Review by Sonny for Slayer - Reign in Blood (1986) Review by Sonny for Slayer - Reign in Blood (1986)

Sonny Sonny / December 13, 2018 / 1

When it was released in 1986, Slayer's controversial third album left Tipper Gore and the PMRC, along with other "moral arbiters", frothing with indignation at it's brutal and blasphemous imagery, but most especially because of one song, the opener Angel of Death and it's alleged glorification of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. I am of the opinion that this was purely a shock tactic used by the band, in the same way they utilise violent imagery on other songs like Piece by Piece and Postmortem and is no indication of any Nazi sentiments held by any member, as they have on many occasions attested.
Controversy and lyrical content aside this was at the time probably the most shocking and brutal introduction to any record up to that point. Initially the album flashes by in a killing frenzy, from Tom Araya's opening scream, via King and Hanneman's weaponized solos and Dave Lombardo's jet-propelled drumming, right up until the closing thunderstorm a mere 28 minutes later, leaving the unsuspecting listener breathless and stupefied, instantly demanding another listen to confirm that what you just heard was real. In an interview at the time I remember the band saying that during rehearsals the album was weighing in at around 34 minutes, but with the aggression and energy they put into it at the time of recording it ended up at just over 28 minutes! Despite the pace of the songs, the production allows every note to be heard distinctly and a large degree of respect has to go to Rick Rubin and Andy Wallace for such a brilliant job done.
Ultimately, this is one of those rare albums that defined what metal is and is firmly ensconced in the top few albums of most metalheads, or certainly those who were around at the time of it's release. Sure, with the explosion of extreme metal genres there are certainly more brutal and/or intense albums out there, but they don't have Reign in Blood's legendary status for a very good reason - the songs just aren't as fuckin' good. Angel of Death, the duo of Altar of Sacrifice and Jesus Saves and the apocalyptic Raining Blood. These are all-time classics and need no justification! Reign in Blood is an album that still sounds as vital and thrilling as it did over thirty years ago and that is no mean feat, my friends.

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