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Soundtrack to the Apocalypse (Deluxe Edition) - 88%

aces_high, February 13th, 2007

This limited edition box set provides a great overview of Slayer's career with American Recordings. There are generally 2 common types of box sets, one is a really huge best-of compilation and the other is a giant collection of rarities and bonus tracks. Soundtrack to the Apocalypse is an excellently assembled combination of the 2.

The first disc is a collection of 5 songs from Reign in Blood, 5 from South of Heaven, 5 from Seasons in the Abyss, and 3 songs from Decade of Aggression (all Metal Blade material). There is an error on the track listing of Disc 1. The songs “Live Undead” and “Silent Scream” are mixed up. Disc 2 is a collection of material from the albums Divine Intervention, Undisputed Attitude, Diabolus in Musica, God Hates Us All, and 4 tracks only available on Japanese releases. It would be really hard to get a better compilation of all their albums than this. Just about all of the classics a fan could ask for are here.

The 3rd disc comprises of rare live material, appropriately titled “Shit You’ve Never Heard”. The audio quality is decent enough to understand what is being played. Some definite highlights include: “Ice Titan” (an unreleased song that was drastically altered to become “Alter of Sacrifice” on Reign in Blood), an early live bootleg of “Necrophiliac” with a “tasteful” spoken intro by Tom Araya, rehearsals of “The Antichrist” and “Fight Till Death”, and Jeff Hanneman’s home recordings of “Raining Blood” and “South of Heaven”.

Disc 4 is a DVD with live concert footage spanning Slayer's career from 1983 up to 2003.The audio and video quality isn’t that good at the beginning but it gets progressively better. My favorite on here would definitely be “Die by the Sword”, showing an early Slayer in excellent form (this was so early in Slayer’s career that they were still wearing eyeliner to look “extra evil”). I prefer this version of the song to the one on Show No Mercy.

Now for the extra stuff included in the Deluxe Edition. Disc 5 is the first live concert that has been played since Dave Lombardo returned in 2003. This concert CD, instead of being housed in a jewel case, is in Slayer's infamous "blood pack" sleeve (also used for the Seasons in the Abyss single back in 1990). It's a clear plastic sleeve with fake blood and floating skulls inside. Audio quality is excellent and it is not overdubbed in any way, shape or form. The only possible downside to this recording is Tom Araya, his voice just can’t take it anymore.

Also included is a large booklet about the history of Slayer and many of their controversies. To complete this collection are huge red wall banner with the Slayer eagle logo and an inverted cross in the background, and a replica concert laminate.
All of the discs and extra goodies are packaged in an "ammo box" which also looks pretty cool.

There are really only 2 problems with this set. One is that there isn’t enough early material (on Metal Blade Records). The other is that the Deluxe Edition is a bit pricey, so newer fans may want the standard 4 Disc edition instead. When I bought this, the only Slayer album that I owned was Reign in Blood and I knew that I had to get this. Definitely worth the high price tag.