The forgotten debut, and for good reason. If Reign in Blood has to be compared with Master of Puppets, in terms of maturity and songwriting skills of the respective bands, then this album can be very easily compared to Kill ‘em All.
To put it more directly, this is just the start for Slayer, and the X factor that made Slayer, well, Slayer, is almost absent on this album. The only thing that shows the later direction is the speed and some of the riffs. The rest of it is mostly middle of the road thrash, and like it or not (this to the Slayer fans), quite similar to the Kill ‘em All brand of thrash metal, albeit, more Satanic. (I am not saying they were influenced or they tried to rip that one off. its just a little similar). The solos are also very similar to the Kirk Hammett type of soloing on, let’s say, Whiplash? Instead of the atonal, raging and frantic solos, bearing little or no relation to conventional melodic sense, we have solos which are, well, generic. Think Seek and Destroy from Kill ‘em All, think Anthrax, think Megadeth. Also, the while the production of Reign in Blood was crystal clear, this is badly produced. The vocals are too high in the mix, while the rest of the guitars sound muffled and coming from somewhere else. You know what I mean. The black metal ethic of production. Think Venom, early Bathory.
So no, if you are going to listen to Slayer, please start with Reign In Blood, and unless you are a very big fan, you are welcome to end it there. Listening to recordings after Reign in Blood, I realized that whereas Metallica kept reinventing themselves, Slayer kept doing the one trick (well, ok…..3 tricks??) pony they rode to success on Reign in Blood. So a yay! for Reign in Blood, yet again, and a Nay! For the cartoonish mess that is Show No Mercy.
If you are convinced, then check out Reign in Blood and other SLAYER reviews, HERE.
Feeling manly? More METAL reviews HERE.