In 1981, a band out of Southern California known as “Dragonslayer” was formed by singer/bassist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King. A drummer, Dave Lombardo, was quickly found, and Jeff Hanneman was brought in as a second guitarist later into 1981. Most of their music at this time was influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that was sweeping through the world during the early 1980s, but after attending a Metallica concert in 1982, they were hell bent on playing harder and faster than said band and shortened their name to Slayer. By 1983, they were already signed to Metal Blade Records and released their debut album, Show No Mercy. How did it turn out? Read on for my review.
Well, this album is very different than all of the Slayer albums that succeeded it, because Slayer was still in transition between their NWOBHM roots and the extreme thrash powerhouse they would eventually become. Many of the tempos are modest compared to their later releases and Tom Araya shows off a very wide vocal style (all the way from low-pitch growls to Halford-like schreeches). However, look away from some of the things the band were still growing out of during this timeframe, and you’ll find one of Slayer’s best releases.
Many of the songs on this album remain classic live staples to this day (Antichrist, Die by the Sword, Black Magic), while others sound like they came straight from a Judas Priest record (Cryonics, Tormentor). I love all the variety on this album, from the progressive monster that is Metal Storm/Face The Slayer (my fave off the album) to the adrenaline-fueled tital track.
Overall, if you are a NWOBHM fan and a thrash metal fan, or a Slayer fan looking to round out your collection, you need to buy this album! It’s still one of their best albums!