Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Slayer a Day - Hell Awaits

Slayer - Hell AwaitsI found Hell Awaits a tough album to review. There's no denying its importance in the evolution of Slayer. What's here is the closest we've yet seen to what will become their unique sound. In fact, there's probably a little more in common here with South of Heaven and Seasons In the Abyss due to the length of songs (most are over five minutes, three are over six), technical agility, and vast plethora of riffs. And hell, there are only seven songs fighting for our attention.

What dooms this album is the production. Slayer just doesn't come off as powerful as they should on this record since it sounds like they're playing in a hole that's 20 miles deep and 50 miles away. The guitars emit a tone that's more akin to being strangled rather than struck. And poor Dave - we know he's killer on those drums, but they're so tinny that they almost sound like toys. I find myself getting weary about a third of the way into the album due to the limitations of the sound mix.

Fortunately a few songs rise above the clutter, such as "Hell Awaits" (a true Slayer classic [complete with backwards masked Satanic voice intro] I'd love to hear live), "Crypts of Eternity", and "Necrophiliac". The fact that the ending to "Hardening of the Arteries" mimics the into riff to "Hell Awaits" is also a great closer. But for an "early years" Slayer fix, I'd stick to Haunting the Chapel, where the production and songs themselves are of higher quality. There, brutality + brevity = audience left yearning for more, which is a true recipe for success.


Post a Comment

<< Home