Category: Slayer

Slayer – Hell Awaits

ARTIST: Slayer                                     220px-slayerhellawaits

TITLE:  Hell Awaits

YEAR RELEASED: 1985

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Speed metal freaks know this record.

LINEUP: Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, Dave Lombardo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moving forward from straight thrash, Slayer adds some progressive elements to the mix, while still keeping their brutally propulsive tone.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This album lets you breathe, a little bit. Somewhat.

Tom Araya’s vocals are still distilled in a quick, blurry bark that makes you just guess at a lot of the lyrics. But the vocals aren’t quite why you’re here. You’re here for the riffs and solos and the crazy tempos. This record delivers that. It also varies thing enough so you’re not bored (if you can be bored at 200 MPH metal) and it showcases that they’re actually musicians and noise makers. They add in odd time signatures and some interesting progressions that show their chops, even as you worry that Dave Lombardo’s arms will fall off from drumming so fast.

The production is much better than their first album. The only drawback is its length. It’s only seven songs, and it seems like it’s over before it starts. Always leave them wanting more, I guess.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Instead of being self-financed, this record had an actual recording budget.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, two tracks from an EP.

GRADE: B+:  This sets the stage for their major label debut.

Slayer – Show No Mercy

ARTIST: Slayer                                       220px-Slayer_-_Show_No_Mercy

TITLE:  Show No Mercy

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Metal Storm / Face the Slayer.

LINEUP: Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, Dave Lombardo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from thrash / death metal legends highlights the path that they would trod upon in their career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Like most independently recorded albums in the 80’s, the sound quality here isn’t that great. This kind of metal needs crisp production, not mud (it’s the same problem that plagued early Metallica albums). Yet the content and playing shows Slayer already in decent form, ready to take on the world and scare the bejeezus out of those who don’t know or understand.

A few tracks definitely show the potential of the group, like “The Antichrist”, that is at a quite quick tempo, isn’t breakneck, and has nice solo passages and tempo changes that allow the listener to breathe and grasp what’s happening in the song.

The playing, the musicianship, and the arrangements would all improve, and become more consistent. “Metal Storm / Face the Slayer” is the signature track on the album (in my ears), and the big building block for the band to come. The production just makes some of it a slog through sludge.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this was released, they received a letter from the PMRC, asking them kindly to not release any more albums. Sigh.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an extra cut and a couple of covers on several re-releases.

GRADE: B-: You can bang your head to it, it’s just muddy and a few cuts aren’t the best.