TITLE: Hell Awaits
YEAR RELEASED: 1985
CHART ACTION: 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.