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1986 was a pretty sweet year for thrash metal. “Pleasure to Kill”, “Game Over”, “Peace Sells”, “Master of Puppets”, to name a few. And of course, “Reign in Blood”.
Well as soon as is starts, you know you’re listening to Slayer. “Angel of Death” has one of the most recognizable screams in metal history and is just a great song from beginning to end. Several things have improved from “Hell Awaits”, the production has improved. The guitars are much thicker and heavier but are still not up the same production level as Megadeth or Metallica; but for how fast this album is the guitar works pretty well. The drums sound awesome. The bass is meh…you almost never hear it. Tom’s vocals sound pretty much the same as he did on “Hell Awaits” which is not a bad thing at all.
Song writing has not improved though. Hell Awaits just flat out had better riffs. Some of the songs on here deliver at the same level as “Hell Awaits” but some of the others just serve as fillers. “Altars of Sacrifice” is a song that doesn’t get enough praise in my opinion, I think it’s amazing. “Jesus Saves” starts out with an awesome riff but then just falls flat. Yes, it’s fast and chaotic but it just doesn’t stick in my head. “Necrophobic” is one of those songs that Slayer had to make just to show how fast they could play and oh my god do they play it fast. “Postmortem” is another song that is memorable and one of my favorites. It has an awesome riff but also has the speed that I love. “Reborn” is completely forgettable along with, “Jesus Saves” and “Piece by Piece”. Pretty much all the other songs are pretty memorable and are just awesome. Dave Lombardo is one crazy drummer. His fills are unbelievable at some points and his double bass is amazing. I just wish Kerry Kind and Jeff would step it up a little like they have on the later albums.
Now I have to discuss something that I always read about when I read Slayer reviews. The solos. These solos could be taken two different ways. Terrible solos that contribute nothing to the song or terrible solos that actually help the song because of how fast the songs are. I look at them as terrible for the most part but they do fit the song. Pretty much random solos that can get old very fast especially when there are multiple solos in a song (most of the songs).
This is a very good album but I crave more variety. For 1986, you couldn’t get much faster though and for that I really enjoy this album. The songs are good but some fall flat. Still one of Slayer’s best though, I would definitely recommend this.
Best tracks – “Altar of Sacrifice”, “Postmortem”, and “Angel of Death”