Slayer has become synonymous with the term Thrash Metal. Ever since 1983, the band (along with fellow Thrash titans, Metallica) began to re-invent the word ďheavy", using and abusing their new found speed riffing and wank solos to the point of fiendishly appropriate blasphemy. This point, of course, only serves to delight and complement the equally satanic lyrical themes and imagery that the band had been opffering from the start. By 1986, both Metallica and Slayer had procured the status of metal gods with the release of Master of Puppets
and Reign In Blood
respectively. Both acts were regarded as revolutionary, and while Metallica became far more popular in the mainstream, Slayer obtained a place of their own with a devoted cult following and a reputation as the worst of the entire metal lot, morally speaking. This is the basic story, and itís more or less accepted at face-value.
However, the reality is there are gaping holes in the albumsí perceived brilliance, and while it is undeniable there are fantastic songs on the album, it is also worth mentioning that the album is plagued with as many fillers and lesser tracks as a poorly realized concept album. That said, when the album does deliver, it distributes a punch of atomic proportions. Example? Angel of Death
. Skimming over the almost funny opening shriek (almost), the rest of the song blasts through the speakers like a machine gun, slowing down only to provide a base for the even faster solo. Let us take a moment here to confront a Slayer controversy. Slayersí guitar solos are unlike any other bands in the sense that they donít say anything, donít go anywhere, and effectively donít serve much purpose musically. Many critics of the band (I admit it, myself included) have cited these solos as a reason that the band is over-rated. Recently, however, it was pointed out by a user who shall remain anonymous (South of Heaven) that these ďsolos" are as chaotic as the songs themselves, and as such suit the band well. A fine point.
The main problem with the album lies with the fillers. Songs like ďPiece By Piece" blast by at just over two minutes, and effectively say as much as a mute toddler. While they do provide some nourishment in the headbanging department, it is quite simple to skip over the song and completely put it out of mind. And then thereís the lyrics.
Bones and blood lay on the ground, rotten limbs lie dead.
Decapitated bodies found, ON MY WALL YOUR HEAD.
Itís fairly obvious that the majority of people who listen to Slayer donít listen for their thought-provoking lyrics, but thatís still pretty bad, right? But wait! If this album is so bad, then why is it regarded as classic?
Well Johnny, the answer isnít too evasive. First off, the album isnít bad. While some of the things they do and/or say are lame, Songs like Postmortem
are fine examples of the Thrash genre. Then thereís the almost title track, Raining Blood
. Melody and brutality are a formidable duo, especially in the hands of those who know what theyíre doing. Tomís voice serves the song better here than on any other track, and the whammy bar abuse at the end provides a chaotic fallout for probably the most appreciated song on the entire album.
The overall sound is one of speed, and heaviness. There is absoulutely no diversity, nad while that can detract from the albums worth, it still contains plenty of merit in its' ingenuity. While there are none of the slower, more subtle track that would be in its' follow up, South of Heaven
, the album should be recognized for what it is: an innovative thrash record. Nothing more, nothing less.
So. What are the goods?
Heaviness to the max, yo
Some brilliant songwriting moments
Inspired countless bands that followed
How about the bads?
Some crap lyrics
Abundance of fillers
Far too short (clocks in at 29 minutes)
Josef Mengele would be proud.