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"Show No Mercy" is the debut studio album by American thrash metal band, Slayer. It was released in 1983 on Metal Blade Records and produced by Brian Slagel. The line-up for the album was Tom Araya (vocals/bass), Jeff Hanneman (guitar), Kerry King (guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums).
So here it is, the very first Slayer album - one of the pioneering thrash metal albums that people sat up and took note. Some wondered what the hell it was, others warmed to it like a breath of fresh air. Slayer was formed in Huntington Park, California in 1981 by Oakland native Jeff Hanneman and Los Angeles born Kerry King. The two guitarists then recruited Chilean Tom Araya on bass and vocals who was a respiratory therapist at the time, and drummer Dave Lombardo, a pizza delivery guy. The rest is history, and two years later, "Show No Mercy" was unleashed to the public.
The album kicks off with "Evil Has No Boundaries", which instantly melts your face off with Araya's high pitched scream and heavy guitars like nobody had ever heard before that have killer riffs, hooks and solos. What you also get on this song is backing vocals on the chorus - something which I don't remember ever hearing on any other Slayer song, and it's legendary heavy metal drummer Gene Hoglan who had a hand in providing them. Lombardo's staple thrash drumming is a joy to hear, too, and his use of the double bass pedals in the bridge is quite impressive. It's a song to let us know that Slayer is here, straight out of hell and ready to kill us with their insane blend of thrash metal music.
"The Antichrist" has always been a live favourite and has one of the most recognisable Slayer riffs of all their songs that is fully backed up by some insane solos from King and Hanneman in the bridge. The song comes to a climax with crushing guitar strums, matched by Lombardo's snares. It's a song about a fallen angel who turns to the devil to set his soul free, returning to wreak havoc on the people of earth.
"Die by the Sword" dishes out more of the same evil thrash metal with a song that has some tricky hooks that follow on from some meaty riffs. It's probably a continuation of the previous song and it's sending out a message that Satan's minions are here on earth willing to slay and you will die by the sword. This is one of my favourite songs on the album and I love the opening to the bridge with both guitars strumming up and down that sounds like the heaviest thing I've ever heard. Once again, the solos on this song are absolutely blistering.
"Fight Till Death" carries on with the brutal pace of the album with some interesting riffs from King and Hanneman which bring forth a true thrash metal song, the likes of which hadn't properly been heard back in those days. It's a song about being involved in a war and while the commanders are safely tucked away in bunkers behind sand bags, it's the frontline that faces the brunt of the incoming assault. It also has a hidden and much darker meaning, in that the troops of doom in the pits of hell are coming to earth and the only way is to fight until your impending death.
"Metal Storm / Face the Slayer" is a two-part song which begins with "Metal Storm", a short instrumental intro with some fast fret board finger movement on the guitars before the drum beat signals the start of "Face the Slayer", a song about a minotaur which is depicted on the front cover of the album. It is part man, part bull and forced people into its cave where they were sacrificed to the devil.
"Black Magic" begins with a fade-up before launching into one of the most evil sounding thrash metal riffs of all time. It's a classic Slayer song which is played live many times and I get the feeling it was recorded completely live in the studio. Tom Araya was just starting to find his feet as far as his vocal capabilities go and he stuck with a sort of enclosed room sound on the follow-up album, "Hell Awaits". For me, this is Slayer at their best and I sometimes wish the band would go back to recording like this.
"Tormentor" begins with an excellent riff that isn't too fast but sort of warns you of what's to come before Slayer launches into a faster tempo pre-verse. The chorus is the best part of the song as the victim is being chased by the tormentor. In this case, I'm thinking it could be closely related to Michael Myers off of the "Halloween" movie franchise and he catches his prey at the end of the song. There are more incredible solos in the bridge of the song that shows how good King and Hanneman were, even back then when they were both starting out.
"The Final Command" is a song about the very effective German Blitzkrieg (lightning war) of World War II, in which the Nazi forces would storm enemy lines with speed then attack its flanks, causing mass confusion and panic amongst allied troops. It's the fastest song on the album as far as time goes which starts off at a mid-paced tempo before going at full throttle. It's cleverly designed to coincide with the lyrics and what happens during a Blitzkrieg campaign, driving forward then spreading out.
"Crionics" is a song in which Tom Araya uses a little vocal harmony but it's the same old Slayer with punishing guitar riffs that gallop along at a decent pace and brutal drumming, with Lombardo using his kit to full advantage. It's hard to think that he was still in school when they recorded this song! The customary King/Hanneman guitar solos come near the end that cannot fail to impress once again.
The album ends with the title track, "Show No Mercy" and what you get from the start is a magnificent but quick drum solo from Lombardo. The song is what thrash metal is all about from beginning to end and is one of my favourites. It's about an army of darkness that is doing Satan's work on earth, bringing lives to an end with slaughterous venom and merciless brutality, which, in essence, is Slayer's music down to a tee.
In summary, what you have here is one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time. It might not be as good as the band's 3rd studio album "Reign in Blood" or Metallica's "Master of Puppets" but it made people look at the band and think "Yeah, I'd like to do that." Slayer has influenced many thrash bands over the years and this is one album I keep coming back to now and then to re-live the golden days of the genre.
1. Evil Has No Boundaries
2. The Antichrist
3. Die by the Sword
4. Fight Till Death
5. Metal Storm / Face the Slayer
6. Black Magic
8. The Final Command
10. Show No Mercy
My rating: 8/10
For those who may not know: NWOBHM = New Wave of British Heavy Metal. :)
'Show No Mercy' is a fantastic album that is often over-looked by their most popular album that sold millions 'Reign in Blood'. Those who only concentrate on the only album is themselves losing out; as this is a fantastically solid album with 10 songs based pure speed/thrash with hints of NWOHBM. They refined this album as aggressive NWOHBM; which then lead to the formation of thrash metal in their later albums. Some people might find it lacking in raw power/aggressiveness, they will find that instead interesting song-writing, great melodic solos and catchy riffs.
Tom Araya : Vocals, bass
Jeff Hanneman : Guitars
Kerry King : Guitars
Dave Lombardo : Drums
The opening song 'Evil Has No Boundaries', this song is so utterly memorable; this is where the newcomer begins to realise the intensity, the speed, the brutal clean thrash style vocals with extremely melodic guitar riffs that were also quick for the time it was released, back in 1983. The chorus of the song is unbelievably catchy, seperated with really memorable solos.
It moves onto ' The Anti-Christ; which I find that I play the most due to its melodic squealing solo which completes the song overall. You can hear Ararya's vocalising power in this song; he can reach really high pitched sounds which fits in with the nature of the album.
'Die By the Sword' is one of the most memorable songs on the album due to its fast riffing pace in the middle which is finalised by the guitar solos. It has a truly catchy style about it, making the true metallers headbang against their will! It is a true Slayer classic.
'Fight 'til Death' presents massive but simple riffage fest here, with fast fast tempo! It is probably the fastest song on the album in a thrash style that they would later evolve and play at all their live shows. It is definitely one to check out. The simple choruses are ridiculously catchy! 'Fight 'til death! Fight 'til Death!'
'Black Magic'-the quiet and simple intro lures you into thinking this might be a slow song but actually, it suddenly turns around and becomes the heaviest song on the album, becoming rather thrash-y in the middle. The drumming here is very memorable here; it meets between the riffs seamlessly, Lombardo has really expanded on his abilities in this song as he is super quick in this.
1. "Evil Has No Boundaries" 3:12
2. "The Antichrist" 2:47
3. "Die By the Sword" 3:37
4. "Fight Till Death" 3:40
5. "Metal Storm/Face the Slayer" 4:51
6. "Black Magic" 4:02
7. "Tormentor" 3:42
8. "The Final Command" 2:33
9. "Crionics" 3:30
10. "Show No Mercy" 3:05
As you can see from the listings; most songs aren't any more than 4 minutes so this is a rather short album, which they have carried through their discography; but the songs make for the shortness of the album.
The musicians in this band isn't the most technical ones in the world, they may be rather simplistic in some aspects, what really lifts this album up is the lyrics and imagery portrayed in their songs. The band wanted to create evil sounding songs with provocative images; they have done so, evidently borrowing the lyrical styles from Venom and the like, where they glorified hell, war and killing people.
One thing what people will notice first, especially when they have listened to Slayer's other works such as 'Reign in Blood', 'South of Heaven' and 'Seasons in the Abyss' is that this album has a lot of melody which is great; the melodic solos are great as it 'gives it a break' after the pummelling of riffs. The riffs aren't thrash-y style riffs, they are very well presented with a healthy dose of NWOBHM but they are still catchy as heck. Tom Araya has a much more aggressive vocals than what was around at the time; for example Metallica's Hetfield and expressed their rawness/aggressiveness rather well. He really stretches out his his vocal range here; his high pitched screams are really good!
The production of this album is a little muddy; though nothing comparable to Welcome to Hell by Venom, it doesn't detract from the album too much. The band had to record all this in just 8 hours; from 11pm to 7am; to cut down the production costs which explains the slightly poor production. The drumming is pretty good here, meeting in between the riffs to make it more memorable, he is also very fast on the album. Admittingly, not as complex as the newer albums that was yet to come. The bass is barely audible for the most part. You can really tell that the bass player is really limited in its abilities and perhaps, he was out of his waters in this album.
There are no throwaway songs at all- each one contributes to the overall feel of the album. They may be either speed metal or with some thrash; it is all very different and easy to distinguish, a feature that Slayer later loses in their later albums where every song *sounds* the same.
So to conclude, theres's nothing commercial here; just an unpolished classic of a debut album. It consists of true raw thrash metal with NWOHBM dose; 10 songs of the same fantastic quality; very fun to listen to with its lyrical content and themes of hell/war/death. This is a good album to mark the band's evolution in their sound and lyrically. I bought this off Amazon for no more than £5.
Standout tracks: Evil Has no Boundaries, Black Magic, Die by the Sword! and Fight 'Til Death.
First of all, let me state that I am a huge Slayer fan. Okay, that aside, this isn't their best album. "Reign In Blood", "South Of Heaven" and "Seasons In The Abyss" all vie for that title (though the first is my favourite). In truth, there's nothing wrong with this album. It's in the same early 80s thrash style that many other Metal Blade acts, DRI, SOD and other bands had. There are some classic Slayer songs on here, such as "Black Magic" and "Die By The Sword". There's nothing that stands out as letting the side down - from the opening "Evil Has No Boundaries" to the closing title track, it's all good stuff. Recommended.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Evil Has No Boundaries
2 Die By The Sword
3 Metal Storm
4 Black Magic
5 Final Command
6 Show No Mercy
7 Anti Christ
8 Fight Till Death
9 Aggressive Perfector
12 Face The Slaye