Welcoming to Metal Madness Month! This month will feature only posts about varying types of Metal, as well as a few in depth pieces you might not expect. Let’s get started.
Since the early 80’s, one band has come to epitomize classic American metal and Thrash. This band is Slayer. Their severely uncompromising views of religion, death, the holocaust, cannibalism and various forms of unpleasantness quickly found a niche and over the course of ten albums they’ve driven their ideas into the minds of metalheads everywhere. Today I give to you Slayer’s Top Ten Best Songs. Enjoy!
10. Mandatory Suicide, South of Heaven
From the onset, the guitars, courtesy of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King are hollowing, and Lombardo's drums are exacting. One thing you are likely not to find in the concept of what is Slayer as a band is much in the way of happiness. “Bullet holes in your face” are but one of the choice lyrics used to describe a world in which “Mandatory Suicide” is a way of life, or rather a way of death. Many people grow darker as they get older, but this was still made when the band was much younger, so imagine how negative they are now. Anyway, at number ten of our Top Ten Slayer songs, “Mandatory Suicide.”
9. South of Heaven, South of Heaven
One of many of their classic, well known songs, the title track off the 1988 album is a slow burner in every sense of the word. “South of Heaven” is extremely dark and satanic, but the instrumentation is that which modern metal is built upon. The guitars are slightly tuned down, and even when it get’s faster in its tempo, it’s still downtuned.When vocalist Tom Araya screams “On and on south of Heaven” you feel the blackness taking over your every fiber, and honestly, it’s energizing. Metal isn’t supposed to be happy or positive, and only a few bands do that well. Having said that. Slayer knows madness, and with “chaos rampant in an age of distrust,” smart men stick to what they know.
8. Dead Skin Mask, Seasons in the Abyss
“Dance with the dead in my dreams” is a weird thing to hope for when you’re ready for bedtime, but I’m not one to judge. The song features an opening that sees a grim but soft spoken voice calmly talking over a heady guitar riff. Typical stuff for this band, but it’s done very well. Araya’s voice is uncharastically slow and steady earlier on, but as the song progresses it reaches it’s signature howl. The icing on top of this violent cake however, is the children screaming at the end of the track. Even for Slayer, its highly unsettling, but in the context of a song called “Dead Skin Mask,” it works.
7. Piece by Piece, Reign in Blood
This album changed metal forever, and it’s full of many great tracks, but Number seven on our Top Ten songs by Slayer, “Piece by Piece” sees the band at it’s sadistic best. The song never lets up during it’s quick two minute pace, but it’s an immediate song from an immediate band. Every weapon the band has here is utilized well. The guitars are fast and driving, while Dave’s drums are even faster and more on point than the other instruments present on the song. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it track, but not a track worth skipping over.
6. Bloodline, God Hates Us All
While this song is easily the tamest, most radio friendly track on this list, that’s not to discount it. By this album the band had matured a bit, but they never went friendly. The music coming out is still signature Slayer, and it’s a mighty song full of conflict and ultimate victory. For me it’s one of the highlights of “God Hates Us All,” and it ties in the themes of the album in one solid track. Arya’s patented voice is at his best, and the band even tries a few new things out here guitar wise. When you hear the words “I’ll kill you and your dreams tonight,” you can’t help but raise your “devil horns” and “let your bloodline feed my youth.”
5. Stain of Mind, Diabolus in Musica
This is one of their albums that doesn’t get mentioned too often, but this track is great. This sees the band blasting all sorts of religion and and hypocrisy of being judged by those who seek to cleanse you. Jeff H. also really does a great job here of having a guitar part that is as hard hitting as the lyrics are. There are songs that make your head bounce joyously for the dark side, and this, at Number five, is very much one of them.
4. Disciple, God Hates Us All
The intro that comes before this song is amazing and a perfect buildup for the album, but this song is even more awesome. It starts with a huge crash, and from then on out we’re in for hell bent metal at it’s best and most evil. This was the first Slayer album I ever bought for myself, but having heard the other records i knew what to expect. Even that though, didn’t prepare me. the album is sometimes overlooked, but I think it’s an unfair slight. Slayer kills it on this record, and this track starts everything off in the right way. Sadly, the record was released on 9-11, so it laid a dark tone over the record release, for obvious reasons.
3. Angel of Death, Reign in Blood
An “Angel of Death” is something I think we’ve all thought was following us at some point or another, but to hear to Tom Araya tell it, it’s a force of nature that has overtaken or attempted to overtake souls for centuries. Tales of patient torture, Nazi death camps, and serial killer Ed Gein are just some of the dark deeds spoken of in this amazing track, but I feel like it’s used to indicate the sometimes unrelenting need for human beings to destroy the world around them. Even beyond that though, the music is superior. The guitar solo rounding out the song is at a breakneck pace, and the kick drum solo briefly derails the solo and the forms into one big glorious noise monster.
2. War Ensemble, Seasons in the Abyss
This song, in and of itself, was made for the brutalities of war. I was going to highlight some choice lyrics, but with this song is nearly impossible. All of the verses are chosen to show the beast that is modern warfare. The best one’s though, without a doubt are the rallying cries “War Support” that run through the song. When you hear the song it’s very easy to picture those old black and white videos and images of the war crimes and battles we’ve all seen for decades as part of the evening news, but it really does go hand in hand with the kick ass song.
1. Raining Blood, Reign in Blood
Certain songs are just obvious number ones, and this is one of them. There’s no better Slayer song than the masterpiece that is “Raining Blood.” The song begins with darkness, thunder, and imposing evil. Then, all hell breaks loose when the guitar begins, and before long, the whole band is running for it’s musical life to a pace that would make most bands half their age call it quits. I was fortunate enough to have seen this band quite a few times, and this is always the highlight. They’ve even been known to rain blood over the stage from time to time. What i wouldn’t give to see that. The song, even when not discussing the band directly, is mentioned as one of the best heavy metal tracks of all time. For me, it’s up there with Metallica’s “One” as one of the greatest metal tracks of the eighties, and for good reason. Number one on the Top Ten Slayer songs, the gloriously menacing “Raining Blood.”
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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