Slayer – Hell Awaits | Must Own Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums
Artist : Slayer
Album : Hell Awaits
Released : March 26, 1986
Metal Mofo Album Rating : 5/5 The album that made Slayer a force of dark musical power
Sayyyant, Sayyyyant, Sayyyant, Sayyyant, Sayyyyant…WELCOME BACK!!!!
After the success of Show No Mercy founder and CEO of Metal Blade records Brian Slagel wanted to do more for the second Slayer release. In contrast to Show No Mercy, Slager was able to scrape together a budget for the bands second studio album Hell Awaits, and with that budget they were able to hire producer Ron Fair (the guy best known for his work in pop music, like Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas, etc), and though by modern standards the production is not very good, it is the progressive layering and wall of sound that Ron helped create that contributes to making Slayer’s Hell Awaits its most epic album.
In contrast to their first release Show No Mercy, an album full of good material (It was also Metal Blades most successful record to date) but filled with short songs with little musical substance, Hell Awaits was full of long epics with incredible tempo changes, riffs of epic stature, and vocals that destroyed the ears of all who listened, it was a change that showed the amazing musical growth that Slayer had undergone.
The title track is a microcosm of the epic whole of the album, starting with the chant of “Join Us” played backwards to chilling effect, kicking into a classic Lombardo drum roll and then the wall of guitars EXPLODES and the journey begins. The series of slow riffs that follow, starting with long held chords, kicking into a Metal groove of alternate picking, then the super heavy slow gallop chugga chugga chuggathon (who doesn’t bang their head even harder during that part) that blends seamlessly back into an alternate picked progression, following that the unmuted chords that lead into the classic speed Metal riff that sends the song into oblivion. It is Metal mastery, and fulfills its intent in spades.
An amazing musical success. One of the best intros in the history of Heavy Metal.
And musical force behind the album was none other than the legendary Jeff Hanneman. He wrote some of the greatest riffs ever known in Thrash on this album, he is credited in all but one track, and three are fully his own. It’s also easy to track that as Kerry King’s influence grew in the music, so did Slayer musical DEvolution. Jeff was the superior songwriter before the alcohol consumed him.
Everything about Hell Awaits works, it is in my opinion, their greatest work. From drums, guitars, to vocals, it is hard to think of better Metal than this.
Despite the greatness of this album they were to follow up it up with what is considered by many the greatest Heavy Metal album of all time, Reign In Blood, a completely different album than Hell Awaits, as different from Hell Awaits as Hell Awaits is to Show No Mercy. But somehow this amazing band, one of the greatest of all time, made it all work. They had reached their nadir and would continue to churn out some of the greatest Metal ever for several more albums.
There are many things that Slayer has done wrong since that 80s to early 90s era, but at the time, Slayer was doing no wrong, Slayer was solidfying its place in musical history, and Hell Awaits is what became the epic catalyst that put them upon the throne of Heavy Metal greatness.
— Carlos the Mexican King Of All Metal