As of 1983 (when this album came out) Slayer were still an underground band, and their type of music was still relatively unheard of. Only Metallica and (Slayer’s influences) Venom and Motorhead dared to venture into music this speedy. But since this disc was released, an almost countless number of imitators have cropped up.
Every basic ingredient is here for a classic album: evil lyrics, insane guitar work (including blindingly fast riffs, great leads and scorching solos), pounding drums, high pitched vocals, and even an occasionally audible bass guitar! In fact, virtually the whole album flies by like a black tornado. Track one, “Evil Has No Boundaries,” begins the album with a bang, and shoots out of the gate with a blistering main riff and a skin crawling shriek from (vocalist) Tom (Araya). “The Antichrist” is the first of three classic songs on here (alongside “Die By The Sword” and “Black Magic”). “The Antichrist” has a couple guitar solos and the aforementioned audible, beeping bass line! Next, “Die By The Sword” has fast, churning riffs, and a nice, extended solo, “Black Magic” has more blindingly fast riffs, “Tormentor” has probably the best solo on the album, and I enjoy how “Crionics” builds and gains density (with the help of a few guitar solos). Finally, the title track has great, catchy drumming, as well as even more riffs which shoot by like white noise.
So, “Show No Mercy,” Slayer’s debut, is as brutal as it is relentless and merciless. It isn’t a classic like, say, “Reign In Blood,” but it’s still a good album and it foreshadowed the greatness to come from future Slayer releases. Thus, this is a great history lesson for those who are new to thrash or interested in its beginnings, and it is essential listening for diehards of this genre and this band.