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Slayer's origin dates back to 1981 when the band was founded by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Tom Araya then joined playing out the parts of bass and vocals. Dave Lombardo decided to join on drums soon thereafter. Their first release "Show no Mercy" was a great debut though it wasn't entirely flawless. But for a debut, it was good enough to convince fans to check them out as a thrash metal outfit. "Hell Awaits", their follow-up release wasn't as good as I expected it to be. People found it to be something that should not miss out on. It just wasn't striking to me. "Reign in Blood", their 3rd full-length album was probably their most solid output for the time. Some of the most brutal speed infected songs are featured here on this release. The album is completely no holds barred form of thrash metal played at it's finest.
As far as the guitar riffs go, they are wholly technical and innovative. Not only that, but they are played with such spell bounding energy. It's really incredible. No track on here is boring or a complete waste. I'm assuming that their main focus here was to achieve a high level of success as far as the songwriting goes. All of the song tempos are totally and astonishingly fast. It's really baffling to the listener. Pure crunch distortion for the guitars that hardly ever seem to let up. I'd consider "Reign in Blood" to be one of the best thrash metal releases in history. The reason that I make this assumption was because all of the songs were spell bounding in intensity. They are all original sounding. Nothing here is copied from anywhere else. Previous releases showed their potential and here on "Reign in Blood" is where they shined their most.
"Angel of Death", their first song on here begins with a totally fast technical riff which gives the listener an idea of how the rest of the album will sound. It's one of the longest songs on here but is in no way lacking in originality. The tempos varied on every song though for the most part they were all very fast. The E-flat tuned guitars punch out some mind boggling riffs and other songs were in more brief moderate speeds. Musically speaking, Slayer demonstrates on here that they were not a force to be reckoned with. No real melodic songs are featured only pure deafening thrash metal. Really brutal and Araya's vocals mesh well together with the guitars. His outputs feature shrieking screams during some tracks and others that are way fast. A good example of the fast vocal output would be for the song "Necrophobic."
Aside from the crunch festered guitars, the bass is somewhat audible and Lombardo's drum outputs were solid. He keeps up the pace for each song and so does Araya's bass guitar playing. Tracks that were also notable besides "Angel of Death" would be "Piece by Piece", "Reborn", "Jesus Saves" and "Raining Blood." Slayer exonerates unique songwriting capabilities here as a 4-some band. They definitely matured as an uncompromising thrash metal band. Their previous 2 releases gave their audience potential as a band. "Reign in Blood" successfully fulfills that potential much more so then other thrash metal bands back in the 1980's.
The lead guitar pieces by Hanneman and King are way technical here. It's difficult to tell the difference between the 2 guitarists. The only way really is to view the insert that accompanies the CD. Though Hanneman said in the past that they show this so that people don't think that his solos are King's. They both show real talent however and the other band members are also very well versed. Araya's vocals/bass guitar playing is quite up to par with his fellow band mates. Lombardo definitely does a great job on drums keeping up in time with the guitar riffs. Probably their most technical release to date, "Reign in Blood" defines the way thrash metal should be played. That would be in a totally hardcore fashion. Production and mixing was really done well. Each instrument was blended together to form a strong and awesomely founded release. The rhythm/lead guitar, bass and drums were fit in together. This was what lacked from their previous 2 full-length albums. Rick Rubin did a great job here working alongside the band to enhance their studio efforts.
Lyrically speaking, Slayer's Satanic and anti-religion topics form the bulk of the songwriting. Their whole lyrical approach is a gimmick anyway. They aren't Satanists even though they chose for this release and prior 2 to talk of these topics. However, it blends well with the music. They wanted to keep that "underground" approach I suppose. Their previous albums also reflect this Satanic worship sort of style to their songs. They shouldn't throw the listener off because "Reign in Blood" is such a classic release from the band. Thrash metal isn't played much finer than this. The original album doesn't feature any cover songs here. It's good that they're entirely originals. This shows what talent the band has entirely.
Even though this was Slayer's 3rd full-length album, it sure shows a lot of maturity from a musical standpoint. Other bands such as Exodus and early Metallica showed their talent as well though Slayer never decided to give up their thrash metal roots. With "Reign in Blood", we see them to be playing at their finest. Pure originality, brutality and uncompromising thrash metal. Very intense album. They didn't wish to cash in and put out something that would sell out like Metallica did. People that wish to hear uncompromising thrash metal that's totally original, pick up "Reign in Blood." You won't be disappointed. It's a total personification of how thrash metal should be played.