Slayer have never been metal's poster boys but they've become somewhat synonymous with the genre, to the extent that even the most musically ignorant of people have likely stumbled across their name. Indeed, 1986 album ‘Reign in Blood’ is one of the defining moments of the eighties thrash metal scene and sparked their rise to fame. With Metallica and Megadeth focused on adding depth to their sound and Anthrax seemingly uncertain with what direction to take, Slayer took advantage by releasing the darkest, heaviest and most punishing album they could, tearing the music industry a new a-hole in the process.
Fusing speed metal with their hardcore influences the album refuses to let up for the duration of its 29 minute play time. Each track is a whirlwind of aggressive double bass drumming and breakneck speed guitar work with vocalist Tom Araya barking lyrics through the chaos. Whilst he refuses to change up his delivery through the entirety of 'Reign in Blood' (let alone his whole career), the front man really spits out lyrics such as 'You spend your life just kissing ass/
A trait thats grown as time has passed
' with vindictive pleasure. With every song being so similar you could imagine the album becoming monotonous but the sheer relentlessness of the tracks combined with the infectious guitar licks and graphically violent lyrics keep the listener on his/her toes. Hanneman and King’s dual guitar solos are famous for being wildly chaotic; ‘Raining Blood’ in particular, we hear a solo that somewhat resembles the screech of a hundred dying cats or worse. It’s this closer plus opener ‘Angel of Death’ that are the standout tracks of the album both ranking amongst the bands most celebrated and having become staples of the live set. Thematically, Slayer cover topics such as death, genocide, Nazism, Satanism, suicide, warfare, necrophilia and religion which to this day has caused controversy amongst the public, particularly the aforementioned ‘Angel of Death’ - a song falsely criticised for condoning the acts of Josef Mengele (a doctor who conducted human experiments in the Auschwitz concentration camp).
More hard hitting and downright heavier than any release by the other members of ‘the big four’; Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, ‘Reign in Blood’ ignited a flame amongst a metal community looking for the next evolution of the music they held dear and cemented their future legacy in place.