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Reign in Blood
Studio album by Slayer
Released October 7, 1986[1]
Recorded 1986, Los Angeles, California
Genre Thrash metal
Length 28:25
Label Def Jam
Professional reviews
Slayer chronology
Hell Awaits
(1985)
Reign in Blood
(1986)
South of Heaven
(1988)

Reign in Blood is the third studio album and major label debut by the American thrash metal band Slayer. Released on October 7, 1986, the album was the band's first collaboration with record producer Rick Rubin, whose input helped the band's sound evolve. Reign in Blood was very well received by both critics and fans, and was responsible for bringing Slayer to the attention of a mainstream metal audience. Kerrang! magazine described the record as "the heaviest album of all time," and a breakthrough in thrash metal and speed metal.

Reign in Blood's release was delayed because of concerns regarding its graphic artwork and lyrical subject matter. The opening track, "Angel of Death", which refers to Josef Mengele and describes acts, such as human experimentation, that Mengele committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, provoked allegations of Nazism.[6] However, the band stated numerous times they do not condone Nazism, and are merely interested in the subject.[7] The album was Slayer's first to enter the Billboard 200; the release peaked at number 94, and was awarded gold certification on November 20, 1992.

Record label changesEdit

Following the positive reception to Slayer's previous release Hell Awaits, the band's producer and manager Brian Slagel realized the band were in a position to hit the "big time" with their next album. Slagel negotiated with several record labels, among them Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons's Def Jam Recordings. However, Slagel was reluctant to sign the band to what was at the time primarily a hip hop label. Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo was made aware of Rubin's interest, and made a move to contact him. However, the other Slayer members were apprehensive at leaving Metal Blade Records, with which they were under contract.[8]

Lombardo contacted Columbia Records—which was Def Jam's distributor—and managed to get in touch with Rubin, who along with photographer Glen E. Friedman agreed to attend one of the band's concerts. Friedman had produced Suicidal Tendencies's self titled album, in which Slayer vocalist Tom Araya made a guest appearance in the music video for the album's single "Institutionalized", pushing Suicidal Tendencies's vocalist Mike Muir. Around this time, Rubin asked Friedman if he knew Slayer.[8]

Guitarist Jeff Hanneman was surprised by Rubin's interest in the band, and was impressed by his work with the hip hop acts Run DMC and LL Cool J. During a visit by Slagel to a European music convention, Rubin spoke with the band directly, and persuaded them to sign with Def Jam. Slagel paid a personal tribute to Rubin, and said that Rubin was the most passionate of all the label representatives the band were in negotiations with. Following the agreement, Friedman brought the band members to Seattle for two days of publicity shots, possible record shots, and photos for a tour book; Rubin felt no good photos of the band had been taken before that point. One of the photos was used on the back cover of the band's 1988 release South of Heaven.[8] The album became an American Recordings album after Rick Rubin ended his partnership with Russell Simmons. It was one of only two Def Jam titles to be distributed by Geffen Records through Warner Bros. Records because of the original distributor's refusal to release work by the band.

RecordingEdit

Reign in Blood was recorded and produced in Los Angeles with Rick Rubin. The album was the label boss' first professional experience with heavy metal, and his fresh perspective led to a drastic makeover of Slayer's sound. Steve Huey of Allmusic believed Rubin drew tighter and faster songs from the band, and delivered a cleanly produced sound that contrasted sharply with their previous recordings.[2] This resulted in drastic changes to Slayer's sound, and changed audiences' perception of the band. Araya has since admitted their two previous releases were not up to par production-wise.[9] Guitarist Kerry King later remarked that "It was like, 'Wow—you can hear everything, and those guys aren't just playing fast; those notes are on time.'"[8]

Hanneman has since admitted that while the band was listening to Metallica and Megadeth at the time, they were finding the repetition of guitar riffs tiring. "If we do a verse two or three times, we're already bored with it. So we weren't trying to make the songs shorter—that's just what we were into," which resulted in the album's short duration of 29 minutes.[8] King had stated that while hour-long records seem to be the trend; "You could lose this part; you could cut this song completely, and make a much more intense record, which is what we're all about."[8] When the record was completed, the band met with Rubin, who asked "Do you realize how short this is?" Slayer members looked at each other, and replied "So what?"[8] The entire album was on one side of a cassette; King stated it was "neat," as "You could listen to it, flip it over, and play it again."[8] The music is abrasive and faster than previous releases helping to push the gap between thrash metal and its predecessor hardcore punk,[2] and is played at an average of 210 beats per minute.[10]

One reviewer summed the album up succinctly: "Due to Reign in Blood's high punk influence, songs are lightning fast, often containing little or no repetition or predictable structure. Because of this, the album flows seamlessly from one song to another forming one solid half hour of thrash." [11]

Critical responseEdit

Although the album received no radio airplay, it was the band's first release to enter the Billboard 200, where it debuted at number 127, and attained its peak position of 94 in its sixth week.[12][13] The album also reached number 47 on the UK Album Chart,[14] and on November 20, 1992 it was certified gold in the United States.[15] It is considered their magnum opus, and is included in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, but without the controversial artwork.

Reign in Blood was well received by the underground and mainstream music press. Reviewing for Allmusic, which was established in 1991, Steve Huey awarded the album five out of five, describing it a "stone-cold classic."[2] Stylus Magazine critic Clay Jarvis awarded the album an A+ grade, calling it a "genre-definer," as well as "the greatest metal album of all time."[5] Jarvis further remarked the song "Angel of Death", "smokes the asses of any band playing fast and/or heavy today. Lyrically outlining the horrors to come, while musically laying the groundwork for the rest of the record: fast, lean and filthy."[5] Kerrang! magazine described it as the "heaviest album of all time,"[16] while Metal Hammer magazine named it "the best metal album of the last 20 years."[17] Q magazine ranked Reign in Blood among their list of the "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time,"[18] and Spin Magazine ranked the album number 67 on their list of the "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005."[19] Critic Chad Bowar stated :"1986's Reign in Blood is probably the best thrash album ever recorded.[20]

Adrien Begrand of Popmatters observed that: "There's no better song to kick things off than the masterful "Angel of Death", one of the most monumental songs in metal history, where guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman deliver their intricate riffs, drummer Dave Lombardo performs some of the most powerful drumming ever recorded, and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya screams and snarls his tale of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele."[21] When asked why Reign in Blood has retained its popularity, King replied: "If you released Reign in Blood today, no one would give a shit. It was timing; it was a change in sound. In thrash metal at that time, no one had ever heard good production on a record like that. It was just a bunch of things that came together at once."[22]

Lombardo's departureEdit

Slayer embarked on the Reign in Pain tour with the bands Overkill in the United States and Malice in Europe; they also served as the opening act for W.A.S.P.'s US tour in 1987. After a month of touring drummer Lombardo quit the band; he said, "I wasn't making any money. I think I had just gotten married, and I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally—on a major label—I wanted my rent and utilities paid." To continue the tour Slayer enlisted Whiplash drummer Tony Scaglione.[8]

Rubin called Lombardo daily to insist he return, telling him, "Dude, you gotta come back in the band." Rubin offered Lombardo a salary, but he was still hesitant about returning; at this point Lombardo had been out of the band for several months. Lombardo's wife convinced him to return in 1987; Rubin came to his house and picked him up in his Porsche, taking him to a Slayer rehearsal.[8]

LegacyEdit

Reign in Blood is regarded by critics as one of the most influential and extreme thrash metal albums.[2] In its "Greatest Metal Bands Of All Time" poll, MTV praised Slayer's "downtuned rhythms, infectious guitar licks, graphically violent lyrics and grisly artwork," which they stated "set the standard for dozens of emerging thrash bands," while "Slayer's music was directly responsible for the rise of death metal." MTV described Reign in Blood as essential listening,[23] and the album was ranked number 7 on IGN's "Top 25 Most Influential Metal Albums."[24]
File:SlayerliveB&W.jpg
When asked during a press tour for 1994's Divine Intervention about the pressure of having to live up to Reign in Blood, King replied that the band did not try to better it, but rather just wanted to make music.[8] In 2006, Blabbermouth's Don Kaye drew a comparison to the band's 2006 album Christ Illusion, and concluded that "Slayer may never make an album as incendiary as Reign in Blood again."[25]

Rapper Necro was heavily influenced by the album, and has remarked that it takes him back to the 80s, "when shit was pure."[26] Ektomorf vocalist Zoltán Farkas describes the album as one of his primary influences.[27] Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse stated Lombardo's performance on the album helped him play faster throughout his career.[28]

Hanneman has said that the album is his personal favorite, reasoning it is "so short and quick and to the point."[29] Araya has remarked that Slayer's 2006 album Christ Illusion "comes close," but that "nothing can surpass Reign in Blood for intensity and impact. No one had heard anything like it before. In the twenty years since then, people have got more desensitized. What was over the top then might not be now."[30] Drummer Paul Bostaph who was a Slayer member from 1992 to 2001 first heard the record when he was a member of Forbidden Evil. During a party Bostaph walked towards music he heard from another room, and approached Forbidden Evil guitarist Craig Locicero. When asked what music was playing, Locicero shouted "the new Slayer record." After listening closely to the record, he looked at Locicero, and concluded that his band was "fucked."[8]

Live performancesEdit

The tracks "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death" have become almost permanent additions to Slayer's live set, and are Hanneman's favorite tracks to play live.[29] The band played Reign in Blood in its entirety throughout the fall of 2004, under the tour banner "Still Reigning". In 2004, a live DVD of the same name was released, which included a finale with the band covered in fake blood during the performance of "Raining Blood".[31]

King later said that while the idea of playing Reign in Blood in its entirety was suggested before by their booking agency, it was met with little support. The band ultimately decided they needed to add more excitement to their live shows, and to avoid repetition incorporated the ideas of raining blood.[32] When asked about using fake blood in future performances, King remarked "It's time to move on, but never say never. I know Japan never saw it, South America and Australia never saw it. So you never know."[33]

Although it was omitted from a number of concerts because of short time allotments, Slayer have often said that they enjoy playing the album in its entirety. According to Hanneman: "We still enjoy playing these songs live. We play these songs over and over and over, but they're good songs, intense songs! If it were melodic songs or some kind of boring 'clap your hands' song, you'd be going crazy playing those every night. But our songs are just bam-bam-bam-bam, they're intense."[34] The band was on stage for 70 minutes, which only allowed seven or eight additional songs to be played following the album's play. King stated this arrangement "alienates too many people. In the recent Unholy Alliance tour however, the album was played in its entirety during Slayer's set as the last ten songs to end the show."[35]

ControversyEdit

ArtworkEdit

Def Jam's distributor, Columbia Records, refused to release the album due to its controversial lyrical themes and cover art. Reign in Blood was eventually distributed by Geffen Records; however, due to the controversy it did not appear on Geffen's release schedule.[8]

The artwork was designed by Larry Carroll, who at the time was creating political illustrations for The Progressive, Village Voice, and The New York Times. When the art was finalized, one band memberTemplate:Who was unhappy with the result. However, when another memberTemplate:Who showed it to his mother, and was given the description "disgusting," they decided to retain it, and felt they were "onto something."[8] The cover art was featured in Blender magazine's 2006 "top ten heavy metal album covers of all time."[36]

Lyrical themesEdit

For the album, Slayer decided to abandon the Satanic themes explored on their previous album Hell Awaits, and write about issues that were more on a street level.[37] Reign in Blood's lyrics include meditations on death, religion, insanity, and murderers, while the lead track "Angel of Death" details human experiments conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp by Josef Mengele; who was dubbed "the Angel of death" by inmates.[38] The song led to accusations of Nazi sympathizing and racism, which have followed the band throughout their career.[6]

Hanneman was inspired to write "Angel of Death" after he read a number of books on Mengele during a Slayer tour. Hanneman has complained people usually misinterpret the lyrics, and clarified, "Nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me — well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that."[29] The band utilized the controversy to attract publicity, incorporating the Reichsadler into their logo (also the S in the band's name resembles the Sig runes used by the SS), and writing a song titled "SS-3," which mentions Reinhard Heydrich, the second in command in the Schutzstaffel.[39]

Appearances in mediaEdit

"Raining Blood" was covered by Tori Amos on her 2001 album Strange Little Girls. King has admitted that he thought the cover was odd: "It took me a minute and a half to find a spot in the song where I knew where she was. It's so weird. If she had never told us, we would have never known. You could have played it for us and we'd have been like, 'What's that?' Like a minute and a half through I heard a line and was like, 'I know where she's at!'" The band however liked the cover enough to send Slayer t-shirts to Tori Amos.[40] The song was also covered by Malevolent Creation, Chimaira, Vader, Dokaka, Reggie and the Full Effect and Erik Hinds, who covered the entire album on a H'arpeggione.[41]

In 2005, the Slayer tribute band Dead Skin Mask released an album with eight Slayer tracks, including "Angel of Death".[42] The death metal band Monstrosity covered the song in 1999,[43] while the track was featured on the classical band Apocalyptica's 2006 album Amplified / A Decade of Reinventing the Cello.[44] A Slayer tribute album titled Al Sur Del Abismo (Tributo Argentino A Slayer), compiled by Hurling Metal Records, featured sixteen tracks covered by Argentina metal bands, including Asinesia's version of "Angel of Death".[45] "Raining Blood" was also covered by the New Zealand drum and bass band Concord Dawn on their 2003 album, Uprising. "Raining Blood" was also covered by Nashville, Tennessee band Asschapel on their 7" "Satanation".

"Raining Blood" was featured in the 127th South Park episode, Die Hippie, Die, aired on March 16, 2005.[46] The plot centers on the town of South Park, which has been overrun by hippies. Eric Cartman states "Hippies can't stand death metal" and proceeds to drill through a hippie concert onto the main stage to change the audio to "Raining Blood", making the hippies run away. King found the episode humorous and expressed his interest in the show ending the interview with "It was good to see the song being put to good use, if we can horrify some hippies we've done our job."[33] "Angel of Death" also appears in several movies, including Gremlins 2, at the point when the character Mohawk turns into a spider,[47] Jackass: The Movie, where it is played during a car stunt scene and in the 2005 Iraq War documentary Soundtrack to War.[48][49]

"Angel of Death" was featured in the multi–platform video game Tony Hawk's Project 8. Nolan Nelson, who selected the soundtrack for the game, asserts; "one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever recorded. Don't know who Slayer is? I feel sorry for you."[50] "Raining Blood" was included in the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in–game radio station V-Rock.[51] "Raining Blood" is also one of the songs featured in Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock, and is considered one of the most difficult songs in the game, if not the hardest of the career song list.[52]

Track listingEdit

# TitleLyricsMusic Length
1. "Angel of Death"  Jeff HannemanHanneman 4:51
2. "Piece by Piece"  Kerry KingKing 2:02
3. "Necrophobic"  Hanneman, KingHanneman, King 1:40
4. "Altar of Sacrifice"  KingHanneman 2:50
5. "Jesus Saves"  KingHanneman, King 2:54
6. "Criminally Insane"  Hanneman, KingHanneman, King 2:23
7. "Reborn"  KingHanneman 2:11
8. "Epidemic"  KingHanneman, King 2:23
9. "Postmortem"  HannemanHanneman 3:28
10. "Raining Blood"  Hanneman, KingHanneman 4:14

1998 re-issue bonus tracks

# TitleLyricsMusic Length
11. "Aggressive PerfectorTemplate:Ref label"  Hanneman, KingHanneman, King 2:30
12. "Criminally Insane (Remix)"  Hanneman, KingHanneman, King 3:17
Template:Note "Aggressive Perfector" was shorter and had clearer production than the previous version featured on the reissue of the EP Haunting the Chapel. The reissue also fixed a problem with some CD pressings which incorrectly set the beginning of "Raining Blood" into the blank pause in "Postmortem".[32]

PersonnelEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes
Specific
  1. Touring Blood, Decibel Magazine, April 2008, Page 57
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Huey, Steve. "Reign in Blood - Slayer". Allmusicguide.com. Retrieved on 5 January 2007.
  3. Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Slayer". Retrieved on 5 August 2009.
  4. Weisbard & Marks, 1995. p.358
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Jarvis, Clay (1 September 2003). "Reign in Blood". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved on 7 April 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hess, Mike (23 July 2003). "Kerry King: Maniac. Guitar Legend. Botanist?". Nighttimes.com. Retrieved on 5 January 2007.
  7. Cummins, Johnson. "Slayers Tom Araya on Satanism, serial killers and his lovable kids". MontrealMirror.com. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved on 2 December 2006.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 "An exclusive oral history of Slayer". Decibel Magazine. Retrieved on 3 January 2007.
  9. La Briola, John (22 July 2004). "Slay Ride". Westword.com. Retrieved on 4 April 2007.
  10. Haug, Andrew (13 October 2006). "Andrew Haug speaks with Dave Lombardo from Slayer". Abc.net.au. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved on 9 February 2007.
  11. Slayer - Reign in Blood Review - sputnikmusic
  12. "Search results". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved on 15 October 2007.
  13. "Artist Chart History". Billboard.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved on 25 March 2007.
  14. "Slayer's 1985-1986 discography". Rockdetector.com. Retrieved on 1 January 2007.
  15. "RIAA - Artist Slayer". RIAA.com. Retrieved on 14 February 2007.
  16. "Lostprophets scoop rock honours". BBC News (25 August 2006). Retrieved on 10 January 2007.
  17. "Golden Gods Awards Winners". Metal Hammer (13 June 2006). Retrieved on 10 January 2007.
  18. "Q 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time". Q. Retrieved on 10 January 2007.
  19. "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005". Spin (20 June 2005). Retrieved on 9 April 2007.
  20. Bowar, Chad. "What is Thrash metal?". heavymetal.about.com. Retrieved on 2 May 2008.
  21. Begrand, Adrien (23 January 2004). "The Devil in Music". Popmatters.com. Retrieved on 22 February 2007.
  22. "Kerrang! interview with Kerry King about God Hates Us All album". Slayersaves. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  23. "Why They Rule - #6 Slayer". MTV. Retrieved on 18 January 2006.
  24. D. Spense, T. Ed (19 January 2007). "IGN Top 25 Metal Albums". IGN. Retrieved on 26 January 2007.
  25. Kaye, Don. "Slayer Christ Illusion (American)". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  26. "Death-Rapper Necro To Make European Live Debut In London". Blabbermouth.net (27 November 2006). Retrieved on 18 January 2006.
  27. Yiannis, D (12 November 2006). "Interview with Zoltan Farkas of Ektomorf". Metal-Temple. Retrieved on 18 February 2007.
  28. David L. Wilson (13 December 1999). "Interview With Paul Mazurkiewicz of Cannibal Corpse". Metal-rules.com. Retrieved on 9 February 2007.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Steffens, Charlie (30 May 2006). "Interview with Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman". KNAC.com. Retrieved on 5 January 2007.
  30. "It's carry on thrashing". The Sun. Retrieved on 24 January 2006.
  31. Patrizio, Andy (11 January 2005). "Slayer: Still Reigning The landmark metal album performed in its entirety". IGN. Retrieved on 5 February 2007.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Kerry King of Slayer". Metal-Rules.com (4 November 2004). Retrieved on 13 February 2007.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Atkinson, Peter (24 April 2006). "Songs about God and Satan – Part 1: An Interview with Slayer's Kerry King". KNAC.com. Retrieved on 9 February 2007.
  34. Lahtinen, Luxi (18 December 2006). "Slayer — Jeff Hanneman". Metal-Rules.com. Retrieved on 27 February 2007.
  35. Lahtinen, Luxi (11 April 2004). "Kerry King of Slayer". Metal-Rules.com. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
  36. Popoff, Martin, Dunn, Sam and McFadyen, Scot. "The Top Ten Greatest Heavy Metal Album Covers of All Time". Blender magazine. Retrieved on 9 January 2007.
  37. Gargano, Paul. "Slayer - Tom Araya - January 2007". Maximum Ink Music Magazine. Retrieved on 24 January 2007.
  38. "moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century — Josef Mengele". Moreorless.com (30 April 2001). Retrieved on 5 January 2007.
  39. "Master of Death — Heydrich". Auschwitz.dk. Retrieved on 26 January 2007.
  40. Barker, Samuel (9 February 2002). "A Conversation With Kerry King". Rockzone.com. Retrieved on 9 February 2007.
  41. Couture, François. "RIB - Erik Hinds". Allmusic. Retrieved on 7 April 2007.
  42. "Slayer Tribute Band Dead Skin Mask To Release CD". Blabbermouth.net (23 December 2004). Retrieved on 11 March 2007.
  43. Lehtinen, Arto. "Interview With Monstrosity's Lee Harrison". Metal-Rules.com. Retrieved on 14 March 2007.
  44. "Apocalyptica: 'Amplified' Collection To Feature New Recordings". Blabbermouth.net (4 April 2004). Retrieved on 21 March 2007.
  45. "Slayer: Argentine Tribute Album Detailed". Blabbermouth.net (10 June 2006). Retrieved on 11 March 2007.
  46. "Die Hippie, Die". Southparkstudios.com. Retrieved on 13 February 2007.
  47. "Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)". Joblo.com. Retrieved on 18 February 2007.
  48. "Jackass soundtrack". Cduniverse.com. Retrieved on 18 February 2007.
  49. "Soundtrack to war". Soundtracktowar.com. Retrieved on 18 February 2007.
  50. "Electro vs. Metal – Music is the key of life.". IGN. Retrieved on 18 February 2007.
  51. "Vice City Radio - V Rock". Vicecityradio.com. Retrieved on 9 February 2007.
  52. bjwdestroyer (3 November 2007). "Raining Blood 5* Expert Guide". Scorehero.com. Retrieved on 5 June 2008.

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