Review Summary: If this album were a car, it would be a Bugatti Super Sport- fast, classy and worthy of serious respect. And we all know the addictive nature of speed.
Speed- apparently we all need it. Whether it is just to get to work or to seek an out-and-out thrill, we often make use of this enticing, almost addictive force, availing ourselves of physics's most dangerous ally with wild abandon. Yes, we all have our vices, and in many people's cases, speed fits the bill quite adequately. I hear and see so many stories of daredevils breaking new land-based records in hyper-powered rocket cars, so many of pilots tempting fate by thrusting through all perception of pace, so many of atheletes sprinting on home to olympic glory with fire at their heels. Now, I'm no Jeremy Clarkson, but even I can see the inspiring nature of all this frantic, frenetic motion; I myself like to take the car for a hapeless jaunt through the country roads when the wife is out with the kids, causing the ancient tyres to scream at every bend and scaring the village bingo club as I roar past with a kind of gusto only a rusted citroen saxo can offer. It's the element of knuckle-whitening peril that renders it so thrilling, so impossibly fun to perform. It captivates the best of us. And so I can conclude that speed is a friend to humankind like no other, offering limitless pleasure as well as a kind of practicality that cannot be opposed with too great a will. I would go as far to say it not only makes an experience but is the experience itself.
The above witterings bring me very neatly on to the subject of thrash metal, something with which speed is intrinsically connected. Now, as much as I love the style with all of it's choppy nuances and unpredictable song structures, I find some bands to lack the one element that really defines what the genre is all about- the sheer barbarous pace. It is in my best interest, and possibly in every metal connossieur, to throw any unsatisfactory slow and boring modern thrash into the nearest bin lorry: at least that way it may travel at a speed beyond 4mph on it's inevitable journey to the dump. To be frank, slow thrash is like a flat coca-cola: unispiring, woefully dull and without any real substance. And devoid of any real place in the musically appreciative soceity. Just grab a copy of an album by Municipal Waste and prepare your council tip for it's latest offering to see what I mean by this.
Thankfully, one can always count on a band like Slayer to deliver some consistancy in their albums. And for maximum example of Slayer superiority, there is no better record to delve into than the absolutely seminal 'Reign In Blood' (which is, incidentally, the topic of this review- just in case the long-winded intro threw you off slightly!). Possessed of a kind of fervency that now proves a rarity in modern counterparts, this album moves with such a frantic brutality that you are almost lured into it solely by it's meat-headed attack, let alone the remainder of the factors that build this classic to be what it is and was. Just listening to 'Jesus Saves' and 'Necrophobic' was like having my head rammed into a washing machine and then having the ultra-mega-super-spin button depressed with an awful finality. But, like the lure of speed ever is, I enjoyed every minute of the process despite the blitzkrieg my ears were arrayed against. Terminal velocity can forget itself- it's nothing compared to the swiftness exhibited here.
The speed is by no means the be-all and end-all here. For one thing, I cannot review a Slayer album and not comment on technical proficiency which is, as always, top-notch. Kerry King is on fine form here, with a swirling mass of churning yet fiendlishly complex (a bit like a sudoku puzzle on diabolic difficulty) riffs seemingly flying from his fretboard almost at will and alighting in the air with a morass of phenomenal support drumming and sharp, shrieked characteristic vocal lines from Dave Lombardo. Every note is precise, calculated and crisp, the marks of a very tightly bonded group indeed. The power this skill conveys can only be described as unbelievable, not just to other musicians, but to listeners themselves. I mean, no modern thrash album is going to make you stare into the stereo incredulously and shout 'How did they do that?' (except maybe Dragonforce, but what do they know about thrash? About as much as a rhino knows about brain surgery, I would guess...). Together with the sheer pace of the album, a sense of being in the presence of a greater musical power is created, a sense that you are in the presence of genius.
To summise, I have to offer what may be considered a dated opinion, not to mention a contraversial but one I really support with all my heart. This is the quintessential thrash album. The absolute best the genre has to offer. Every song has real fire, real hatred and soul oozing from it; each song burns with a savagery as yet unsurpassed in it's field. Listen to the artistry of the solos, the technicality and controlled primal fury of the riffs, the harsh cries of the vocal refrains- all of these elements represent to me the kind of perfection thrash has so long been bereft of. And the speed, as mentioned, is beyond belief. If this album were a car, it would be a Bugatti Super Sport- fast, classy and worthy of serious respect. And we all know the addictive nature of speed. And so I urge you to indulge your daredevil inside, but not with mere extreme sports or an otherwise physical pleasure- just dip into this album and let the chaos reign. In blood.