to this masterpiece.Although this album is not musically complex in an extreme sense(why should thrash be anyway), there are enough meter changes, ambitious chord progressions & good to great song structures to make this a timeless classic for the genre it represents. This album has no weak spots. It contains the right mix of classic & transition songs to make it, arugably, the greatest thrash recording ever.Bottom line: if you love dark, atmospheric metal, buy this now. Or if you’re just looking for pummeling no mercy music, this will also do the trick.Every track is good, but the ones to watch out for are Angel of Death, Necrophobic, Jesus Saves, Reborn, Epidemic, Postmortem & Raining Blood.Chris Raye of Classic Albums Magazine
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
This CD changed the landscape when it came out.Thrash/Metal had been, at that point, “evolving” into long overly complex songs with lots of guitar solos. That’s not to say some of those records aren’t great but when I originally got this on vinyl I couldn’t believe how raw and stripped down the whole thing was. Clocking in at just over 25 minutes Reign in Blood is rage, pure and simple. There’s nothing subtle about this record, it’s just fury. To this day there’s no other record that gives me the same adrenalin hit as this! There’s no selling out and playing longer/slower songs, every song is fast almost the entire way through and the lyrics are more of the same. Araya never sounded better…screaming, cursing and blasting away at subjects from organized religion, serial killing, canabalism and Auschwitz. The lyrics of this LP were so intense that there original label dropped them rather than release it…thank Rick Rubin of Def Jam for saving this masterpiece and making it available to us all.The cassette was the only full length LP I had that fit the entire record on both sides of the tape.In closing, this is possibly the most important record of the 80’s. It sums up how I felt and changed my life (I heard this in 6th grade….) I hope you enjoy it too.
Not much can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said. Thus, I will try to write this review without sounding cliche. But mind you, if you’ve already read reviews for this album, then you already know how great it is, so what are you reading my review for?
Slayer weren’t the first thrash-metal band to ever exist (that credit goes to Motorhead, Metal Church and Metallica), but they might as well have been. Tom Araya, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman, and Dave Lombardo are the godfathers of thrash and extreme metal; they are to thrash as Bob Marley is to reggae and Ministry is to industrial. Slayer almost single-handedly popularized the genre and set the standard for what it should be like. Slayer is as important to heavy metal as any other band, and “Reign in Blood” is equally as influential and innovative as Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power.”
Even though Slayer didn’t give birth to thrash-metal, I do think their 1983 debut “Show No Mercy” popularized extreme/death metal. The bands Venom (a Slayer influence) and Death came along before Slayer, but I think of Venom as black metal, not extreme; and I believe Death are only thought of as the creators of death metal because of their name. The fact is, (at the time) nobody made music as fast, heavy, and extreme as Slayer. Slayer are the inspiration for (probably) 90% of all speed/thrash/death/extreme metal bands, including two other influential death metal bands from the 1980’s, Sepultura and Morbid Angel.
No one does what Slayer do better than them, and this album proves it. Everything about “Reign in Blood” screams that this album is a pure, unadulterated masterpiece that has definitely withstood the test of time. It is full to the brim with explosive, rocket fast beats and tempos, propulsive riffs that fly by like lightning, scorching solos, insane drum work, and eerie, tortured screams. And it never lets up. Throughout these eleven tracks (or twelve, if you buy the remastered version) and 28 minutes of music, the massive onslaught only slows down for a few seconds, before picking up where it left off.
Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman won’t go down as the all time best guitar soloists, but they do play precise guitar riffs at a speed that makes other guitarists want to chop their hands off in frustration. And, their solos may not be much more than a bunch of random notes played as fast as possible, but I’ve never heard solos that are as wild or blistering as Kerry King’s. Furthermore, Dave Lombardo’s drum work and Tom Araya’s vocals are also super fast. With guitar riffs this fast, Dave and Tom sometimes fall behind, and have to play “catch up.” The drum work is (obviously) very talented and Tom’s words are so speedy, they sometimes sound like gibberish.
Since almost every second of every song is as fast as the one before it (and this album has only one tempo and mood), it is sometimes difficult to discern where one track ends and another begins. You’re just not metal if you don’t know the song “Angel of Death.” As an album opener, it sets the bar high, and is also a good representation of the album as a whole. Slayer waste no time getting to the good stuff: “Angel of Death” shoots out of the starting gate; within three seconds, Slayer are waist-deep in blindingly fast riffs. This riff remains throughout the song, and five (count `em, five!) blistering, trademark guitar solos are also included. This song has brutal lyrics (which are about the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, and Dr. Mengele torturing and killing Jews in a variety of ways) and fitting, equally as brutal music.”Necrophobic” begins as fast as any other song on here, but it gradually slows down. It does pick up where it left off, however, before two wild solos.”Jesus Saves” seems like a continuation of track four, “Altar of Sacrafice.” It starts out fast, and from there it only gets faster (ending with a rocket fast beat and riffs). Similarly, “Raining Blood” has fast chugging riffs, then a tempo change kicks in and makes the riffs even faster. The drums on this song give the beat a “boom boom” sound.
With so much hype surrounding it, I, initially, didn’t like “Reign in Blood” as much as everyone else. Luckily, it took me only a little bit of time to believe the hype about this C.D. and become addicted to it. I am so addicted to it, it has become worn out (the bottom has been worn off, because I almost always press the PLAY button again when the C.D. is over). Even if you don’t like this C.D., or don’t like this type of music, you should still give Slayer props for making an album that’s as fast, extreme, and influential as this one.
In conclusion, (as aforementioned) there isn’t much that can be said about this C.D. that hasn’t already been said, because metalheads all around the world know how great it is. “RiB” is simply a standard-setting and genre defining album. If there ever was a landmark/milestone album, this is it. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention…”Reign in Blood” is also, hands down, the finest thrash-metal album to ever be known to man. (Note, however, that I consider Sepultura’s “Beneath the Remains” to be death metal.) The bottom line is no heavy metal collection is complete without this C.D. If you’re a metalhead, you should already own this C.D. (and you should have listened to it at least a dozen times by now). And if you’re new to metal, you definitely need to make this one of your next purchases. Also, if you’re new to metal, I have three words of advice for you: believe the hype!
If anyone, Slayer has to be, undoubtedly the definitive band in thrash metal. From the years of 1983, when such bands as Metallica and Queensrÿche also debuted, Slayer, unlike the other bands, is still making good music (just pick up either Metallica’s “St. Anger” or Queensrÿche’s “Tribe” and you will see how their music has changed). Reign In Blood is an example and a history lesson of what may be Slayer’s best album ever. Every song is non-stop aggressive, upbeat and mean thrash metal at it’s best. From the onslaught of the dual guitars to the pounding of the double kick drum, this one is great. This recent fall, I saw Slayer in concert at the Mid Hudson Civic Center, and they hold together live faster and better than many bands wish they could. Not only did they come up with a 2-hour set, but after about the first 8-10 songs, Slayer’s finale was, well, Reign In Blood. They played the entire album from start to finish, from Angel Of Death to Raining Blood, all in order. Damn, I guess that means that they like this album a little bit too. Well anyway here’s the breakdown of it all.Angel Of Death – To be brief, this is the best Slayer song ever, no kidding. You just can’t get any better than this song. It is not only hyper fast but has a sick breakdown in it too.Piece By Piece – It’s a two minuter. Not bad by any means, in fact it’s all well rounded song. This also has one of those good old breakdowns.Necrophobic – This song wasn’t as good as Angel Of Death, but hey, not really any of them are. But it’s the general sound of the album here still. Fast and thrash.Altar Of Sacrifice – This is one mean song. I love how Kerry and Jeff just abuse the whammy bar beyond belief! It’s got a slow and heavy bridge. It bleeds right into the next song. ‘Kin great.Jesus Saves – This was the first song on the album where you realize that it doesn’t start off at 100 miles per hour. But things change quickly and it picks up in the first minute. Also a killer.Criminally Insane – You really get a taste of what Tom Araya loves to write his lyrics about. It’s a slow song compared to the rest but it’s also one of the best. Since it’s slow it’s pretty heavy.Reborn – This is about the only moderate song on the album. It’s pretty good but nothing spectacular.Epidemic – It kicks off with one of those signature Slayer drum rolls. Pretty fast like, everything and well yeah it’s good.Postmortem – This song sounds like it’s way out of it’s time, like some band wrote it only a couple years ago. I wonder what people thought in 1986 when a song like this was around. Another one that bleeds right into the next…RAINING BLOOD – This is Slayer’s meanest, crudest, songs of destruction and violence ever!! You have to listen to it to understand. From the intro to the main killing riff to the, whole song it’s just one of the best.The absolute best songs on the album are Angel Of Death and Raining Blood. This album is home to two of Slayer’s best songs to date, with the rest of the album rocking more probably than any other Slayer release.
To imagine the metal scene today if “Reign In Blood” had never been released, is impossible for me. This album is beyond any of my compliments. Every credible metal band today has cited this epic album as a major influence; and if they said otherwise, they’d just be lying. To be a metalhead and NOT own this album is a sin in itself. This album not only demolished and rebuilt new metal standards, “Reign in Blood” combined those Metallica-esque chugging riffs and completely off the wall, unorthodox guitar solos, and exposed them to a huge crowd that didn’t know what to think at first (they obviously caught on in no time). Althought Kerry King’s and Jeff Hanneman’s guitar solos aren’t the most musical and intelligible ones in the world, they are ALL about aggression, which is certainly what classic Slayer is all about. Even with so many excellent guitar players surfacing in modern metal, King and Hanneman’s unmatched rhythm chops on this album continue to turn heads today. And although Tom Araya does no real “singing” on the CD, his screaming fits the music perfectly. From that legendary first scream of the infamous “Angel of Death”, to the last growls of the epic, “Raining Blood”, Tom’s vocals are one of the most aggressive things about this album. But of course, what would Slayer be without that madman behind the drum set? Even today, in a world of black metal and death metal perfectionist drummers, Dave Lombardo is a thrash drumming god. Throughout the entire album, the drums are fast and pounding, never giving your ears a chance to “take a break” or “rest”; there’s no such thing. Slayer never tries to mix it up with a soft breakdown or interlude either. The consistent brutality of this album is what makes it so epic, even today. If you’re a relatively old Slayer fan, you probably shouldn’t be reading this, because chances are, you already own it, and have owned for a long time. But if you’re new to Slayer, starting with this album is a must. This is not one of those albums that is just a “good for it’s era” recording. This epic blaze of an album would thrash just as much if it was released today.