Discography Reviews – No. 1 – Slayer

There are a number of bands that I have listened to absolutely everything by (excluding live releases, unless significant). I aim to post as many discography reviews as possible, concentrating on studio albums by each artist with mentions made to any miscellaneous stuff I think is worth a listen.

We start with the mighty Slayer, a band I have been a fan of since I was a kid and first heard Tom Araya’s blood curdling scream emerging from the torrent of pure thrash madness that is the intro to ‘Angel Of Death’.

Whilst the undoubted peak of their career was in the mid-80s to early 90s, they were a band that were always consistently strong, never straying too far from their heavy path of destruction and sounding all the better for it.

Let the journey begin…

Show No Mercy (1983) (35mins)

Rapid, aggressive, raw sounding blackened thrash metal, this sets out the Slayer template right off the bat. It’s a strong debut that gave them a firm foothold in the emerging thrash metal scene at the time. The album does tail off in the second half but the tracks at the start of the record all rip, with some remaining staples of their live set lists for many years to come. Recommended .

  • 1. Evil Has No Bounaries – 8/10
  • 2. The Antichrist – 8/10
  • 3. Die By The Sword – 8/10
  • 4. Fight Till Death – 7/10
  • 5. Metal Storm/Face The Slayer – 6.5/10
  • 6. Black Magic – 8.5/10
  • 7. Tormentor – 6.5/10
  • 8. The Final Command – 6.5/10
  • 9. Crionics – 6/10
  • 10. Show No Mercy – 6/10
  • Overall – 7.5/10

Hell Awaits (1985) (37mins)

This album, whilst still strong and really heavy, is a slight step below their debut in my opinion. It’s not a point of view shared by many I’m sure, but although I’ve listened to it many times it’s never stood out to me as anything special. There’s nothing bad and it does contain their first classic song with the title track but the majority of the rest of the album is just solid. Worth a listen but not essential.

  • 1. Hell Awaits – 9/10
  • 2. Kill Again – 7/10
  • 3. At Dawn They Sleep – 7/10
  • 4. Praise Of Death – 6.5/10
  • 5. Necrophiliac – 8/10
  • 6. Crypts Of Eternity – 7/10
  • 7. Hardening Of The Arteries – 7/10
  • Overall – 7/10

Reign In Blood (1986) (28mins)

One of the greatest metal records of all time (definitely top 3) and one of the best albums in general, this is the sound of everything the band were working on up to this point coming to fruition and producing just under half an hour of pure fury. The speed on this record is immense, Dave Lombardo puts in one of the all time great drumming performances and Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.) emerges as one of the heavy metal songwriting greats. Credit also has to go Rick Rubin in the producers chair – the sound of this album is incredible, everything is crystal clear without losing any of the heaviness and sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday. Obviously, the highest of recommendations for this one and the definitive starting point for anyone new to the band.

  • 1. Angel Of Death – 9.5/10
  • 2. Piece By Piece – 8/10
  • 3. Necrophobic – 8.5/10
  • 4. Altar Of Sacrifice – 8.5/10
  • 5. Jesus Saves – 8.5/10
  • 6. Criminally Insane – 6.5/10
  • 7. Reborn – 7/10
  • 8. Epidemic – 8.5/10
  • 9. Postmortem – 9.5/10
  • 10. Raining Blood – 9.5/10
  • Overall – 9.5/10

South Of Heaven (1988) (37mins)

How to follow a stone cold classic? The answer for Slayer was to take the foot off the gas pedal, slow the tempo and become an even heavier beast. Whilst not in the same league as the previous record it’s still a quality metal record with some brilliant tracks, including the tremendous title track which showcases the new sound perfectly. The second half is outshone by the first but still retains that Slayer consistency. Highly recommended.

  • 1. South Of Heaven – 9.5/10
  • 2. Silent Scream – 8.5/10
  • 3. Live Undead – 9/10
  • 4. Behind The Crooked Cross – 7/10
  • 5. Mandatory Suicide – 9/10
  • 6. Ghosts Of War – 6.5/10
  • 7. Read Between The Lies – 6.5/10
  • 8. Cleanse The Soul – 6/10
  • 9. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest Cover) – 7.5/10
  • 10. Spill The Blood – 6.5/10
  • Overall – 8.5/10

Seasons In The Abyss (1990) (42mins)

The second best Slayer album, this brings back the speed of Reign In Blood (1986) but maintains the crushing heaviness of South Of Heaven (1988). This one keeps a strong quality from start to finish and sprinkles the album highlights throughout instead of being so front loaded. The title track is one of their best ever songs and ‘War Ensemble’ a savage opener. This was to be drummer Dave Lombardo’s last with the band for a while. Highly recommended.

  • 1. War Ensemble – 9.5/10
  • 2. Blood Red – 8.5/10
  • 3. Spirit In Black – 8.5/10
  • 4. Expendable Youth – 8/10
  • 5. Dead Skin Mask – 9.5/10
  • 6. Hallowed Point – 7.5/10
  • 7. Skeletons Of Society – 5.5/10
  • 8. Temptation – 6/10
  • 9. Born Of Fire – 7.5/10
  • 10. Seasons In The Abyss – 9.5/10
  • Overall – 9/10

Live: Decade Of Aggression (1991) (1hr 25mins)

I’m not much of a fan of live albums generally but this has always been a favourite of mine. I bought this on double cassette when I first started secondary school and played it on my cheap walkman so much that the tapes warped!! It captures the absolute power of their live prowess perfectly and makes you wish you were there in the flesh. The first half is a complete performance and is blistering, the second collects individual tracks from across the Seasons tour, including a phenomenal version of ‘Chemical Warfare’. Highly recommended.

  • 1. Hell Awaits – 9.5/10
  • 2. The Antichrist – 9.5/10
  • 3. War Ensemble – 9.5/10
  • 4. South Of Heaven – 9.5/10
  • 5. Raining Blood – 9.5/10
  • 6. Alter Of Sacrifice – 8.5/10
  • 7. Jesus Saves – 8.5/10
  • 8. Dead Skin Mask – 9.5/10
  • 9. Seasons In The Abyss – 9.5/10
  • 10. Mandatory Suicide – 9/10
  • 11. Angel Of Death – 9.5/10
  • 12. Hallowed Point – 8/10
  • 13. Blood Red – 8/10
  • 14. Die By The Sword – 8/10
  • 15. Black Magic – 9/10
  • 16. Captor Of Sin – 7/10
  • 17. Born Of Fire – 7.5/10
  • 18. Postmortem – 9.5/10
  • 19. Spirit In Black – 8/10
  • 20. Expendable Youth – 8/10
  • 21. Chemical Warfare – 9.5/10
  • Overall – 9/10

Divine Intervention (1994) (37mins)

The longest gap between albums (4 years) in the band’s career to date was broken by the release of this, their sixth studio album. It’s a solid and incredibly heavy record, vicious in it’s sound and the attack of it’s delivery, it’s only real downfall is a lack of standout tracks but as a whole it does the business. It contains a really strong performance from debuting, former Testament drummer, Paul Bostaph, who is a powerhouse behind the kit. Recommended.

  • 1. Killing Fields – 7.5/10
  • 2. Sex. Murder. Art. – 6.5/10
  • 3. Fictional Reality – 6.5/10
  • 4. Dittohead – 9/10
  • 5. Divine Intervention – 9/10
  • 6. Circle Of Beliefs – 7/10
  • 7. SS-3 – 7/10
  • 8. Serenity In Murder – 6/10
  • 9. 213 – 6.5/10
  • 10. Mind Control – 6.5/10
  • Overall – 7.5/10

Undisputed Attitude (1996) (33mins)

This primarily covers of hardcore and punk tracks collection is by no means bad but is probably my least favourite Slayer release. It’s cool to hear versions of some of the songs that influenced them but it’s all pretty samey and indistinguishable. My favourite thing on the whole album is the original track tucked away at the very end of the record, ‘Gemini’. It’s an under appreciated gem (no pun intended) with Paul Bostaph kicking some ass with his blazing double bass drumming in the song’s second half. Maybe worth a spin but nothing more.

  • 1. Disintegration/Free Money (Verbal Abuse Cover) – 6/10
  • 2. Verbal Abuse/Leeches (Verbal Abuse Cover) – 6/10
  • 3. Abolish Government/Superficial Love (T.S.O.L. Cover) – 6.5/10
  • 4. Can’t Stand You (Pap Smear Cover) – 5/10
  • 5. Ddamn (Pap Smear Cover) – 4.5/10
  • 6. Guilty Of Being White (Minor Threat Cover) – 5/10
  • 7. I Hate You (Verbal Abuse Cover) – 4.5/10
  • 8. Filler/I Don’t Want To Hear It (Minor Threat Cover) – 6/10
  • 9. Spiritual Law (D.I. Cover) – 5.5/10
  • 10. Mr. Freeze (Dr. Know Cover) – 4.5/10
  • 11. Violent Pacification (D.R.I. Cover) – 5/10
  • 12. Richard Hung Himself (D.I. Cover) – 4.5/10
  • 13. I’m Gonna Be Your God (The Stooges Cover) – 5/10
  • 14. Gemini – 9/10
  • Overall – 5.5/10

Diabolus In Musica (1998) (40mins)

Another four year wait between official studio albums this time led to what is undoubtedly their weakest record of original material. For the first time in their career they appeared to let a bit of outside influence seep into the songwriting (in this case the emerging Nu:Metal trend) and it just doesn’t work. Opener ‘Bitter Peace’ is a raging Slayer banger but after that the material is poor with ‘Desire’ being the worst song of their whole career. Not much positive here, one to avoid.

  • 1. Bitter Peace – 8.5/10
  • 2. Death’s Head – 5.5/10
  • 3. Stain Of Mind – 7/10
  • 4. Overt Enemy – 4/10
  • 5. Perversions Of Pain – 5.5/10
  • 6. Love To Hate – 4/10
  • 7. Desire – 3.5/10
  • 8. In The Name Of God – 5.5/10
  • 9. Scrum – 5.5/10
  • 10. Screaming From The Sky – 4.5/10
  • 11. Point – 5.5/10
  • Overall – 5.5/10

God Hates Us All (2001) (43mins)

After the previous two releases being lacklustre at best, what fans wanted was a return to form. We got that with this record. It’s not a blow away album by any stretch but it gets back to the simplicity of Slayer just banging out fast and heavy songs and that was a welcome sound. ‘Disciple’ is the clear highlight with everything else being good/solid and showcased a band getting their mojo back. Recommended.

  • 1. Darkness Of Christ – Intro
  • 2. Disciple – 9/10
  • 3. God Send Death – 7/10
  • 4. New Faith – 7/10
  • 5. Cast Down – 6.5/10
  • 6. Threshold – 6.5/10
  • 7. Exile – 7/10
  • 8. Seven Faces – 6.5/10
  • 9. Bloodline – 8/10
  • 10. Deviance – 6.5/10
  • 11. War Zone – 7/10
  • 12. Here Comes The Pain – 6.5/10
  • 13. Payback – 7/10
  • Overall – 7/10

Christ Illusion (2006) (38mins)

Welcome back Dave Lombardo!! Returning to the drum stool for the first time since Seasons In The Abyss (1990), he brings with him his incredible drumming style, underpinning one of the most aggressive sounding records the band has released. This one is straight up pure metal and was their best release in 16 years. I saw them live for the third time on this album’s tour and it’s safe to say they weren’t slowing down or going easy over 20 years into their career. Yet again they open with the strongest track on the record and barely let up for the next 30 odd minutes. Recommended.

  • 1. Flesh Storm – 9/10
  • 2. Catalyst – 7.5/10
  • 3. Skeleton Christ – 7.5/10
  • 4. Eyes Of The Insane – 7/10
  • 5. Jihad – 5.5/10
  • 6. Consfearacy – 6/10
  • 7. Catatonic – 6.5/10
  • 8. Black Serenade – 6.5/10
  • 9. Cult – 7.5/10
  • 10. Supremist – 7/10
  • Overall – 7.5/10

World Painted Blood (2009) (40mins)

This is the last Slayer album to feature the original four members and is the best record released in the second half of their career. It’s a real blast to listen to from beginning to end, full of memorable riffs, fantastic drumming and barely contained aggression. I was expecting another solid listen when this was released but was blown away by just how much I enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

  • 1. World Painted Blood – 9/10
  • 2. Unit 731 – 7.5/10
  • 3. Snuff – 7/10
  • 4. Beauty Through Order – 7/10
  • 5. Hate Worldwide – 7.5/10
  • 6. Public Display Dismemberment – 7/10
  • 7. Human Stain – 6.5/10
  • 8. Americon – 6/10
  • 9. Psychopathy Red – 8.5/10
  • 10. Playing With Dolls – 7/10
  • 11. Not Of This God – 7.5/10
  • Overall – 8/10

Repentless (2015) (42mins)

Following the death of the truly superb Jeff Hanneman and the departure (again) of Dave Lombardo, coupled with the onboarding of Exodus guitarist Gary Holt and the return to the fold of drummer Paul Bostaph, this album was shaping up to be either the next stage in the future of Slayer or perhaps it’s final flourish. As it currently stands it appears that this will be the final studio offering from the band and it’s a really decent one. The absence of Hanneman is keenly felt but Kerry King and Tom Araya do an admirable job of taking on the task of writing for the whole record and they make sure the band goes out with a bang. It contains all the elements that make Slayer who they are and Holt is a great addition as his tremendous solo work adds a slightly different dimension to the lead breaks. They finish as they started, full of great power and at full force and cap off an incredible career with an album that is fitting of the Slayer name. Highly recommended.

  • 1. Delusions Of Saviour – Intro
  • 2. Repentless – 8.5/10
  • 3. Take Control – 7/10
  • 4. Vices – 7/10
  • 5. Cast The First Stone – 7.5/10
  • 6. When The Stillness Comes – 7.5/10
  • 7. Chasing Death – 7/10
  • 8. Implode – 7/10
  • 9. Piano Wire – 6.5/10
  • 10. Atrocity Vendor – 7.5/10
  • 11. You Against You – 7/10
  • 12. Pride In Prejudice – 7/10
  • Overall – 8/10

Miscellaneous

Live Undead/Haunting The Chapel (1984) (40mins)

Compilation of the early live performance (not great) with the Haunting The Chapel EP (really good). The EP contains the studio version of ‘Chemical Warfare’, one of my favourite Slayer songs.

Soundtrack To The Apocalypse (2003) (4hr 52mins)

Absolutely huge box set that contains ‘hits’, rairities, live performances, cover versions, demos – everything a fan could want. Of the non-album tracks, the two to seek out for me are ‘Disorder’ which is a cover of three Exploited tracks rolled into one, features Ice-T and was originally on the Judgement Night (1993) soundtrack. The other is ‘No Remorse (I Wanna Die)’, a collaboration with Atari Teenage Riot from the Spawn (1997) soundtrack – an absolutely crazy amalgamation of thrash, hardcore, jungle and noise.

Aggressive Perfector (1983) – Song

The original version of this song was featured on the Metal Massacre III (1983) compilation and later added to pressings of the Haunting The Chapel EP (1984). It’s a good early thrash track but the remixed version that showed up as a bonus track on special editions of Reign In Blood (1986) is far better and well worth seeking out – it’s a high speed, thrashtactic beauty.

Final Six (2006) – Song

Really strong track that was originally a bonus on expanded editions of Christ Illusion (2006) and was later featured on the soundtrack to the absolutely terrible film Punisher: War Zone (2008). Annoyingly, it’s not available on streaming services but it’s available to watch/listen to on YouTube and is worth checking out.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=7L2_4W5_B3I&feature=share

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