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While this may not be Slayer's most important 1980s album, it is fucking great for what it is. There really isn't much music here. With only 4 songs ("Aggressive Perfector" was not included on the original release), it only reaches 17 minutes in length. That being said, Slayer still manages to get the job done in this short run time, and they do it well. "Haunting the Chapel" is a non-stop thrash fest. It actually differs quite a bit from the band's debut full-length album "Show No Mercy" which was released the previous year, about six months before this. That album leaned towards the NWOBHM sound quite heavily although it injected that sound with a bit of furious thrash metal. With "Haunting the Chapel", the band tried something a bit different.
Unlike "Show No Mercy" which draws a lot of its sound from the aforementioned NWOBHM movement, "Haunting the Chapel" is a full-on thrash assault. This EP contains little of the once prominent NWOBHM influence and actually showcases some of the early sounds of death metal. Now this is still a thrash EP but the death metal influence is oh so obvious. It is much faster and, well, sound so much more brutal. This is definitely one of the heaviest recordings Slayer has ever produced. "Sinister" and "evil" really are perfect adjectives that can be used to describe this music. Basically this can be noted as a transitional piece between "Show No Mercy" and the band's next full-length, "Hell Awaits". "Chemical Warfare" is probably my favorite song on this EP. It starts off with a heavy, chugging riff at a moderate pace and then, out of nowhere, a blasphemous barrage of energetic thrash riffs explode in the listener's face. "Captor of Sin" begins with a solo which is a bit odd, and somewhat sloppy. I've never listened to Slayer for the solos as Kerry King must be one of the worst guitarists to listen to for soloing. His solos tend to be all over the place. On this EP, this is really no exception. I think his solos were the best on "Show No Mercy" which happens to be my second favorite Slayer album, following "Hell Awaits". Riff wise, however, this album totally shines. "Aggressive Perfector" totally retains that evil atmosphere and is a real rocker of a track, and comes on the CD's reissue. It features some slower, more groove oriented sections in comparison to the other three tracks.
The drums follow the guitars unadulterated energy extremely closely. We have the typical thrash drumming that draws its roots in hardcore punk. Tom Araya's vocals actually differ slightly here from "Show No Mercy" in that they are far darker and sound more demented. The high-pitched wails are gone and in their place remains the barking vocals Tom will continue to use throughout Slayer's longevity. And due to this, another element of the NWOBHM movement has been abandoned and honestly because of the prototype hybridized death/thrash style this EP follows, this was for the best.
I can't say this is the best thing Slayer has ever done, as I do prefer the energetic "Show No Mercy" and the acclaimed "Hell Awaits" a bit more than this. This EP could definitely have been longer but was a good taste and indicator of what would eventually become of Slayer's music. Plus, "Chemical Warfare" must be one of the greatest songs Slayer has ever recorded. This is definitely one of the more evil albums from these guys and likewise, continues to remain a fan favorite.
...as this EP ignites your timid blood. The infamous Haunting the Chapel, probably the greatest EP ever to grace the world of metal. What is on here are THE heaviest songs of their time, and still leave nasty bruises to this day. Though short on content, you will remember your first listen for many, many years to come.
What is on show here is essentially a far more brutal, intense and crushing version of the thrash metal sound. The first wave of thrash debuts from this band, Metallica, Anthrax and to a lesser extent, Dark Angel, all exhibited high-flying NWOBHM vocals, a sense of melody borrowed from the British and a general lack of brutality, relatively speaking. This features a much grimier sound, and its framework can be found in the likes of the unholy trinity of 1986, Possessed's Seven Churches, and a lot of the more orthodox thrash oriented death metal that would come. Araya's vocal delivery no longer features high screams, he has taken on a considerably grittier tone with some blood-curdling, menacing mid-range work. The riff-craft is nothing short of incredible, there are many, many examples of King and Hanneman (R.I.P.) being some of the '80s finest around in every nook and cranny. The solos are somewhere between the spastic lunacy that has become a trademark of the band, and the old-fashioned (but superior) NWOBHM inspired work with a great knack for simplicity, extended length without noodling or over-repetition, and melody. The man behind the kit is none other than drummer god Dave Lombardo, who even early in his career, shows the balance between keeping time, being technical and adding to the ferocity of the music. Fills left and right, double bass for miles, all while showing restraint when necessary. Though his true skill would become clear on the next 3 albums, it is already close to the frenzied insanity of the future here.
The production only points more to the brutal thrash/early death metal sound. The guitar tone is very murky and heavy, bordering on doom metal at slower tempos - that opening riff to 'Chemical Warfare' exemplifies the effect. It is a similar tone to the ones found on Seven Churches or Sepultura's Schizophrenia, an overall very crushing sound, that smashes you in the face with a hammer (hah hah... no). The guitars are also quite loud, sharing their presence with the slightly reverb tinged vocals, with the bass not far behind. However, this leaves the great drum performance behind a wall of vicious guitar work, and though far from inaudible, very occasionally they are too quiet to have the impact you would expect. The overall production quality is quite distorted, to be honest. This adds to the griminess and early 80's underground feel of the album, giving way to a more lethal atmosphere reminiscent of this band's seminal 1985 album, Hell Awaits.
The songwriting chops of the band had matured somewhat with this release, to the point where there is variation on a three track EP with material from one set of sessions. Opener 'Chemical Warfare' is the prototype to the longer songs seen on the band's aforementioned 1985 sophomore effort. Unlike previous songs by Slayer, it manages to progress a bit more, something only really seen on 'Metalstorm: Face the Slayer' and 'Black Magic' with their extended introductions. This song has a bit more than an extended intro, instead managing to combine 4 distinct passages and a set of extended solos in its 6 minute run time. They aren't even on their second album, and can already do long songs better than Metallica - that is an achievement on its own. The other two tracks on here are essentially far heavier and dirtier versions of what was seen on Show No Mercy. Both aren't particularly unconventional in structure (though 'Captor of Sin' begins with a solo, which is a bit odd), both are under 4 minutes in length, and generally don't focus on atmosphere quite as much as the opener. They are inclined to rock out and have a good, satanic time (and in the case of Captor of Sin, a very good time with Satan... check the lyrics). They are bit of a let down, but almost any Slayer song is a let down compared to the almighty 'Chemical Warfare', so don't be put off.
So that is what this EP is. A fine example of a nearly death metal sound, one of the first truly brutal thrash releases that detached itself from the NWOBHM, and some good old satanic fun. This comes as essential to fans of more brutal thrash metal, as well as death and to a lesser extent, black metal. Even if you don't like those, it is your duty as a metal head to at least own this bit of metal history, lest HE TAKE YOU DOWN INTO THE FIRE!
For those who heard Bloodline and were turned off by Slayer's attempt at cashing in on the nu-metal trend, consider Haunting The Chapel your introduction into true Slayer. This was the EP where they changed from being a speed based NWOBHM-influenced band into a full blown thrash metal outfit with their own completely original sound. This three song collection of masterpieces is the reason albums such as Hell Awaits and Reign In Blood came about and remains to this day Slayer's most primal release. The running time might be short but it was more than enough to influence every thrash metal outfit that came after it and showed Slayer to be among the best in the genre.
Prior to Haunting The Chapel Slayer had released one studio album entitled Show No Mercy, a promising debut that was a far cry from the style of music they captured on this EP but was still more than listenable and a great album in its own right. Haunting the Chapel stepped their game up and was based around dense tremolo picking and lightning fast drumming with a very evil sound to it and Tom Araya's demonic vocals are captured in their most aggressive state. The pace of this EP is marvelous and it never lets up in its relentless assault on the ears, with never ending flurries of guitar notes and incredibly fast shredding solos that are both chaotic and awesome to listen to and this EP set Slayer apart from their competition. Whilst Metallica were messing with a more mid-pace style of thrash, Slayer's answer was to write a gung-ho EP that thunders along at the fastest speeds imaginable.
Chemical Warfare is the song that many check out this EP for and is rightfully considered one of the best Slayer songs and also perhaps one of the most influential thrash metal songs of all time. It is symbolic of Slayer's dual guitar sound in the way that both guitars play the exact same riff although one plays it a string down to create an evil-sounding guitar harmony that is unmatched by many bands out there. Slayer had a knack in their early days of creating songs that sounded truly horrific and evil and haunting, and Chemical Warfare was the song that started this trend. This song also has Tom Araya's most chaotic vocal performance to date, and is a far cry from the lunatic shouting found on songs such as Necrophobic off of Reign In Blood. Instead the band used a distant effect on his voice whilst he cackles and gargles his words in the most cruel sounding tones imaginable. The song also has a slightly more relaxed section close to the soloing that works perfectly with the atmosphere of the song and shows off the knack for how to structure a thrash metal song that Slayer perfected with their early works and showed off to even greater effect on their legendary track Angel Of Death.
The other songs on the Haunting the Chapel EP are neither as significant nor quite as good as Chemical Warfare is. Both are listenable thrash metal tunes but neither has the creativity in the structure nor the interesting riffs of that song but they both have some brilliant tremolo picked lines and fast, maniacal solos and carry that Slayer sound that would influence a generation. The production on this EP is not the best but it really suits the style of the EP and matches the lyrical content found on songs such as Chemical Warfare to make for one of the cruelest sounding pieces of metal in existence. Some would complain and say that the guitars and drumming are not quite crisp enough and that Tom Araya's vocals have too much of a distant sound to them and aren't mixed well enough, but in reality the production job is just fine for an EP of this caliber.
Haunting The Chapel is definitely a highly recommended piece of work that is early thrash metal at its rawest and most aggressive with some of the best lyrical content out there and is a three song collection that is nothing short of a masterpiece. It has a few flaws that can not be ignored, primarily that there is not enough variety and that the songs that aren't Chemical Warfare are not quite as strong as that particular track.
Gentleman, we can modify it. We have the technology. Faster, meaner, more riffs than ever before. Complete and pure thrash metal! After their wicked NWOBHM-inspired debut album "Show No Mercy", Slayer really kicked it into high gear with this bloodcurdling EP. "Haunting The Chapel" is a 3-song masterpiece that truly bent thrash metal into what we know it has today; it's THAT important. "Haunting The Chapel" is oft overlooked by a number of fans for merley being a 3-song EP, but that would be a major mistake. Anyone looking for how true thrash really got going should look here.
The band's abilities really amped up after their already pretty solid performances on the debut. Tom Araya sounds really, really mean here, shouting, spitting and growling his way through lyrics of hell, war and evil. His bass is probably good, but as is often the deal with Slayer, the bass likes to take a fucking vacation while everyone else works their asses off. Like Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman for example. Their guitars rule, soloing and slicing up a storm of riffs, though often at times it basically works as this: "Let's wank the rhythm guitar for a while, then let the lead squeal for 40 seconds." At the least the guitars sound truly wicked, the lead a bigger, more deranged take on the lead from the last album, while the rhythm sounds like a fucking weed-wacker possessed by a deadite. Then we gave the all-consuming drumming of Dave Lombardo. Frankly though, I liked his work better on "Show No Mercy", even if his work on both were pretty similar. Much like King and Hanneman he'd improve nicely on the next album.
Let's get the weaker songs out of the way first. Well, most versions of "Haunting The Chapel" you'll get anymore will come with the bonus track "Aggressive Perfector", originally from the "Metal Massacre 3" compilation. It's an okay song, not terrible but nothing special. It's basically your typical speed metal number with a few cool riffs and some nice Araya shrieking. The title track is also just okay, though the intro riffage is really great and the lead in the solo is pretty great too. But the other two songs...oh fuck me sideways this is BRUTAL! "Chemical Warfare" has my vote as Slayer's best song. That's right, forget your "Angel of Death", your "War Ensemble", your "Hell Awaits"; it's all about "Multi-death from chemicals!" The intricate, massive solo is evil perfection, Araya's vocals melt faces and the amount of riffs is just crushing. Listen or DIE!!! Then we have the half as long "Captor of Sin". It's not as technical or intricate as "Chemical Warfare", but almost as awesome. This song is just pure chaos, a speedy, mean little riff-fest with killer drums and wild guitars. Behold, captor of sin!
Overall, this is a damn fine little set of songs to have. Slayer has gotten stronger here, and while two songs are okay, the other two are fucking massively awesome! Don't forget "Haunting The Chapel"; it hasn't forgotten you, or where you live...
“…see the sky burning, the gates are ablaze, Satan waits eager to merge…”
Of Slayer’s entire catalog, the three songs on Haunting the Chapel are perhaps their dirtiest, most unloving inventions. There’s a friendless, merciless singularity about the triad, some sibling bond that bestows a unique oneness in them, like three Antichrists born of the same womb that have simultaneously risen where there were none for thousands of years. Any force thrown against this ep…Creeping Death, Fistful of Metal, Apocalyptic Raids, Sentence of Death…would just deflect off its impregnable field that was as mean and unforgiving as De Sade, black as slave hatred, and actively horrific as a live grenade rolling around the floor of a maternity ward.
By oneness I mean that if these were recorded years apart from each other, they would not hold the same import. They are one of the same mood concocted by the fiery-eyed foursome at their best. One is easily as cold-blooded and callous as the next, more so than any consecutive trio of Slayer tracks on any release, and I believe one speck of up-temponess anywhere on this would’ve destroyed the trilogy.
“Chemical Warfare” is the first to awaken, slow to stir at first, but with a squealing slide of the fretboard charges like a bloodshot minotaur breathing soot and with a chip on its shoulder the size of the underworld. A few timing and speed changes cue the songwriting factor, and a chorus that is as stone impervious as it is dynamic is the centerpiece of the track. Araya is perhaps at his most diabolic on this ep, lungs searing, carrying the lyrics with convincing cruelty that are printed right on the back cover for all nuns to see. Halfway through the track it force feeds you the speed realm, King’s and Hanneman’s fingerwork unrelenting in its swift ferocity, then devolves into a cave-in of propulsion and structure that few songs have ever matched. Araya laughs.
“…I’ll take you down into the fire…”
Side two: “Captor of Sin”. Yet another chorus dominates a track that is one of the few to begin with a solo. A downplayed main riff enlivens with the breath of many structural creatures, usually altered right after the chorus with interchanging timing and tempos between a host of intimidating solos. The title track is another dual identity vandal, first plowing through with a vengeful main riff that’s potently molded to a brash vocal delivery, uncommon cymbal work is a plus, then at the center point discharges frenetic speed and blaring, high-strung solos to cease the ep’s life like a deathblow.
Solos fly by more maniacally than on the debut and Dave Lombardo’s drumwork is strides ahead of its average performance there. With a mere three songs that laid anything close to “Crionics” to rest, the four-piece paralyzed their fans with awe, blew off the socks of every other band out there, and triple split their underground stock that Brian Slagel couldn’t be anymore ecstatic to own.
“…Lucifer rules supreme…”
“Aggressive Perfector” did not appear on the original ep and is a totally different (weaker) animal.
It has been often pointed out that Slayer’s famed “Haunting The Chapel” EP, which many also believe eclipsed their monumental debut “Show No Mercy”, showcases one of the earliest examples of true, post-NWOBHM thrash. When taking note of the much darker overall sound aesthetic, the murky and almost doom-like guitar tone, and the much rawer vocal display out of Araya, there is definitely more of a commonality with what would be solidified as mid-80s thrash when accounting for the likes of Dark Angel and other similarly more aggressive acts that were more interested in horrific imagery than politics or social commentary. However, what is often missed on this is the strong proto-death metal aesthetic, which most tend to associate more with “Reign In Blood”.
At the beginning of things, it is laid plainly before all in attendance that Slayer is in uncharted waters for this era. “Chemical Warfare”, long heralded as a classic out of this band’s youth, is one wicked riff monster with enough morbid fury to give Venom pause. The rapid paced muddy guitars set a tone that is easily associated with such early death metal offerings as “Seven Churches”, “Scream Bloody Gore”, “Altars Of Madness”, “Slowly We Rot” and yes even “Eaten Back To Life”. The only real disconnect here is that Araya has not abandoned a tonal form of vocals for the utter harshness exemplified by Schuldiner or Becerra, let alone the barely intelligible guttural barks of later bands. But what really makes this song stand out is its long length and effective use of a steady (albeit blinding) pace, presenting what could be considered a proto-type of the high form of death/thrash associated with the early works of all the aforementioned bands.
The remaining contents on here are each auspicious in their own way, but a little less astounding. “Captor Of Sin” is a little bit slower, but still very murky, chock full of dissonant chromatic riffs that hint at a proto-death sound, and really lays on the lead guitar assault. The shred sections are actually the one area where Slayer still seems to have a remnant of their NWOBHM influences, consisting largely of the same pentatonic clichés as heard on “Show No Mercy”, but loaded up a bit more with frantic whammy noise. The title song “Haunting The Chapel” actually offers a preview of the format that would be fully realized on “Hell Awaits”, offering up a versatile mix of moderately fast and hyper fast mayhem with a very methodical riffing approach. But most of all, the atmosphere just oozes with intensity, to the point that even by today’s standards it would be considered too much for many to handle. The 1993 version contains a bonus track from the band’s earlier speed sound, which is quite good and actually heavily reminiscent of Metallica‘s “Hit The Lights“, but obviously a bit out of place, particularly considering all the banshee screeches Araya keeps belting out through out the riff breaks.
The historical importance of this album is definitely something that should be clear to anyone who loves the style, but more important than that is that after 27 years of being available for mass consumption, this has lost none of its charm. This is the sort of album that actually transfers the mind of the listener back to ‘84 and subjects him to the same astonishment as felt by those who had the good fortune to grab this at its release. Break out your 6 strings and your amps, real or made of air, and prepare for the real war to end all wars.
What better way to celebrate one of the most blood curdling debut albums in the history of metal than to follow it up with a fresh and devastating EP. Many Slayer fans may have had their first exposure to these tracks on the re-mastered edition of Live Undead, where they have conveniently been placed.
The material here is a natural extension of Show No Mercy, and some of the most focused songwriting of their career. "Chemical Warfare" remains one of the most cruel and vicious speed metal songs ever recorded, with its violent build up and then one of the most catchy and simplistic riffs ever devised. Araya's vocals are pure evil as they spit forth the lyrical equivalent of biological armageddon:
'Gods of the throne must be watching from hell
Awaiting the mass genocide
Soldiers defeated by death from a smell
Bodies lie dormant no life'
"Captor of Sin" begins with a rock out riff to a disgusting and messy lead (the Slayer trademark), then busts out a cruel thrash riff under the Satanic lyrics. "Haunting the Chapel" closes the original EP with a nice riff that almost foreshadows the style that would be come more prominent on Reign of Blood and South of Heaven. It reminds me a little of "Die By The Sword", as if I feel that chorus will break out at any moment. The lyrics to all the songs are good.
If you have the 1993 re-issue of this EP material, an extra song is included: "Aggressive Perfector", which originally appeared on the Metal Massacre 3 compilation. It's a groovy and evil track with a nice bass line to it, but not as strong as the original material on the EP. Again, it has some nice and sloppy solos in that tradition Hanneman/King style.
Haunting the Chapel sounds very close to Show No Mercy as far as its overall tone, the material could very well have appeared on the full length album. Still, it's a damn good example of their early work, when the band was groundbreaking and sinister and well worth a damn.
It's pretty surprising just how quickly the thrash forefathers ditched the NWOBHM and set about exploring a much heavier and darker route; one year prior to this Slayer sounded like a particularly out of control but still pretty melodic speed metal band and now, well, they're this heavy, dark thrashing sort of outfit. They weren't the only band to make a move of this sort, either. What the hell happened between '83 and '84?
"Haunting the Chapel" sees Slayer ditch the NWOBHM-ish vibe on their debut and play a rather ferocious brand of thrash that's still fast, heavy and ugly to this day. No attempts at melodic vocals, no Maiden-esque "Crionics" style tracks, a muddier, much more fierce production, far more riffs crammed into each song, a relentless pace set by Lombardo's typically energetic and bombastic drumming. It's freakin' cool and really heavy, and with the constant chromatic and low-on-the-fretboard riffing it's not hard to see why Slayer get so much credit behind death metal.
"Chemical Warfare" is a good enough example of what you're in for; just massive, super fast riffs pounding your head into a fine, misty pulp with Araya's great (oh, how the mighty have fallen) and authorative vocal, man, the dude had a fine shout/growl back in the day. I could swear the "chorus" riff sounds vaguely Hellhammer-ish, so naturally it's really cool. The band's in top form throughout most of the songs; KK's improv solos are only vaguely annoying, Lombardo does his double time snare abuse to absolute perfection, Henneman cranking out typically great riffing with that signature dark style of his (always rated him as a much better guitarist then KK), the whole thing sounding somewhat like two guitars and a drum kit being chucked in a washing machine, fast, chaotic and really awesome.
No surprise really but the worst song is where Slayer slow it down (relatively speaking, of course) and go for some sort of hardcore/speed metal tune. "Aggressive Perfector" is a bit of a shame really, I don't even know why they put it there. It's not a bad song, but after the steamrolling thrash of the previous songs it comes off as rather lame and weak, especially as it's the final track. Perhaps a B-side off Show No Mercy? Regardless it's the obvious weak point, which is a shame as the other tracks are excellent.
It's somewhere between Show No Mercy and Reign in Blood in terms of quality for me; Slayer were clearly working their sound out at this point and hadn't really morphed into that hideous, multi-limbed thrash beast that they'd be on the next few albums. Oh well. It's still a really good EP that is well worth buying.
I love Slayer. I love everything about Slayer. And I love their 1984 EP "Haunting The Chapel" more than anything in their entire catalogue. "Haunting The Chapel" defines what thrash metal is and what thrash metal should be. Every riff, every beat, and every lyric Slayer spill out of their unholy sound makes "Haunting The Chapel" the quintessential thrash metal release, EP or otherwise.
Musically Slayer has never sounded so solid as they do on this EP. There's more aggression here than on the 1986 classic "Reign In Blood" and that speaks volumes for itself. Every track on this EP has become a staple of Slayer live sets even to this day. The opening riff to Chemical Warfare may be one of the most recognizable riffs in thrash history.
Lyrically "Haunting The Chapel" marks new ground for Slayer. "Show No Mercy" was evil and dark in its own right but with the title track "Haunting The Chapel" Slayer directly attack Christianity, a theme that has continued in thrash and death metal to this day. The lyrics are evil, intense, and graphic but would you expect any less? What’s more is that they are intelligent, well written, lyrics. Some of the lyrics seem to have an actual rhyme scheme and pattern. Amazing considering the cacophony of sound going one while Tom Araya belts out the vocals.
Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman prove again that they are the undisputed thrash gods of guitar. Trading leads and double riffs are a common listen throughout the EP. The riffs presented are edgy, raw, and filled with aggression. A must for thrash.
On the skins we find Dave Lombardo, again showing his prowess for all things thrash. His complex and intense drumming on "Captor Of Sin" and "Haunting The Chapel" in particularly are enough to prove his worth as a drummer of metal music.
It may seem over the top, all this praise about a single four track EP but this is no ordinary EP. This is Slayer. This is true thrash metal.
And what a taste it is. A stepping stone from the sound they pioneered on Show No Mercy and the more vicious sound they’d pioneer on Hell Awaits, Slayer’s Haunting the Chapel is a small slice of extreme metal history that has weathered the passage of time exceptionally well. With its bassier and generally more imposing production and its choice selection of songs, the thrash connoisseur would do well to feature this in their collection: though it’s only three (or four) songs in length, Haunting the Chapel is a top-shelf thrash album and one of the best EPs ever.
Opener “Chemical Warfare” is the heaviest song of 1984. Hands down. So heavy, that I’d go as far to say that death metal pretty much started right here. Dave Lombardo’s powerful, relentless drumming, the devious tremolo-picked guitars, and the maleficent (read: magnificent) guitar soloing were without parallel. Everything that was devastating and merciless about Show No Mercy has been pushed to its logical extreme and there’s no turning back now, unsuspecting listeners. The vocals and lyrics are more aggressive than before and the riffs are as tight as a bombshell on the precipice of detonation. A representative of their mid-paced repertoire, “Captor of Sin” wastes absolutely no time on anything other than kicking ass, lead guitar ablaze from moment one. The riffs and lyrics here are also very indicative of what would come but a year later in much greater volume. However, despite both of these being excellent tracks, it is the title track that stands as THE thrasher of 1984. “Haunting the Chapel” is a masterpiece in all regards. Riff-wise, it starts quicker but the verses epitomize mid-paced thrash riffing. And then it blasts into no-holds-barred destruction, with among the most evil harmonized guitars and solo trade-offs the band has ever done. Lombardo shows no mercy while Araya spits out the first of what would come to be a legion of anti-Christian-themed lyrical odysseys. Together these tracks three represent the peak of Slayer’s material along with the two full-lengths that immediately follow them.
And though it’s not a part of the original EP, most versions you get nowadays will feature a fourth track, “Aggressive Perfector.” This one is the last of the Show No Mercy style thrashers with its catchy chorus and NWOBHM-gone-to-hell style riffage and though not up to the same level as the EP proper, is still a worthy addition to the Slayer catalogue.
If you like the darker side of thrash (and you very well should), you’ll enjoy this. And since it’s far from being out of print, there are no excuses not to enjoy it either.
This short EP followup to Slayer's debut album shows the band compromising nothing. They left most of the melody behind, as well as dumping the in key solos, in favor for a faster, more brutal approach. The solos are wilder, the vocals feature more shouting, the riffs and drumming are faster and the production is much rawer.
Chemical Warfare opens up with some of the fastest Slayer material written. Though Reign in Blood was faster, there wasn't a single song on the album that was this epic. This song easily could have fit on Hell Awaits. Captor of Sin has some very mosh worthy riffs, while Haunting the Chapel boasts one absoloutley insane guitar solo. This type of solo would become a typical Slayer moment, of which many countless bands would copy and use as their own. My copy came with the bonus track Aggressive Perfector, which was off Metal Massacre 3. I'm guessing Metal Blade thought it would be cool to tack this song at the end as a bonus track to show where Slayer came from. If I didnt know better, I would have guessed it was a Venom song, though not nearly as sloppy or poorly produced.
After this, Slayer would continue to increase the quality of their albums with perfect release after perfect release, until the short downfall on Divine Intervention and the plummet to mediocre music after that. But for its time, this was probably the heaviest, fastest slab of vinyl on the planet. Their only competition were death metal kings Possessed, and later on, Kreator and Death.
In short, this is an essential Slayer nugget that belongs in any fan's collection.
Haunting The Chapel is very good for an EP and an introduction to heavier thrash metal but it's a weak follow-up to Show No Mercy, which is a speed/thrash classic in my opinion. Anyway, let's get to the music and the band's performace:
Tom Araya: His bass playing can be heard better here but his voice is not as good as previous Slayer songs. His screams are less, and he sings even faster.
Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King: The guitar team focuses on playing heavier on this album and playing wilder solos which turn out to be very weak compared to the leads on Show No Mercy. But anyway, their rhythm playing is still very tight and precise.
Dave Lombardo: The drummer's performance is still very strong. Here, he throws more fills and his drumming is more varied.
I have a few comments about the songs:
Chemical Warfare: is a straight-forward thrasher which has tons of riffs and a catchy chorus. King's solo is very weak on this track and the song gets a little boring after a while.
Captor Of Sin: the highlight of the album. It might not be as heavy as Chemical Warfare, but it has the exciting speed metal influence similar to some songs on Show No Mercy.
Haunting The Chapel: starts off with a crushing riff, but the song gets very repetitive. The lyrics here are kind of un-inspired too.
Aggressive Perfector: the other highlight of the album! Seriously, this song is perfect in everyway: it's fast, heavy, and the leads are much more creative. Even Tom Araya's singing is perfect.
Bottom Line: Captor Of Sin, and Aggressive Perfector are two of Slayer's best songs which must be heard and Chemical Warfare is a popular Slayer classic. So, I recommend getting this EP.
I screwed up the first time, so this is the review that needs publishing--my bad!
Anyway, this is easily one of the greatest recordings in the history of thrash metal, pure and simple. This pioneering band of Angelenos tore it up but hard and laid the foundation for numerous other bands that followed with this EP, and it is both short and sweet as well as utterly monstrous and brutal as it gets. Any longer and this would have been too much to bear!
"Chemical Warfare": Nuff sed. The guitar tone is one of the most evil and sinister ever recorded, chugging out that delicious chugging open-E string riff (well, E-flat in Slayer's case) that lets you know that you are in T-R-O-U-B-L-E from the get go. The drums kick in alongside the bass, building to a crescendo, then...BAM! That snare hit breaks it up and along comes the storm of riffing! Brilliant lyrics and Araya's vocals snarl and spit them out with vicious contempt, and the soloing is some of the best King & Hannemann ever laid down. The ending is one of the best noisy crashing finales ever, as well, up there with Manowar's "Thor, The Power Head" and "Black Wind, Fire, And Steel".
"Captor Of Sin": Slower and *slightly* more subdued, but one of the ultimate headbanging riffs ever in the verses and chorus. Simple and effective, and when it picks up speed it kills, as you may imagine. Evil Satanic lyrics and more contemptuous snarling from Araya, along with just plain intensity that owns you from start to finish!
"Haunting The Chapel": Aw, yeah!!! Yet another amazing opening riff leading into a turbulent, churning verse, which ultimately leads into--wait for it--MORE relentless thrashing for you to break your neck to! Killer soloing on this track too, and if this track doesn't get your pulse pounding within seconds of beginning, you are dead. That's it, that's all she wrote.
"Aggressive Perfector": Meh, typical early thrash stuff, but still pretty decent anyway by the standards of the time. Good catchy chorus, of all things, on this tune! The intro is overlong, but I'll cut 'em slack for that given the Godliness of the rest of this EP.
Buy this. That's all. Buy this opening torrent of one of the mightiest and most influential bands in American metal's history!!! "Show No Mercy" was an OK debut, but it was this and "Hell Awaits" that got Slayer's ball rolling like a Mack truck back then!
The original three-song release from 1984 was the most brutal thing ever put out, at that point in time. Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood would further stretch the envelope, but it was this EP, and one song specifically, that completely demonstrated the raw violence that thrash metal was capable of.
That song is none other than "Chemical Warfare". This was the logical successor to "Black Magic", which had appeared in the Slayer live setlist in 1983, but was really not all that intense, compared to other stuff that was available by the time Show No Mercy came out in 1984 (the album was delayed for about three months due to record label vagueries, a similar fate would befall Exodus, whose Bonded by Blood album should have totally destroyed all in its path in the summer of '84, but didn't actually arrive until 1985, but that is a completely different story.)
"Chemical Warfare". Lots of riffs. Insane lyrics. Total fucking brutality. The song that inspired everyone from Paul Baloff to Gene Hoglan to be faster, harder, and even more uncompromising than before. Yeah, and lots of quality riffs. There's a section that is Judas Priest's "Steeler", on crack, and about 48 other excellent riffs. There is nothing from '84 that's heavier than this, except maybe "Feel the Fire" from Overkill's second demo or the Possessed debut demo - but as far as actual studio releases go - no competition.
The other two songs, "Captor of Sin" and "Haunting the Chapel" are also very good in their own way - a bit closer to the Show No Mercy sound, though still quite brutal in the guitar tone and riffage. Haunting the Chapel has a similar intro riff to Aggressive Perfector but then goes completely heavy on us, while Captor of Hell is most similar to Die By the Sword with the vicious thrash break, times a million. "Hot... winds of Hell... burn in my way!!!" These two would, given the same production as Show No Mercy, not stick out.
The re-release of this EP includes "Aggressive Perfector", the 1983 version that appeared on Metal Massacre III. A speed metal song that would not have been out of place on Show No Mercy.
I think that there is in fact a version of Show No Mercy out there that has these 4 songs as bonus tracks. You figure out which song sticks out the most. :-)