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Three unstoppable juggernauts - 97%

Gutterscream, April 21st, 2011
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Metal Blade Records

“…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...just deflects off its impregnable field that's 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, then 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 with 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 the socks off 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.