Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Slayer a Day - Show No Mercy

Slayer - Show No MercyI bet misguided youth bought Show No Mercy back in 1983 based purely on the album cover alone. If your main goal in life is to piss off your parents, you simply can't beat flaming typefonts, pentagrams, and horned demons with six foot longswords.

Show No Mercy may be plagued by excessive reverb and a band (furiously) attempting to come into their own, but it's one hell of a debut. Tom Arya's legendary scream throws the listener against the wall as "Evil Has No Boundaries" begins, and the aural assault barely lets up throughout this album's 35 minutes.

Although it's pretty obvious that a good deal of what's laid to tape here will eventually morph into the stereotypical Slayer fans now know and love, what's more interesting is the bits and pieces they decided to let fall on the floor, remaining permanently absent from future releases. There are plenty of classic heavy metal influences sprinkled throughout (Iron Maiden comes to mind via the intro riff to "The Final Command"), but most notable is a commonality with their thrash contemporaries - Metallica. The intro riff to "Metal Storm/Face the Slayer" has shades of "Creeping Death" in it, and there's no denying that the guitar solos (check out "The Antichrist") are very similar to Kirk Hammett's. There's in fact very little of the fierce King/Hanneman "dueling solos" that have since become a staple of their lead guitar work.

What started here and didn't go away was their lyrical content. The darkness is here in abundance as Slayer a) details graphic acts of gory violence and murder, and b) pays homage to Satan and his minions. I find it a remarkable achievement that just about every song on this record contains these themes, but hey, they're professionals.

Show No Mercy may not be Slayer's crowning achievement, but it's a tight offering nonetheless. This is essential listening for those devout folowers who are yearning to go the extra mile to learn about the true origins of thrash metal.


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