Artist : Slayer
Album : Reign In Blood
Released : October 7, 1986
M.M. Album Rating : 5/5 (One Of The Holy Grails Of Heavy/Thrash Metal)
The good ole’ days. When Jeff Hanneman was still alive. When Dave Lombardo was reinventing the way the drums would be played. When Kerry King was still tolerable as a person, and when Tom Araya, was well, Tom Araya. (Dude is still way cool.) What the original lineup of Slayer accomplished in the 1980s cannot be understated. I don’t know if I can call their now legendary 1986 album “Reign In Blood” the best Metal/Thrash record ever made. But one thing I do know, is you won’t be able to find another album that’s better. There are a couple you could argue that might be just as good, but not better. That’s the definition of what a masterpiece album is.
“You guys realize how short this is right ? ” asked producer Rick Rubin to the members of Slayer while completing post production on the album that would become known as “Reign In Blood”, and realizing that it would clock in under thirty minutes. After the band members all looked at each other guitar player Kerry King would respond, “so what, It will all fit on one side of a cassette, the fans won’t have to flip the tape over.” After that they would all laugh, and go about their business. They had accomplished exactly what they wanted to. They didn’t want to be Metallica, they especially didn’t want to be Megadeth, they were Slayer. Just a few months after the album “Master Of Puppets” would make history in the thrash genre, Slayer would make a completely different album to re-invent the genre again.
Not that it was an easy road, but most people didn’t realize how intelligent these four musicians were. Realizing that they were beginning to hit their peak as musicians, and songwriters, they knew that they needed the “best tools of the trade” to accomplish their goals. They were happy at “Metal Blade Records”, but weren’t happy with the budgets allowed to them. It was then decided after their second incredible album “Hell Awaits” that they would shop for a bigger label. They would end up signing with “Def Jam” a label made famous by Rap/Hip-Hop music, and division of Columbia records run by Russell Simmons, and Rick Rubin. Even though he never produced a Metal record before, the band decided to give Rick the chance to produce their album, after being impressed with his musical ability, and knowledge.
With Rubin’s production it meant that this would be a very different sounding Slayer record. Not only were the songs much shorter, but cleaner too. Even at 210 beats per minute you could hear all the instruments, everything was sonically clear, which the band loved. In the end they knew they had made the right decision. But recording the album was only part of the issue. Once it was finished Columbia Records refused to release it saying it was “too controversial”. They would eventually get Geffen Records to release it, but once it was released and gain critical acclaim, and decent sales then they had no problem distributing it. Especially now that it’s known as such a landmark album. The ultimate hypocrisy.
Not since the punk band “The Ramones released their first album ten years earlier that also clocked in under thirty minutes also, had a record caused such a quick and fast “Shock And Awe” effect. The record is so hard, loud, and fast that after the ten songs you’re literally sitting there with your mouth open not knowing what just hit you. Today Reign In Blood is revered and respected as one of the most important records not only in Heavy/Thrash Metal, but in all of music history. A band like Metallica should’ve heard this album, and hired Rick Rubin on the spot to produce “And Justice For All” instead of the pathetic job they ended up doing on it with the quality material they had. If you haven’t heard it in awhile, or never have, do so immediately !
Track Listing :
1. Angel of Death
2. Piece by Piece
4. Altar of Sacrifice
5. Jesus Saves
6. Criminally Insane
10. Raining Blood
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