Recorded in June – July (at Hit City West Studios, Los Angeles, CA) and released on October 7th, 1986, Reign In Blood was Slayer’s third studio album. Yet, it marked major changes for the band. It was the first time they worked with producer Rick Rubin, who drove them to play faster and harder than the band’s previous records. Def Jam Recordings, who primarily worked with Hip Hop artists, pushed the record out to a mainstream heavy metal audience. And this collection of tracks, clocking in at under 30 minutes in length, was the major contributor to Slayer becoming one of “The Big Four" (with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax).
Slayer (at this point) was Tom Araya (bass; vocals), Jeff Hanneman (lead guitar), Kerry King (lead guitar), and Dave Lombardo (drums). They released Show No Mercy in 1983 and Hell Awaits in 1985 on Metal Blade Records. They enjoyed a cult following, with lyrical content dealing with (obviously) Hell and Satan. The band is credited as being the first Death Metal act, not because of gutturals and growls, but because of their song lyrics. But it was Reign In Blood that solidified Slayer as a premier Thrash/Death/Heavy Metal band, with lyrics adding to the two previous subjects concerning war, murder, Nazis, the Holocaust, death, religion, and anti-religion.
Reign In Blood is a masterpiece! It contains no fluff and no fillers. You get the beating of a lifetime in just under 30 minutes! Then, you just start the record over! In `86, the cassette tape of Reign In Blood featured all 10 songs on each side! Just flip the tape and start again! Hanneman is quoted as saying that Slayer was bored with the repetition of riffs on a loop and decided to write a couple of verses and end the song. King has said that cutting it down to bare bones is simply intense, and this record is nothing if not intense. You’d be hard-pressed to find a serious metalhead that doesn’t love this record, and proof of that is it going Gold in 1992.
Favorite Songs: Angel of Death; Raining Blood; Criminally Insane; Postmortem
*Special Note: on May 2, 2013, the “Riff Master" and legend, Jeff Hanneman, died at the age of 49. R.I.P.