Slayer
Reign in Blood


3.5
great

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
April 8th, 2010 | 60 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Repetitive? Yup. Insanely overrated? Definitely. Poor? No way, Jose.

Oh yes, Slayer and their Reign In Blood. For most metalheads, this is the Holy Grail, an album that shall not be criticised and shall forever hold a place at the altar of Metal. I confess that for the longest time, I didn’t “get” this album. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, and much less why it was considered such a groundbreaking classic. For me, it was just a bunch of songs which all sounded exactly the same crammed into a 29-minute running time and padded with lots of filler. However, while listening to this album intensively for purposes of reviewing, I finally “got” it. It’s still really repetitive, and to me it’s still not a classic, but I “get” it. Now I know why so many people like this album. Having said that, however, I still find some definite flaws in it that keep me from the blind worship most rockers exhibit toward it. Read on to understand why.

Reign In Blood is the third, and arguably defining, album of a career which had started in 1982 with Show No Mercy. Back then, Slayer were still playing a spinoff of the NWOBHM sound, but over the years they evolved into something much faster and much more brutal, helping establish the template for non-melodic thrash metal. This album exhibits all the trappings of said template, namely edgy riffs, shredding guitar solos, relentless percussion, garbled and high-pitched vocals and evil lyrics. And while Slayer were not the first thrash metal band, nor were they the most original, the fame and respect they earned may be due to one very simple factor: they can whale.

In fact, the first time I listened to this album, I described it to a friend as “totally one-dimensional, but it gets your adrenaline pumping”. Several listens later, my opinion still maintains. There may not be much to Reign In Blood below surface level – there isn’t – but listening to it will make the blood boil in your veins and give you an uncontrollable urge to mosh around and wreck things. And for a thrash album, that’s really the most important thing.

That said, there are large chunks of this album where you’ll have to be really attentive in order to tell the songs apart from each other. Remember how the first time you listened to It’s Alive! you thought the first few songs were one larger song, because they were all so similar? The same happens here. Listening to the best moments on here, like the bookends, you’re ready to admit you may have been wrong in your judgement; eventually, however, everything will just mash into a big mess of shrieking guitar riffs and “thud-thud-thud” drumming, and you will realize you were right all along. Nearly every song follows the same formula: catchy thrash riff, lightning-fast drumming, shrieked vocals, creaking lead, another short pass of lyrics, end of song. Slower parts are thrown here and there, along with some vocal hooks to help you memorize the songs, but in the long run the album ends up suffering from this lack of variation.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the songs which deviate from the norm that constitute the standouts. Angel Of Death, for example, is a mammoth of an opener, and one of the best thrash songs I’ve heard to this day. Giving an historic perspective of experimentation on Auschwitz prisoners, this song brought about accusations of Slayer being Nazi, not helped by Jeff Hannemann’s fixation with WWII. However, as a Jewish male, I can appreciate the fact that the lyrics are denouncing the Holocaust rather than glorifying it. And according to some opinions I’ve read and heard, I’m not the only one.

The stream of quality continues with the short, sweet and brutal Piece By Piece, but from the third track on, the aforementioned repetition problem kicks in. After that, the only instantly recognizable tracks are Jesus Saves, because of its vocal hook, Postmortem, because it unravels almost entirely in a slower tempo, and Raining Blood, because it has that riff. Again, unsurprisingly, all are standouts.

However, the remainder of the songs do not go to waste, either. When you start being able to tell them apart, you realise that there is barely a weak song on here. Sure, a few are less remarkable (Epidemic, Necrophobic, Reborn), but the only moments you can really call “expendable” are Necrophobic and – on the remastered edition – the pointless “remix” of Criminally Insane. Every other song, as repetitive as it may be, has at least one small detail to keep you interested, be it a riff, a lyrical passage, or even just Dave Lombardo’s powerhouse drumming. At the end of the half hour, you find yourself exhausted, but satisfied – and that’s what matters most for any album.

In short, then, my respect for this album grew about half a decimal point with each consecutive listen. While I still think it’s flawed, and while I still can’t see how people praise Lombardo based on his performance here – for me, his really impressive work came later, with Grip Inc – I can no longer deny that Reign In Blood is a quality album. I was all ready to trash it and brace myself for the hate mail…but then I “got” it. Repetitive? Yup. Insanely overrated? Definitely. Poor? No way, Jose.

Recommended Tracks
Angel Of Death
Piece By Piece
Jesus Saves
Raining Blood



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Comments:Add a Comment 
bloozclooz
April 8th 2010


1770 Comments


Sweet another review. Glad to see a differing opinion tho

ReturnToRock
April 8th 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Before these few listens for the review, this was standing at about a 2.5. Luckily, I decided to give it another chance. But you very nearly had a negative review of it to flame.

Piglet
April 8th 2010


4669 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You're a really great reviewer, wit 190 reviews? wow

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2010


7432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Very good review, even if it is the 16th!

I agree with pretty much everything you've said here but I still love it. I probably just enjoy the masses of mid-album filler more than you.

FadeToBlack
April 8th 2010


11034 Comments


this took me quite a while to get into too. i used to have this at a 5 but its too repetitive for that rating imo.

as for insanely overrated thrash albums, I presesnt you with Master Of Puppets...

ReturnToRock
April 8th 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey, glad to see people agree with me on the repetitiveness... Frankly I was torn between 3.0 and 3.5, but I like most of the songs here, even if they all sound the same.

I was expecting more of a backlash, considering the godly status of this album.

FadeToBlack
April 8th 2010


11034 Comments


well 3.5 = great, which the album is so no one has any right to get mad

but the trolls will come out to play later

Bfhurricane
April 8th 2010


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I feel the exact same way.

KILL
April 8th 2010


72295 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

that is 1 great review

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2010


31634 Comments


Obviously given my rating I think your rating is off, but that's just personal opinion. And I can't really argue when the review is really good! Well I can, but that'd just be redundant, so...pos'd

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Greggers
April 8th 2010


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review

Nagrarok
April 8th 2010


8323 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Although you've done a great job on the review, I sincerely hope it is also the last for this, except maybe if a it's a well-written, really negative one. Reign in Blood is probably sputnik's record holder for most-reviewed album.

Dryden
April 8th 2010


13287 Comments


weturn to rahk :3

Roach
April 8th 2010


2148 Comments


jun jun dunununu

BigHans
April 8th 2010


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good job Pedro. you're right about the middle portion sounding very similar. This gets a 4.5 for me due to influence, the sheer fucking awesomeness of the bookend tracks, and the rest is one giant thrash ball of kick ass that makes me want to destroy stuff. I listen to this when I'm pissed.

Inveigh
April 8th 2010


25216 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, Slayer's good listening when you're angry. Not as good as Hatebreed though (well, at least the first two Hatebreed albums). I like Seasons in the Abyss slightly more than this, but they're both fantastic.

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

Roach
April 8th 2010


2148 Comments


i wouldn't listen to slayer or hatebreed when i'm angry

KILL
April 8th 2010


72295 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hatebreed lmao

Piglet
April 8th 2010


4669 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Surgery, with no anesthesia
Feel the knife pierce you intensely
Inferior, no use to mankind
Strapped down screaming out to die

Essence
April 8th 2010


3595 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

could people stop saying this is metalheads' holy grail? it's really fucking not



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