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!