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Alright seriously, some people need to relax with this album! This album is far from perfect and I can mention a handful of other bands that have the magnum opus thrash album in their discography. This album is 30 minutes long and has the same thing in every song: fast palm mutes and soloing that has a wah pedal and is unorganized with no bounds to any guitar scales. I love Slayer and this is an album that sparks interest in the speed/thrash metal genre, but it is not their best. Sure, it is their fastest and most brutal album, but it doesn’t compete with some of their albums that I will mention at the conclusion of my review.
The first track, “Angel of Death”, with the opening scream by the banshee Tom Araya is the best song on the album. The band is playing fast and is not just palm muting guitar riffs, but instead are playing power chords and sliding up and down the guitar neck. The bridge of the song is catchy, especially when they slow it down and regain their speed through the vocal lines. Then we get to the solos and the song just falls apart. The solo is terrible, like most Slayer solos are, but the riffs under the guitar solo are fast and Teutonic. The lyrics in this song are violent and malicious, making it the best song on the album.
"Piece by Piece” and “Necrophobic” are very short songs, but are fast and have no dry segments except the soloing. I like the bridge in “Piece by Piece” at 1:29 where the vocals are rapid fire and the guitar notes are rung out to give it a doom-like aura. This song does not have a guitar solo, which is why it is one of the better songs on the album. The opening riff and transitional riff in “Necrophobic” is killer and the song is one of Slayer’s fastest songs, especially after the guitar solo.
"Altar of Sacrifice” is, in my opinion, the weakest song on the album. The intro is spectacular with quick strikes of the individual notes. I like the vocal lines with the underlying guitar riff. However, this song has far too many uninspiring guitar solos that rely on the wah-pedal with no nexus to guitar scales. By the end of the song you have lost all interest in the song. Like “Altar of Sacrifice”, “Jesus Saves” is, in contrast, very similar. So what you will get in this song is an excellent mid-paced intro until 1:05 when the band goes on a blitz with speed. We get 3 different solos in this under 3 minute song and, yes, they all suck and do you want to guess what is under the guitar solos? If you guessed fast palm mutes, you are correct!
"Criminally Insane” has some cool guitar riffs that have sliding power chords during the verses and the bridge is appealing. “Reborn” is a fast and “in your face” song. “Epidemic” has excellent fast slide guitar riffs with fast hammer-ons and pull-offs between the verses and a vintage Tom Araya scream. These songs are all around 2 minutes and are above average, but feature the awful Slayer guitar solos: fast guitar picking with the wah pedal.
"Postmortem” is my favorite song on this album and is underrated Slayer song. The song is mid-paced for the first two verses, we are able to comprehend what Tom is saying during his vocal line and the scream at 1:45 is one of best screams in the Tom Araya archives. At 2:15 the band picks the speed up and at 2:47 the band goes on a frenzy with fast guitar riffs and a memorable last verse that will make you want to split your neck. Oh by the way, no solos in this song (thank God).
What more can I say about the last song “Raining Blood?” This is one of the most jaw-dropping songs in heavy metal. With a storm in the intro and the dual guitars harmonizing that later go berserk with speed into the verses, what is there not to like? The verses are power chords with coherent vocal lines. The bridge is reminiscent of the beginning with the harmonies produced by the guitar. At 2:49 all hell is let loose and the band produces the sickest sound in heavy metal with fast palm mutes and screaming guitars that sound like you are getting your teeth drilled. A little strange and bizarre that a thrash album would exit with ambiance of rainfall; but I guess the album is called “Reign in Blood.”
In conclusion, this album is spectacular, but not perfect. This is not Slayer’s best album. I would recommend “Show No Mercy” or “Hell Awaits” because they actually seem like real official albums. “Hell Awaits” has an aura of being an epic album with an enigmatic and sanguine vibe. “Show No Mercy” is my favorite because each song has a different structure and the guitar riffs are a grab bag. “South of Heaven” and “Seasons of the Abyss” are also damn good albums. “Reign in Blood” has good characteristics of a thrash/speed metal and I won’t get into that because anyone who listens to metal has this album. The one thing that makes this far from a perfect album is the terrible guitar soloing as they all sound the same after a while. It’s not even music after awhile, just noise. Also, the fast palm mutes underlying the solos are abysmal throughout most of the album. This album is a colossal inspiration to thrash/speed metal and to me as well. I am not degrading Slayer, but this album is not as inspiring as their aforementioned albums and the killer EP “Haunting the Chapel.” Here is the break own of each song on the album:
Angel of Death: 9/10
Piece by Piece: 9/10
Altar of Sacrifice: 6/10
Jesus Saves: 7/10
Criminally Insane: 7/10
Raining Blood 9/10
Total = 80%