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Slayer
Hell Awaits


4.0
excellent

Review

by south_of_heaven 11 USER (76 Reviews)
June 28th, 2006 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist


Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven
- Book I of Paradise Lost by John Milton

Flashback to the beginning of Slayer. Go past the influential Seasons in the Abyss. Back before the days of the crown of brutality being placed upon Reign in Blood’s demented head. In these times, Slayer was young and still fighting to earn their place. Starting out as a Judas Priest cover band, they emerged with the longer, and far less enticing name Dragonslayer. After choosing to shorten their name to what it is today, simply because the name Slayer was easier to chant (the acronym Satan Laughs As You Eternally Rot has nothing to do with the name, it was just a coincidence), they released “Show No Mercy” upon the un-expecting metal community, gaining a small cult following with their dark (and not to mention somewhat cheesy) lyrics filled with violence and Satan. Evolving for their next album (or EP, really), the band began to write songs in the format that would later be hailed as classics on their “Reign in Blood” album: Dark, disturbing, and downright fast. Continuing down this path, they put out their next real album (though still short) that set the stage, tuned the guitars, and tightened the snare drum for their critically acclaimed masterpiece, which I had stated earlier. This album was “Hell Awaits

Su nioj, su nioj, su nioj…

Just like the first line in an essay, the first track on an album must capture the listener’s attention. Whether it be though a slow, moody effects intro, a spoken verse, a phrase, or just coming straight out of the gates and blasting away, the first song is, in most cases, the ‘hooking point’ of an album. “Hell Awaits” not only accomplishes this task, but it brutalizes it, and then demonizes it. Quoted by many to be “…the heaviest riff ever created” – Sebastian Bach, “Hell Awaits” is an epic journey through hell. A calm, noise-free intro slowly begins to take form with demon-like voices chanting “Join Us! backwards (Su noij) over and over until what is presumably Satan bellows “Welcome back”. The brutal riffs that follow are enough to send a listener into a panic. The intro consists of a long 3 minutes, more than the length of most Slayer songs. Between the flowing, pounding drums and the chopped riffs emerges an almost moody sounding guitar riff with a slight blues to it before a death-like common Slayer riff begins to chip away at your mind un-relentlessly. The whole song still has that younger feel to it, with the guitar work still being dark, but still has that tinge of blues that was found on “Show No Mercy”. “Kill Again”, tries to continue on the lengthy intro, with a slightly less interesting build-up of sorts. There’s no chanting, or change in tempo, it’s just straight-forward type riffing with a huge punk-feel that’s broken up between some drum work and machine-gun like riffing. Once you get past the rather bland intro, the guitar-work picks up tremendously, featuring some quick notes between some inaudible palm mutes, giving it shred-fest label. Dave continues to bash away at his drum set at amazing speed. “At Dawn they Sleep” starts off with a slower, eerie riff that seems to also have laid the way for future tracks on “South of Heaven”. The guitars soon start to spew out chugging riffs that dominate the song the whole the whole way through at most points. “Praise of Death” is the most straight-forward type riffing on this entire album, with virtually nothing to offer other than that besides a rather “hardcore” like bridge. One of the blander songs off the album, the guitar-work here isn’t up to key with the past few tracks. Sticking true to their roots from “[u]Show No Mercy[/b]”, “Necrophiliac” starts with another bluesy guitar intro, but this time it’s only about a mere 5 seconds, before the true main riff begins to rape your mind. The style of playing here, with its more punk-like approach, is the reason why it has a more “Show No Mercy” feel to it. “Crypts of Eternity” is another “Praise of Death”, with dull riffs, despite its rather interesting intro, with features some very, very low sounding guitars and a basic drum beat from Dave. The riffs however, seem to be too repetitive, and most will lose interest in this one fairly quickly. That’s not to mention the atrocious bridge, with its “Nu-Metal” feel, even though “Nu-Metal” wasn’t even around then. The closer, “Hardening the Arteries”, is a brutal, all-out thrash riffs, with some crazy riffing in the beginning before it takes on some huge speed and power to become one of the more heavier tracks off this album. Unfortunately, they choose to end the song suddenly by repeating the same intro from the title track (with a few variations here and there), and is a rather dull finish.

Although Kerry and Jeff are still young at this point in their career, their style of soloing is still the same. The pattern is usually as such: Nearly break Whammy-Bar – Shred – Whammy-bar again. Songs like “Praise of Death” and “Crypts of Eternity” perfectly illustrate this. However, on some tracks (well, most), they forgo the Whammy-Bar intro and just jump straight into mindless shredding. However, at this time, the songs aren’t quite as chaotic as they will later be, leaving the solos feeling wirey and sometimes out of place. And they do tend to solo a lot, sometimes throwing in three, like on “Kill Again”.

Tom’s voice has gotten much gruffer since on “Show No Mercy”, but his vocal range hasn’t changed much. He doesn’t emit any high-piercing screams, he just rather talks as fast as he can to match the tempo of the song. There’s really no vocal variation on this album at all, but that’s usually the way it is on most of Slayer’s records. His bass playing, as well, is almost non-existent, and is drowned out by the guitars/drums.

The lyrics, mostly all written by Kerry King, with some input from Tom and Jeff, are at their cheesiest of their career. Take for instance off of “Necrophiliac”: “I feel the urge the growing need, To f**k this sinful corpse. My tasks complete the b*tch's soul, Lies raped in demonic lust.”. Not very well-thought out, and that song was also banned by many radio stations as it talked about…having sex with a corpse. Mostly, however, the lyrics deal with Satan, and obviously Hell on the title track. Which, not surprisingly, have the best lyrics with lines like “Lonely children of the night, There’s seven ways to go. Each leading to the burning hole, That Lucifer controls.”. As you can see, they’re certainly not all that great.

There are two other problems plaguing this album: Its length (7 Tracks) and the length of some of them. In response to a question on why the song “Dittohead” was so short, King replied, “…the point of a fast song is to get in, make its point, and get out”. If such is the case, then why are some of these songs closing in at over 6 minutes? They drag on at the same speed, never changing, and they can get boring after awhile. And at 7 tracks, you’re not offered much variety.

Overall, it’s still a good achievement from Slayer. There are really only two horribly dull tracks on here, which I stated earlier, and the rest are pure enjoyment. The title track is now a legend among fans, and is required to be played at every show. However, with its short length and some of the songs being drawn out, it can become rather frustrating.

Here’s My Rundown

Songs – 4.5/5
Instrumental – 4/5
Lyrics – 3/5
Vocals – 3.5/5

Overall Grade – 4/5

*It averaged out to about 3.75, so I rounded up.

Recommended Tracks
Hell Awaits
Kill Again
At Dawn They Sleep
Necrophiliac



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user ratings (2282)
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bron-Yr-Aur
June 28th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Great job, I actually really like "Necrophiliac". By the way, in the big-ass paragraph, I believe you wanted to underline Show No Mercy but put "b" in the second [] instead of "u".This Message Edited On 06.28.06

south_of_heaven 11
June 28th 2006


5612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah yes, I noticed that too. I changed it, thank you.

Im gonna sit with my rating for awhile. I might change it to a 3.5.

And 'Necrophiliac' is pretty sweet I must say.

met65
June 28th 2006


105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

good review, i especially liked the info at the beginning.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 28th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I'm rather surprised this hasn't garnered more attention.

south_of_heaven 11
June 28th 2006


5612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As am I, but oh well. There's so many reviews that get added each day now, so this one will probably get lost, just like my 'KISS' review was.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 28th 2006


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

And my Abbey Road.... I don't know how to make a sad face, so just flip this upside down :thumb:



By the way, I stumbled across your Destroyer review this morning. This Message Edited On 06.28.06

Priestmetal
June 29th 2006


542 Comments


Hell Awaits is such an evil song. The intro builds up very nicely. Good review dude.

Neoteric
June 29th 2006


3243 Comments


I like the review, my friend

wakeupdead
November 30th 2006


2229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, nice. Hell Awaits is a pretty fabulous song

Brain Dead
March 3rd 2007


1150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just got this, it's pretty good. I like it about five times as much as Show No Mercy. Necrophiliac completely owns, I agree with that. But I find Hardening of the Arteries to be a little boring. And what's wrong with Crypts of Eternity? That's a super bitchin song.

WARPATH_88
March 3rd 2007


514 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was the first Slayer album I heard and it honestly scared me. I remember reading the lyrics and thinking, Wow, this is brutal. Anyways great review, SLayer kicks a**.

wakeupdead
March 20th 2007


2229 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, but I noticed a few things. Nothing major though. Like this.....

“Su noij, su noij, su noij…”
Join Us backwards would be spelled "Su nioj..." and this...
Sticking true to their roots from “[u]Show No Mercy[/b]”,
you mistagged this. Like I said nothing major.

KILL
April 3rd 2009


81580 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome album

FadeToBlack
April 3rd 2009


11043 Comments


Necrophiliac and Crypts are indeed bitchin'. Actually, all of the songs are, but I'm not too fond of Praise Of Death.



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