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The GOAT - 100%

VictimOfScience, September 13th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, American Recordings (Reissue, Remastered, Expanded edition)

The title of this can be understood in several ways. For one, the genuinely horrifying and blood-freezing album cover of this record is crowned with the goat-like devil on a throne, that's being carried by some evil forces. Another meaning of the title is an abbreviation for "The Greatest of All Time", and I am not just joking. I give 100% to a lot of different thrash albums, because for me, the ones that get a perfect score all took me to an alternate reality, and show me heights of metal music I have never experienced before. Each perfect album in its own way. However, if I was to only give one single 100%, in the entire genre of thrash metal, this would be it right here. No doubts, no questions.

Since the evil and hellish Hell Awaits, Slayer decided to take yet another dive deep down into hell, but go even more extreme. Go even deeper, go faster, go harder, go in more detail. The result is absolutely breathtaking. It is simply the most devastating, most explosive, most hateful, gory dose of lethal thrash metal that ever saw the face of this Earth. The record is simply unable to ease up from suffocating the listener as powerfully as possible and throwing the listener into a whirlwind after whirlwind. Simply, there are no breaks from the unrelenting demolition. The opener "Angel of Death" already rips your head off with its cutting riffs and brutal tempo, but the album just gets more and more insane and brutal. The songs get faster, and faster, and even faster than the last one, and more chaotic, and harsher. As you progress through the record, the deeper you get into hell.

It is very hard to describe the music on this record. Slayer is so dear for a lot of metalheads because no band has been more successful at describing the suffering of souls, and demonstrating what it's like to mentally suffer in great pain. They managed to put those things in the form of music. Jeff Hanneman's and Kerry King's riffs are just mindblowing, and contrarily to popular belief, they are extremely difficult. Maybe not when you copy them off a tab, but to come up with these riffs, perfectly match them to the theme, follow them up with the next highly coherent riff that serves the same purpose as the previous one but sounds different... Try it one time, if you think it's that simple. This is some of the most devastating guitar work in history. The riffs are evil and remain very deep and dark throughout the entire record. They are meaningful and truly tell a story, along with the guitar leads. In this case, the guitar solos shouldn't be taken as regular guitar solos. They should be considered as one component of the whole mix, but not anything that on its own, will go anywhere. I understand that this is why people hate on Slayer's guitar solos, but that's okay. There is a learning curve involved in enjoying the highest levels of thrash metal music, and looking at the size of the Slayer fanbase, some people went through it already.

Let's not forget the unforgettable performances of the balance of the band either. Dave Lombardo really shows why he is considered to be the best thrash metal drummer of all time by many. His fills are just extremely well-placed and rich, his double-bass technique is of course God-like, and his hi-hat is constantly crushing, there is no idling when it comes to Dave Lombardo. Tom Araya has been always providing an at least okay performance since the beginning of Slayer, so he also doesn't disappoint on this record, either. His vocals on this record are unbelievably masterful. He doesn't go overboard, he isn't high-pitched, he is also not growling, this is the gold standard of thrash metal vocals. Everyone on this record has given the greatest performance of their lives, and they easily blow away any thrash metal album in existence with their unrelenting aggression and brutality, which at the end of the day, are what thrash metal is all about.

What can you say about this record... It is not surprising that some people don't like it, because Slayer made a very divisive decision by cutting down the song lengths, dedicating the entire album to gore, darkness, evil, and all the rest. Clearly, not everyone wanted this. However, I am opened to most things a band wants to do if it fits their genre, and man did this attempt exceed all thrash efforts in history... It sure did, and no band has ever been able to even get close to the intensity, to the musical violence, to the brutal destruction that this record is able to provide in about 7-8 minutes already. People are simply unable to get on this level, and they all sound less catchy, less eager to kill everything, less lethal than Slayer here on Reign in Blood. It sounds as if someone looked at thrash metal as a genre, took everything he knew about it, and squeezed it into 28 minutes of pure madness. The greatest creation of our kind in this style of music.