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Old 01-04-2012, 08:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Slayer: Reign in Blood- 1986


Slayer Reign In Blood- 1986
RMR Album Rating- 5


On paper, Slayer’s 1986 release “Reign in Blood” has all the elements of a winning thrash metal album; however, for all it has working for it, it has just as much working against it.

“Reign in Blood” was my first Slayer album, and I had read quite a bit about it before I picked it up. Based on what I had read, I had very high expectations for the album. It was released in 1986, which is commonly considered the peak year for thrash metal. It was a Slayer record (Slayer is one of the “Big-4” premier bands of thrash metal). It was supposed to be the fastest thrash metal album ever recorded at that point. It was produced by Rick Rubin, who is extremely talented and one of my favorite producers. I also knew that Slayer had great players: Dave Lombardo is considered one of the greatest metal drummers of all time, and Kerry King is considered one of the greatest metal guitarists of all time. I was also aware that the song formats were very short, which is somewhat uncharacteristic of thrash metal, but I was hoping the shorter songs would produce an album that sounded like a cross-pollination of Bad Religion and Metallica. Therefore, I was really excited to hear the album because all this sounded great in theory.

Well, the album does have all the winning ingredients mentioned, but it has some serious flaws as well, and— for me, these flaws far outweigh its winning recipe.

The album run time is about 28-minutes, which is not a problem in itself, but when all the songs basically sound the same, the whole album really just melts together into one short blur, and because it is so fast all the time, there is very little song development at all. Anytime an interesting section starts to develop in a song, the song either changes or ends, so they never really capitalize on any of the songs. Thus, there is never any real impact for the listener, with the exception of the amazing speed at which the album is played. Aside from the lack of song development, the other major problem is that Slayer sacrifices most melody, harmony, and emotional impact for speed, so I quickly found that I didn’t get the Bad Religion/ Metallica hybrid that I was looking for on “Reign In Blood.” Bad Religion (although not a metal band) put out albums that were just as fast as “Reign In Blood,” but they were also jammed packed with melody and harmony, so they worked, and they were memorable. Whereas “Reign In Blood” certainly has the speed, but none of it ends up being memorable or impactful.

For anyone with progressive rock knowledge, there’s a great analogy between Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” and Gentle Giant’s “Octopus.” “Reign in Blood” is to thrash metal what “Octopus” is to progressive rock. The albums couldn’t be more different in sound, but they share the same flaws in their respective genres. Where “Reign in Blood” sacrifices melody and harmony for speed, “Octopus” sacrifices melody and harmony for overly complex time signatures and crazy instrumentation. Both albums look like 10-star albums on paper, but neither is memorable or ultimately impactful for me.

As mentioned, the sound of the album is super speedy. The rhythm guitar is played at the pace that most guitar solos are played, and the guitar solos are played even faster, which is admittedly impressive. The drum work also really shines on this album, and Dave Lombardo certainly earns his reputation as one of the best metal drummers to ever sit behind the kit. There are problems, though. Aside from the underdeveloped song structures, much of my problem with the sound of this album comes from the vocal delivery. The music is delivered so fast, it sounds like Tom Araya is constantly struggling to keep up, and his vocals don’t strike a chord with me at all. For the record, I have no problem with blood and gore themed lyrics, but even when singing about blood and gore, you still have to deliver the lyrics with some resonance, and this just doesn’t happen on “Reign in Blood.”

Although there are 10-songs on the album, none of them are really fully developed, and they all pretty much sound the same, frankly I’m surprised the band can keep track of which song is which because they all sound so similar. The opening track “Angle of Death” and the closing track “Raining Blood” are exceptions to this.

“Raining Blood” is by far my favorite track on the album because they actually develop an organized song structure for it. The main guitar riff actually repeats a few times, making it memorable and impactful. “Raining Blood’s” run time on the album is over 4-minutes, which makes it one of only three songs to break the 3-minute barrier, but there are live versions of the song that near the 10-minute mark, and some of those are, in my opinion, the best versions of the song, but this short version here is great nonetheless.

“Angle of Death” also stands out, but only because it is the opener, it the longest song on the album (at almost 5 minutes), and its lyrical content, which came under fire because people claimed that the song was promoting the events of the Holocaust. Slayer has said publically many times that the song is a document of the events that took place, but the song is in no way promoting the events that occurred, which would be clearly apparent to anyone who has actually read the lyrics.

Of the other 8 songs in between “Angle of Death” and “Raining Blood,” the only other song that I’ll highlight is “Jesus Saves.” it is somewhat unique in that the first half is instrumental, but the total track time is only 3-minutes, so that’s not saying much. To me, every other song just runs together, and they are all basically indecipherable from each other.

Ultimately, “Reign in Blood” was a let down for me for because everything is sacrificed for speed, and as impressive as the speed of their playing might be, there’s certainly more to music than just speed; however, with that being said, I think the album is worth hearing as a document of one of the fastest metal albums ever recorded.





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Old 01-04-2012, 08:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i think this album is massively overrated

sure, it was good for its time, no other metal album was as fast, then in the 90s with Earache, bands like Napalm Death could play faster and the songs structures were much better than anything on Reign in Blood

these days, i think only Jesus Saves and Angel of Death still stand up as "good"

i'm also of the opposite camp that likes slower Slayer, which actually sounds "heavier", i.e. South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss

hey, just because it's slower/sludgier, doesn't mean it ain't better
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have to say I completely disagree with your review on this one. Reign in Blood is definitely one of those genre-defining classics that very much deserves its reputation. If you're looking for beautiful melodies and harmonies then, yeah, it's certainly not the album for you, but judging it using those metrics is also completely missing the point of what makes it so good.
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Old 01-04-2012, 08:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i think this album is massively overrated

sure, it was good for its time, no other metal album was as fast, then in the 90s with Earache, bands like Napalm Death could play faster and the songs structures were much better than anything on Reign in Blood

these days, i think only Jesus Saves and Angel of Death still stand up as "good"

i'm also of the opposite camp that likes slower Slayer, which actually sounds "heavier", i.e. South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss

hey, just because it's slower/sludgier, doesn't mean it ain't better
Man... Duce, you are fast reader-- I just posted this. We agree, and I like that "Jesus Saves" sticks out for you as well. We only disagree on "Angel of Death," which I mentioned in the review as a stand out, but only because it's the first track on the album and all the fuss it created. So for me, it does stand out, but I actually think its the worst track on the album.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have to say I completely disagree with your review on this one. Reign in Blood is definitely one of those genre-defining classics that very much deserves its reputation. If you're looking for beautiful melodies and harmonies then, yeah, it's certainly not the album for you, but judging it using those metrics is also completely missing the point of what makes it so good.
I think most people would agree with you, but "RIB" just never clicked with me. That's why I threw in my GG "Octopus" analogy. Many people consider that a genre defining album as well, but it just never worked for me.

Ultimately, my enjoyment of an album is based on how memorable it is and how much it resonates with me, and this one just never did either.
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Old 01-04-2012, 09:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think most people would agree with you, but "RIB" just never clicked with me. That's why I threw in my GG "Octopus" analogy. Many people consider that a genre defining album as well, but it just never worked for me.

Ultimately, my enjoyment of an album is based on how memorable it is and how much it resonates with me, and this one just never did either.
Me too. That's why I rate Reign in Blood so highly.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i think this album is massively overrated
I felt the same way until I saw them do the album in its entirety live. Blew my mind to bits then raped those bits to oblivion. It's hard to top that.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thee best thrash album of all time, and very deserving of all the "all time" records lists it has made from major publications. This thread is the first I've even heard of a supposed thrash fan, thinking it's anything less than metal at it's finest
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Man... Duce, you are fast reader-- I just posted this. We agree, and I like that "Jesus Saves" sticks out for you as well. We only disagree on "Angel of Death," which I mentioned in the review as a stand out, but only because it's the first track on the album and all the fuss it created. So for me, it does stand out, but I actually think its the worst track on the album.
i can speed-read to some extent, Angel of Death is great, regardless of its subject matter or whether it's an opening track or whatnots

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Thee best thrash album of all time, and very deserving of all the "all time" records lists it has made from major publications. This thread is the first I've even heard of a supposed thrash fan, thinking it's anything less than metal at it's finest
i'm hardly a "thrash" fan, but Voivod's Dimension Hattross or Sacred Reich's Surf Nicaragua rapes Reign in Blood and impales its head on a stake
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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"i'm hardly a "thrash" fan"
-well there ya go. wouldn't expect my parents to like it either
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