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This album is underrated. There will never be sufficient praise bestowed upon Slayer’s work in order to qualify into a justifiable amount. Reign in Blood is a remarkable achievement, and it will always stand as a mighty monument before which all other bands, except Judas Priest, must simply kneel down and admire. This is, so far without a doubt, the greatest thrash album of all time, and one of the greatest accomplishments in all of metal.
Before I get to describing how much this album rules I must confess that I despise the naysayers. Those unsatisfied blokes whom claim that this album is “not that great” or “overrated”. Well fuck you. All I can say is that you assholes have got it all wrong. This album is more than just “fast speed” or “brutality” or even “shock value”. The music featured here captivates something beyond the tangible and the comprehensible. Listening to this with the mindset of wanting to hear “cool riffs” or “brutal songs” or even something resembling memorability will yield undesirable results. On Reign in Blood, Slayer have captivated the very essence of what makes life worth living: conflict. The struggle that brings that glorious sensation of victory is found here in its purest form on Reign in Blood.
Now prepare to have your epidermis sanded off; your bones cracked and shattered; your bowels viciously removed and every part of your body melted into liquid shit. This is the most supreme, ball-busting, gut-punching, bone crushing and amazingly awesome and intense thrash metal album ever created.
First and foremost, the riffs. There is absolutely nothing to complain about. Some might cry and whine about how they are not memorable or catchy and what not, but that’s not the point. Every riff is simply overflowing with powerful and violent urgency. Chromatic notes blend together to for a vast array of atonal harmonies. Aggressive melodies swirl around a sonic landscape filled with abysmal lava and surging water; locked forever in constant struggle. Every note of every riff is sequenced to create tremendous amounts of colorful contrast. The contrast may not initially leap out at first, but it slowly reveals itself after repeated listens. The contrast certainly does ,however, paint a vivid and beautiful picture of every type of conflict the mind can possibly think of. There is just no end to the vivid images conjured by such incredible guitar riffing. Not to mention the outrageous guitar solos.
Speaking of which, the solos are far more cleverly arranged than most people realize. Sure, they are indeed a mish mash of random notes selected from the Satan scale. Yet, somehow Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King manage to make sense out of such insane chaos. The solos themselves travel through the same rise and fall tension of an entire song. It’s safe to say that Slayer is good at making coherency out of chaos.
This concept is also reflected in the ultra intense songwriting. Just listen to the naysayers now: “It feels incomplete” or “It’s underdeveloped”. Well, what the hell do they fucking want? Do they want a catchy chorus, or a memorable verse? Well there isn’t any here! If you’re looking for a sing-along complete with plastic hooks, try the pop band Pantera! As far as the songwriting goes, it’s indeed among the best. Possibly Slayer’s best. On Reign in Blood, Slayer exhibited a willingness to descend into absurd extremities most bands are afraid of venturing into. The songwriting is triumphant not because it’s catchy or memorable or any of the sort. Indeed, the beauty of each song is derived from their ability to change tempo, texture, and feel in one abrupt and violent motion. Such instantaneous alterations occur frequently; often too fast for any unprepared listener to fully grasp. The melodies and differences between each composition are quite subtle, and often obscured by the unquenchable thirst for blood. But lo and behold they will be noticeable after many listens. The pace and direction will change without warning, and yet, Slayer manage to form a visible structure out of such madness. In the hands of any lesser bands, the structure would have simply crumbled into insignificant pieces. In the hands of Slayer, it transforms into and elegant skyscraper; towering above the landscape and dwarfing all other buildings.
Reign in Blood is a brilliant work of art when standing on its own. However, the influence it hath wrought is not to be ignored. It is indeed, quite simply, one of the most influential metal albums of all time. That fact alone elevates its importance. The convoluted style of songwriting feature here would be mimicked by copious amounts of death metal bands including, Morbid Angel, Deicide, At the Gates, Atheist, Crimson Massacre and countless others. Such mind maddening intense songwriting was not done by any other bands prior to or at the time this album was released. Not Kreator, Metallica, Megadeth and certainly not Dark Angel. It’s safe to say that Slayer may have single handedly changed the face of metal.
Ultimately, what makes Reign in Blood such a bold triumph is its garish disregard for all life. The ridiculous Christian derived concept of “sanctity of life” is whole heartedly rejected. It cares not for whatever pathetic life forms that stand in the way. Most importantly however, it does not try to impress anyone. Unlike Dark Angel, whom were busy trying to impress mindless head bangers and pseudo-intellectuals alike, it does not WANT to be liked. It does not WANT to be enjoyed. It has absolutely no intentions of satisfying a bunch of metal heads or snobby intellectuals. Reign in Blood almost seems to reflect the continuity of our chaotic universe. It is not good nor evil or anything. It just simply IS.
Reign in Blood is ,quite frankly, the most breathtakingly beautiful collection of metal songs ever known to humanity. It represents everything metal should be. It is an unsurpassable work of art which must be the envy of all other bands. The only possible exception is of course, Sad Wings of Destiny from the mighty Judas Priest. But let’s save that for another review. Meanwhile, we shall leave in awe of such an eloquent musical masterwork. Hail Slayer! And the highest praise goes Reign in Blood, the most supreme and inspirational thrash album of all time!