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The recent death of guitarist Jeff Hannemann makes for a good time to analyse the magnum opus of Slayer - they may be the least commercially successful of the Big Four of thrash, but only Metallica can reasonably claim to be as big an influence on metal and beyond. No major label had ever released anything as unrelenting as this. Aside from the slower-tempoed closer Raining Blood, the album is all about blastbeat drumming, fierce vocals and intense guitar work - there's a great touch in the liner notes featuring not only full lyrics, but also identifying whether Hannemann or Kerry King played each solo. Death metal and other extreme styles ultimately owe their existence to this 30-minute bullet. King's anger at organised religion and his mockery of the idea of God is central to most of the lyrics, but it's Angel of Death's neutral discussion of Nazi brutality which stands out today, and led to inevitable allegations of sympathies in that direction, something I'm not convinced holds true. However, when compared to later works in the same genre (including this band's Seasons of the Abyss and Christ Illusion), it all seems a bit one-note, lacking in variety and with a few tracks which sound like inferior copies of others. Piece By Piece is the highlight, with Criminally Insane and the previously mentioned tracks also up there, but there's stuff on here you'll listen to half a dozen times without it sticking.
"Reign in Blood" is the 3rd studio album by American thrash metal band, Slayer. It was released in 1986 on Def Jam Records and produced by the band with Rick Rubin. The line-up for the album was Tom Araya (vocals/bass), Jeff Hanneman (guitar), Kerry King (guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums).
'The heaviest record ever made'. That's what many people say about "Reign in Blood", and they'd be right. 29 minutes of very heavy thrash metal like you've never heard before or since, with Lombardo's drums pounding the whole way through, and the twin attack of King/Hanneman on the guitars, along with Araya's self-confessed 'tortured pig' vocals and thundering bass.
The album begins with "Angel of Death", which is a song about Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, who performed experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp in World War II. It is one of the longest tracks on the album, and the subject matter makes it the most powerful, too.
With "Piece by Piece" comes the start of the breakneck-speed songs, as Slayer pushes the boundaries to the limit. The highlight of the song is Lombardo's incredible drumming. The double bass is relentless and he also somehow manages to throw in a few drum rolls.
"Necrophobic" is the fastest song at 100 seconds long, and it's probably for the best that Tom Araya sings the lyrics so fast that it's not easy to understand them. The gruesome subject matter of tearing bodies apart for pleasure makes it one of the more shocking tracks on the album.
"Altar of Sacrifice" continues the extremely fast pace of the music with its lyrics regarding Satanic ritualistic slaughter, as a lot of Kerry King's lyrics entailed the occult and Satanism back in those days. It's Hanneman's solos, though, that give the song a true purpose. There aren't many guitarists that can match the speed of his playing.
"Jesus Saves" comes in with a slower tempo before hammering on the power, but the anti-religious lyrics are still here in abundance, this time taking on Christianity as a lost cause. It's another song played at a furious pace, and is one of my favourites on the album, purely for its ferocity, aggression and darkness.
"Criminally Insane" deals with the subject matter of being locked away in a lunatic asylum, and also has tones of black magic as the incarcerated becomes the hunter in his dreams. It's another of my favourite tracks on the album because of the time changes and Lombardo's drumming is some of the best I've ever heard.
"Reborn" continues where "Criminally Insane" left off with the same subject matter. I don't think the band intended it to be part 2 or whether the two songs should have been put together, but they go together nicely, and it's hard to imagine hearing them both separately.
"Epidemic" starts with some Dave Lombardo drum roll/fill magic before filling the ears with some very fast guitar playing. The song is, naturally, about an epidemic which kills millions on its rapid trail of death and destruction. Another great song.
"Postmortem" is a Jeff Hanneman classic, which deals with the dead being brought back to life by feasting on some unfortunate soul's blood. It's the perfect intro to the final song on the album, and the two quite often go hand-in-hand when played live.
"Raining Blood" is the epitome of all that is Slayer. While it's the longest song on the album, it's most certainly the fastest. King and Hanneman concocted something magical when they wrote this song, and it remains my all-time favourite Slayer song. It has some of the heaviest riffs on any record, and brings the album to a perfect close. It starts with the sound of thunder and rain, alongside Lombardo's drums, before jumping into what is an iconic riff and blasting through to the end when the rain starts again and fades the album out.
In summary, this is Slayer at their best, and it's hard to imagine just how good the thrash metal genre was back in the 1980s if you never witnessed it. I was fortunate enough to be there to see the heavy metal explosion , with Slayer at the top of that along with Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax; the Big 4. But when people talk about "Reign in Blood", it is always regarded as the heaviest record of all time. Don't just take my word for it. Go out and buy it... you'll be in agreement when you do listen to it.
1. Angel of Death
2. Piece by Piece
4. Altar of Sacrifice
5. Jesus Saves
6. Criminally Insane
10. Raining Blood
My rating: 10/10
This is THE album that got me into Slayer and developed a love for their music. Slayer are an incredible band, someone that I wouldn't even dare listen to a few years ago but as my music taste continues to evolve it leaves me no choice. I had the priviledge of seeing them live at last year's Sonisphere, and they played Angel of Death and Raining Blood off this album and they were just incredible for a daytime set. Slayer themselves said it was one of the best daytime shows they'd ever played, after all it was only 2pm and I can't believe they were on so early! I hope to see them again this summer at the same festival.
The track listing is as follows:
1. Angel of Death
2. Piece by Piece
4. Altar of Sacrifice
5. Jesus Saves
6. Criminally Insane
10. Raining Blood
Aggressive Perfector and a remix of Criminally Insane were credited as bonus tracks when the album was re-issued in 1998 and were tracks 11 and 12 respectively on the re-issue.
Reign in Blood is the album that got Slayer worldwide recognition upon its release in 1986. At only 28 minutes and 56 seconds long it is very short for a music record, even with the remastered version 6 minutes longer it's still quite short. Like much of Slayer's work it comprises of thrash metal with somewhat satanic lyrics and almost shout-screaming lyrics. I agree that lead singer Tom Araya can't sing that well and his voice is even worse live but Slayer's music is something that I've always admired and really does define thrash metal, like this album. It was highly rated among critics and to this day remains one of the best thrash metal albums ever released.
Angel of Death and Raining Blood are by far my two favourite tracks off the album. Both songs are often in Slayer setlists when they perform live. The thing I like the most about this album is the power in the music. A lot of the tracks have catchy and energetic riffs in the middle, especially Angel of Death and this is one of the things I like best about the music. It's had controversial issues but nothing that offends me. I think if you were to listen to the music it would offend some people but I'm not easily offended therefore I can appreciate this album. Judge it on the music over the lyrics, though the lyrics are somewhat poetic and reflect on controversial issues.
I'd recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of thrash metal, or anyone who appreciates good raw music. None of that remixing junk! A great album.
Reign in Blood is Slayer's finest work. This album is down as one of the best metal albums of all time, alongside Metallica's Master of Puppets. The tracklisting is as followed:
1. Angel of Death
2. Piece By Piece
4. Altar of Sacrifice
5. Jesus Saves
6. Criminally Insane
10. Raining Blood
The album starts off with the song Angel of Death which is one of their biggest songs. It just shows what thrash metal is all about. The solo is just amazing. Slayer were accused of being Nazis because of this song as it's about Josef Mengele who was a physician in the concentration camp Auschwitz. Slayer were accused of supporting the cruel acts of Josef but they were just singing about it - not supporting.
Raining Blood is Slayer's biggest song with thunder sounds at the start with the bass drum. Then the guitars come in with the easily recognisable riff and then skip into a thrashy riff. What an amazing song.
Reign In Blood was re-issued in 1998 with 2 bonus tracks:
11. Aggressive Perfector
12. Criminally Insane (Remix)
The re-issue fixed a problem with the original which meant the start of Raining Blood was at the end of Postmortem.
This album shows Slayer at their very best and is a must-have for all thrash metal fans.
At a fairly recent gig at Londons Astoria venue, vintage American thrash metal band Slayer returned to the stage for an encore consisting of the Reign in Blood album in its entirety. As this is perhaps Slayers best-loved album this naturally went down incredibly well but isnt as surprising an event as it may first sound: in many ways, this half hour aural assault is more of an extended anthem than a collection of diverse songs, and as such it is a very different and incredibly powerful listen. I wasnt there though.
On the face of it, Slayers screeching music with overly controversial and demonic lyrics may not seem to have much in common with the Craig Charles-fronted childish mechanical romp Robot Wars, but this album can be similarly judged by its style, control, damage and aggression. By these grounds at least it achieves maximum points.
As a fan of metal, and specifically that originating from the hairy decade of the eighties, I cant help but love the roaring guitars, rasping vocals and powerful drum rhythm of this band, but Slayer are a small step away from my preferred kind of heavy metal. While Metallica could unleash similarly relentless thrash tracks in their early years, they balanced out their albums with more reflective, sombre and fun offerings and this prevented them from being similarly labelled a solely thrash band. Slayer were always more about sheer energy and violence of sound over musical substance and while they are nothing compared to the darker, heavier and often more interesting Scandinavian death metal bands of today, their influence on these modern bands is undisputed. Plus I kind of like the image of hairy eighties Americans pounding guitars in a bar.
While listening to this album I begin to prematurely age and wonder how something this discordant and damaging can be considered music, but then Kerry King pulls off a cool guitar wail and I know Im home. Rest assured though, this is not an album that would appeal to the masses and as such I would strongly recommend you either wean yourself onto this band through their more accessible contemporaries, or just avoid it like Jim Davidson. Guitar solos take a backseat here to the power of raw riffs and grinds, while the drumming is excellent throughout. Arayas vocals may not be to everyone taste, but they certainly suit the music. You know, if you can call it that.
Saying all that though, it certainly is an experience unmatched by any other album Ive heard.
Tom Araya vocals, bass guitar
Kerry King guitar
Jeff Hanneman guitar
Dave Lombardo drums
REIGN IN BLOOD
The album opens as it means to go on: completely uncompromising and in-your-face (ears) with Slayers most popular track, ANGEL OF DEATH. Coming in at just under five minutes this certainly feels like more of an accomplished track than the shorter outings, featuring impressive changes in guitar riff and the speed of the drums. As a stand alone track, this is an excellent metal song that sums up the thrash genre perfectly and provides adequate competition to bands such as Metallica, Megadeth and Testament, mainly due to the efforts of Kerry King.
From this point onwards, no track reaches three minutes in length apart from the extended final offering. This is very unconventional in the metal world, with bands such as Metallica achieving average song lengths of around six and a half minutes across their first four albums, but it works really well in getting the adrenalin going. And its essentially just a load of four minute songs played at breakneck double speed anyway. The only problem with this approach is that its very difficult to determine which song is which, and there is a distinct lack of variety.
PIECE BY PIECE manages to be even louder and faster than the opening track due to the lack of any guitar experimentation and provides an excellent follow up, but NECROPHOBIC is pretty much a re-hashing of that track, albeit with a speedy and impressive guitar solo section taking up only part of its 1:40 length. It would be pretty much impossible for anything this short to achieve critical acclaim, but the main point is that it doesnt break the flow and ruin the effect of the album. After this track there are a couple of very rare silent seconds, but it doesnt last long.
ALTAR OF SACRIFICE is another very good track due to its distinctive guitar riff and the different atmosphere created by the song with the more spoken vocals. Its still raw, heavy and (obviously) fast though, with a quiet guitar solo providing some high notes and Lombardos drums expertly providing the transition to slightly slower sections with even angrier vocals. This is clearly the classic track amongst the fairly average offerings, but treating this album as one song its certainly one of the best bits.
JESUS SAVES is segued into straight from the end of the fourth track and has a slightly slower pace this time round but with much of the same guitar work throughout. This is a good track, but sounds too similar to whats come before (and after) to distinguish itself amongst the noise and remain memorable, as theres no distinctive guitar riff; the chorus is quite catchy though, and this is probably one of the most powerful tracks.
After this track comes a brief period of quiet cymbals and drum build-up in which the listener can get his or her bearings, but a guitar riff soon kicks in for CRIMINALLY INSANE. The vocals are very powerful here, as are the guitar solos, but its again a problem of merging too much into the fabric of the album rather than standing apart as a song. With REBORN, the band somehow manage to execute an even more ferocious sounding track than what has come before, although this may just be my imagination. This track features one of the few guitar solos that actually sounds nice and melodic rather than fast for the sake of it, but the emphasis is still firmly on the power and heaviness of speed. By this point, most listeners will have been completely sucked into Slayers nefarious album and craving a period of relaxation, something only teasingly offered before the next track.
EPIDEMIC is very average, sounding far too much like an extension of the previous track for its own good even to the inclusion of an identical sounding chorus riff. Theres really nothing more I can say about this track. POSTMORTEM is the penultimate track and, while expectedly still almost the same as everything else, its got more of a groove kept by more muted guitars and as such is possibly the least intense offering here. But bear in mind that this is only in comparison to Epidemic and the rest; Araya still screams to high heaven (or more accurately, deep hell) in the chorus.
Onto the final track, the Slayer classic RAINING BLOOD. Beginning with a faster and heavier continuation of the previous track, the cacophony of instruments suddenly becomes only a whine of its former self as the track becomes some background noises of thunder kept only by a steady drum beat then the music really begins with one of the most recognised thrash riffs in history. This was the only track I was previously familiar with and is one I really like, especially as it distinguishes itself from the rest of the tracks here and not just because of the brief weather interludes. The lyrics can be made out for a change, while the guitar riffs and adaptations of the main tune sound incredible and very powerful. The track continues through verses and the chorus before suddenly erupting into the loudest and speediest part of the entire album, but which is still kept firmly in control by the musicians. Then its all over, with a crack of thunder leaving only the sound of rain and a low booming for the final minute. The aural onslaught is over.
Now Ill come on to the area that Slayer are most infamous for: their demonic and essentially over-controversial lyrics. Theres nothing tongue-in-cheek about them, but the band have said on numerous occasions that they do not practice what they preach; they only sing about Nazism, necrophilia, blasphemy and sacrifice because it suits the dark tone of their music. Nevertheless, it was inevitable that they would get involved in court cases.
Although Slayers involvement in influencing a group of youths to rape and murder a young girl was eventually dismissed from court, it could be argued that the band are a little irresponsible in discussing such issues. Personally I dont have a problem with evil lyrics in the same way I have no problem with such films, but this image is one of the reasons I stick to less intense metal such as Iron Maiden and Metallica; you know youre safe with a good historical metal anthem. Theres also the fact that I prefer these bands for their more melodic qualities.
As this is a public review site I wont go into detail on the lyrics, but here are some samples from the Reign in Blood album that illustrate what the band were (and to some degree, still are) about. If this influences you to commit any kind of perverted crime, please do not lay the blame on me. You twisted idiot. Listening to the songs alone makes it hard to distinguish all the lyrics as they are shouted so rapidly, but fortunately there are plenty of websites devoted to spreading the Slayer words:
(From Angel of Death, the beginning of the album)
Auschwitz, the meaning of pain
The way that I want you to die
Slow death, immense decay
Showers that cleanse your life
(Alter of Sacrifice)
Flesh starts to burn, twist and deform
Eyes dripping blood realisation of death
Transforming of five toes to two
Learn the sacred words of praise Hail Satan
Funeral held for the depression of man
Holds the key to his own death
Entering a tomb of a corpse yet conceived
Tighten the tourniquet around your neck
A far cry from that chirpy chirpy cheep cheep song, but the aggressive onslaught of this album demands something more wicked than seventies people making stupid bird noises.
This isnt strictly my kind of music, but it shares enough similarity with my preferred metal fixes that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Like many people I enjoy some variety when listening to an album, and this doesnt exactly satisfy on those grounds. Coming in at only twenty-eight minutes it hardly seems worth buying unless youre specifically a fan of the band, especially as most of the tracks sound very similar, but I can imagine how impressive it must have been to see Slayer ripping through the entire album on stage. These guys have undisputed talent, whatever you may think of their lyrics, guitar work and girl hair.
It may be obvious from my track-by-track exploration that I found it very difficult to distinguish between the music offered here, as an identical formula is used for every single track without fail. This could be interpreted as no compromise, but to my ears it just sounds a little unoriginal and quite tedious. There are three to four really good Slayer songs amidst a sea of chaotic, discordant filler that prevents me from seeing the real appeal of this album compared to my own collection. If the album was produced as an E.P. and available at a lower price I would have more respect, although I have to admit that my respect for the band in releasing this for their major label debut in a decade previously dominated by cheesy glam rock.
People who enjoy listening to albums in their entirety will agree that this is an experience though.
‘Reign in Blood’ was one of the first albums I ever bought and it still sounds good today. Loud, brash, fast and ultimtely brutal, ‘Reign in Blood’ was the album that confirmed Slayer as a leading light on the thrash scene. Opening with the uncompromising ‘Angel of Death’ and roaring through to the superb ‘Raining Blood’, this album is a supreme piece of speed metal. Despite appearances of being the usual satan obsessed death/thrash album typical of the early 80s, the band claim that it is more a tongue in cheek look at Christianity and a test of people’s beliefs rather than anything else. With an album sleeve packed with pentagrams, fire, a goatheaded protaganist etc. coupled with lyrics which invite you to ‘enter to the world of satan’, ‘praise hell, satan’ etc. you might question the honesty of this statement. Add to this insensitive references to Nazi germany and the Jews, and just about everything else which can be tackled to provoke a reaction and ultimately cause maximum offence and you have an album which is at best ‘lyrically misguided’ at worse damn offensive and guilty of everything it has been charged with. This is 80s thrash from a genre packed with snotty-nosed white-trash, ranting about stuff they have little comprehension of and vying to be the most brutal and most offensive, to provoke the biggest reaction and thus acheive notoreity and sell records to those impressed by such things. Hence its aimed at spotty teenagers and impressionable hard-of-thinking adults, yet get past the stupidity of the message, whatever it is, the basic numbskull lyrics and open up your mind, and you are ready to receive the 30 minutes of total aural intensity which is Slayer’s breakthrough album. Your experience opens with the superb Angel Of Death, which is still Slayer’s best loved track. Guitars open up completely unaccompanied, with an amazingly fa
st riff, before Araya’s piercing scream assaults your ears, accompanied by thunderous drums and a blisteringly fast lead attack. This track is fast, brutal and unrelenting, nothing short of technically excellent and amazingly tight considering the sheer pace of the track. Clean breaks, screaming leads duelling over the thunderous drum cachophany and brash vocal barking, rising to bloodcurdling screams mark one of the most impressive displays of thrash musical excellence ever commited to vinyl. Araya’s final cry decends into a low guttural death rattle before a brief respite from the assault is smashed by the opening bars of Piece by Piece, continuing in wave after wave of aural assault from an album which Q Magazine declared as being “officially the heaviest album ever made” before the mysterious intro to the final track Raining Blood offers a little breathing room. But its not a pleasant time to relax. Thunder rolls, lightning flares in the distance and the heavy sound of the sky bleeding on gravel accompanied by the sound of stressed metal and distorted electric wailing torments your already battered senses. A final crash of thunder and your moment of respite is over. The guitars kick in, low and chugging, menacingly luring you into the madness which awaits. Then all hell breaks loose again, pounding drums, breakneck riffs, poisonous lyrics delivered with venomous gusto, once more into the maelstrom. Battered and bruised you hear Araya’s gurgling scream ‘Raining Blood’ one last time before a complete piece of lunacy, with leads played at breakneck speed in a full on assault aimed one last time at beating you into submission and then STOP! As quickly as it began it ends to a peel of thunder and the sound of distant rain… I can not express just how powerful this album is in terms of its musical delivery. Q magazine voted it the heaviest metal album to date and I would have to agree. This is completely uncompr
omising from start to finish, not even the hint of a ballad, or even time to catch breath, it’s a full on sonic assault from start to finish and one which even if you do not appreciate the music from, you can not fail to respect in terms of its sheer power and technical prowess of its authors. Absolutely mindblowing, Reign In Blood is a worthy addition to any record collection, although be warned, that this is not a pretty experience…and it’s a shame about the lyrical content as well.
Essential speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, however you choose to describe it, Slayer's "Reign In Blood" is a must-have. It epitomizes not only the band, but the whole genre--from the opening riffs and super scream of "Angel of Death" onwards, it's a nonstop aural attack performed with masterful precision. It's heavy, it's hard, it's in your face--it's Slayer! Every element of this album is great. The vocals: lots of barking along with high-pitched screams descending into guttural growls, some of the fastest vocal riffs Tom Araya has ever done (witness the verses of "Jesus Saves" and "Necrophobic"), along with Slayer's definitive propensity for using vocabulary to maximum effect (have a dictionary and a thesaurus handy the first time you peruse the lyric sheet). The guitars: as if I need to mention that Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman defined a style copied so widely that my friends and I used to define new metal bands by two descriptions: they were either Slayer-clones or Metallica-wannabes. Hanneman and King put out some incredibly fast, evil-sounding riffs on this one, and topped 'em off with blazing, wailing, shredding solos displaying complete control over all the necessary techniques for good metal: tapping, tremolo, muffling, harmonics, and straight-up speed riffing. Mr. Araya provided the bass along with the vocals--nothing particularly exceptional (no Bootsy Collins here), but nothing to be ashamed of either. Mostly doubling or simplifying the guitar lines, the bass is solid and effective without being showy or distracting. Last but certainly not least, Dave Lombardo's drumming was at the forefront of double-bass thrash technique for the time, laying down incredibly driving rhythms, changing up time signatures with precision, setting a foundation for everyone else. One of my best friends is a drummer, and his clear favorites then were Mr. Lombardo of Slayer and Lars Ulri
ch of Metallica. He since moved on into jazz, for which I'll never forgive him. ; ) The heart of it all: the songs. Side One (yeah, mine's vinyl) started off with "Angel of Death" and finished with "Jesus Saves"--those two are my favorites, but there are no slackers on this album. "Altar of Sacrifice", "Necrophobic", "Criminally Insane", etc.--they're all great. "Angel of Death" is about Josef Mengele, the sick Nazi "doctor", and the horrors he perpetrated in the concentration camps during WWII. Strong subject matter deserving of strong treatment. "Jesus Saves" is about falsity and hypocrisy in religion, and contains one of my favorite lines on the subject: "The gates of pearl have turned to gold, it seems you've lost your way." Lyrically, Slayer is bound to offend a vast number of people. Ah well...I'd rather listen to this stuff than Backstreet Boys rehashing the same garbage pap over and over any day. Lastly, I'd mention that I saw Slayer play live last year, and they put on a great show. Tom doesn't hit the high notes like he used to--I hear he damaged his vocal chords and simply can't do it anymore, but he still carries the top end without a flaw. The string section was, if anything, better than ever, whether playing songs old or new. Dave Lombardo left the band, but the drums were more than up to snuff. They did not disappoint. One crucial warning, though: there were more fights at that show than at any show I've ever been to before. There were police all over the place, but they just stood and watched as guys beat each other senseless, so long as no one damaged the equipment. I don't know what causes it, but a lot of die-hard Slayer fans are violent and reckless to the point of stupidity. I don't endorse that behavior at all, but I still like the band. Just figured I'd give fair warning to anyone who plan
s to catch their set: be ready to dodge! The title to this review is the typical chant heard before the band comes on...
My God!!! what the hell is that sound? thats what i asked myself when i first heard this album, My parents were in astate of shock when-from my room emanated the fastest most evil music ever inflicted on mankind. This is what metal was all about- before their contemparies got too self indulgent and focussed on image instead of progress. I dont listen to the modern style of this music, however i wouldn't consider this to bear any relation to Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson et al.If you love your music and have a diverse range in your collection add to it this one album - for those special occassions when melody and a head nodding beat just isn't enough..
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Angel Of Death
2 Piece By Piece
4 Altar Of Sacrifice
5 Jesus Saves
6 Criminally Insane
10 Raining Blood