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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.

On anger, spectacle, and why you don't get it - 80%

Gas_Snake, June 26th, 2021

I'm going to be honest with you: There is no way for me to begin this review in any ordinary, clinical fashion, because this is Reign In Fucking Blood. The overwhelming majority of you already know what it is, what it sounds like, and why you all love or hate it. To describe specific elements of its sound in a vacuum is futile, because countless others have done so already in far greater detail than anything I can muster. This is more about the hows and whys of what it accomplished and the way it is perceived by new and old fans alike.

The things that its detractors commonly perceive as flaws (hardcore influences, short songs, little emphasis on memorability, e.t.c.) are simply a means to an end. The impact of this album is not owed merely to the things it has going for it, but rather to how it uses those things to accomplish something that has never been done before, and, to my knowledge, has not been successfully imitated since. You see, Reign In Blood is not a herald of death, Satan, abstract expressions, Nazi atrocities or even riff mastery, but pure, distilled ANGER. Though it's not outwardly visible, it's stunning just how many elements of its sound are ideal for expressing vitriol in maximum qualities and quantities. If Slayer's intent was to go against all established conventions and make a grand statement of "FUCK YOU!" that would make all fellow punks and thrashers quake in their boots, then mission accomplished. Without a doubt, I can call this the most contrarian metal album ever made - a fitting title considering the numerous contrarian opinions it has attracted due to the abrasive nature of its surface level elements.

Before I continue, I would like to highlight a little something that I will call "spectacle". "Spectacle", simply put, is anything that goes out of its way to stand out, to immediately catch your attention and express itself in a way that makes you drawn to those surface level elements. A catchy hook or melody that you will remember for days to come? That's spectacle. An elaborate build-up or epic song structure that aims to highlight its grandiosity in order to stand out? That's also spectacle. A dazzling display of technical skill? Spectacle. Even the carnal joy of DEM RIFFS that is arguably the main reason for our love of thrash is something that could also be called spectacle.

The point I'm trying to make is that while metal is something that normally lives and breathes spectacle, it's alarming that Reign In Blood, at least in its deeper cuts, actually relies on it very little. This is what I assume to be the reason why it's often misunderstood and lambasted by less experienced metal fans. Aside from the commonly excused "Angel Of Death" and "Raining Blood", the other songs don't have anything that immediately sticks out. This is why they they restrict their praises to those two tracks and why they say Hell Awaits is a better album - because those tracks are the ones that still largely rely on spectacle to get their point across. They're the ones that have badass thrash breaks, mosh riffs and screams of terror that are made to immediately impress, just the same as most conventional metal albums. Here, though, they are not the norm, but the exception. Spectacle is normally a very good thing, but Slayer's goal here is to express the fullest, most genuine anger that they possibly can. So, to achieve this, they choose to stick only to the bare minimum of spectacle, so as to focus fully on expressing vitriol.

This is fully evident in basically any songs on here that aren't the opening and closing track. Songs are structured similarly to a lot of hardcore punk and crossover thrash, with the anger being separated into short, intense bursts. Tempo changes are very few in number, and the few that are present serve mainly to enhance the flow of the songs while losing none of their anger. Riffs come and go while wasting the least amount of time possible. Solos are atonal and chaotic, signaling an absolute loss of emotional control, serving as the boiling point of Slayer's unholy hatred. Tom Araya's vocals and lyrics are the angriest, fastest and most shocking that they've ever been. Taking all of this into account, it's not unreasonable to look at Reign In Blood as a crossover thrash album, and in that case, it easily leaves all notable works in that style in the dust by virtue of excising everything save for the punk-fueled essence of anger, then turning up the musical and lyrical intensity to previously unheard levels. I know I'm restating what I just said here, but seriously, take any random Nuclear Assault or D.R.I. song you happen to be in love with. Now take "Criminally Insane". The way how one of these is the logical endpoint of another is nothing short of astounding, and even among the more extreme forms of metal I struggle to find anything that comes anywhere close to this level of HATE through pure musical expression.

Of course, the production must also be mentioned, because someone (either their producer or sound engineer) must have realized exactly what they were going for. This dry, raw, reverbless sound that the album is so known for is a perfect fit for Slayer's intentions of pure, distilled violence. It specifically avoids adding any embellishments to what is already in place. It doesn't embrace our primal, barbaric instincts like "Pleasure To Kill". It doesn't aim to create a grandiose spectacle of evil riffing dominance like "Darkness Descends". It doesn't outwardly scream Sindel-style into your eardrums while dipping them in a pool of lava like Destruction's "The Antichrist". It just strips that anger down to its core, and makes it so that you're not meant to focus on the superficial qualities of the music, demanding to be treated more as this obscene, abstract, larger-than-life THING and less as a normal metal album.

When rating the songs by how well they embody pure hatred, the highlights are actually among these middle tracks, because they are the best at focusing on violence while stripping away any distractions. MVP awards go to "Altar Of Sacrifice" and "Criminally Insane". These two songs get down to business immediately, while boasting riffs that somehow manage to achieve both absolute anger and absolute memorability without even relying on spectacle, topped off with Araya's most venomous vocal displays and lyrics that truly focus only on anger above all else. On the other hand, the more flawed tracks from this approach are actually the most "normal" ones - "Angel Of Death" and "Raining Blood". The music and lyrics on those tracks just doesn't share a common goal of embodying pure anger with the rest of the tracks. The music and lyrics are still focused mostly on sticking in your head and making an impression. Still great songs, but they could've benefited from being more balls-to-the-wall FURIOUS while stripping any sense of grandeur that they actually have.

I also have to single out "Epidemic" for... not really being any of those things I just listed. When compared to any other tracks here, it's not all that fast, violent, or even catchy, and I'm inclined to call this the weakest track on the album. However, because of this, it momentarily returns you back to reality, and at the perfect moment, unleashes a thrash break that honestly obliterates "Angel Of Death", a brief precious few seconds of ear candy and headbanging - one brief moment of relative sanity before the assault resumes. This is yet another testament to just how much effort and focus went into making so many parts of this album embody anger in such an effective way. Even the weakest part of the album still fulfills a purpose, and is crucial to the album's pacing, meaning that the album wouldn't be complete without it.

To conclude, I would like to give a tip to basically anyone who wrote a negative review of this album. To those of you who find it to be an unmemorable mess: you're listening to the wrong album. You're treating this like a normal thrash album, expecting to find hooks and riffs and melodies at every corner. Don't treat this like a normal thrash album - there's already plenty of those worth hearing, including at least four from the same gentlemen that gave you THIS. Treat this like Reign In Fucking Blood - an inimitatable, unmatched expression not of brutality, not of superficial elements like riffs, but of pure sonic malice. I was once like you, unable to comprehend just what people love about it, but I wrote this after I looked at it differently. You see that number at the top? That's a rough representation of how much I enjoy it, and for all of the things it doesn't quite get right, this is still the lowest I can possibly rate it in good conscience. It's fucking great, because it did what no one else dared to do, and it did it well. Thank you for reading.

This is the "Be all, end all" of thrash? - 45%

Ziomaletto, May 16th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Def Jam Recordings

All right, no jokes here, only my honest opinion. I've always had problem with Slayer. I can count up a lot of thrash metal bands which work is more consistent and way more engaging than the mindless whiplash this particular quartet is known for. I think bands like Dark Angel, Kreator, Overkill and Onslaught are much better when it comes to subject of relentless speed. However, they also remember to incorporate actual melody into the mix, making the speed actually mean something. Well, Slayer too understand the idea of melody, as seen with basically any other classic album, which mix their trademark aggression with melodic interludes. Which is why I don't understand why 'Reign in Blood' seem to disregard all of this.

I should start with positives first. 'Angel of Death' became one of the best Slayer's songs, and for good reasons. While it's beginning and ending are pretty damn fast, it's the middle section that makes this song so engaging. Listening to it every time I can't wait to hear the riff that begins the bridge. And Dave Lombardo is shining here, not only because of insane double pedaling, but also due to him setting the proper groove for this slowdown. The only downside are the solos. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King were never great guitarist, and while their riffs can be strong, their soloing is, from here on out, very forced and shallow. Jeff sometime managed to came up with something more interesting, like in 'Dead Skin Mask', or 'Seasons in the Abyss' (the song), but Kerry seems to never improve over his very basic skills. You could probably tell his solos if you isolated his tracks, but you could never tell from which song it is. You could probably do that for Hanneman's leads, but King just sticks to the same pattern of playing random notes without any thought behind it. It's just annoying.

Two other highlights are, no suprise, 'Postmortem' and 'Raining Blood'. 'Postmortem' in its entirety is a build-up to the final song, and I love how it progressively gets faster and faster, until the explosion of energy in its last 40 seconds, which later turns into introduction of 'Raining Blood'. The finale itself has an iconic riff and is solid overall. It builds up the atmosphere to the classic double-bass mayhem, but it also slow down again and makes another buildup for another fast section. That's cool, I wonder where they go next... Wait, it ends already? They didn't even evolved the solos past some random noises and they just cut it and put some rain effect? Really? It's like they had a great idea for an epic 6/7 minute thrasher, but after 3 minutes they run out of ideas and maybe they had no time to finish the album. Judging by other songs, I wouldn't be suprised if that was the case.

And let that serve as a metaphor for the rest of this album. All the three songs are great, because they take their time to build-up to the rampage. However, everything else doesn't hold a candle to those three songs. The likes of 'Necrophobic' and 'Altar of Sacrifice' are like those overhyped kids that can't sit in their place for 5 minutes and have to start the rampage straight away. And because they only last for 2 minutes or less, you won't remember anything after listening to them. I mean, somehow I can still remember the chorus for 'Pride in Prejudice' and I haven't heard that song in 3 years or so, but I can't recall anything from 'Necrophobic' even though I just finished this album. At least 'Altar' has a memorable beginning riff. Meanwhile 'Reborn' and 'Epidemic' has nothing interesting about them. It also doesn't help when the drumming in each of those song just sound the same.

Two songs seem to actually has something going for them. 'Jesus Saves' and 'Criminally Insane' are a bit more complex than the usual RiB whiplash. But... it doesn't work well. 'Jesus Saves' ends up being underwhelming, because the second part of the song has basically nothing to do with its first part. It's a slow build-up towards a fast hitting song, but the riffs from beginning never come back again. Once it enters full force - it just stays in it. 'Criminally Insane' has a great intro and it's probably the closest to be a finished song. It definitely needed some polish and more delevopment, probably closer to what 'Beauty Through Order' is, just, you know... without being lame like its younger brother.

I seriously have hard time following how this underdeveloped piece of music became such a classic, a 'masterpiece' even. Yeah, it's definitely the fastest music of 1986. Unless you've heard Dark Angel. Honestly, aside from drumming (cause Hoglan and Lombardo are equally badass), 'Darkness Descends' is what 'Reign in Blood' should be. Sure, it's also kind of fast and mindless at times, but Dark Angel at least took its time to make a build-up to this rampage. Either 'Darkness Descends' (the song) or most recognizable 'Merciless Death' don't just start up fast. And when some song start up fast, like 'Burning of Sodom' they have some great riffing to back it up. Something I can't say about shit like 'Necrophobic' or 'Jesus Saves'.

And it sucks, because there IS a lot of potential in those songs. But they often tend to just end abruptly, leaving listener with feeling "The hell was that one about?". If you want to "get" into Slayer's music, then yeah, it's important to know it. But not for the reasons fanboys want you to believe. This should've been either polished with a package of new riffs, or just released as an EP with 'Angel', 'Postmortem', 'Raining' and 'Criminally'. It would work much better, and then I could actually understand high ratings it received.

Something came to mind recently, regarding this record as I was listening to Exodus' 'Bonded by Blood'. Probably the best metaphor for this album would be the same way modern Mortal Kombat treats violence. As a shallow spectacle, to appear "cool" and "extreme" - "LOL, this guy shreds the other's guy skin off!". Remember the times when Liu Kang as a shaolin monk used to not have brutal fatalities 'cause it was against his code? And it was a suprisingly well defined concept to convey his personality. Well, people thought it was lame and now this SHAOLIN MONK is as bloodthirsty as everyone else. Same goes for this album, all this speed is just a shallow spectacle that only proves how fast Slayer can play, but also dumbs down the songs to simple "220 bpm" gimmick, appealing only to people that think thrash should only be fast and aggressive.

The more I think about 'Reign in Blood', the more reasons I find to dislike this. It's not even "most aggressive album ever" if you've heard more than 5 bands in your life and chances were one of them was Exodus and their 'Bonded by Blood' released in 1985. That one reeks of pure violence, hatred and aggression, while being packed with actually great songs. Why would anyone wanted to listen to 'Altar of Sacrifice', 'Reborn' or 'Jesus Saves' over 'A Lesson in Violence' is beyond me. Even it's production is much better. Less overproduced at least, that's for sure. Previous Slayer's album was also primitive, violent, but also dark, eerie. 'Hell Awaits' sucks you in with its hellish atmosphere. Meanwhile, 'Reign in Blood' lacks even that - any sort of atmosphere, that would make me want to think about coming back to this album.

A good advice - you want a mindless rampage in form of music? Look up any grindcore band. And keep that shit away from thrash.

A hipster’s worst nightmare, a true metalhead’s paradise - 100%

EnvenomedThunder666, November 23rd, 2020

In the series of me ranting about how much I love metal, we have arrived at the classic album that started the hell raising in my putrid mind. Slayer is definitely the most important band for me when it came to getting into metal and they will always be one of my favorite bands of all time. I’m an absolute Slayer geek and it’s pretty clear. My nostalgia for this album and Slayer in general is far too extensive to fit into one paragraph, but I’ll put it all as bluntly as possible. Out of the many metal albums that have influenced me as a musician and a songwriter over the years, Reign In Blood is by far the album that has stuck with me for the longest time. I still vividly remember the first time my young ears heard Tom’s iconic “Angel Of Death” screech and being absolutely blown away. I had heard Metallica before Slayer as a kid, but Slayer are who really proved to me that metal was something that I was gonna be into for a long time. Slayer at that time felt like a freight train filled with napalm hit my ears at 1000 miles per hour. Tom’s deliverance of “ENTER TO THE REALM OF SATAN!” on Altar Of Sacrifice proved to my 12-year-old brain that you can make such a basic line sound so devastating. Not to mention nailing “Raining Blood” back on Guitar Hero 3 for the first time was one of the most satisfying feelings of my life. With nostalgia covered, I present to all of you wonderful folks an essay on why Reign In Blood is in fact NOT overrated, from the ashes of my repulsion filled soul.

Songwriting and song structural wise, Reign In Blood never ceases to satisfy me. Right off the bat, “Angel Of Death”, the controversial and brutally honest tale of the holocaust, begins the lyrical massacre with a fistful of steel. I really love how a lot of the songs on the album feel incomplete from one another, especially the infamous combo of “Postmortem” and “Raining Blood” as well as the bludgeoning combo of blows to all that is holy “Altar Of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves”, because it forces everyone to listen to the entire album if they want to get the full experience. Jeff and Kerry have absolutely phenomenal chemistry and they are both great songwriters who have their own style of writing haunting lyrics. Jeff specializes on the gritty war and social lyrics, while Kerry specializes on the horror fantasies and anti-christian songs. “Piece By Piece” is a fine example of how well Kerry specializes in the gore obsessed lyrical content approach, and his riffs are bone crushingly fast in addition. Despite the song only being 2 minutes long, not a second is wasted in ripping everyone’s fucking head off. The same applies to the following track "Necrophobic". “Altar Of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves” are a menacing combo of hostility, the first song obviously being a satanic anthem and the latter being a devastating blow to all that is holy. The following track “Criminally Insane” is a first person story about a serial killer: “Epidemic” is self-explanatory, and you could even argue that Slayer predicted 2020 with the song. “Postmortem” is a song once again spoken in first person, this time however about dying, and what the afterlife has in store for the deceased soul. And of course, I shall not rant about Slayer and not talk about the band’s most career defining and most popular song, “Raining Blood”. Everyone who’s ever listened to metal in their life knows this song, but not too many people look at it in-depth from start to finish. Written musically by Jeff and lyrically by Kerry, the song is an antichristian barrage of terror, telling a fantasized story about a genocide of a group of souls who are in a purgatory, and it finalizes on it’s aftermath. Tom’s performance on the album closing line “Raining blood from a lacerated sky, breeding its horror, creating my structure, now I shall reign in blood!” pretty much sums up what Slayer as a band are all about in just one sentence. They take no prisoners and slay anything in their path.

There’s no doubt that there’s plenty of high-speed, razor-sharp aggressive instrumentation all throughout this monstrosity. The guitar solos are infamously messy and over the top fast, but in my opinion they fit the chaotic tone of the albums perfectly, and the iconic and super headbang-able thrashing riffs totally make up for the sloppiness of the solos. Some of the solos actually serve a good purpose in addition to the madness, especially on “Criminally Insane” where the solo turns into demented whammy bar madness towards the end. No matter what all the annoying contrarian hipster “metalheads” try to say I’ll always back that up. And of course, Dave Lombardo is one of the best fucking drummers of all time and this album shows what he is capable of. So many rapid fire machine gun skank beats and double bass blasting is present and the fills make the already insanely over the top songs even more crushingly intense. The previously mentioned dual track musical piece of carnage “Postmortem” and “Raining Blood” is where the tempos become less predictable and the songs get slightly longer, but the furious attitude and catchy riffs remain in prominence. Hell, “Raining Blood” contains arguably the most recognize-able metal riff ever written.

You may be asking yourself “why on earth are you reviewing Reign In Blood, everyone and their grandma has reviewed Slayer before! Why don’t you review *insert crappy obscure black metal album or awful contrarian worshipped album here* instead?” which is a question I often get from imbecilc contrarians who think liking Limp Bizkit makes their taste free from pretentiousness. The answer is simply the fact there’s still so much to talk about that most metalheads would either willingly ignore or try to debunk, despite all that has already been covered about this classic. Besides, I would rather review a timeless masterpiece with tons of coverage then an abysmal fluke with no coverage any day of the week.

“Oh my god Slayer is so overrated bro Infant Annihilator and Signs Of The Swarm and *insert awful generic overproduced slam band here* are so much heavier and betterrrr!!!!111” Well, sorry to break it to you, inexperienced deathcore kid with a lack of functioning brain cells and an extraordinarily underdeveloped taste, but pig squealing and generic chugging riffs with obviously programmed and overproduced production with horribly pretentious and cringeworthy lyrics does NOT translate to heavy music, LET ALONE quality music. You wanna know what defines quality music? Superb and impactful songwriting, razor-sharp yet intense and aggressive musicianship, catchy riffs, verses, and choruses, memorable songs that keep you coming back after each listen, which ends up creating a replay value that’s through the roof high. Try listening to music that isn’t made by computers for once in your life and you’ll learn to appreciate rawness.

“All slayer songs are just random fast notes being played super fast” sure thing, ignorant thrash kid who endlessly worships Anthrax and Vio-lence as if their music is anything more than painfully dull and generic thrash that you only talk about because your self-righteous contrarian mind doesn’t want to appreciate bands that are highly beloved and respected. You can’t handle music that never slows down or loses it’s intensity? Then go listen to the obnoxious hippie alternative bands that RYM users worship and get the hell out of the metal community, you puny pretentious hipster. Metal fans like myself have had enough of hipsterism in our community and we don’t want you here. Ugh, sorry about that, I hate people. I just HAD to get my pent-up irritation off my chest, back to the actual review.

The cover art for Reign In Blood is quite intriguing and quite notable for this review, considering how immensely it depicts the lyrical content. Painted by Australian painter Larry Carroll (R.I.P 1954 - 2019). The artwork is a visual representation of multiple songs from the album. “Raining Blood” being the most obvious of the bunch, as the album artwork features lost souls being trapped in a purgatory breaking free and proceeding to cause a morbid massacre in heaven. The artwork is also the band’s depiction of hell, as evidenced by the goat headed satan performing a nazi salute and being carried on a throne by morbid angels, which is possibly a reference to “Angel Of Death”. The demons are surrounded by waves of blood and fire, and severed heads on top of impaled bodies surrounding the carnage, representing the fast, aggressive, overtly satanic and anti-christian anthems that are “Altar Of Sacrifice” and “Jesus Saves”. These songs, the intense artwork, and the major label promotion of this album in 1986 resulted in a massive spike in popularity and critical acclaim for the band, and it all resulted in Slayer’s cultural impact. They became one of the most worshipped, idolized, and influential metal bands of all time and they deserve every single piece of it.

In my eyes, there are 5 aspects of a metal album that truly define whether an album is great, let alone a masterpiece. Rawness, hostility, memorability, speed, and bold, groundbreaking intention. Slayer knocked all 5 of those categories WAY out of the park in 1986 with Reign In Blood and no matter what, I will never get tired of listening to Reign In Blood or Slayer in general. What’s crazy about this entire review is that you’d expect this to be my favorite Slayer record (unless you know me better), but if you did, you’d be mistaken! I like Hell Awaits just a smidge more musically, although impact wise Reign easily takes the cake. My multi paragraph long thoughts on Haunting The Chapel and Hell Awaits are for different reviews, but either way, R.I.P Slayer, R.I.P Jeff, R.I.P Larry, and hail Slayer for the rest of the crypts of eternity!

Highlights: Angel Of Death, Piece By Piece, Altar Of Sacrifice, Jesus Saves, Criminally Insane, Epidemic, Postmortem, and Raining Blood

Overrated, But Still Great - 70%

DanielG06, October 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Universal Music (Reissue, Remastered, EU)

This album is iconic historically, but not musically, and because music reviews are supposed to be based around the music, (shocker, I know) I'm going to talk about this record from the perspective that I experienced it. I did not listen to this album when it was released in 1986. I was not alive in 1986. Therefore, I don't know exactly how much impact this record had in 1986, although I have a rough idea. It may have been extremely impactful and game-changing in 1986, but it hasn't stood the test of time as immaculately as some of Slayer's other albums have.

Angel of Death is the opener, and one of the biggest Slayer songs. It's a fan favourite, and was the song that got me into Slayer. It's a great song, easily one of the best on the album, because it slows down in parts, and has enough riffs to keep you interested. Honestly, it's the most dynamic and contrasting this album gets, it's actually long enough to count as an actual song! (Unlike most of the songs from this album...) Anyway, the song is about the Nazi experiments conducted during World War II. In terms of songwriting, it's Slayer in their prime. The song has a dark and disturbing nature. The chaotic riffs fit so well with the twisted lyrics, and the only thing that ruins the song for me are the absolute dogshit solos. People say it's "chaotic energy", I say bullshit. You can make solos chaotic and still keep in tune with the music, maybe take a look at Sodom or Atrophy for proof? Anyway, that was one of the best songs on the album out of the way. Now get ready for 20 minutes of meh.

The majority of this album is filled with very mediocre fast-paced and short as shit songs. Tracks like Piece by Piece, Necrophobic, and Epidemic just seem to bleed into be satisfactory thrash metal, it's weird that songs that are extremely fast and energetic can be flavourless and even boring at the same time. Nevertheless, in the midst of all of these 90-150 second snooze-fests, there are some standouts. Jesus Saves and Criminally Insane are great because both have creative structures and interesting riffs, and of course Dave's incredible drumming isn't held back at all. The drum intro to Criminally Insane is haunting, and hooks you into the song. The riffs of that songs are groovy as all hell, and I just love Tom's vocals, he manages to stay consistently sinister. The song then slows down after the (terrible) solos performed by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, and the drum intro is repeated, followed by a crazy and catchy riff. Jesus Saves also has a similar approach, with two bombastic and great intro riffs that make the song very enjoyable. That's the Slayer that I enjoy, when they manage to make songs gripping, unique and atmospheric. However, the main problem with this album is that most of the runtime goes against those stipulations. Like I said, songs such as Reborn and Altar of Sacrifice among many others are just bland songs with minimal riffs or changes, sometimes it just seems that Slayer were trying to go as fast as possible without remembering to write quality and memorable material. However, things massively improve during the last 7 minutes of the album.

Postmortem and Raining Blood are the two final songs of the album, and they are my personal favourites. They blend together so well too, how the dramatic style of Postmortem suddenly crashes like a Boeing 747 going mayday into a mountain, and then Raining Blood comes in, with its iconic thunder intro, followed by one of the best riffs of Slayer's back catalogue. Honestly, both of these songs are awesome, everything about them, from the build-ups, to the blazing blast beats, to the slower parts that focus more on immersing the listener in the subject matter rather than just going full speed ahead and leaving the consumer mindlessly headbanging for 4 minutes. Either way, both sick tracks, and they are the main reasons you should pick this album up.

The production for this record was a huge step-up from Hell Awaits, and that may have something to do with Slayer signing to a major label, transferring from Metal Blade to Def Jam. The drums are mixed a lot better, the guitars have a chunkier tone, Tom's vocals have less reverb (I enjoyed his echoey vocals more to be honest), and overall the album sounds cleaner, more pleasing to the ear than the first two Slayer LPs. I feel like this new sound helped create the gallops that fill this album, and overall it's an improvement from Slayer's past material.

Overall, I'll give this album a 7/10, because the good songs on here (Angel of Death, Jesus Saves, Altar of Sacrifice, Postmortem, Raining Blood) are absolutely great, classic songs, however there are some really mediocre, skippable songs (Necrophobic, Piece By Piece, Epidemic) that stain this disc and make it imperfect in my eyes. I'd say pick this album up for the good stuff, just don't expect a flawless masterpiece like everyone hypes it up to be.

Would've been great, if not for an obsession with speed - 45%

AtomicMassHysteria87, July 27th, 2020

This is a hallmark album in metal and one of the cornerstone thrash releases from 1986, coming out alongside "Master of Puppets" and "Peace Sells", among others. This album, however, was the most brutal, intense and evil-sounding of all of them. It was also the fastest, being played at over 200 bpm and clocking in just under 29 minutes. Slayer were helping to blur the line between metal and hardcore punk. But as time passed by and people gave the album another listen, free from the excitement and hype, many had less than kind opinions to share. No longer are people so floored and impressed by the speed or the frightening lyrics. I consider myself one of these people.

Starting on a positive note, this album has great production. It makes me wish the first two albums had this level of care given to them, although I will say that the drums come through a bit more than they should and they seem to overpower the other instruments. In addition there are some good songs here, like "Angel of Death", "Postmortem", and of course "Raining Blood", but even in these songs problems start becoming evident. For you see, Slayer employs their 'one trick' for this album, and that's to play as fast as is humanly possible. This applies across the board, whether it's the rhythm guitar, the lead guitar, the drums, even the vocals are sung as quickly as Tom can get them out of his mouth, like a broken faucet gushing out with violent force. This trick isn't new to Slayer, but on this album it takes center stage.

The best tracks on this album are the ones that don't suffer from this affliction. "Angel of Death" is as well-regarded as it is because it takes its time: whether it's to go into that cool rhythm at about the 1:30 mark, or the fact that you can hear what Tom's singing about. If they had cut out those 2 minutes where they slowed things down, the song would've suffered greatly. Same goes for "Raining Blood". What's the most famous part of that song? Is it the part where they play really, really fast? No, it's the first 40 seconds, with the rain and thunder intro, followed by that riff. I feel like those two songs earn the privilege to play at blistering speeds later on because they took their time and built up to it. "Necrophobic" seems like it can't wait to play really, really fast and it becomes completely forgettable because of it, fading into the background as a blur of noise. On top of that its name is so close to the song "Necrophiliac" from the previous album, giving the impression that Slayer is already out of ideas.

"Altar of Sacrifice" almost teases you with its intro, before going into overdrive literally three seconds in. Even the better songs on this album, like "Jesus Saves" and "Criminally Insane" are cursed with Slayer's compulsive need to kick it into high gear. Tracks like "Reborn" and "Epidemic" are so unremarkable they have been lost to the annals of times, despite being on such a landmark release. The worst causality in all of this, I think, is the track "Postmortem", the third best song on this album, right behind "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death". It takes its time and doesn't go insane until the last 45 seconds or so, and it's all the better for it. Despite all that though, it is forgotten, lost among all the mediocrity. It deserved better.

This album is something of a double-edged sword. On one hand it sounds great sonic-ally, but with all that production sheen there's little to listen to. How ironic.

The line in the sand - 100%

robotiq, July 4th, 2020

I see metal in two eras; before and after "Reign in Blood". This was the line in the sand from which there could be no return. Yes, there had already been some extreme and influential albums ("Seven Churches", "Black Metal", "Ride the Lightning", "Bathory", etc.), but “Reign in Blood” was the moment of clarity. This was when the monster that had thus far lurked in the shadows finally caught sight of itself in broad daylight. Those in the metal scene saw what had happened; the stakes had risen to such a ludicrous extent that many bands were plunged into soul searching, wondering whether it was worth carrying on. Some never recovered. Those outside the metal world watched with interest as well. They wanted to know whether they needed to be afraid or whether it was just juvenile posturing. Only time would tell, but nothing would be the same again.

Not that I was around back then. I was alive, but too young for this sort of thing. I certainly remember the first time I heard this album though. I was twelve or thirteen. I didn't know much about metal, but an older friend had already introduced me to "South of Heaven" and "Seasons in the Abyss" (which had just been released). I was hooked. I loved everything about it. The menacing sound, the catchiness, those evil note combinations borrowed from simple classical melodies. My friend told me to buy "Reign in Blood". He said that it was supposed to be the best Slayer album. In hindsight, I think he had an ulterior motive because he hadn't heard the album and wanted me to copy it for him. This was all the information I needed. With some pocket money I went to my local record shop and bought it. I couldn't afford the CD version, so I bought the tape version instead (I didn't have a CD player back then anyway). I stuck it in my tape deck and blasted it a couple of times. In all honesty, I was disappointed. I didn't recognise any of the songs and the whole album was over as soon as it began. I had just spent £6.99 on this tape and expected more music for my money.

I cannot remember the precise moment when my opinion changed, but it must have been early in my relationship with the album (let's say six months). I’m familiar with the concept of ‘growers’, albums that don’t immediately grab you but sink in after many listens. Often this happens because you’re missing a vital piece of the puzzle and you need to find it before the album will click. Many of my favourite albums are like this. This wasn't the case with "Reign in Blood". No-one ever called this album a ‘grower’. The reason it didn’t click for me on first listen is simple: I wasn't ready for it. Imagine trying to jump onto a moving train as it leaves the station (health and safety laws once allowed passengers to do such things). You can only catch the train if you're running fast enough in the first place. If you’re too slow or too late, the train accelerates away and you must sit on the platform and wait for the next one, a dispiriting feeling. It was the same for me with “Reign in Blood”. This is an album that requires you to be 'up to speed' with it. It didn’t take me long, a few more listens and I knew what was required, I ran faster and earlier, and I jumped aboard. At that moment the ride began. That ride happened to be the best fucking metal album of all time.

Highlighting individual moments (or even individual songs) on “Reign in Blood” is beyond futile. I could mention a couple of songs, a few of my favourite riffs, fills, iconic screams and all that. Why bother? This album was released in 1986 and every second of it has been dissected to oblivion. There aren't any hidden secrets on here that haven't already been discussed. This album is not about individual moments, riffs or songs. This album is a masterpiece. Masterpieces should be approached on their own terms, whole, unfiltered, unadulterated. To experience "Reign in Blood" is to experience the unbroken thread, the spine that runs through it. No other metal album in history has such a constant, consistent drive. The fact that this album contains two of the classic songs in metal history is of secondary importance. What happens between these two songs is what matters.

To demonstrate this point. Go and listen to "Reborn” right now. It won't take long (just over two minutes)... Done? That song is not very impressive when taken out of context, is it? Sure, there are some chuggy bits, some cool vocal patterns, but "Reborn" is nothing special as a song. That is because it wasn't meant to be listened to on its own. It only works as "Track #7", where it becomes an essential, inexorable part of the momentum, the thread that binds everything together. I could demonstrate this point further by criticising the guitar solos. The leads on this album are not very good are they? Isn't it a shame that someone like Alex Skolnick or Marty Friedman isn't playing them instead? Again, focusing on individual ingredients like this is missing the point. The solos on "Reign in Blood" are expressionistic, they aim to evoke the screams of tortured victims in hell. Criticising this album for the objective musical quality of the solos is like criticising Picasso's "Guernica" for the unrealistic depiction of animals.

OK, I’ll concede one paragraph to describing some details, but let’s focus on details that enhance the album's cohesive vision. First, “Reign in Blood” is the most lyrically menacing metal album ever. Slayer's lyrics are often overlooked but they are poetic in the way they portray society's darkest recesses. Hanneman and King were both above average for metal lyricists and they complement each other well (King's lyrics rhyme, Hanneman's do not). Second, the production is the best I've ever heard on a metal record. Rick Rubin and Andy Wallace achieved greatness by giving this album a loud, clear sound that transcends the ages. Third, the cover art is among the most iconic and brilliant in metal history (along with "Kill 'Em All" and "Black Sabbath"). It is a perfect homage to the likes of Hieronymus Bosch and El Greco. Some of the images will burn their way into your brain, never to be forgotten. Other images will go unnoticed. If I sat and stared at the album cover now, I would be certain to find new things I’d never seen before. What is true for the artwork is also true for the music. Details matter.

The strange thing about the metal scene is how people take such an obvious masterpiece for granted. Reviewing "Reign in Blood" is not like reviewing a personal favourite obscure death metal demo. This album isn't just a metal classic, it is a music classic. How often does metal (particularly extreme metal) get any respect from outside the niche circles in which it exists? Hardly ever. "Reign in Blood" is the one album that people from outside the metal circle will hear, perhaps in awe. How often does an extreme metal album make an indelible mark on wider music history? If you're a metalhead and this album doesn’t make you feel a sense of pride within your soul, then you’re doing something wrong.

Classic Album? Kinda a stretch. - 75%

Slater922, July 2nd, 2020
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Def Jam Recordings

"Reign in Blood". What can I say about the album that millions of others haven't already said? Released in 1986 along with Metallica's "Master of Puppets", Megadeth's "Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?", and Iron Maiden's "Somewhere in Time", this album helped contribute to one of heavy metal's biggest year yet. It's the album that officially got Slayer into the mainstream, and was a massive improvement to their previous works. Today, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest thrash metal albums of all time, and one of the best albums Slayer has ever put out. But is it really that great?

Before I go any further, I need to clarify and say that I don't hate this album. In fact, it's pretty good for what it's worth. However, I'd argue that "Reign in Blood" is slightly overrated by some songs off the album. While its highlights are an amazing listening experience, the rest are more of a hit or miss. Plenty of songs are fantastic, while others are more forgettable.

Now let's get the elephants in the room out-of-the-way first: "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood". Both of these tracks are amazing as the intro and outro of the album. "Angel of Death" starts off with some fast-paced guitar riffs from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. King and Hanneman's guitar skills are generally fantastic in this album, and his performance in "Angel of Death" is excellent. They have a harsh tone in them, and bring in an atmosphere of rage. Tom Araya's vocal performance here is also great. His voice is filled with shouts and anger to them, sounding like a crazy man. The vocals flow well with the fast-paced guitar riffs and banging drums. The lyrics are also just as violent, as Araya is singing about unethical experiments in Auschwitz. The lyrics go in detail about the painful experiments, and has descriptive moments of the subjects getting their brains melted. And then there's the breakdown that happens around the 3:33 mark. This moment includes one of the most chaotic moments in the band's entire discography, with extremely fast guitar riffs, and Dave Lombardo banging the drums extremely fast. Overall, "Angel of Death" brings in a chaotic, violent atmosphere, and serves as one of the best moments on the album.

Then there's "Raining Blood". The song isn't as crazed and fast as "Angel of Death", but it's more of an epic moment of the album. We start off with rain playing in the background, as the drums play in a slow, sinister pattern. This brings in a mysterious atmosphere in the song, as the listener gets an eerie feeling from it. Then the guitars kick in, Jeff does more of the guitars here, and his performance is amazing. The guitar riff is a bit slower, but has a melodic pattern in it that makes it memorable. Araya also goes for a more epic vocal performance, with less screaming and more chanting of the lyrics. The lyrics are more simplistic, with details on falling into hell. However, its execution is fantastic with the more epic style of the instruments, and fits well with the vocals of Tom. We then move into the breakdown, and this one includes more noise, with the guitar riffs being more inconsistent, and the drums beating extremely fast and in random patterns. It then cuts to a lightning strike, and then the rest of the song is ambient rain. While "Raining Blood" isn't as good as "Angel of Death", its epic atmosphere is executed well with the melodic and sinister instruments, and Tom's vocals are also one of his greatest performances yet. I highly recommend both of these songs.

Now for the rest of the album. As I've stated earlier, they're more of a hit or miss. When the songs are good, they still pack a punch, though not as much as "Angel of Death". A good example of this is "Criminally Insane". We start off with a drum performance with lots of hits with the cymbals and snares. We then move on to the guitar riffs, which are fast, but feel more of a downgrade to those from "Angel of Death". Araya's vocal performance is good, with his chants and screams giving his voice a strong tone. The lyrics also talk about a monster killing humans. While it doesn't hit as hard as some of the other songs, it still works good overall with its good composition and nice lyricism.

However, for the rest that aren't as good, they come off as underwhelming, and even forgettable. One example of this is "Necrophobic". The instruments play fast, but they don't feel like they have a purpose. It's almost like they're trying to top "Angel of Death", but they're missing something. Tom's vocals also sound a bit off, with more of a mumbling voice, and at times even sounding a bit childish. There are some moments where I can barely understand what he's saying not because of the fast speed, but because of the mumbling. Even the lyrics seem bland, as there are gory descriptions for the sake of gory descriptions. The song comes off as the band trying too hard to be edgy, but are failing miserably. At least the tone of "Raining Blood" had a purpose.

Overall, "Reign in Blood" is good album overall, but not as good as many people make it out to be. The highlights of the album are fantastic, especially "Angel of Death" and Raining Blood". The rest, however, sound underwhelming with a more mediocre sound and excessive lyrics. I like this album, and I feel like it deserves to be praised for being such. However, it is a bit overrated since many people who praise the album only talk about 2-3 songs. I'd still recommend this album to anyone who's looking for a more extreme vibe though.


KingQueenKnave, August 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Def Jam Recordings

At only 29 minutes long, Reign in Blood is perfect proof of quality over quantity. Just because the songs aren't long, doesn't mean the music ain't good, or ain't as amazing as some ploddy plops prog bullshit.

The production on this album gives Slayer the ability to convey their diabolical thrash through a more accessible lens. I know people shit on Rick Rubin for his modern day production work (looking at you, Revival), but he really did a fantastic job conveying Slayer with far more clarity than their debut and perhaps more than Hell Awaits (which is, by the way, a classic in its own right).

This album is far more than just Angel of Death, Raining Blood & everything in between. The point of the album is how fast the band can play and how to make the best impression in the shortest time. So, yeah, you get recycled riffs, songs in the same key, and similar lyrical motifs peppered throughout. So what? This is music to be appreciated as a whole, rather than as individual parts. I mean, who honestly listens to Altar of Sacrifice and not listen to its twin song, Jesus Saves? Heathens, that's who.

The guitar playing on this album is insane. Both Hanneman and King trade off riffs and solos as if in their own battle of Heaven and Hell. These six-stringed instruments are getting obliterated - take Angel of Death alone. That series of solos toward the end of the track is random, atonal, and utterly chaotic. I would not have it any other way. Oh, and, check out the whammy bar rape. Elsewhere, the riffage is suited for slower moments; the opening of Criminally Insane and Postmortem prove that the band can reduce the speed without sacrificing the intensity.

Angel of Death is a masterclass in how to open an album. Tom Araya's scream is arguably the best scream ever, and the proudest "stepped on a LEGO" moment I think captured on tape. Lombardo's drumming - that double bass drum onslaught before everything comes back for a final chorus tho!!! - is top notch throughout, and indeed on the whole album, because he keeps momentum going. Angel of Death, in particular, is just going straight for the throat, continuing to slice even when your head is firmly off of your shoulders.

Lyrically, you will find more extreme lyrics in metal, whether they be the OTT and tongue in cheek Cannibal Corpse or the offense magnet that is Anal Cunt, but I doubt you'll find anything as dark or as diabolical as the lyrics penned by Hanneman and King. I mean - I know I keep going back to this track - let's be real: Angel of Death is the most graphic depiction of the Holocaust and the heinous experiments by Josef Mengele. Oh, and another thing, it's from the perspective of the bad guys. Read this:

Auschwitz, the meaning of pain
The way that I want you to die
Slow death, immense decay
Showers that cleanse you of your life

Forced in like cattle you run
Stripped of your life's worth
Human mice, for the angel of death
Four hundred thousand more to die


Millions laid out in their
Crowded tombs
Sickening ways to achieve
The holocaust

Pathetic harmless victims
Left to die
Rancid angel of death
Flying free

And morality police guardians think that this song advocates the Holocaust? It's pretty obvious that this song comes from a place of interest in the subject matter, but clearly there is no support for it. Then again, the song doesn't outright condemn the Nazis, even if the adjective "rancid" gives it away.

The filler songs so to speak are still amazing. Necrophobic has this really cool hornet swarm sound to it, with Araya's motormouth commanding the proceedings. Then, with Reborn and Epidemic, we get a sort of medieval vibe being brought in. All I can think of is fire, in both the idea of burning the witch in the former song and burning the victims to prevent the spread of disease in the latter. Although a tough act to follow, Piece by Piece picks up where Angel of Death left off by just going for speed.

The twin pairing of Altar of Sacrifice (a song actually about, you know, sacrificing virgins and even says "HAIL SATAN!") and Jesus Saves is actually genius. The former song is probably Kerry King's crowning achievement as a composer, and the opening minute of Jesus Saves is sludgy and slowburning as fuck, guessed it, SPEEEEED!

Speaking of Jesus Saves, please give a standing ovation to Mr. Tom Araya, not only being a bass player singer but by singing lyrics totally spitting in the face of his Catholic faith. The temptation to refuse to make art due to conflicts of beliefs is there from almost everyone, so for him to actually go along with it and mean it is a feat in and of itself. I'm sure he said four hundred thousand Hail Mary's after vomiting this out:

You go to the church, you kiss the cross
You will be saved at any cost
You have your own reality

You spend your life just kissing ass
A trait that's grown as time has passed
You think the world will end today
You praise the Lord, it's all you say

Yeah, this reads like an edgy 14 year old atheist. It's become a King staple to just lambast Christianity for the fuck of it. However, divorced from the purpose of the song - to piss off Christians - the guy does have a point. It's just that it's difficult to make out when Araya is trying to keep up with the onslaught of blast beats and crushing guitars.

Raining Blood is overplayed for a reason: it is a fucking masterpiece. After the end of Postmortem, another winner for my money thanks to its kickass riff, we get rain falling. Then, thudding drums, and feedback. The guitars enter - DUN DUN DUN - and then the album closer is set loose. The verses are almost the nail in the coffin, going as fast as anywhere on the album. The lyrics, too, are of resolution, a literal mutiny in Heaven.

Trapped in purgatory
A lifeless object, alive
Awaiting reprisal
Death will be their acquiescence

The sky is turning red
Return to power draws near
Fall into me, the sky's crimson tears
Abolish the rules made of stone


Raining blood
From a lacerated sky
Bleeding its horror
Creating my structure now I shall reign in blood

A sole guitar, and then - I shit you not, this is actually credited on the album - noise comes flooding through. The drums are going faster than before, the bass is totally buried, the whammy bars are being ripped out of their bridges. It's rising! It's going! IT'S GONNA-

*clap of thunder and rain for fifty seconds*

It's actually taken me longer to write this review than the album itself. I suppose I should take a leaf out of Slayer's book and use more brevity.

I am unsure if this or South of Heaven is my favourite Slayer album. Whilst RiB thrives on speed, SoH is a much more doom-laden, atmospheric album. Either way, I love this album and it is an absolute classic, deserving of all of its accolades. May you forever reign, my dark and twisted friend.

Hyper-speed gloom - 100%

Acrobat, June 18th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Def Jam Recordings

One of the few things I don’t think gets said a lot about Reign in Blood and, even after its release some thirty-two years ago, is its finesse. I mean, what with all the talk of its supreme extremity another point that’s certainly worthy of note is how it upped the game in terms of what could be achieved in terms of professionalism and applying that trait to austere, menacing brutality. Simply put, if Pleasure to Kill is a sixteen-year-old running rampant with a kitchen knife in ALDI, then Reign in Blood, in terms of extended metaphor and murder, is the SS or the NKVD; callous, malicious and even more harrowing due to its cold efficiency.

The first two Slayer albums – obviously eternal classics – were still embiggened with the spectre of 80’s excess. This was not a fault (far from it!); glorious twin-leads, evil outbreaks of Venom-esque metal on Show No Mercy and an accidental discovery of death metal on Hell Awaits will always be the stuff of legend. Here, however, Slayer managed to rein (ha!) in that excess to create Slayer through a hardcore lens. Hell, while we can continue comparing this to Darkness Descends and Seven Churches (with the obvious caveat that Dark Angel were never even fit to polish Slayer’s oversized spikey armbands) and start talking more about Age of Quarrel and Minor Threat.

However, while that hardcore edge permeates this album, it is really just as Mercyful Fate as it is Minor Threat. While Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo were responsible for the punk-ish sound here, it is clear that Kerry King was still a metal kid. ‘Altar of Sacrifice’ is his crowning glory as a songwriter and an incredibly important part of Reign in Blood’s glory. It answers the question: “How would Mercyful Fate’s ‘Gypsy’ and Show No Mercy riffs sound if they were played with RiB impossible brutality?” The next time someone calls him a tribal tattoo-sporting baldy, remind them of his former glory and perhaps they’ll reconsider.

Of course, if that is King’s crowning moment then ‘Angel of Death’ is Jeff Hanneman’s most important track. Not only is it just as frightening as it was when I first heard it some fifteen years ago, it’s lyrically quite unlike anything else in the metal canon. The riffs and drums are, of course, veritable hellstorms – set to crush the earth, but the lyrics are just unusual. Obviously, anyone with a reading age over seven could recognise that this is not a song venerating the holocaust, and yet, unlike every other thrash song on the topic, it does not need to assert a moralising message. The depiction itself is horrid enough. Jeff Hanneman was just so far beyond any other thrash songwriter of his time. Compare him to Scott Ian and it’s like putting Nathaniel Hawthorne’s petty Christian allegory up against Edgar Allan Poe’s unrestrained gothic. ‘Angel of Death’ still reigns supreme and goes to show Slayer’s uncanny finesse. Hanneman’s writing manages to convey – through music – the worst horrors mankind inflicted on each other and, for that alone, it’s easy to see why he’s still a controversial figure. Again, whereas Hell Awaits might have reeked of teenage thesaurus abuse, here the writing is controlled and really without parallel. The slightly goofy descriptions are gone – isn’t ‘Captor of Sin’ about eating a dodgy curry? – and replaced with metal’s ultimate expression of the macabre.

Of course, this is also Araya’s pinnacle; he maintains all the right aggression and yet is still incredibly articulate. Any death metal style cover of these songs would certainly lack Araya’s incredible diction and stress. He makes every fucking syllable matter and, given how important the lyrics are here, he paints each song with subtle hues of red and grey. Simply put: he’s perfect.

Lombardo was, and probably still is, the finest musician to grace a thrash metal album. His drumming is simultaneously austere and yet strangely complex. Like Bill Ward before him, he orchestrates these songs; driving exactly when he should and laying slightly behind whenever these songs need to breathe. It won’t be described as technical because he’s just too damn good for that, his work however is a veritable master-class delivered with bone-crushing precision. Generally, he gets compared to fast drummers who have perhaps exceeded him in terms of speed (Pete Sandoval might be one, but he really lacks Lombardo’s inventiveness and panache when it comes to cymbal and tom work). Again, there was really no equivalent to this still of drumming in 1986; Gene Hoglan sounds like a dog chasing a stick in comparison.

Man, what’s with that vile-hearted laughter on ‘Criminally Insane’? I’d never really heard it before. I think that’s indicative of the record as a whole, really. Even after all these years, it’s still surprising in its absolute darkness and horror. If you find some quarrelsome points with this record, I can only say your musical education is vastly different from mine.

Legendary Record, But Extremely Overrated - 88%

ThrashFanatic, April 25th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, American Recordings (Reissue, Remastered, Expanded edition)

So this is what people proclaim as being "the greatest thrash metal album of all time?" Like, I can see why but to call this the best would be a stretch. However, it is certainly a great, great record. The extreme tempos and riffs are breathtaking, as well as Araya's vocals and Lombardo's drumming. Slayer's 3rd effort "Reign In Blood" certainly changed the landscape of thrash as we know it, but unfortunately gets way too much credit than it deserves. The reason this is a bad thing is because people often get misled into thinking this is truly "the greatest", but the truth of the matter is that there is tons more out there that push the limits further. The production is too clean, and the gritty nature of the previous two records isn't present here. So is it bad by any means? Well, not at all. This record is certainly worthy of some praise, but I personally wouldn't rank this in my top 20 favorite thrash records of all time. I know I sound like I'm harshly bashing on this record, so let's focus on the positives...

"Angel Of Death" is a absolute classic thrash song. It has fast riffs, intense vocals, chaotic solos, and fast double bass drumming. The scream at the beginning of the track from Tom Araya is without a doubt the most iconic scream in thrash metal history. This track was written about Jeff Hanneman's fascination about the history of Auschwitz, and the lyrics describe the immense amount of torture that happened there. This track is probably Slayer's most iconic track, and is certainly the best on the entire album. "Jesus Saves" is one of the more underrated tracks on this album. The fast riffs of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are pure insanity, and the vocals from Araya are intense to say the least. This track deserves more attention than it gets. "Postmortem" has a badass opening riff, which leads into a heavy mid-paced riff that is bound to make you bang your head. This track is calm before the storm however, because what follows is fucking insane...

The sound of rain, thunder and eerie guitar sounds resembling faint, distant screams suddenly meet the listener's ears. Then, suddenly one of the most instantly memorable riffs comes in and the rest is history. Yup, I am talking about the closing track "Raining Blood". This thrash anthem has some of the most intense riffs imaginable, but to be honest I never really was crazy about the whammy bar abuse at the end. After the solos end, a loud clap of thunder followed by rain fades out and ends the record. 29 minutes of complete, utter mayhem has ended.

If you know thrash, then you have heard this record. If you haven't by some chance, then you must be living under a rock just like Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants. This record isn't the best thrash album of all time, so don't go in thinking it's going to be the greatest thing you've ever heard. However, do expect to hear some chaotic music and 10 tracks that resemble the 10 corners of hell. I recommend this to fans of Exodus, Exumer, Dark Angel, Morbid Saint, Sadus, and Demolition Hammer.

Highlights: "Angel Of Death", "Jesus Saves", "Postmortem", and "Raining Blood"

dancing with you in the summer reign - 99%

caspian, February 8th, 2018

Yeah, I get that there's not too much point putting forward yet another opinion on Reign in Blood. It's possibly the only- the only- metal album where you can proclaim "if you don't like it, you are a false" with complete and total confidence, and that's been the consensus for decades, and for good reason, too. Mostly, I just wanted to rant/rave/ramble about the historical context of this album.

Back when i was 13 (I think?) I bought Metallica's I Disappear. It was the heaviest shit in the world to me at the time.. yeah I know. Anyway, my grandad, in his mid 70's at that point, was in the house when I turned it on and he absolutely couldn't handle it. Totally hated it! Thought it was complete, incomprehensible noise.

I relay that relatively boring anecdote to put this record into context. If a tune as inoffensive as I Disappear could still annoy people at the turn of this century, well damn, imagine how ridiculous this would've sounded. 15 years earlier! It would've been the fucking apocalypse. It would have just been the most nuts thing ever. There was just nothing anywhere near remotely close to this in the mainstream.

And really that's the cool thing about this record- 32 years later, a time when most records one way or another have surely sunk into respectability, into tameness- this album still roasts you if you get too close. My mum, when she's in a good mood, will tap her foot easily enough to Master of Puppets. There is absolutely no chance of the same thing happening with Piece by Piece, or Necrophobic or so on. The wife, who happily handles most of the stuff I put on in the car, has specifically banned me from playing Criminally Insane when I'm in traffic; "It really stresses me out and I'm always worried you're going to kill someone". You won't hear anything on Reign in Blood used for a TV advert, you won't hear it in a gym, you won't hear it anywhere. Well, maybe you do in Finland, but I doubt it. But yeah, 3 decades later, this is still far, far heavier than what most of the Australian public will tolerate.

I think the main thing that makes this album such a heavy, full on album even to this day are all those super quick middle tracks. They deserve all the love you can give them. Sure, Angel of Death is a cool song, and the bit when the drums switch from the snare on the 1&3 to the snare on the 2&4 (at 0:30) is, in my mind, almost as cool as that big ol' Araya scream. It's a very cool song, but it's nowhere near as frantic as Reborn's completely out of breath delivery, nowhere near as bonkers as the ridiculous drumming and tempo of Necrophobic, and it's not as huge as Criminally insane's breakdown, it's not as dark as Altar of Sacrifice's monolithic main riff. It attests to the manical intensity of the album when something like Epidemic is basically the "fun thrasher" of the album. Most other thrash bands that'd be the most intense tune of the album. Here, it's basically a nice upbeat break after the previous seven tracks. It's all jovial and shit! Gross

Yeah, I know I've repeated myself a few times here: frantic/bonkers tempo/maniacal intensity etc. But that's why this album still stands up. It's the most important part of the album! The riffs are undeniably very, very well written- consistently catchy, very heavy, a nice amount of variation, despite the limitations of the short song/fast tempo mix- but this still stands up, this is still very unfriendly etc because everything goes at 100% all the time- the polka-on-meth drums, the razor sharp guitars, Araya's vocals. There's nothing here for the average Joe to grip onto, nothing that's remotely stadium. Just remorseless speed and energy. It's pretty much still the most intense record I've ever heard and it's almost like I still haven't gotten used to it; it's like it gets faster every time I hear it.

Anyway, I'm fairly sure anyone reading this already has a copy, but if you're one of the few that haven't- go and get it! It's a stone cold classic for a whole bunch of obvious reasons.

Arguably the greatest thrash album of all time. - 97%

EzraBlumenfeld, November 9th, 2017

Of the thrash metal albums released in the '80s, very few have reached such fame as Slayer's 1986 record Reign in Blood. While Metallica's first four albums both breached the mainstream and helped define the genre, Slayer never achieved any commercial success. Despite this, Reign in Blood is widely considered one of the very best thrash albums of all time. I agree.

This album is a brutal assault on the ears, driven by the band's impressive technical capabilities and lack of musical knowledge. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman thunder away on complex syncopated rhythms on songs like ''Altar of Sacrifice'' and ''Epidemic,'' while slowing down a little on songs like ''Criminally Insane'' and the intro to ''Jesus Saves.'' Dave Lombardo smashes his drums to bits throughout the album, a highlight being the drum break near the end of ''Angel of Death.'' Lombardo is considered the greatest metal drummer, and this song is a perfect example of why.

Vocalist and bassist Tom Araya helps give the album its unique sound, from his massive yell to his tortured high-pitched screams. The lyrical content spans everything from Josef Mengele to Hell and Satan to religion, the perfect mixture for the quintessential thrash metal release. The demonic yells and wicked lyrics are accented by chaotic traded guitar solos, which mimic the screams of the dying and the tortured.

All in all, this is a solid album that should be in every metalhead's collection.

Angel of Death - 95%

Iron Wizard, January 22nd, 2017

I never really saw anything valuable in Slayer. They write incoherently fast songs, suck at soloing, and chant a Satanic litany that can get extremely boring after a few minutes. The reason I decided to revisit Reign in Blood was that I kept hearing about Slayer, while reading about other bands, and even on the news. This inspired me to listen to this album again, and I am very glad I did.

Slayer's previous two albums were alright but nothing too special. The factor that makes Reign in Blood so special reveals itself halfway through the opener, "Angel of Death"- variety. This album contains breakneck thrash riffs in conjunction with slower groove and, in some cases, doom riffs. This is what prevents this album from becoming boring.

The musicianship on Reign in Blood is very good, but still, it doesn't present itself as anything special. Dave Lombardo's drumming is amazing, but that aside, all of the other instruments don't do much technical stuff. Still, they all manage to play fast riffs in a manner that sounds good. Some of the riffs are godly, whereas others are a bit bland. As far as guitar playing goes, the riffing is well written and memorable, but the solos are a slight drag to the music- they are shrill, high pitched, and not very melodic at all.

The lyrics have progressed greatly since Hell Awaits. The uneducated "Satanic" drivel has been toned down quite a bit, making room for more varied topics. The lyrics run the whole gamut of evil- Satanism, torture, serial killers, death, and pretty much any other morbid topic conceivable. Also, the writing style behind the lyrics has improved. More descriptive terms are used, and this makes it much more interesting and enables it to evoke a deeper atmosphere.

Despite a few flaws, Reign in Blood manages to live up to its reputation as one of metal's most monumental releases. It is certainly a great musical backdrop to whatever you are doing- be it lifting weights, playing guitar, or just sitting there.

More important in influence than its own merits. - 90%

TrooperEd, November 14th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Def Jam Recordings

I think alot of Slayer's reputation has come about by picking up the ball where Metallica fumbled it. Everybody wanted Metallica to be this massive, masculine viking ship that killed all the hair bands (and new wave, punk rock, and other forms of music), overthrow the government and return to primitive times where men were men and everybody ate with their hands. Unfortunately, they kept slowing down, switching the clean guitar channel on and taking Cliff Burton seriously as a songwriter, so unfortunately the Manchurian Candidate sleeper formula was never able to properly activate.

Forgive me for that cunty bit of pretentiousness, but it always seems like whenever this is held up as the greatest thrash album of all time, fans always want to say FUCK MASTER OF PUPPETS, ASSHOLES SHOULD HAVE JUST WROTE FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE AD NASEUM, BURNT OUT AND GONE BACK TO GAS STATIONS. Don't get me wrong, Reign In Blood is a classic and is indeed a better album than the aforementioned Puppets, but it wasn't even the best 86 album from the big 4 (here's a hint, it begins with P and ends with eace Sells But Who's Buying)? Nor was it even the best thrash album of 86, which incidentally also begins with a P, but I digress. I frequently hear this lauded as a middle finger to everything that was going on in metal and thrash at that time, but to me, it really only seemed that people were adamant about no clean guitar whatsoever on their thrash albums. Hell even No Love had that noodly bit at the beginning.

What makes a truly classic album to me are the songs. A collection of all killer no filler, both hits and deep cuts that are legendary in its own genre circle, and with some luck outside of it. But as far as I can tell, nobody I know has ever given a shit about Piece By Piece, Reborn, Necrophobic (except of course the band) or Epidemic. A shame for that last one, because that would easily be my pick for killer track no one talks about. The thrash break alone is excellent, its just happens to be stuck on an album with an even MORE legendary thrash break.

And lets get this out of the way, the "hits" on this album, Angel of Death, Postmortem and Raining Blood are all stone-cold genre defining metal classics. Anyone one of these could be on Show No Mercy or Hell Awaits and have been a highlight. Matter of fact I would actually go so far as to call Angel of Death the greatest metal song of all time. Yup, as in, all of metal. The thing about metal is, as great as it is for it to become acceptable critically and commercially, there should still be a touch of disdain, hatred or uncomfortability about it. Something that makes the average square in the bible belt cringe. 30+ years later Angel of Death can't even get on Metallica's own Guitar Hero game even with Lars Ulrich's insistence. I'd like to repeat and break that down because it's fairly important: Lars Ulrich, the slimy corporate rockstar sycophant who's become buddy buddy with everything that old Metallica stood against, HE couldn't even get that song on THEIR OWN GAME. Somehow I imagine Caught Somewhere In Time or Battle Hymns or Rebellion In Dreamland ending up with that type of promotion, but not that one. The Hollywood types might get offended.

And as much as I love to laud Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits, even I have to admit the one thing this album has that they don't is the absolutely stellar production job. This might be the greatest metal album ever produced. Nothing about it sounds dated. Even when you put on Ride The Lightning or Powerslave you can definitely tell they were made in the 80s. Not there's anything wrong about that, but this still sounds like it could come out today. But I also have to admit that if those two albums had that crunchy-as-fuck, wall of brutality, no reverb sound, Reign In Blood wouldn't be hailed as much of a breakthrough as it is.

If this isn't already in your collection, definitely correct that problem, but walk, don't run to get it. Also if you're part of the MP3 generation and you already have Angel of Death and Raining Blood on your computer (like I did), well, know that you already have what you need (three of four tracks aside). No Crionics or Crypts of Eternitys here.

Recommended Tracks:
Angel of Death
Raining Blood
Jesus Saves

Dogma - 100%

Felix 1666, March 12th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Def Jam Recordings

Please excuse me for publishing this text, but I guess the review production of a thrash metal fan remains incomplete unless he has written some lines about "Reign in Blood". Honestly speaking, I had a lot of respect for this task, because it is hardly possible to find new aspects concerning this ultimate classic. Thus, I delved into the past. When I took a look at the review in the German RockHard magazine from the year 1986, I was surprised that the guy was writing about "a mixture of hardcore and thrash". From my point of view, the then modern hardcore (Crumbsuckers, Agnostic Front or S.O.D.) has nothing in common with the here reviewed outburst of energy. "Reign in Blood" is pure thrash metal, it is more or less the quintessence of this genre. Of course, punk (and hardcore) can be seen as an early stage of development in terms of vehement music and it is therefore a precursor of thrash. But if you agree that a certain amount of punk elements is inherent to the entire genre, then you will also share my conviction that "Reign in Blood" provides nothing else but undefiled thrash.

Despite the opinion of a minority of fools, the third work of Slayer is not - and it was never - the fastest album of all times. High velocity plays a very important part, no doubt about it. Nevertheless, the band was also aware of the mightiness of well executed mid-tempo sections. "Post Mortem" is all I need to say. The brute riff of the verses hit the listener like a sledgehammer and the crushing song celebrated the mid-tempo approach in an almost homicidal manner. Even the most representative track of the album had a considerable mid-tempo part. You guessed it, I am talking about the upsetting "Angel of Death". Without losing its menacing aura, the probably most prominent track in the history of thrash metal slowed down after an extremely furious and barbaric start. The high-pitched scream of Tom Araya at the beginning indicated a level of hysteria which did not come true. Slayer showed their grimmest face, but they kept control and played their instruments with the highest precision instead of drifting into chaos. Anyway, the unbelievable sharpness of the riffs and the crystal clear production shaped one of the most intense listening experiences so far.

From a German perspective, "Angel of Death" broke a taboo. To sing about the processes in Auschwitz without condemning the whole regime of the so-called Führer at the same time was nothing less than an inexcusable mistake. Or it was just cold-blooded calculation, because the combination of the song, the moronic "Slaytanic Wehrmacht" merchandise and the "Heydrich" sticker on the guitar of Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.) led to a very discussable picture. Hard to believe, but the controversy still goes on. The "Zeit", a respected paper for narcissistic academics and other eggheads, took the death of Hanneman as motivation to express its disgust about the lyrics of "Angel of Death" once again - 27 years after the publication of "Reign in Blood"! A good example for the German tendency to play the unpleasant know-it-all. Be that as it may, to break a taboo is always good promotion - and how many taboos have remained? Even in the eighties of the last century, many of them had already vanished into thin air. Thus, the Nazis and their cruelties were just too enticing. Well, the plan worked out. Nevertheless, the best arguments to dive deeply into the album were delivered by the music itself.

Unrelenting, daring and breathtakingly exciting, "Reign in Blood" seemed to kill any kind of musical conventions. It would be a massive understatement to say that the full-length appeared as an acoustic battering ram. It was much more than this. The violent compositions benefitted from the perfect production that I mentioned before. Sound engineer Andy Wallace said that he loved dry, in-your-face aggressive rock, without tons of reverb. Consequently, he and Rick Rubin did not hesitate to realize the appropriate, electrifying mix. Their approach resulted in mega-aggressive, completely vile and ultra-vicious eruptions like "Piece by Piece", "Necrophobic" or "Altar of Sacrifice" which appeared as a nuclear bomb due to its extremely explosive beginning. These sonic documents of brutality developed the full force of their titanic riffs relentlessly. Admittedly, I could have mentioned the other tracks as well. The holistic album was a sonic orgy of blood and 29 minutes were enough time to erase each and every enemy, poser or random victim. It does not matter whether you listen to the ominous guitars at the beginning of the title track which lead to craggy riffs and sheer franticness or you lend an ear to the smooth yet murderous "Epidemic", because Slayer had penned spectacular killers without exception. As if that were not enough, the band achieved a tremendous technical level as well.

I know, I am not alone with my opinion and maybe it is not an opinion at all but the simple truth: "Reign in Blood" is rather a dogma than a "normal" album. My personal favourite "Hell Awaits" has a more diabolic aura, but from an objective point of view and with regard to its undisputed relevance, the here reviewed work probably constitutes the mother of all thrash albums. The likelihood is low that somebody can convincingly explain why exactly this full-length became the showpiece of the sub genre. And that is no surprise, because real art has always a magic touch. Too bad that Slayer were not able to preserve the chemistry which was crucial for the creation of this overwhelming milestone.

Brimming with speed, anger and hatred - 100%

mikey22, December 23rd, 2015

Let me say this right away, when Slayer went out to write "Reign in Blood" they were young, angry, disenfranchised young men. What you will hear on this record is intense, precise, maniacal thrash metal done just right. While Metallica were putting beautiful melodic passages in their thrash metal magnum opus "Master of Puppets" Slayer went out said fuck it, were going straight for the jugular. The result of that is some of the fastest, most intense, and lethal dose of thrash you will ever hear. A bonus to this vicious thrash metal masterpiece is also the great production by Rick Rubin. Listening to the album again it hasn't aged a bit in almost 30 years. It still has a very very good sound to it, it's not like "Darkness Descends" where everything is drowned out and sounds very muddy. Nope, this album has a crystal clear sound. It still sounds better than lots of metal records coming out today. Rick Rubin did a fantastic job on this record. On the guitars you could hear every note even if their playing at a million miles an hour, the drums sound amazing with the great Dave Lombardo providing very aggressive drumming. The bass while not very prominent compared to the guitars is still heard.

The instrumentation on this record is savage. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King's riffs are incredibly catchy while being very good as well. Their solos are some of the fastest and most chaotic guitar solos I've ever heard in my lifetime. They are also very influential on death metal guitarists (examples: The Hoffman brothers from Deicide, Jack Owen from Cannibal Corpse). On this album there are no "melodic" or "pretty sounding" solos, there all mind numbingly fast and chaotic, they also push what is considered music ("Raining Blood" solo for example). Dave Lombardo's drumming is flat out destruction. His double bass playing is so fast I wonder how he didn't pull his leg muscles doing so. His ability to keep the beat is amazing as well, also his drum style is very innovative and very creative as well. Tom Araya's bass playing isn't as well heard as King or Hanneman's guitar dueling he still does a good job supporting the brutal riffs and solos. His vocals though are vicious. He sings the lyrics with such brimming hatred and energy he makes the lyrics believable.

On "Reign in Blood" there are no weak or bad songs. Only good, exceptional, and great. The exceptional tracks are obviously going to be "Angel of Death" and the title track. When I first heard these songs I fell in love instantly. There is a reason they are always featured in Slayer's live set and another reason those two are their most well known songs, it's because those songs are just that good. The great songs are "Criminally Insane," "Jesus Saves," and "Postmortem" while great songs on their own right, they are not outstanding compared to the previous two tracks I mentioned, while the rest of the songs are good.

While Slayer may have aged like rotting cheese today, this album will always be remembered and praised by legions of metal heads and slayer fans alike. This album will always hold a dear place in my heart for its influence, its memorability, and crystal clear production.

Theoretical music - 83%

gasmask_colostomy, December 7th, 2015

Is there really any reason to review 'Reign in Blood' anymore? Apart from the fact that 'Altar of Sacrifice' is making me type real fast right now, the public view of this album is well-known and surely nothing new can be said on the subject. Right? Either this is the most technically amazing, brutally punishing, and fucking fastest slab of metal ever or it's a disorganized mess of 6-string masturbation, excessive tempos, and Tom Araya shouting. I'm not really going to spend much time exploring either of those views, though suffice it to say that both have their merits, as reflected by my rating; instead I want to explore the implications of the blatancy with which 'Reign in Blood' goes for the jugular throughout almost every second of its piddly 29-minute runtime.

There is more than one type of metalhead. Some of us listen to this kind of music because it represents our take on reality or allows us to truly speak our minds, some of us wish to escape from reality, some of us go to metal for a representation of brutality and animal instinct, some of us want to open our minds and marvel at the artistry, some of us just think metal is fun to listen to. Probably, you can place yourself into more than one of those categories, and that's perfectly reasonable, but I want to question which category you would place Slayer in. When thinking about 'Reign in Blood', I think almost everyone is thinking of number 3 - brutality and vicious tendencies. There's a chance that you've just pointed to number 5 as well - this album is a lot of fun. Then, considering it for a moment more, perhaps there's some scope for 1 and 2, while the musicianship is up there, especially the speed, so number 4 is also an option. However, I'm not really sure. The producers and consumers of thrash metal actually have a very small window of success to aim for and - while on some level, 'Reign in Blood' is a satisfying thrash album - it is too extreme an example of thrash metal to be considered only as such. What we're getting into here is something almost entirely separate from the music, which is art.

I can imagine that about 80% of readers have just clicked away from this review at the mention of art, so if you're still reading, well done, because it's you I want to talk to. Have you ever been to a visual art gallery (like with paintings and stuff) and seen some impressionist art or modern sculpture and thought, "What the fuck is that?" The exhibit just looks like nothing in particular and seems pointless: it's not a face, not even one of Picasso's faces, because you know those are art; it's not a landscape or a body or a situation; it's not even really a proper thing, it's just a shape. You're confused and disappointed, maybe even angry at the purposelessness of the artwork; you feel like you've been cheated; you say to yourself, "I could do that." The point of all this stuff about museums (and all the italics) is that 'Reign in Blood' is more or less that kind of artwork, though within the limited confines of thrash metal, it doesn't shock to quite the same degree, since Slayer couldn't have made an album that was just noise, because then no one would have bought it, they would have lost all their fans and that would have been the end of the band. Slayer pushed thrash metal roughly to its boundaries and, arguably, few bands have gone past that point since, not without plummetting away down the toilet to an unmarked piss-soaked grave.

The reason why it's so difficult to say that 'Reign in Blood' is art is because heavy metal is already a contest of extremity, whereby being more extreme than the next band is in fact one of the main objectives and one indicator of a band's success. However, thrash metal is a strictly policed genre and anyone daring to venture outside the narrow realms of fast down-picked riffs, double bass drumming, lightning leads, and grim lyrics is likely to be outcast. As such 'Reign in Blood' is a certain product of thrash metal, but it is at the outer edge, where songs like 'Necrophobic', 'Reborn', and 'Raining Blood' start to lose their musicality, that Slayer are testing the fabric of their field. This is an experiment in endurance, an investigation into the point where music becomes noise, and an impressionist representation of mental and physical chaos. This is not to say that these artistic facets of the album were an entire success, since I strongly believe that Slayer hedged their bets too much to make either a great thrash album or a great work of art, but both can be seen in 'Jesus Saves', where the atmospheric build-up gives way to churning riffage and ear-bleeding solos.

This part of Slayer's endeavour achieves medium success, while the songs also satisfy only in part. The long middle section of the album (from 'Piece by Piece' until 'Epidemic') is much more abstract and theoretical than musically rewarding, although the intensity and vicious riffwork still offers plentiful rewards; however, it is the legendary opener and the steadier 'Postmortem' that leave a lasting impact, proving that the more traditional side of Slayer still maintained its original appeal. As such, listening to 'Reign in Blood' in a mildly troubling experience (not including the harrowing lyrics) due to the essential duality of the songs, part metaphor and part literal music as they are. My problem with this album is thus not far from that of others, but my complaint is somewhat different. If Slayer had made an entire album in the vein of 'Angel of Death' and 'Postmortem', it would stand as one of the best representations of the thrash metal genre, whereas if they had completed the theoretical barbed wire enema of the shorter, uglier songs, we might have had an unappealing yet philosophically comprehensive work of art that would be renowned for a totally different reason - as an enquiry into the nature of music. As it is, we have to make do with a little of both.

Greatest Thrash Ever. Period. - 100%

Roffle_the_Thrashard, April 27th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, American Recordings (Reissue, Expanded edition)

Above all metal bands, except Black Sabbath of course, I hold Slayer the highest amount of reverence. It’s ironic that I use the word “reverence” in this review and to describe Reign In Blood or Slayer at all. In fact the best phrase to tell about this record, the ultimate of the thrash metal world, is "irreverence and blasphemy". I can’t get enough of the hellish sound of this release. Never has the album disappointed. The musicianship is top-notch, the vocals and lyrics are fierce and cruel, and the vibe Reign In Blood gives off is one of pure, concentrated, cold blooded evil.

Let’s begin with the level of insanity that the drumming, guitar/bass playing, and vocals possess. Tom Araya has without a doubt, one of the craziest screams I’ve ever heard. I guess others agree too, because his shriek in “Angel of Death” earned him his own website,, solely for that scream. These wacky things also appear on “Epidemic” and “Postmortem.” His bass playing is unfortunately suppressed a little bit, but after listening to bass only tracks, I can tell that they are what this record is: Fast, furious, and murky at times. Now onto Jeff Hanneman, and Kerry King… I don’t know where to start with these two thrash titans. The solos that these pair have to offer are mind numbingly berserk. Check out “Angel of Death” if you don’t believe me. The riffs are more complex than on earlier releases Hell Awaits and Show No Mercy and have a much different aura to them. The best by far at the ending of “Criminally Insane,” the first half of “Jesus Saves” and just about all of “Angel of Death.” And finally is my biggest influence as a drummer, Dave Lombardo. I think Lombardo was smoking crack while recording this record because some of his patterns are simply put: breakneck. If drumming reign In Blood songs doesn’t give you blisters, then almost nothing will. In this album we see the first signs of tempo changes and some slightly progressive rudiments coming from Lombardo’s kit, like on “Jesus Saves's" third melody change. But most of all present is Lombardo's machine-gun bass drumming that is an eleven on a ten scale. Throughout the album the listener is beaten to a pulp as he whips their body into a frappe with his bass pedals.

The production is quite interesting in Reign In Blood and production genius, Rick Rubin, is the man responsible for the production of this monumental release. Slayer owe this man a debt for his work. His vision was to make a whopping slab of unholy thrash metal and his effects added to vocals, guitars and the drums were fantastic. One of the best things added by him and his co-producers was the infamous intro into "Raining Blood" from the ripper of a track "Postmortem." A thunderstorm is in full effect with the feedback and roaring of a guitar and then the whooshing sound of Lombardo's kicks off the unforgettable opening riff of "Raining Blood." Rubin was able to master the concept of splitting the sound of each guitar into one side of the listener's headset (if listening with ear buds/headphones). With that put in place, one can pretend they're at a Slayer show quite easily if they close their eyes and do a good job at it. This production is one of the biggest reasons why so many metalheads get hooked when they hear this album.

I think that there is a bit to said about Reign In Blood's lyrical content, in terms of holding back nothing from the ways of the explicit. Death, torture, sacrifice and gore are described in livid detail and it fuels the flames of evil that engulf this piece of perfection. Let's look at an example:

"Pumped with fluid, inside your brain
Pressure in your skull begins pushing
through your eyes"

These words could be part of a Cannibal Corpse song and wouldn't hear a difference. Slayer's lyrics have gotten a bit too tame for my liking in recent times, but Reign In Blood will always be my go-to for gore-ridden lyrics of the 1980's.

The lyrics above come from the best song of this masterpiece and quite arguably the craziest thrash song of all time. Its name is "Angel of Death," and it is the main reason I will never get enough of Slayer, ever. The song starts of with a tremolo based riff and then the whole band kicks in and Tom Araya lets out his fiendish scream. Then the off-the-hook drumming accompanied by some mean riffing. Following that is a groove centered riff and the middle verses of the song. But finally comes the moment the listener has been waiting for. The blood-curdling shrieks of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King's solos. I remember the first time hearing the song dropping the mug I was holding because it was like nothing I had ever heard. I try to think just how fast the pick must be picking how accurately the fingers must be placed to play such a ridiculous thing. The trade off solo of hell begins and ends with the wild wail of Hanneman's guitar fading and blending into the turbulent sea of sound Slayer is creating. The song is perfect, end of story. Along with the song above, "Jesus Saves," "Criminally Insane," "Postmortem," "Raining Blood," and "Aggressive Perfector" are the best tracks of this release.

Reign In Blood Reigns supreme over all thrash metal records. If you think that your album is faster and more blistering, then think again. If you think that your album is more groundbreaking, then think again. And if you think that your band is better than Slayer, you have screw-loose. You can call me biased, but I'd like to see anyone try to top this blast of mayhem. It won't be done in our lifetimes. Trust me.

Bleeding its horror now I shall.... - 93%

Korgul The Terminator, January 25th, 2014

1986 was a fantastic year for heavy metal. Thrash metal was at an all time high, with iconic releases coming out left and right. Thrash heroes Slayer were three albums in at this point. Also had one EP and a live album. They were starting to master their songwriting skills, and began to mesh as a cohesive group of musicians. "Hell Awaits" is Slayer's shining moment, but to devalue the monolithic importance of "Reign In Blood" would be asinine. This is their most popular work, and their most respected amongst fans and non fans alike. Is it their best? No. But it's damn good.

Whereas "Hell Awaits" was longer and more developed, "Reign In Blood" is shorter and more chaotic. The hardcore influence is clear here, as the songs are short, to the point, and move along quickly. It has been said numerous times that producer Rick Rubin told them to "cut the fat", and indeed they did that. No song here is over four minutes, and after the opener "Angel of Death", they rarely go past the two minute mark. This is a huge departure from their previous work, and overall leaves a bloody taste of quick paced assault left in the mouth of the listener. It works, but the crafting and cohesiveness seen on "Hell Awaits" is gone, and replaced with ferocity and intensity rather than musicianship.

Lyrically, "Reign In Blood" subdues a bit of the Satanic themes and ideas seen on previous albums, and replaces them with more street level ideas of murder, war, and other assorted topics. "Angel of Death" is infamously written about Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who performed experiments on prisoners in the Auschwitz death camp. "Piece by Piece" is a twisted tale of a murderous deviant, and this theme in particular would be explored in more detail in later releases. There are still obvious odes to The Fallen One, but it's not as inclusive as their previous work. The cover of a throned demon and hanging imps and ghouls would tell you differently, but the lyrics on this album are slowly shifted from their Satanic themes, and this would be continue on into later releases.

Overall, "Reign In Blood" is widely and almost wholly accepted as a landmark metal album, one that has surpassed the idles of time and become a must listen to anyone who ever applied the term headbanger to themselves. Sure, "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death", or even lesser lauded tracks such as "Reborn" or "Epidemic" are hugely influential and all around incredible songs. But pound for pound, the lack of crafting and replacement of sheer speed for songwriting makes this album ever so slightly less incredible as "Show No Mercy" or "Hell Awaits".

To many, Slayer ended their reign in blood of the metal world in 1990, but "Reign In Blood" itself is a testament to the band at their seething prime. "Reign In Blood" is as fast, abrasive, and destructive as an album can be, and wholly deserves the acclaim it. So put on track one and get head banging. You have some blood to reign in.

----This review was also submitted to

Reign In Bullshit. - 71%

Metal_Jaw, September 17th, 2012

My first Slayer review on this site was of "Show No Mercy", which still currently reigns as my favorite album of theirs. In that review I mentioned that I wasn't exactly the biggest Slayer fan in the world. Well, after a few months of actually listening to what they boys offer, I've grown far more admiring of their work...for the most part. My original opinion of Slayer was based solely of this legendary affair. I used to think of it as a loud, incoherent mess of an album. And for the most part I still do, only now I like it even less because after the greatness and progression of Slayer's last two albums and one EP, this one stands as a spastic, sloppy little earsore. "Reign In Blood", while definitely bringing home the bacon in terms of genre-bending brutality and musical performance, is a choppy, too-short misstep in the band's 80's discography.

As I just said, the band is on fire here, which is partly why I gave the album something higher than 60-69%. Tom Araya really lets it go with his patented yells and and gravelly shouting, not to mention some of the finest screams in the group's history. His bass, however, is another story. This is probably the first of many, many Slayer albums where the bass is practically nonexistent, and it does hurt the layers of the sound a bit. King and Hanneman very viciously tearing out riffs up and down their axes, making their efforts on "Hell Awaits" ALMOST tame in comparison. Admittedly they rely on tremolo picking a bit much, but hey, they still fucking kick! The highlight of the four of them is easily Dave Lombardo. This is probably the guy's best career performance. He is absolutely relentless on pounding those skins, never once letting up with double bass and leaving nary a quiet moment alone with a solid fill.

Even though the guys are great at what they do, it's how they do it that's a different matter. "Reign in Blood" may have pushed the envelope in total brutality and helped birth death metal, but that doesn't stop it from being a choppy experiment with half-songs, mumbled riffs, repetitive lyrics and a miserably short running time. There's only about 2 songs total on here that aren't a waste of space. First off, of course, "Angel of Death". One of the best Slayer songs ever; totally and completely ferocious riffing, probably the only good solo on the album, brutal lyrics and one of my all-time favorite heavy metal screams opening up the song. The first half of my second pick is "Piece By Piece", a first half because "Piece By Piece" is still basically a half song. It does have more structure than most other numbers on here, and you can actually make out what the hell Araya is shouting about. The second half of my second pick id the legendary title track; I call this one a half song in of itself because like 30-40 seconds of this thing is made up of damn sound effects! Regardless, the song itself is great; lots of wicked mosh riffing and one of the best breakdowns of all time at 2:11.
The rest of this album of half songs need not apply. Some are okay, like the more mid-paced moments of "Jesus Saves" or the solid soloing of "Criminally Insane", but the rest of these tracks just come and go really in a chaotic, messy rush of jumbled vocals and riffs buried under relentless adrenaline.

Overall, this album is a big step down from the group's last 3 main efforts. While I do appreciate their performances and the fact that the viciousness helped give birth to death metal, it's that viciousness that kills the record. Only about (I guess technically) song great songs, while otherwise riffs and variety get thrown out the window in favor of aimless numbskull brutality. It's too bad, I would have love to have seen what Slayer could have evolved into RIGHT after "Hell Awaits".

Too freaking fast for some to catch on. - 100%

mastodon_t, August 14th, 2012

If there's one thing I hate in thrash metal, it's laziness. It can really lead to some dangerous misconceptions depending on one being affected by or immune to such a horrible condition. Today's thrash metal (if one can still call it that) is really fucking lazy. I blame it in equal parts on the bands and on their audiences because, let's face it, nowadays a band will most likely play what they think we want to hear, not what they want to play. That's why the standards have fallen, and that's why, unfortunately, we won't get another "Reign In Blood" again, not from Slayer nor from any other band.

There's a conspicuous amount of bashing of Reign In Blood going on throughout the net, mostly based on the supposed "lack of good songwriting" going on here. While everyone seems to agree that "Angel Of Death", "Postmortem" and "Raining Blood" are masterpieces (which they are), the common perception is that almost everything in between is not even worth a listen. Reading such nonsense makes my insides hurt as it proves how lazy metalheads have become.

"Reign In Blood" came out after the promising (if flawed) "Hell Awaits", which suffered very much from a weak production and an especially bad mixing job by Metal Blade boss Brian Slagel, and this is solely responsible for the album's status as a "contender" and not a full-on masterpiece. The two albums share most of the lyrical themes, the buzzsaw riffing, and the concept of "evil" that, at the time, Slayer were so deeply in love with. What sets "Reign In Blood" apart is an urgency and hunger that its predecessor only hinted at, like the guys in the band were possessed by a malevolent higher power they had no control over. This results in the most credible of Slayer's performances ever committed to tape.

As far as the songs are structured, every track on the record is your typical rock song. You get an opening riff, two verse/chorus repetitions, a middle section/bridge, solo, and a closing verse/chorus-outro. That's exactly how the three songs globally hailed as masterpieces are also structured. The difference lays in the amount of time the listener is being left to understand what hit him, and in the case of the 7 tracks that the core of this album consists of, there just isn't enough time for the average metal fan's dozy ear to realize what's been happening in those 16+ minutes. I have my own opinion about what goes on on this album: Hell. Hell in music form, conjured up by four certifiable individuals who just didn't give a good goddamn about what genre they fit or what other people might think of their music. They just wanted to blast, and they did so in the most awesome way possible, and that's by literally blowing away the boundaries of the genre they invented and carving their name in stone for eternity with the most violent and vibrant thrash metal album ever made. Sure, there's heavier thrash records out there, but more intense? No. Fucking. Way.

The terrifying cover is an appropriate introduction to the music behind it and can be summarized in two words: TOTAL-CHAOS. The thrashing fury of every single track on this record is unmatched today. The opening riff to "Angel Of Death" is the musical equivalent of a kick in the teeth by a 300-lb Maori wearing army boots. And you know what the best part is? That kick lasts 28 minutes. A half hour of ultra-intense emotions, from the ultra-violent "Piece By Piece" through the demonic triptych "Necrophobic/Altar Of Sacrifice/Jesus Saves" (the fastest and more relentless portion of the album, that's where the most heads will fall off) to the bewildering madness of "Criminally Insane", "Reborn" and especially "Epidemic" (an overlooked gem). It all leads to the "Postmortem/Raining Blood" double attack, the crushing, devastating, and inevitable conclusion.

The intensity never falls under danger-level. The band members all play at 300 mph, creating an infernal vortex that, combined with the over-the-top sound of the recording and the incessant, brutal screaming of Tom Araya, makes this wild Satanic ride of an album a physical and psychological experience rather than a mere listen. 26 years on, Reign In Blood still sounds like it wants to rip through the speakers and smash your face, and we're talking about an album that was recorded just the way we hear it, without digital fixing. Especially Dave Lombardo's performance deserves praise as many of the faster and more technical metal drummers out there today mention him as one of their biggest influences, sometimes solely based on this performance.

Finally, I doubt there's much thinking from the band behind the making of this masterpiece, and that's the beauty of it. The music engraved on this record comes straight from Slayer's gut; there are no filters at play here, no manipulation, just the real shit. It's too damn fast to leave any time for thinking. It's a wild ride and should be enjoyed for what it is, so just put the record on, wear your headphones, turn off the lights, and lock your room's door. Now listen to "Reign In Blood" the way you're supposed to and let it take you to that stinking ugly place.

Not Bad, But Drastically Fails Expectations - 68%

octavarium, April 27th, 2012

I remember in grade school hearing some of my friends go on and on about this band called Slayer and how awesome they were and how they liked to push the envelope with songs about anti-Christianity, death, and gore. Not being a fan of metal yet, I never gave them a listen. But as I became more introduced to metal, I did research on the band and learned of their importance as one of the cornerstones of thrash metal and that their album Reign in Blood was one of the best metal albums of all time with the classic song Raining Blood. I eventually decided to give Raining Blood and the rest of the album a listen and find out what all the fuss was about. I certainly had something to fuss about, but not that it was one of the greatest metal albums of all time, but why everyone thought it was.

The problem this album comes down to overall song structure. They are all incredibly short, with Raining Blood clocking in at only four minutes and seventeen seconds, with a good minute of it consisting of sound effects, and Angel of Death times in just shy of five minutes. All the others range from two to two-and-a-half minutes long. The album is only about twenty-nine minutes long total, meaning it could qualify as an EP. Short songs aren't necessarily bad, but often times they leave me wanting more. However, with the songs as crazy and chaotic as they are, often times the shorter the better. But had the songs been longer with more attention paid to melody rather primarily on sound and speed, there would be an increased possibility for catchiness and memorability. But because the songs begin and end so quickly, it is nearly impossible to remember how any of the previous songs went because they begin and end so abruptly. having what seems to eb the same chord progression played over and over again doesn't help either.

Sound is the biggest issue when it comes to this album. None of the guys are bad musicians: Dave Lombardo can double bass pedal the hell of out of a drum kit and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are incredibly fast and no doubt skilled and capable of cool solos. Now being a fan of power and speed metal, I have no problem with fast music. But it's the fact they try so hard to be fast and aggressive that everything just breaks down into a chaotic mess of sound. Their skill in instrumentation shows up in flashes throughout the album, but as they seemingly have no desire to slow down and build a solid, coherent melody, everything just seems forced. The end product is an album where every track sounds almost exactly the same as the one that preceeded it. This is the most recurring issue when it comes to thrash metal. There is nothing wrong with the genre of thrash metal and I am personally a fan of Metallica and Megadeth. However, bands like Metallica and Megadeth have been known for a willingness to slow things down and put emphasis on melody and emotions other than just anger and aggression as well as on instrumentation from time to time. Not to compare and contrast Slayer from either band too much, but while other thrash bands take the time to create a defined and solid melody to base their speed on, this is something Slayer completely leaves out. Although nearly every thrash band, including Megadeth and Metallica, runs the risk of repetition, this pitfall is most notable on Reign in Blood in that such a heavy reliance on blistering fast, hardcore punk-inspired power chord riffage closes the door on variety and creativity.

The vocals are another issue to take note of. Lead singer Tom Araya does not have a bad voice carries a strong aggressive feel. After all, thrash metal is a rough, aggressive genre which often calls for angry and shouted vocals. But because the songs are so fast it sounds like Tom just tries to scream as many words as he can in a single breath, often changing tempo when he needs to just to keep up. Once again, the problem here is a complete lack of melody, relying entirely on speed and aggression. And his shouts and singing are usually so fast and aggressive it's extremely difficult to understand a single stanza or identify a rational thought, only picking up on words such as "blood", "Satan", "hell", or "death."

The one song that really had potential but just falls short of being great is the famous Raining Blood. After an extended sound of rainfall, it breaks out into a really cool and dark riff that inspires feelings of doom and dread. But then the verses once again break down into an unorganized mixture of chaotic riffing and double bass pedalling (why this is regarded as one of the best drum songs in metal I'll never know) while only alternately returning to that awesome riff. Kerry King provides a very impressive solo that is worthy of its recognition, but before long the song ends with another extended section of storm and rainfall sounds. While the song had potential, only about a minute of Raining Blood, with its awesome opening riff and impressive solo, is of redeemable value. Close to two minutes of it are sound effects and another minute is dedicated to the same old formula of nonsensical chaos. Getting past the sound, the lyrics are violent, macabre-inspired, and deal with the occult. These have often offended the mainstream masses (including yours truly for a time), but songs dealing with the occult and gross-out lyrics have made entire genres of metal, so Slayer are in a way pioneers here. But overall, the lyrics just seem over-the-top and just somewhat ridiculous.

Regardless of my criticisms, Reign in Blood is not a horrible album. Like I said, the musicians and singer are clearly talented and I acknowledge their influence and recognition in the thrash metal scene. But the album just suffers from too much repetition and follows the same formula over and over again, making Raining Blood the only track that has any memorable qualities. If the songs were just a tad bit slower, longer, and more restrained in their delivery, it could have been quite a bit better. But overall, everything just seems so abrupt and forced. It was almost as if the album was written and recorded on a rushed deadline without much time to reevaluate. I understand that this album is supposed to be about chaos and anger, which is demonstrated quite well. But even in thrash metal, where aggression and speed is in the norm, you cannot simply close the door on melody and a defined song structure for every single song. Had Slayer just been slightly open to the idea of experimentation, Reign in Blood could have truly achieved the status of what many fans already designate it as: a classic.

Overrated, underdeveloped. - 80%

Stormrider2112, February 7th, 2012

So this is what all the fuss is about? The be-all/end-all of metal? This would make a damn fine EP if it were just Angel Of Death, Epidemic, Criminally Insane and Postmortem/Raining Blood. The other 5 tracks come off as good ideas for a basis of a thrash song, but apparently Jeff Hanneman thought it would be a good idea to stop writing halfway through.

That's what really kills this album. Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits both showed that Slayer were fully capable of writing fully developed and, dare I say, progressive songs, and that comes through on Angel Of Death and...umm...Angel Of Death. The other 4 good songs are still pretty simple, relatively speaking (Postmortem and Raining Blood both have a few changes; Postmortem with the awesome speedup at the end and Raining Blood with the mosh part to end all mosh parts [none of that metalcore chug-chuggachug shit]), but are still full songs, not something you'd expect from a hardcore punk band.

So why is this the flagship of Slayer's catalog? I don't fucking know. Show No Mercy and South Of Heaven both have far better songs (although both are significantly slower than this and Hell Awaits), and Hell Awaits is far more evil, menacing, riffy, and fast. Angel Of Death is amazing, but not amazing enough to balance out crap like Necrophobic and Jesus Saves. Crionics and Die By The Sword from SNM and Hell Awaits and At Dawn They Sleep from Hell Awaits all crush Angel Of Death with their awesomeness, and that's just Slayer's body of work (get some Dark Angel, Kreator, Exodus, or even Megadeth and this album just falls flat).

It's certainly not a bad album, and one every metalhead should own, but it's far from worthy of all the praise it gets. Yup, it's fast, but it's fast for the sake of being fast. Just because you can (and they really can't; this is one of the sloppiest albums I've ever heard) doesn't mean you should. Besides, Dark Angel and Kruiz are faster.

Enter To The Realm Of SATAN - 91%

grain_silo, July 24th, 2011

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”

Inspiring; except the guitar solos! - 80%

perishnflames, May 27th, 2011

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
Necrophobic: 8/10
Altar of Sacrifice: 6/10
Jesus Saves: 7/10
Criminally Insane: 7/10
Reborn: 8/10
Epidemic: 7/10
Postmortem: 10/10
Raining Blood 9/10

Total = 80%

So… This is Slayer’s Legacy? - 54%

Evil_Carrot, May 8th, 2011

Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” has an infamous legacy in metal, and was pretty groundbreaking at its time in terms of its almost constant barrage of brutality and speed. It’s fast and aggressive, sure, but does the fact this album is considered so influential necessarily make it a great album?

Most of the songs on this album are ridiculously short. Only three clock in over two minutes, and only two break four. This leaves us with a ten song album that clocks in at under half an hour. Due to all of the songs being so short, this album feels less written than its predecessor, “Hell Awaits,” and feels like a jam than a completed album. Furthermore, almost all of the songs are ridiculously fast paced. Almost as though the band said, “Let’s see how fast we can play,” and topped it off with Tom Araya screaming evil sounding shit over it.

We kick things off with Angel of Death, an amazing opener, beginning with fast heavy riffing, and being, to my knowledge, one of the last songs featuring Tom Araya’s high pitched shrieking wail, which becomes a barbaric yell. The song continues on brutally as Tom informs us that the holocaust was bad or something. His voice sounds all out evil, the tone of the guitars and drums are brutal, and this song features something that’s pretty rare on this album: A breakdown, which becomes a misplaced head banging piece where Tom describes graphic details of the holocaust and Josef Mengele’s victims. Then we get to the solo. Often times on this album the solos feel like they’re just fretting random shit on the high strings and seeing what happens. In some cases it works. In some it doesn’t. For the most part, I probably won’t even bring up the solos again, since “random fretting” seems to cover most of them. Tom Araya screams “Angel of Death” a few more times, and so ends the longest song you’ll be hearing in a while.

“Piece by Piece” and “Criminally Insane” have a rather mid-paced intro, which break out into a relentless thrash fest. “Piece by Piece” holds water mostly because of its placement on the album. Being the second track, the idea of relentless thrashing has yet to grow stale. “Criminally Insane,” on the other hand has always been what I considered to be a highlight of the albums middle part. Not as good as either the opener or the closer, but good compared to most of the middle. Neither “Necrophobic” nor “Altar of Sacrifice” fuck around before punching you in the face with speed, although right after Toms scream at the end of “Necrophobic” there is about… one second of a slow riff, while “Altar” slows down just a little while Tom discusses how awesome Satan is. “Reborn” and “Epidemic” thrash almost all the way through, and do absolutely nothing noteworthy.

“Jesus Saves” sounds like two songs that they didn’t feel like working on anymore, so rather than finish either, they combined both. Almost half the song is a somewhat slow chug, with some riffing over it, and then half way through, out of nowhere, it just stops and becomes another fucking thrasher. And then it just kind of stops and you wonder what the fuck just happened.

“Postmortem” is interesting, seeing as it does the exact same thing “Jesus Saves” does, but on some copies, it actually is split, so that the second half of the song is actually the intro to Raining Blood. This song actually makes it work much better than “Jesus Saves” though, and it becomes another highlight of the album’s middle section.

And then begins “Raining Blood.” The eerie guitar feedback. The rain. The almost tribal drumming. The well known riff. After the minute of build up, there is a part that sounds like every other song on the album, but as it goes on, it really stops relying on speed and pays off that intense build up for a while, as that famous riff plays, until Tom Araya finally screams “RAINING BLOOD!!” The solo sounds like a chaotic mess, but somehow the nature of it works well for the build up to that final clap of thunder, as Slayer leaves you with echoing rain.

At the end of the day, “Reign in Blood” is an album you can only enjoy if you’re the type who just wants to thrash to really fast paced noise. Despite how highly regarded this album is, Slayer had already done this type of music on Haunting the Chapel and Hell Awaits, and much better I might add, and would continue to do it, and again, better, for a few more albums. I can’t even honestly say this is a good starting place for people getting into Slayer. “Seasons in the Abyss” would be better suited, since it offers a taste of both brutal thrashing Slayer as well as the darker more ambient stuff they did. Unless you want a half an hour of senseless brutality, bookended by two good songs, then forget this album, forget all its praise, and forget its legacy. Slayer can, and have, done better, and it’s a little sad that no matter what they accomplish or have accomplished, this album will always be what the band is most remembered for.

Thrash metal for dummies - 20%

torment159, July 25th, 2010

Slayer’s Reign in Blood is one of thrash metals best selling records, which goes to show that popularity isn’t everything. Back in 1986 this album was one of the fastest and heaviest thrash albums around, and helped define the genre, in a bad way. Slayer’s Reign in Blood makes thrash metal look like it is played by a bunch of no talent losers who only care about how brutal the music is and not how it sounds.

The album starts out promising with Angel Of Death. The song has a lot of great moments, until the solo which is the typical Slayer picking really fast on a bunch of notes in no particular scale guitar solo. Other than, a terrible solo and some very average vocals by Tom Araya the song is pretty good and a cut above what is to come for eight more songs. The next eight songs aren’t memorable at all, there is barely a riffs in the entire group of these eight songs that isn’t either extremely mundane or just really fast palm mutes. Every solo, almost every riff, and every line of lyrics yelled monotone by Tom Araya gives someone who isn’t very into metal the wrong idea of what its all about. Metal is in fact usually very sophisticated and takes a lot of talent to play but albums like this make it seem like all you need to be a famous thrash metal musician is a fast right hand. The album sort of makes up for this streak of below average songs with Raining Blood, which still sounds like a bunch of speed with almost no actual riffs but it’s still pretty cool.

One good thing about the album is that it is short. If you decide to torture yourself with this album it will at least be a short torture. Most of the songs are under three minutes, which proves once again that Slayer are not good song writers and rely completely on how fast they can move their picking hands.

Another thing about Slayer’s song writing is they do not like melody. The whole album sound extremely chaotic and to people who aren’t used to metal music probably sounds like a bunch of random notes played with a lot of distortion, which is kind of what it actually is. You won’t find a touch of melody on the entire album.

Although I don’t like this album at all I can’t deny its influence. With this album Slayer inspired hundreds of other thrash bands to follow in their footsteps and write really fast and heavy thrash metal records, but is that really a good thing? This album may have inspired a lot of people to play thrash metal but all it really did was water the genre down from great riffing songs and fantastic shredding solos, to speed speed and more speed. This album made it ok to be a below average musician and song writer and play thrash metal.

Slayers Reign in Blood is a great record if you are looking for speed, but other than speed it has absolutely nothing. The riffs are boring, the solos are terrible, Tom Araya is an awful vocalist, I use the word vocalist because while he does the vocals he is not at all a singer, and the album as a whole is unmemorable. On this album, Slayer manages to write two decent songs and eight terrible filler songs that can barely be called songs at all. This album is a below average thrash album that almost every mediocre high school garage band is capable of writing. Other than some fast palm muting and a good drummer, the band has zero talent, or if they do have talent they sure don’t show it on this album or any other they’ve released.

The best metal record. A new approach... - 100%

Commando673, April 28th, 2010

As I re-import both of my Reign In Blood CD's (original and remaster) to my itunes for what seems like the 10th time, I decide to check out the Archives to see if anyone commented on the remastered version's bonus tracks, or maybe the remastered vs. original sound. To my utter fucking amazement, I see that the overall rating for this record is a pathetic 81%! Now that type of rating is appropriate for an overrated, mediocre but still classic work like British Steel, or a solid thrash comeback like Endgame, but come on! This is REIGN... IN... BLOOD!

It was enough to cause me to register for an MA account and write this review, my first on this site. Now, I don't think it's going to do any good to analyze the songs or rave about how it's only 28 minutes, or any of the normal shit people deservedly praise this record for on a regular basis. That said, yes, it IS my intention to help raise the score of this crucial record by giving it a 100. BUT, that also happens to be the score that I actually feel it deserves. This record and no others.

Here's the thing: I don't believe that any two records can be exactly the same and hence deserve the same score. Now since there are obviously more than 100 metal records in existence, it's impossible to give every record a different score. But what IS possible is to assign a top rating. a 100 is THE highest rating. This score necessarily needs to be reserved for that ONE record in your collection that you believe is the BEST RECORD OF ALL TIME. A record that no others can top. To give out more than one 100 score means that you really aren't sure what you like best, and more than that, aren't really putting new records in context, because scores can change over time. I probably wouldn't have put Reign In Blood at #1 on release day in 1986. But over time, it's proven itself worthy...

Point being, acceptable candidates for the 100 slot would surely include the first 3 Sabbath records, Sad Wings, Painkiller, Puppets, Rust in Peace, Ace of Spades, Bonded By Blood, etc. And I wouldn't fault anyone for placing any of these records at 100. But in this reviewer's eyes, it is metal sacrilege to have Reign In Blood sitting on this glorious website at a paltry 81, and here's why:

For all the cries about the major label sellout, the big time producer and all that shit, has any band ever conformed LESS to what we typify as major label influence? Priest did pop covers at their label's request which then turned into pop metal originals, Maiden did Women In Uniform, Metallica went on MTV with a ballad, and Slayer did what, got faster and heavier?! yes! sure the songs got shorter, but they cut the fat, got straight to the point, and still didn't cut the solos out. And maybe that was Rubin's influence, but the difference is that is benefitted the songs and the album enormously. For the first time, a metal band took what was great about punk, the succinct and straightforward delivery, and actually used it to create a better heavy metal song. I love punk rock but there is nothing punk rock about the songs on Reign In Blood. They are out and out heavy metal songs played faster, with more precision, and with a more venomous but contradictorily clearer and organic delivery than had ever happened before or since.

And let's talk about precision. Not the precision of pro-tooled digital autonomous bullshit that is all-consuming in our current time, but the precision of skilled musicians, skillfully recorded. Don't get me wrong, I love raw and I love early Slayer. There are some absolutely killer songs, but like early Kreator, Venom, Bathory, even Megadeth, they are muddy as hell. A cacophony of noise. And sometimes a cacophony of noise suits my mood just fine. But more often than not, a precision-guided metal attack destroys all comers. When it comes to Reign In Blood, the production suits the songs perfectly. Songs this fast, with double kick and rhythm guitar work this good, would simply come across as a sludgy mess with production any less clear than Rubin's (listen to the snare!). But in the process, he sacrifices absolutely none of the immediacy and brutal attack of the songs. They hit, and they hit hard. Crank this record up (especially the original master, with all dynamics fully intact) and you can hear every little nuance of every instrument, with drums and solos obviously at the forefront. And if repetition is truth, then I say again, clarity equals power. And that point is proven in an instant by comparing the Reign In Blood session outtake of Aggressive Perfector with the original Metal Massacre III version found on the Haunting the Chapel EP reissue.

It wasn't Hanneman & King's original, confrontational songs. It wasn't Araya's aggressive, brutal but still memorable vocals. It wasn't Lombardo's genre-defining double kick onslaught. It wasn't Rubin's heavy but crystal clear production. It was the perfect storm of all of all those elements, combined into one half-hour record, recorded in 1986, that ultimately constituted the greatest heavy metal record of all time. hands down. 100.

Slayer - Reign in Blood - 100%

Orbitball, January 22nd, 2010

Slayer's origin dates back to 1981 when the band was founded by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Tom Araya then joined playing out the parts of bass and vocals. Dave Lombardo decided to join on drums soon thereafter. Their first release "Show no Mercy" was a great debut though it wasn't entirely flawless. But for a debut, it was good enough to convince fans to check them out as a thrash metal outfit. "Hell Awaits", their follow-up release wasn't as good as I expected it to be. People found it to be something that should not miss out on. It just wasn't striking to me. "Reign in Blood", their 3rd full-length album was probably their most solid output for the time. Some of the most brutal speed infected songs are featured here on this release. The album is completely no holds barred form of thrash metal played at it's finest.

As far as the guitar riffs go, they are wholly technical and innovative. Not only that, but they are played with such spell bounding energy. It's really incredible. No track on here is boring or a complete waste. I'm assuming that their main focus here was to achieve a high level of success as far as the songwriting goes. All of the song tempos are totally and astonishingly fast. It's really baffling to the listener. Pure crunch distortion for the guitars that hardly ever seem to let up. I'd consider "Reign in Blood" to be one of the best thrash metal releases in history. The reason that I make this assumption was because all of the songs were spell bounding in intensity. They are all original sounding. Nothing here is copied from anywhere else. Previous releases showed their potential and here on "Reign in Blood" is where they shined their most.

"Angel of Death", their first song on here begins with a totally fast technical riff which gives the listener an idea of how the rest of the album will sound. It's one of the longest songs on here but is in no way lacking in originality. The tempos varied on every song though for the most part they were all very fast. The E-flat tuned guitars punch out some mind boggling riffs and other songs were in more brief moderate speeds. Musically speaking, Slayer demonstrates on here that they were not a force to be reckoned with. No real melodic songs are featured only pure deafening thrash metal. Really brutal and Araya's vocals mesh well together with the guitars. His outputs feature shrieking screams during some tracks and others that are way fast. A good example of the fast vocal output would be for the song "Necrophobic."

Aside from the crunch festered guitars, the bass is somewhat audible and Lombardo's drum outputs were solid. He keeps up the pace for each song and so does Araya's bass guitar playing. Tracks that were also notable besides "Angel of Death" would be "Piece by Piece", "Reborn", "Jesus Saves" and "Raining Blood." Slayer exonerates unique songwriting capabilities here as a 4-some band. They definitely matured as an uncompromising thrash metal band. Their previous 2 releases gave their audience potential as a band. "Reign in Blood" successfully fulfills that potential much more so then other thrash metal bands back in the 1980's.

The lead guitar pieces by Hanneman and King are way technical here. It's difficult to tell the difference between the 2 guitarists. The only way really is to view the insert that accompanies the CD. Though Hanneman said in the past that they show this so that people don't think that his solos are King's. They both show real talent however and the other band members are also very well versed. Araya's vocals/bass guitar playing is quite up to par with his fellow band mates. Lombardo definitely does a great job on drums keeping up in time with the guitar riffs. Probably their most technical release to date, "Reign in Blood" defines the way thrash metal should be played. That would be in a totally hardcore fashion. Production and mixing was really done well. Each instrument was blended together to form a strong and awesomely founded release. The rhythm/lead guitar, bass and drums were fit in together. This was what lacked from their previous 2 full-length albums. Rick Rubin did a great job here working alongside the band to enhance their studio efforts.

Lyrically speaking, Slayer's Satanic and anti-religion topics form the bulk of the songwriting. Their whole lyrical approach is a gimmick anyway. They aren't Satanists even though they chose for this release and prior 2 to talk of these topics. However, it blends well with the music. They wanted to keep that "underground" approach I suppose. Their previous albums also reflect this Satanic worship sort of style to their songs. They shouldn't throw the listener off because "Reign in Blood" is such a classic release from the band. Thrash metal isn't played much finer than this. The original album doesn't feature any cover songs here. It's good that they're entirely originals. This shows what talent the band has entirely.

Even though this was Slayer's 3rd full-length album, it sure shows a lot of maturity from a musical standpoint. Other bands such as Exodus and early Metallica showed their talent as well though Slayer never decided to give up their thrash metal roots. With "Reign in Blood", we see them to be playing at their finest. Pure originality, brutality and uncompromising thrash metal. Very intense album. They didn't wish to cash in and put out something that would sell out like Metallica did. People that wish to hear uncompromising thrash metal that's totally original, pick up "Reign in Blood." You won't be disappointed. It's a total personification of how thrash metal should be played.

The year is 1986… - 99%

morbert, December 23rd, 2009

...And thrash metal was all over the place. Most US bands weren’t all that evil. For instance no matter how fast or heavy Exodus were, their riffs still had something hopeful or even happy about them. No, the real darkness came from Europe. Kreator, Sodom, Celtic Frost, you name them. But of course there are exceptions! And the most important once was Slayer. Unamerican darkness surrounded them, Hell Awaits had put them on the map, globally. Slayer ruled supreme. And one month before Dark Angel could become pretenders to the throne by releasing the majestic Darkness Descends, Slayer had come up with something. Something called Reign In Blood.

It has been said Slayer were very much into punk and crossover and this love culminated in Reign In Blood. Letting go of the principle of long songs following the well known metal dogmas. Or maybe they were just touring so much, living the fast life, they only had a handful of riffs and weren’t in the mood to write elaborate material with the ideas they had this time. In any case, Slayer wasted no time and fabricated 10 songs with such an average pace and length, it could’ve just been another hardcore punk album. However it didn’t turn out to be a punk nor crossover album, not like S.O.D. did a year earlier. There was no comedy whatsoever. What if SOD, DRI and such hadn’t done their parts? Would Reign In Blood have turned out this way? No one can tell for sure.

Anyway, there still were two songs here which were longer (exceeding the 4 minute mark that is) and filled with breaks, changes in pace and a shitload of riffs. We’re talking Angel of Death and Raining Blood. For most of us also the best two songs on this album. These songs really are the missing link between the slightly more elaborate Haunting The Chapel / Hell Awaits approach and the remaining short fast songs on Reign In Blood.

Now what’s the true strength of the incredible speed here on Reign In Blood? Two major important aspects. First of all Dave Lombardo clearly suffers from ADHD here or he just forgot he was in the studio and thought they were performing live. If you compare his performance here to the earlier Hell Awaits album he has gotten rid off all neatness. He just goes berzerk, taking the rest of the band with him since they have no other choice. Rick Rubin managed to capture Lombardo’s intensity as we’d only seen earlier on the live Combat VHS. And secondly there are the non-fast parts, breaks and stop-and-go moments. They have been put in so cleverly, making each fast part feel even faster. It is this specific aspect which since then has been copied so often.

Trimming thrash metal ideas till the pure essence is left. No holds barred and to the point efficiency. As a result a band can create an album such as this only once. Yes, there are quite a few riffs which may sound interchangeable to some, often variations on the same D#, E, G & A patterns but that was the beauty of ancient crossover and in a way a charming detail on Reign In Blood, actually making the album sound more cohesive as a whole as well.

Reign in Blood was groundbreaking. And stating that now, two decades later, it might sound generic, simple or monotone in the ears of some younger people just makes the groundbreaking-statement more obvious. It is not without reason the style presented here has since been copied, and therefor further developed, by legions of acts. Slayer were one of those acts who set the standard for fast and furious thrash metal.

Mosquitoes Dying Horrible Deaths - 72%

1stMetalheads, September 16th, 2008

When I first saw kids at my school with Slayer shirts, I initially blew them off, after all, how good could they be if you their shirts are on kids who listen to Lamb Of God and Trivium? Well, you’d be surprised if you were in the same situation as me, and at the time I hadn’t listened to more thrash than Megadeth and Metallica, so this was totally new to me. About a month later, I had heard a couple songs, and they sounded pretty badass, and the end result was me getting Reign In Blood.

Now, if you know me, you’ll know that I’m not particularly big on what people think the classics are, just what it actually sounds like, and Reign In Blood doesn’t sound like all it’s cracked up to be. This is just a gateway album, introducing people to fast music, and there's very little for a veteran to appreciate. There isn't even enough memorable tracks for a nostalgic replay.

First off, Kerry King, the God Of Random-Fret-Solos, sounded good on Show No Mercy, but what happened? (did your balls drop off?) Putting it a bit harshly, King's solos sound more like a swarm of mosquitoes dying horrible deaths than the cries of the damned (which I guess is what he’s going for). And with RIB, his solos are the most overarching problem. They're on every single song (often several of them), and always ends up sounding mediocre, with a slight tinge of wankery becoming apparent when you realize he's actually serious.

As for the other laurel-sucking pretend god, there's Dave Lombardo. What’s so special about him? Why does he get all the praise he does? I don’t know, because his drum fills are completely average. He has two basic beats, kinda-sorta fast beats, and the more atmospheric pounding and slow drums. Of the two, the latter is much better, but he uses the first almost exclusively. In his defense though, at least he didn’t descend as much as Kerry King did from SNM, and was much better on that album as well as this one.

Now for Tom Araya. Well he doesn’t keep much quality beyond his very first scream on Angel Of Death, save few select screeches after that. His vocals are about as varied as Lombardos drumming, and even more bland than Kings solos. And as to his bass, well, it just plods along, not really doing anything. Speaking of repetitive, the songwriting on this album could be reduced to a simple mathematical formula that likely wouldn’t even require anything above a 6th-grade education to evolve. All of the eight middle tracks sound exactly the same, except for the intro to Criminally Insane (Which is really similar to the intro for Raining Blood)

Now, you’ve probably looked at the score again by now, and you’re wondering why it’s so high when I’m pretty much tearing this album apart. Well, this album can be saved by two things, and the biggest of those is the indescribable quality of thrash that makes you want to headbang and scream until your neck and vocal chords feel like they've been put through a meat grinder. The main thing helping this album with that is that it is FAST, with most of the songs being under 3 minutes. Before you know it, all those 8 filler tracks will be over with, and instead of dragging all the half-assed riffs through the mud, they just briefly touch it. Because of this, the songs are much easier to deal with, and don’t seem nearly so boring.

Jeff Hanneman, the lone ranger for quality on here, really shines. Where Kerry King goes crazy-deep into his dumbass style, and Lombardo just does the same thing over and over, Hanneman gets what both are trying to do. He goes kind of technical without going into wankery, and provides the base-line for head banging that usually falls to the drums. Make no mistake, all the quality that’s here is because of Hanneman.

But really, the way to listen to this album is by not paying attention to it. If you ever think about what they’re actually playing, it will just seem subpar. This album is perfect if you just want some good rhythm to exercise to, and it does extremely well at that. Take it for what it is, but don’t expect something that will reveal anything to you over time, you hear all you need to the very first time.

Highlights: Angel Of Death, Raining Blood

Blood Reign o'er me - 82%

marktheviktor, September 15th, 2008

The Great Divide is not just a geological schism, it is also the debate among the metal community as to whether Slayer’s seminal Reign in Blood is overrated or not. For the record, I certainly do not believe such although I can see why some might think so. That being said, no matter how great and influential a metal album truly might be, there lie devil’s advocates (against Slayer?) ready to rebut the hype. The road to Hell Awaits was paved with good inventions indeed ala Venom; brick by smoldering brick.

Since we are on the subject of Great Divides, according to this album, skies will be lacerated and destinies dismembered. This is what Reign in Blood is all about and the only thing that matters here. When you switch on this album, apocalypse and inherent evil is the order of darkest day: Frenetic riffs are the fire and storm laden down beats are the brimstone. You need not bring wine and crackers atop this mount of Judgment Day.

What greeted listeners the first time they heard Reign in Blood? Why the Angel of Death that’s what. Clocking in just under five minutes, Tom Araya’s howling scream in the first thirty seconds is a farewell of sorts from this type of delivery that characterized Show and Hell. And what a great display it is. One of the knocks against later Slayer material was Tom’s abandonment of this Di’Anno and Halford inspired wailing. I would have liked to have heard a Victim of Changes type attempted closing scream to conclude this killer opening track. But Angel of Death is near perfect thrash so I can’t have everything.

The next song on the death list is the murderous Piece by Piece. The lyrics shouted on this song are a cunt hair too high in the mix compared to the other songs. And while I am splitting hairs, I think Slayer went to their own dictionary because I still have no clue what “modulistic terror” means. My point being that is how I knew the vocals were slightly a bit in the forefront; that I picked up on that term. But I digress, Slayer are thrash masters not wordsmiths. It says terror and this is a thrash album. That’s good enough for me.

The reign of terror modulistic or otherwise, continues to rain down most notably with Alter of Sacrifice. The raw opening riff on this one is quite awesome and I have heard some bands use it since. Every time I hear it I nod to myself that royalties should be thrown to Slayer. My guess is that Jeff Hanneman probably used a passive pickup to give it that raw, hardcore sound. This song is my favorite on the album. Dave Lombardo has some wicked blast beats here and Araya channels Cronos especially when he shouts “Praise hail Satan!!” and “endlessly searching for salvation!” I was left waiting for the Venom frontman to cameo “That was good. That was real good!”

Let us skip down to the final track that is Rain in Blood. The soaring, screeching guitars of Hanneman and King that are heard along with the thunder couldn’t be more brilliant to evoke the epic dread that awaits us here. The famous riff that opens the song needs no introduction. It is of course legendary. What does get overlooked at the start of the riffage is Tom Araya’s bass. What I heard was a masterful beat that seemed like pulsated drone. While Tom will never be mentioned in the same breath as four-string metallers like Steve Harris and Cliff Burton, I always thought he was underrated in light of the speed that Slayer’s metal traveled. I picked up on his syncopation underneath the guitars and it added to my appreciation for this song even more. Lombardo’s blast beats at 1:09 to 1:22 are a clinic for the style that other thrash drummers could only begin to emulate. That Slayer lost their luster after Dave departed is no coincidence.

Nineteen eighty-six was a banner year for thrash apparently. If nothing else, metalheads had options of which new thrash record to buy. That other “thrash” band released a Muppets album and ‘Deth sold Peace which was no push over. But it was Slayer who could bring the blood and brutality if you demanded your American thrash in extremes. Reign in Blood was tailored to be played live as if it was one headbanging assault. Blood would be spewed at the front rows like watermelons at a Gallagher show.

R.I.B is not a flawless thrash album. Some of the middle tracks might have that samey sound and the Brian Slagel production grit is sorely missed sometimes but I would be hard pressed to find a metalhead who didn’t value the contribution that it made on thrash. The divide is not as great on that point.

Decent, but c'mon now... - 70%

delayedreaction, July 30th, 2008

Well, I'll admit, when this album comes up the word that comes to mind is "overrated." When I use that word, it's usually a thinly veiled disparagement of whatever I'm talking about. What I'm usually saying is "I think it sucks but I don't want to be a dick about it." This isn't the case with this album. Sure, it's good, but when I want thrash metal I usually look elsewhere... so I'm perplexed as to why so many people hail this as a seminal, if not the best, thrash metal album, and as Slayer's crowning achievement. What, better than Show No Mercy? Haunting the Chapel? Hell Awaits??

Perhaps it's my bias against major label releases, but this being Slayer's major label debut, I think it's a perfect example for justifying this bias somewhat. Reign In Blood is Slayer's shortest album (without the bonus tracks), so if you deduced that it's their shortest album, you'd be correct. It is also their simplest, most watered-down release to date (they got worse, but this one is still good). Their first two albums are full of great moments, and basically that's what make them superior, they just have more moments. Moments that make you bang your head, play some air guitar, punch a baby, you know... those moments. There are more rhythm changes and more complex song structures that are impressive as hell. Take "Die By the Sword", "The Antichrist", or "Hell Awaits", they just have those crunching, menacing riffs that either lead up to or provide an interlude for the relentlessly fast verses. The false ending on "Praise of Death", and the following surprise of the band starting up again will literally make you jump. Then there are solo sections thrown throughout. They're impressive solos that haven't aged a bit, shredding and wailing but still intricate and tasteful.

Now on to Reign in Blood. The opener, "Angel of Death" (8/10), shows promise. Gruesome, dark lyrics spat out... check... fast, menacing riffs... check... thrashing, headbang-inducing drums... check... chugging, slower-paced bridge... check... harmonizing guitars, check... oh, but what the hell is that solo? Yes folks, that's Kerry King doing some mindless wanking that adds nothing to the song and makes you wish they'd just assign him to rhythm guitar. Now, don't get me wrong, I like atonal guitar madness, but this is pathetic. The double bass saves the day as the song ends, and you are left somewhat satisfied and hungry for more.

If you're hungry for more of Kerry King's awful excuses for guitar solos then you'll be satisfied... they butcher just about everything Hanneman does with his decent solos, and they usually come after Hanneman's in the song! Blah. If you want more songs on the caliber of Angel of Death with mroe than just verse/chorus/bridge structure, you'll have to wait till the LAST song, "Raining Blood". That's right folks, the rest of the songs are usually based off one riff for the verse, one for the chorus, one for the bridge and... well, that's it! If the tempo changes at all, it's only once during the bridge. A good example would be the song "Necrophobic" (6/10), which is actually made worse by its speed... and I generally like fast music!

The lyrics (8.5/10) are the one place where this album is on par with their previous works. They are consistently evil, mostly being about gore or blasphemy, stuff that made the kids apeshit back in the 80s. I doubt you will find any music on MTV today that will give you a vocabulary on this level (which is the level most of you should be at... no wonder so many MTVtards can't spell) or have six-syllable words. They even cross over to something real and political in their lyrics to an extent in the song "Jesus Saves" (7/10), critcizing those who have their nose in their Bible and don't live in the real world.

I know I've spent a lot of space bashing this album, but really it's still good. It's a perfect starting place for getting into thrash metal, and the songs "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood" are fantastic. Unfortunately my admiration for the album is a lot lower than most peoples' because I heard this album after Hell Awaits and Show No Mercy (since this is Slayer's most popular album, most people hear Reign In Blood first). So this album has my recommendation, check it out if you want to bang your head and scream... for the first time. If you're looking for the next step, do not go to anything Slayer did after this! Wrong Way! Turn around! Check out their first two albums, and then all the bands that were influenced by Slayer's brutal thrashing and took it to the next level... Possessed, Destruction, Morbid Angel, Exodus to name a few. Thrash on!

Note: I apologize if some parts of this review seemed a bit patronizing, but I originally wrote it for a bunch of mallcore kids who were curious about Slayer.

A quick fix of musical caffeine - 100%

AndySlayer, April 8th, 2008

Slayer. The name says it all. Something that's dark, fast, sharp, aggressive and with intent to kill. The band couldn't have picked a better name...

1986. Pleasure to Kill, Darkness Descends, Master of Puppets, Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, only to name a few, were massive albums that marked 1986 as thrash metal's golden hour. And where does Reign in Blood come in here? The anwser is right at the very top.

The rhythm section: Dave Lombardo delivers. From the machine gun-like double bass part of Angel of Death to the pounding toms of Raining Blood, this guy applies so much force to his playing that it's practically inhuman. Lombardo's frantic, breakneck style fits this album perfectly. Tom Araya's bass is very silent (in fact, the only part of the album where the bass would be audible- the bass intro to Piece By Piece- was ommited from the final product), yet that isn't anything new or shocking by thrash metal standards. The bass lines just follow the guitar riffs anyway, so we're not missing out on much here.

Guitars: The guitar work on this album is quite admirable. Your ears bleed as Hanneman and King belt out note by note, power chord by power chord and lead by lead. Whammy bar dive-bombs simulate dropping bombs, horrible whails mimic the cries of lost souls begging for their lives, and the frantically shredded solos only add to the general atmosphere of chaos and discord the album projects. However, it must be made clear that no mistakes were made here. Each note precisely on time, each insane solo played perfectly. Hanneman and King successfully defy all music theory through the album, having received little-to-no formal musical training (I do remember King mentioning somewhere that he used to have a guitar teacher, with whom he played in a band as well).

The vocals are frantic, horrifying screams spat out at dazzling speeds. From the opening shriek in Angel of Death to Raining Blood's last enfuriated line, Tom Araya manages to retain both the endurance and the fury of an elephant.

Next up is the songwriting. The songs are short, especially in comparison to the slightly progressive Hell Awaits. We all know the story when long-time Slayer producer Rick Rubin heard the album and let the band know that it clocked in at around 25 minutes. Shocked, the band asked the producer if they should write more songs. Rubin replied that as long as they have 10 songs, they have an album. A lot of people find this record to be much too short, I, on the other hand, find its length to be perfect. The songs are all very memorable, since it's possible to discern the lyrics pretty much without the booklet. The riffs are also very memorable and very easy to make out, thanks to Rick Rubin's phenomenal production. The lyrics aren't exactly innovative for today's standards, however back in '86 singing about Nazi horrors, dismemberment, insanity, etc. and graphically depicting it within one's lyrics was pretty shocking stuff.

So, the conclusion: Reign in Blood is definitely a masterpiece, one of thrash metal's best offerings to date and a prime representation of a young band in their golden hour. The songwriting is stellar, and if the riffs weren't so fast you could actually hum along to them. The band members' performance is perfect and the production is very clear. All this is good, but what makes this album so great?

Well, I ask you... How many times did you feel like listening to some good extreme metal to get your day started, something to help you get through work? And how many times did you start listening to an album when you realized all of a sudden that you have to be at work in ten minutes and at the same time felt annoyed that you had to stop listening mid-album? This problem does not exist with Reign in Blood, since it's possible to listen to it in its entirety without missing a minute of work/school while still getting a major kick out of it. Yes my friends, that's the beauty of it. I definitely recommend this if you're new to metal in general, and if you're an aspiring thrash/death metaller, this is the first thing you should purchase.

The Memory Gap. - 80%

hells_unicorn, December 12th, 2007

When someone puts a thrash album on the player, there isn’t really any question about what kind of metal you are listening to, it’s pretty much as obvious as the night being dark. Differentiating between bands is mostly accomplished through the ratio of punk to NWOBHM influences, the quality of the singer’s voice, and the ambitiousness of the songwriting. But as far as I am concerned, what makes a thrash album truly great is how memorable it is, from start to finish. Can a band actually walk a line between the hyper speed shredding and riffing, the rapid paced change-ups and shouted syllables, and still present something that can be recalled after the last track gives way to silence?

In the case of Slayer, memorable songwriting hasn’t been much of a problem, with the notable exception of this particular album. The hype around “Reign in Blood” is for obvious reasons, since for 1986 this was the most brutally fast, lyrically profane, yet musically ambitious releases to ever crack the Billboard top 200. The band successfully crams about 100 riffs into just under 30 minutes of pure evil, often in small doses that would seem more fitting to the likes of S.O.D. and Suicidal Tendencies. However, in this respect this album’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Although heavily influential in the death metal genre and widely heralded as a pinnacle of the thrash genre, as an album it doesn’t have the staying power to earn the lavish praise that most still attribute to it.

With four notable exceptions, I can not recall any of the songs on here unless I’ve heard it within 10 minutes before hand, and only if I just listened to that one song. Everything between the opening track and the closing track tends to run together because of a uniform approach to songwriting, an evil yet unvaried vocal delivery, and riffs and solos that do more to leave murky impressions rather than brand themselves in the memory. When I play this album from start to finish, I’m into it the whole time with the horns in the air, but the minute it’s over I immediately begin to forget most of what I’ve heard, particularly the middle part of the album.

The opening track “Angel of Death” is the obvious winner in just about every department. As a thrash song it balances mid-tempo grooves and high speed thrills the most even-handedly, features some ugly yet perfectly executed vocals, and plenty of riffs for the ear drums to absorb. The lyrics got the band into some trouble with the suits due to their extremely graphic depiction of the works of Josef Mengele in the Auschwitz death camp, although in rekindling those horrors so well I’d argue that the band did a favor to everyone who would be a future target of such evil by getting people to talk about it and condemn it. The title track and album closer “Raining Blood” rides a very close second, featuring one of the most ridiculously fast riffs I’ve ever heard, one that is still difficult to play in time after more than 6 years of being able to do so.

Unfortunately in between these two monumental songs is a good deal of 1 dimensional punk leaning speed/thrash that individually clock in quite short, yet might as well be one massive 20 minute song. The two standouts are “Piece by Piece” and “Criminally Insane” because they have relatively clear-cut structures and don’t try to cram 20 different riffs and 10 verses into 2 minutes. They’re quite compact; they do change up quite a lot in spite of being short in length, but they do stand out from the rest. The other songs are not very memorable, but definitely fun while being listened to. “Jesus Saves” suffers from trying to cram too many words into a verse and succeeds in making one appreciate the value of a lyric sheet. Tom Araya does his best to clearly sound out each word, but it goes so fast that all you get is “blah, blah, blah, blah” which resolves to a resounding “JESUS SAVES!!!”, definitely not my first pick for sing along material.

Basically after 6 years of owning this album I can say that it is a good album, above average by both metal and thrash standards, but it’s not something that I’d call amazing or genre defining. “Hell Awaits” and “South of Heaven” both bring a lot more to the table than this musically and deserve at least as much attention as this. If by some strange set of circumstances you own either or both of those albums and not this one, it is worth getting, although I’d recommend getting the re-issue so you can at least get more than 30 minutes of material for your hard earned money.

Not so Good, Just... - 100%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, October 8th, 2007


Maybe I’m a bit “common” in my ideas about this album, but I love it and only few others can match this one in intensity and violence. We must think that this was recorded in 1986 and even now a lot of black or death metal albums are not so evil and brutal.

Since their first album “Show No Mercy” you could hear something “more” in their music, compared to the early Metallica’s one: the violence seemed to be from another world. Then on the “Haunting The Chapel” EP this violence grew with a better production and better musical skills by the group. After the gloomy “Hell Awaits”, it was time to release their third masterpiece and so it has been. The goal has been achieved completely.

I thing that nobody expected an album like this. Well, yes, one year before “Seven Churches” was released and still nowadays is regarded as an inspiration for black/death metal, but the pure THRASH INTENSITY is unmatchable here. Slayer have always had the natural ability to compose extreme thrash metal songs with a good songwriting and refrains that can be “catchy”, and, as time passed by, legendary.

Already from the beginning, history has been made with “Angel Of Death”, the song-manifest of Slayer. The band is incredibly fast and Lombardo has become so vicious at the bass drum. This song is huge, a true piece of musical aggression. From the fast parts to the mid-paced riffs, the band is awesome and the solos here are a trademark. Araya’s vocals are so screamed and schizophrenic, reaching the top in “Jesus Saves” song. Pure violence with that mid-paced riff at the beginning, so easily transformed in an up tempo one, supported by incredibly brutal solos.

Here you cannot find so technical parts or melodies so well done by Metallica and so on…this is pure ignorance thrash attack. The hardcore influences are heavily present in the sound, like in the terrific sequence “Piece by Piece-Necrophobic-Altar Of Sacrifice”. Here the violence is terrific…a train! Neverending up tempo parts, good refrains, fast solos, evil atmosphere…a journey through the most far-from-the-sun zone of hell. The drums intros to “Criminally Insane” and “Epidemic” shows no mercy for the listener.

The two final tracks, “Post Mortem” and “Raining Blood”, are the most obscure, always being so fucking fast. The scary solos, the distorted guitars and the faster and faster drums lead in a horror gallery that ends with a imaginary (but not so much…) blood rain. More or less 30 minutes of neverending violent emotions. A must for every extreme thrash metal fan. Here history has been made.

Slaytanic Intensity: This is Perfection! - 100%

super_bum, August 3rd, 2007

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!

Hate, gore, and Satan...a wonderfull mix. - 100%

SouthofHeaven11, June 25th, 2007

If there was ever a time for me to forgo any witty, intriguing opening, now would be the time. Because no matter what I say, the message will still be the same: “Reign in Blood” will beat the living shit out of you, your family, your neighbors, and anyone you know. In exactly 29 minutes and 1 second, the clear-cut message of hatred will be sewn into your mind, and love it or hate it, you’ll learn a lesson in true malice.

Oh yes, and this kicks "Master of Puppets" square in the balls.

Released upon the unsuspecting masses in 1986, “Reign in Blood” embarked upon a path that was left desolate by other thrash metal acts such as Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Metallica and Megadeth choose to deepen their sound with more intricate playing and (seemingly) more meaningful lyrics, and Anthrax became even more of a comic-relief Thrash band, but not Slayer. They looked upon the scene and determined it was time to show the world just what a hideous, vile-spewing monster thrash could be.

"Enter to the realm of Satan..."

All it takes is the first pulverizing riff off the infamous “Angel of Death” for those to comprehend that this is certainly the album of the apocalypse. It’s the dual oppressive guitars, the thunderous drums, and Tom’s savage voice that will knock you off your feet. And it never lets up after that. “Necrophobic” and “Altar of Sacrifice” are the bastard offspring of Kerry and Jeff’s cruel intentions, with blazing speed and an intent to kill. Tom’s psychotic voice brings “Criminally Insane” to life, fulfilling its purpose to implant the image of an asylum patient poised to kill. With ease, Dave unloads savage fills all over “Epidemic” and “Piece By Piece”. But combine these deranged musicians together, and you get harrowing masterpieces such as the wailing “Raining Blood”, a bi-polar diagnosed “Jesus Saves”, and “Angel of Death”, whose ruthless riffs have caused ungodly amounts of physical violence.

Each member brings something to the table that benefits this album. Tom’s voice is purely sadistic, and while there isn’t much variation in it, he doesn’t need it. He sounds possessed throughout this whole album, as he spits out his lines faster than you can absorb them. On the Holocaust themed “Angel of Death”, he unleashes a furious scream that’s very often mistaken for an actual guitar because it’s so high. While he doesn’t write most of the lyrics (King does), he delivers them as if they were his own. They’re disgusting, gore-infested, anti-God, and aim to hand you one of the most spiteful Metal trips you’ll ever take. Listening to Tom shout out “Ripping apart, Severing flesh, Gouging eyes, Tearing limb from limb!” could cause your mother to faint. To perfectly match him, Kerry and Jeff create some of the cruelest riffs and solos the world has ever heard. The glorified omniscient intro riff to “Raining Blood” is a stone-cold testament to their riff writing power. And while their solos are painfully mindless by themselves, they give a true frenzied feel when put together with the music. They tend to trade off, such as on “Angel of Death” and “Criminally Insane”. But it’s Dave Lombardo who is the greatest here, as always. One of the most breathtaking drummers in the whole genre of Metal, Dave never disappoints. The tempo and precision that which he is able to play, especially live, has gained him immense respect and God-status. His double-bass will obliterate your speakers, and his fills on tracks like “Postmortem” will leave your head spinning.

There are only three flaws that this album really has. For starters, as many know, this album is the definition of repetitive. Everything will sound the same all in one sitting, but then again, that’s the point of the album. It was made to never let up on its attack, and while it certainly accomplishes this, it could make some heads hurt. Another problem is that it’s a little too short. This album is over so fast that you won’t know what to do next. And finally, while others may hail it, I do not find "Postmortem" to be all that interesting. While it’s got a great fluctuation in tempo, it just feels sub-par compared to the rest on this album.

It’s all here folks: the satanic and gore-filled lyrics, the insane drumming, demented vocals, and searing guitars. I can’t stress to you enough how much of a Thrash classic “Reign in Blood” is. If I was about to get into a serious fight with someone, I would make sure I brought this album along with me. But then again, this isn’t for everyone. “Reign in Blood” is simply a straight-shot of aggression and adrenaline, and all of those who want some of that will find more than their fill here.

Overall – 5/5 (100)

Recommended Tracks

Angel of Death
Jesus Saves
Criminally Insane
Raining Blood

You keep pushing faster, but where are you going? - 55%

Woolie_Wool, June 24th, 2007

This revision of my old review of Reign in Blood has been a long time coming. I did not and still do not particularly enjoy this album, but considering that I'm pushing an unpopular opinion on a much-beloved thrash metal album, I think it deserves more than the old, naive, frankly somewhat embarrassing review I wrote for it so many years ago, especially considering that I've more recently listened to the three other classic Slayer albums (Hell Awaits, South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss) and the greatness of those three albums (especially Hell Awaits) brings the shortcomings of this one into sharper focus.

Rumor has it that part of the reason this album sounds like it does is because the members of Slayer had been listening to a lot of Metallica and Megadeth and were bored by the repetition of guitar riffs in those bands' work. Indeed, in some ways the songwriting on this album is like a mirror image of Master of Puppets--whereas Master of Puppets endlessly belabored its limited set of riffs, throwing in countless superfluous bridges and transitions that do little besides pad out the running length and test the listener's patience, Reign in Blood feels like musical ADHD, lurching seemingly at random from riff to riff and section to section with little effort made at shaping these collections of violent riffs into actual songs. The riffs are strong on an individual level, but there's no songwriting context to put them in.

Compounding the problem is the relentless uniformity of the songwriting--the tempo seems to be essentially the same ~220 beats per minute through most of the album's running length, and without the variations in tempo you encounter in better thrash albums (including the other '80s Slayer albums), the hyperfast parts lose meaning and impact. Aside from the first and last songs (more on them later), the tracks run together with the transition between (for example) "Altar of Sacrifice" and "Jesus Saves" almost unnoticeable. Nothing stands out of the amorphous pile of riffs, and they just sail through one ear and out the other, even if they might individually be good riffs when pulled apart from their nearly identical kin.

Another issue is the production. The sound on Hell Awaits was just about perfect for the sort of music Slayer play--it was clear and sharp but also raw, with an amazing cavernous reverb to the rhythm section that enhanced the album's malevolent atmosphere. With this album, they enlisted the services of the eminently overrated Rick Rubin, who has brought the best technical recording techniques 1986 money could buy, but in the process stripped away the haunting ambience that made Hell Awaits so compelling. Dave Lombardo sounds like his drums are made of plastic, the bass has been sent to the concentration camp, and the guitars are oversaturated with distortion and almost like a precursor to the hideous "noise blaster" sound that would plague albums from the mid-'90s onwards.

Speaking of Dave Lombardo, he's a truly elite drumming talent but this album does not show it at all. Gone are the rumbling, threatening double bass runs, incredibly forceful snare flams, and tricky drum fills of his earlier performances, and he mostly sticks to a single "polka" beat for the fast sections and generic backbeats for the rare slower section, with fills almost absent. Kerry King likewise seems to be phoning it in with his leads, hitting notes seemingly at random without any regard for coherent phrasing while apparently unable to distinguish between his whammy bar and his penis. He jerks that thing so hard you'd expect it to smack him in the face. Meanwhile, Tom Araya is at the start of his slow slide towards the hilarious Angry Yelling Man persona he now exhibits, his vocal delivery reduced to a monotone caricature and sounding more like an ill-trained dog barking at cars than the demonic snarling of Hell Awaits or even the way he sounded on Seasons, where he at least tried to change things up a little.

However, when this album gets its shit together, it completely destroys. Exhibit A is opener "Angel of Death", which is probably 80% of the reason why most people like this album to begin with. It is by far the longest and most developed song on the album (indeed, the only fully realized song on the album), and it is the riff monster to end all riff monsters, charging out of the gate on the back of Tom Araya's infamous "rape scream" (the only time where he really shines), monstrously heavy yet carefully structured. This song does everything right, from the way riffs are developed instead of played a couple of times and cast aside, Dave Lombardo using his whole kit instead of just the snare and bass, and then...the thrash break to end all thrash breaks. Holy Mosh Jesus. The song lurches into a churning rock-crusher riff that redirects the high-speed fury of the first half of the song into pure sledge, stomping inexorably forward as Tom Araya spits out the lyrics with the most vigor he has anywhere on the album, the tension building and building and building as the riff becomes more elaborate and the beat becomes more insistent before suddenly blasting to warp speed again for the solo section and grand finale. Pacing, development, tension and release--this song has all the elements the rest of the album lacks, and is so good Slayer recycled it wholesale for "War Ensemble" off of Seasons in the Abyss and even the retread was an absolute motherfucker of a song.

The second highlight is "Raining Blood", which is paradoxically even more of a fragment than the songs that came before it but simultaneously more interesting. It sounds like an unfinished start to a 7-8 minute epic, with a moody atmospheric intro gradually building into a pummeling mosh riff, the song thereafter deftly transitioning between fast and slow, ratcheting the excitement higher and higher stops. It doesn't really end, but just abruptly cuts off for no apparent reason, leaving you dazzled by what you just heard but frustrating and wondered what could have been, if they actually bothered to write the whole song. It's almost like a summation of the whole album, really--a lot of good ideas and potential wasted by a lack of focus, furiously raging at nothing in particular, expending its formidable energy in vain before collapsing from exhaustion all too soon.

Fortunately, Slayer seemed to have learned from this album, first creating its antithesis in the slow-burning, brooding South of Heaven, and then a synthesis in Seasons of the Abyss, which, while marred by a slight shift towards commercialism, comes the closest of any of the albums with Rick Rubin to embodying all of Slayer's strengths. But that's another story for another time...

Killer tracks: "Angel of Death", "Raining Blood"

Tearing limbs for 20 years. - 92%

ISadistikI, May 30th, 2007

It’s safe to say everyone in the metal scene has at least heard of this album, and many of them have probably heard it at least one. There are those that call this “the best metal alum ever,” or at least “the best thrash album ever.” There are also those who believe it’s very overrated and not even close to being the best of anything. To really see this album for what it is, you have to take into account that this was released in 1986. But does this constitute it being called the best metal album ever.

Not so much. This album has indeed aged and it shows. I can only imagine how this sounded to people back in 1986, but that’s not how people hear it today. However, while it has aged it manages to still be one of the most furious thrash albums ever, and I would say in all of metal. The album kicks off with none other than Angel of Death, and from then on in you should have a good idea of what you’ll be in for for the next half hour. Over the top lyrics, bone crushing riffs, pounding drumming, and the solos Slayer is infamous for: random, but oh so intense, wankery. The stars aligned and all these elements produced quite a monster. Jeff and Kerry really did come up with some incredible riffs. In fact, there really isn’t a BAD riff on the album, only ones that pale in comparison to some of the others found here. Each song between the first and last tracks is under 4 minutes long (and only one of those is over 3). With this Slayer just sends quick hit after hit at you with no room for air. The incredible Necrophobic is basically the epitome of this. It clocks in at under 2 minutes and is a quick kick to the stomach with an devastating, speedy riff backed up by equally fast drumming and led by even faster vocals. While this is the fastest song on the album this isn’t to say the others are exactly slow. Altar of Sacrifice, Piece by Piece, Reborn, Epidemic, and of course Angel of Death and Raining Blood are all very crushing tracks, following pretty much the same formula, but each song is made its own with very different and identifiable riffs, all of which are great. Any slow parts on the album, found in Criminally Insane and Postmortem among others, don’t last for long, but even those are devastating.

The performances by every band member here is great. This album is Tom Araya’s most energetic vocal performance. He has his so-funny-they’re-awesome screams, and sings some of the songs ridiculously fast. He does his job on bass but it’s nothing spectacular and not always fully audible. Dave Lombardo tore up his kit for this recording, especially on the aforementioned Necrophobic. He always keeps things interesting and keeps you guessing, and always adds a constant, driving force to the songs. Jeff and Kerry are who shine on this album. They created all hell with their riffs and even more with their solos. Some may argue the solos are nothing but randomness, which they basically are most of the time, but they’re more effective than anything I could think of for such a chaotic, intense album. The production is very good, everything sounds as it should. Tom’s bass could be a bit more audible at times, but it doesn’t take away from the album because the guitars take enough control on the string front.

This is an intense album and there’s no denying it. Unfortunately, the word intense has been redefined since 1986 and some of the intensity here has worn off. But they keyword is “some.” The fact that an album so old still manages to be THIS furious says something in itself. Whether or not it’s one of the best metal albums ever is up to you, but there’s no denying Slayer accomplished exactly what they wanted to with this album, and that’s kicking your ass and leaving you wondering what just happened when it’s all over.

Singin' in the reign - 100%

Cheeses_Priced, May 12th, 2007

It seems like sooner or later everyone comes down on one of two sides regarding this album:

1) it’s one of the best metal albums recorded, an indisputable classic, and a must-own.
2) it’s not. For all the influence it hath wrought, the songwriting just isn’t there, aside from the first and last tracks.

At least a certain grudging respect is mandatory for any metalhead aware of the art form’s history. Aside from giving us quite a lot of thrash, it’s one of the huge, looming influences on death metal, so far ahead of it’s time that a good many of death metal’s canonical albums – early Death, for instance – arguably sound thrashier.

Even so, a negative viewpoint is supportable. Slayer started out with a lot of Judas Priest in their veins back on Show No Mercy but quickly set about eliminating it (partially with heavy doses of Discharge). Reign in Blood takes them as far away from Judas Priest – from classic heavy metal – as they would get, and as seems to happen to a lot of bands, they immediately beat a hasty retreat from the abyss right afterward, covering Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” on their very next outing.

From a classic metal standpoint there are only two real songs here, and they’re the two that are going to stick out to any first time listener. “Angel of Death” is mostly straight-up aggression but with a slower break that everyone likes, and “Raining Blood” prophesizes the riffing style Slayer would move towards on South of Heaven – but in between them there are eight other, much shorter tracks, which might be the most important ones.

During that bulky mass in the middle the riffing and transitions are too frantic for the songs to have an immediately apprehensible flow. The slower midsection of “Angel of Death” is sort of unveiled, but the slow parts of “Necrophobic” hit like airbags in car accidents. Araya’s delivery is too breathless to be sung along to and the riffs pile up as fast as the listener can process them. Catchiness is neglected, but structure isn’t; even after countless listens I find myself consistently impressed by the way the riffs play off of each other.

This is a better death metal album than a heavy metal album; typically we split the difference and call it thrash, though it’s still a fair distance from the kind of metal Metallica or Exodus were playing. How much you enjoy it will depend on the standards you judge it by. In my case (which is typical), it took me a long time to fully get into this album, but nowadays it’s one of the very few I can listen to non-stop without ever getting bored. If not perfect, at least as close to perfect as we’re ever likely to get.

Intense, to say the least. - 90%

woeoftyrants, May 8th, 2007

Well, here it is: the be-all, end-all thrash album of our time. It may not be the most original metal album ever made, the most entertaining, or even Slayer's best; (That place is reserved for Hell Awaits, in my opinion.) but its influence is more than enough to compensate for what it is generally criticized for: the non-stop, one-way, mile-a-minute fury that is just about as relenting as a band like Marduk. Had it not been for this album, we wouldn't see the majority of death, thrash, black, and even metalcore bands today. It is an understatement to say that Slayer created a cornerstone without even realizing it.

But how did they acheive it? It's pretty simple, really; in the writing process of this album, Slayer distilled every part of their sound. Every element from every album by the band is seen here, but has been trimmed and condensed into a furious, malevolent burst of violence that was separated into ten different songs. One example of this is the song structures and tempo range; goddamn, we knew they were a thrash band, but "Necrophobic" and "Epidemic" upped the ante on the speed and technicality the band had attempted up until this time. Speaking of song structures, one will automatically notice that the majority of the songs here are drastically shorter than that of Hell Awaits. The ultimate classics "Angel of Death", "Postmortem", and "Raining Blood", the last two of which are interconnected, span over the 4-minute range and constantly shift driving, full-speed-ahead guitar work. The former is probably one of the most dynamic and yet brutal songs Slayer has ever written; the mid-paced passages in the middle are ripe with hellish harmonies and headbanging power, while the beginning and ending are outright slaughterous in their delivery of palm-muted tremolo riffs and pummeling double bass. Everything in between is a maniacal, frenzied, wall-of-noise attack of spastic, chaotic rhythm guitars and solos, machine-gun drum work, and Tom's one-dimensional shouts.

Things may blur together at first, but long-time listeners will find that even though the band are overtly violent in their delivery, things do let up a bit on the mid-album anthems of "Jesus Saves" and "Criminally Insane"; it's only temporary though. Tempos slow only for a matter of seconds before being thrown back into oblivion. I will make it known that when I say that the music is all over the place, doesn't mean things aren't done proficiently: Kerry and Jeff are absolutely flawless in their delivery of the non-stop barrage of rhythm riffs, and even though the solos may seem totally random, they're pulled off perfectly and only add intensity to the songs. The interesting thing is, this is constant through the whole album, but the never ride the line of sounding mechanical or sterile; a big plus, in my book. Dave's drum work is mostly based on thrash beats, with violent cymbal crashes and textural fills interjecting for the sake of dynamics and moving the song to its next phase.

Though the band may not be very forgiving or varied in their delivery, one has to give it up for the endurance, power, and tightness in the performances here; not many bands can pull this off. Somehow, this album keeps you glued, regardless of the fact that many of the middle songs are cohesive to one another and sound somewhat homogenous. Maybe the album's length helps it out, being under 30 minutes. Either way, kudos go to the members for making one of the damn tighest metal records that these ears have ever beheld.

Tom's vocal delivery is of special note: sure, overall it's nothing too different from what he usually does; but the falsetto screams that open "Angel of Death" and are scattered through the other songs is one-of-a-kind. Each song is packed full of lyrics, and each song is also incredibly short and fast; so in turn, Tom is spewing out lyrics at an ungodly pace with ease on "Piece by Piece" and "Necrophobic." To these ears, it's nothing short of wonderful; Tom shows no visible signs of wearing down, and each line is delivered with a menacing conviction.

Rick Ruben's production helps things out immensely. Slayer's sound got a modern update: the guitars are thick and beefy with a fair amount of treble, and the tone is one of the most widely emulated in metal today. It's one of those things you automatically recognize. Dave's drums are punchy and direct with very little echo or gating effects, but never sound compressed or hampered. The old-sounding tape hiss and echo of the former albums is absent, and this helps things out in the long run by confronting the listener with a full, no-bullshit sound.

At the end of this review, I contradict myself by saying that no set of words can truly do this album justice on a level of status and influence, even with a generally one-minded, unchanging nature. Buy it and love it.

Tearing limb from limb! - 84%

Nightcrawler, February 10th, 2004

Here we have possibly the most well-known thrash album of all times, Slayer's legendary third album "Reign in Blood". What we have here is really an assault of fast, brutal riffs, cat-in-a-blender solos, thrashy snare- and double bass-heavy drumming, aggressive rapid fire vocals and not much more. The sense of melody they'd use later on in "South of Heaven" for example is nearly nonexistent, although there are a few hints of those sinister melodies in the mid section of "Angel of Death", for example. Then there isn't much variety either, all the stuff here except the first ("Angel of Death") and the last ("Raining Blood") could more or less be the same song- which really is the best way to take this album.
The 8 songs in the middle are just one epic thrash attack that menacingly says that it's not going to hurt you, it's just going to bash your brains in. And that's just what it does.
No one can deny that the riffs on here are awesome. I mean, check out those monsters in "Piece By Piece", "Jesus Saves", "Reborn" and "Postmortem"... awesome shit. And how about "Necrophobic", which might as well have been taken from "Darkness Descends" if it weren't that short. The brutal technicality, incredibly fast sung vocals, and even the long words are there, all trademark Dark Angel material. Great song. And then "Altar of Sacrifice" slays too. "Learn the sacred words of praise, hail Satan!"

But there are two songs that really make this a fucking thrash classic. We open right up with, one of the ultimate classics of thrash fucking metal: ANGEL OF DEATH! Brutal fucking riffs, badass lyrics dealing with the holocaust, and of course the crazy Jew-in-a-blender solo section. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King can't play solos worth a damn, but that's what so fun about them. They don't make sense, they don't seem to have been thought out in the slightest, they just wank away out of key, making the most piercing noises they can come up with. And man, it works so fucking well, especially on this album.

The second highlight as I've mentioned is "Raining Blood". Starting with a haunting intro of pouring rain with the guitarists making eerie noises with their guitars, it kicks into this absolutely menacingly sinister riff, before galloping away into another brutal and fast-as-fuck thrasher. Lots of fun headbanging guaranteed. And watch out for the slowed-down middle section - a favourite in the mosh pit.

From reading all the reviews on here, I guess you've kinda figured what to expect. Brutal, fast and aggressive thrash with not much variety. Since the songs are so short, it also might be hard to really get into them, which is why I'd recommend you pretty much take the whole thing in as one long epic riff monster. Don't listen for individual songs, cause there aren't really any to find, except again on the first and last tunes. Oh, and "Postmortem" is a standout as well, and the third best song here.

Does this deserve the legendary status it's reached? I'd say so. Does it deserve all the criticism it receives? I'd say so, all of it is indeed based on facts. You'll have to get it yourself and see how you like it. Personally, I dig the fuck out of this one. "Death means nothing, there's no end - I will be reborn!"

This is the be-all end-all of thrash? - 81%

UltraBoris, August 10th, 2002

Now this is not a bad album. In fact, it is a pretty good album, but why people consider this to be the greatest metal album of all time is beyond me. It's an above average album that definitely pushed the envelope of brutality, but it doesn't have the raw heaviness of Darkness Descends, or the sheer frightful evil factor of Seven Churches (or even Hell Awaits for that matter!).

There are quite a few great songs on here... not just the first and last song, which everyone remembers (Angel of Death and Raining Blood, for those that have spent the last 16 years listening to disco), but also Postmortem, Jesus Saves, and also the highly underrated Epidemic. Those are probably the most well-developed songs on there: Angel of Death with the monster thrash break in the middle. Postmortem and Raining Blood together are a 7 minute thrash epic. (The line between the two songs was forever blurred when the CD was mastered incorrectly and the last verse of Postmortem began the last track!) Jesus Saves has that nifty intro, and Epidemic has a great middle break, almost as good as that of Angel of Death.

The rest... Altar of Sacrifice is not bad, in fact quite good. Just not... GREAT. It's a song that would not have made it to Hell Awaits - add maybe 4 more riffs, and possible. But, it just feels incomplete - just when it really starts to pick up, it's over. That's the problem with some other songs on here. Criminally Insane has that cool middle break, but it's only a few seconds. Necrophobic, well, for lack of a better term, is pure crap. Sure, it's 253 beats per minute, but fast for fast's sake never works. (Besides, if you want FAST, check out the demo version of Kruiz's "The Last Dawn" from 1986... 318 beats per minute of pure fucking speed metal!) Reborn, well, just another kinda forgettable song. Piece by Piece... they left out a few pieces, it's another half a song.

The album really does suffer in the fact that 8 of the 10 songs are under 3 minutes long. It's only 28 minutes in total: an example of S.O.D. syndrome. Slayer are capable of writing full, and interesting songs: check out any of the other albums with Dave Lombardo. Reign in Blood has a lot of potential, but it just manages to come up short. It's a fun listen, but not nearly as classic as some of the other Slayer releases.