In honor of The International Day of Slayer
, I decided to redo my review for this, Slayer
's first... and one of my favourite metal records of all time, incidentally.
Show No Mercy
occupies a weird spot in the band's discography; this is Slayer
most indebted to their NWOBHM and Judas Priest
-based roots. The riffs and especially the lead guitar is altogether more rooted in conventional melody than later Slayer
; the drumming isn't as fast, showcasing more of a Motorhead undercurrent than anything else, and Tom Araya's vocals are closer to what you'd consider proper singing. (see: "Crionics
", which is pretty much total Iron Maiden worship done right) Furthermore, this record tends to be the short end of the stick in terms of historical influence, both to Metallica
's debut from the same year, and to this band's later releases (Reign in Blood
, in particular)... which is unfortunate, to say the least.
I think the most surprising thing I can say about this record is that, for the most part, it has pretty much everything that made Slayer
one of the eminent metal bands of the 1980
's. The traditional metal-isms are in full-force from the start, and yet Slayer
takes that wild, exhuberant feel of those early bands that influened them and takes it so much farther than a band like Venom
could've ever imagined. The songs are absolutely masterful, and for all of the traditional metal-isms, Slayer
was a band that had a definitive identity from the start.
The riffs on this record are absolutely brilliant. Each riff is incisively written and instantly memorable from the start; the main one of "The Antichrist
by the Sword
" and its savage middle break, the brilliantly dark and vicious "Black Magic
" (the song that most resembles later Slayer
musically), or the pounding title track, Slayer
pretty much completely excel throughout. The lead guitar work is more heavy metal in feel, with a distinctly Judas Priest
-esque feel to them. They're actually incredibly well done; they're intensely memorable melodically and they fit perfectly within these songs, with a wild feel to them as well. Araya's vocals aren't as intensely ugly and vicious as on, say, Hell Awaits
, but they're excellent already, with a more shrieky attack than later Slayer
. (how 'bout fucking "Crying in LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUST!")
I've read a lot of complaints about the production - as somebody who generally listens to a lot of music with raw production, it's really not that bad at all. The guitar tone is sharp, punchy, and vicious, and Araya's vocals are upfront without overpowering too much. The only real downside is the slightly over-reverbed drum sound (at least the snare... the toms and kicks sound great), but it's a minor issue.
Admittedly, this isn't quite my favourite Slayer
record (though it nearly is). Dave Lombardo's drumming, while still very good, just sort of pales next to what he'd deliver on the later Slayer
records. I've never quite fully loved "The Final Command" either, which is less of a bad song, and more one that doesn't quite stack up to everything else. But those are extremely minor flaws in an absolute excellent record. It's not quite as structurally ambitious as Hell Awaits
, it's not as much of an over the top blast of violence as Reign in Blood
is, nor does it possess the gloomy atmosphere of South of Heaven
... but when all is said and done, it is absolutely as worthy of the Slayer
name as their other 80's records.
(originally written 6/6/11)