Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Quarter Century Review: Hell Awaits
Metal Blade Records
Produced by Slayer and Brian Slagel
Even though the style, content, and philosophy have remained the same throughout Slayer's career. Hell Awaits, aside from the ominous title, did not seem a portent of the band's greatness to come. Their sophomore effort is actually more of a step backwards, not in agressiveness or volume, but in songwriting. The album is almost exculsively chords. Missing are the soon-to-be trademark off-putting minor note riffs that signaled the dawn of the metal apocalypse. Also, Tom Araya had not yet begun to prefer yelling the lyrics, so much as growling them. The album's message rendered an idle threat.
All that being said, this is still a Slayer album and this early misstep is still better than that some of the other "Big Four" (I'm looking at you, Belladonna-era Anthrax). The lead guitarwork is spot-on. It's just that the album is one note. Despite what people may think of Slayer, they are actually quite diverse in their methods of attack. It is fitting that "Hardening Of The Arteries," (the standout track on the album) is the finisher because it gave marginal fans a reason to think the best was yet to come. They would not be disappointed.
Grade = 7.51