Slayer: Reign in blood
15/04/11 || Altmer
Altmer: This little ditty on, only, the best metal album of all time, will be a nice double coverage for your reading and viewing pleasure. Cock-thumping duo Altmer and IG will collaborate across the pond to serve you a review about the real deal: “Reign in Blood”. What hasn’t already been said about this album? Everything. Nothing. Your momma. This is an album that needs no introduction. It needs only dissection. Piece by piece.
IG: Dissect we will, with surgical precision. “Reign in Blood” was definitely the record that got me into Slayer courtesy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Hearing “Raining blood” on V-Rock while cruising around in my Sable (that’s for all you video game nerds out there) motivated me to finally check Slayer out in force and I have been a major fan ever since. I was late to the Slayer party, I admit. But I’m there now with 40 ounces of Steel Reserve in each hand and a blood-soaked toga barely covering my hairy, doughy physique.
Altmer: If anything, this album is a master of songwriters. For fuck’s sake, the album is barely 30 minutes long! Slayer, on this album, were more evil, more vile, more powerful than they had ever been before. I think two songs on here breach the three minute mark. That should tell you something about just how condensed this album is: they don’t bother with extra-long solos. There’s groove, speed, brutality, and chaos. But there’s no fat. They trimmed all of it.
IG: Slim, fast, and brutal is way things go on here; that’s for sure. You will not find any of the slower, more epic (and still awesome) material like “Seasons in the abyss” or “Expendable youth” on here. “Reign in Blood” is dominated by high-speed thrashers like “Postmortem”. Is it any surprise that Slayer’s two most well-known, popular songs are both on here? “Angel of Death” is pretty much the established blueprint for an awesome metal song; fast part, fast part, killer breakdown, solo, fast part, second breakdown. 9
Altmer: The production on this thing is courtesy of Rick Rubin and therefore awesome. What it also is is loud, and what it furthermore bestows upon us is… surprisingly, an audible bass mix. I am surprised. In fact, everything about the mix is pretty good: clear, loud, thumping, fast, and everything has got the space it needs. The only thing that sounds a bit iffy to me are the drums sometimes. They tend to sound a bit… flat. They’re a little too organic with the snare sound for my liking. But other than that… fantastic production.
IG: Just whiffing Rick Rubin’s beard in the mid 1980’s would give you a face-numbing cocaine high. It is amazing that the dude hopped from Run-DMC to Slayer and was able to produce good sounds in very different genres. The guitars domination, as they should, and Tom’s vocals are not too high in the mix. I could use a bit more punch from the drums, but that is just the drum lover in me. Overall, the production is pretty ace. 8
Altmer: Kerry’s solos suck and they always will. I know, I know. They’re chaotic, they fit the music, yadda yadda. In this case, they do, but Kerry pretty much plays three repeated notes for solos. The guitars’ actual strength is in the bulldozer rhythm playing. Riffs follow each other like blowjobs in a brothel. It’s almost too messy, but somehow they control the 200 bpm thrashing to keep it… connected to each other somehow. And not to mention the sweet, sweet guitar tone. The Low E Bulldozer. That’s Slayer guitars.
IG: Agreed about Kerry, his solos have never done it for me either. Slayer has always lived by the riff (and died by the sword!) and “Reign in Blood” features some of the band’s best. The beginning to “Raining blood” might be the moment that defines extreme metal and the breakdown riff in the “Angel of death” is time/tempo change awesomeness deluxe. There are too many other moments to highlight, but this is definitely King and Hanneman at their brutal best. 9
Altmer: Tom Arayabitch can’t sing, but he yells. Slayer shouldn’t be sung anyway.
IG: Yeah, Tom has never done much singing so if you are looking for mid-80’s high-pitched vocals like Joey Belladonna’s then go fuck yourself, because this is Slayer and this is evil. His yell/shriek/sneer style though is perfect for the band’s shredding sound. While his vocals have definitely gone downhill in the years since “Reign in Blood”, Tom takes care of business. 8
Altmer: It’s there. Tom Araya is not a bad bass-ster, but he also doesn’t really do that much noteworthy. There’s some good bottom end work going on here and there, but mostly, he sings his ass off. And that’s why, ladies and gents, if you want functional bass, you listen to Slayer.
IG: It’s hard to stand out in a band like Slayer when you have tits like King Kong, Lombardo’s Pizza and Hannemanmeat pumping out a wall of sound all around you, especially while you are trying to sing. Still, Tom Araya ‘s playing is noticeable. Actually, it’s pretty fucken good. While he is not up there with metal-bass titans like Steve DiGiorgio or Ron Royce of Coroner fame, Araya is certainly underrated. 8
Altmer: Lombardo is God. I think if I said just that, you would all know what I meant. I know jack shit about drums and I recognize this guy is fucken out of this world.
IG: Lombardo’s playing on “Decade of Aggression” is one of the major factors that got me into metal. His work on here is also fantastic. His drumming is the fuel in Slayer’s machine. The roots of modern blasting and footwork lie with him and there is reason he made the top spot on our best drummers list. Speed, groove, precision, intensity; tracks like “Angel of Death”, “Altar of sacrifice”, and “Jesus saves” prove that Lombardo’s Pizzeria has ‘em all. 10
Altmer: Satan. War. The dark side of religion. Subtle, it is not, but it’s befitting as hell of these thrash masters. They’re picking up the dark reflections and you can tell. “Angel of Death”, which deals with Mengele, is one of the most sinister topics you could write about. They’ve gone evil. To perfection.
IG: Any bands who sings about something evil is ripping off Slayer and Venom. Show of hands; who were has not sung the choruses to “Angel of death” or “Reigning blood” at max volume? Everybody, that’s what I fucken thought! The thought of a lacerated sky alone is metal as fuck. 9
Altmer: Vintage Slayer.
IG: Fire, blood, evil, satan, MMMMEEEETTTTAAAALLLLL!!!!! 10
Altmer: I can’t imagine this logo any other way.
IG: Agreed, Slayer has kept their crooked letter-logo the same for almost three decades for a reason. It is one of the most recognizable metal logos around. Nice job. 10
Altmer: The booklet has lyrics and pictures. It is pretty all right, as far as booklets go…
IG: No comments here, my copy is burned from my long-ago stolen original. 6
Overall and ending rant:
IG: I’ll admit, I listen to the two Slayer records that followed “Reign in Blood” a bit more than any others. Still, this is a classic and influential album that opened the floodgates for the popularity of extreme, evil metal. These guys are still packing arenas and headlining festivals and no matter what they release currently, the awesomeness of Slayer’s classic material is undeniable. “Reign in Blood” contains Slayer’s top two signature tracks and perfectly blends the band’s thrash, punk, and heavy metal influences. As far as extreme Slayer goes, this is the one to own.
Altmer: I concur with Mr. InquisitorGayneralis. For me, the only difference is that I consider this (and not the two following ones) their masterpiece. This is a must-own. What grade, say ye? A ten? A ten.
- Released: 1986
- Label: Def Jam
- Website: www.slayer.net
- Kerry King: guitars
- Jeff Hannemann: guitars
- Tom Araya: bass, vocals
- Dave Lombardo: drums
- 01. Angel of Death
- 02. Piece By Piece
- 03. Necrophobic
- 04. Altar of Sacrifice
- 05. Jesus Saves
- 06. Criminally Insane
- 07. Reborn
- 08. Epidemic
- 09. Postmortem
- 10. Raining Blood