Originally published on 07/21/2015, this is an updated version of the original article.
The most extreme of the “Big Four” Slayer is a household name to casual metal listeners and die hard metal-heads alike. To celebrate Slayer headlining this year’s Mayhem Festival, as well as their upcoming album, we have decided to make the third installment of Alternative Nation’s “Ranked Up” series focus on Slayer. This list will include studio albums only; the band’s EP, demos, and cover album will not be included.
Diablous In Musica – 1998
Last and certainly least on this list is this notorious record from Slayer.The 1990’s were the worst time for Slayer, and this album shows. On this release Slayer jumped on the Nu-metal bandwagon that was starting to plague the metal scene. The album is normally considered to be the band’s worst and the tracks are long gone from Slayer’s setlists.
Repentless – 2015
After the death of Jeff Hanneman, Slayer recruited Exodus guitarist, Gary Holt. Paul Bostaph came back to replace Dave Lombardo once again. This marks the first album to not have three of the original four members. While the title track is pretty good, this album is awful. The album throws back to their mid to late 90’s sound at several points and has some of the band’s worst songwriting to date.
Divine Intervention – 1994
1994 marked a year where almost all the thrash metal bands moved away from the genre that made them famous. Slayer, on the other hand decided to stick to their guns and put out another thrash album… of course, the previous album on this list came out four years later. Sadly this album is very bland. The album is very uninspired and feels like a watered downed version of Seasons in the Abyss. Notably, this was the first album to feature ex-Forbidden drummer Paul Bostaph. If you want to hear Paul play some really good thrash check out the Forbidden albums, Forbidden Evil and Twisted into Form.
Christ Illusion – 2006
Originally planned to be released on 6/6/06, this album marked the return of original drummer Dave Lombardo, which makes Christ Illusion the first album with the original line up since 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss. The music is fast and thrash again, but some of the groove elements from God Hates Us All still remain.
Most of the tracks on this album sound exactly the same, and the whole album feels like a Slayer parody, with God bashing lyrics in almost every song that sound like they were written by an angsty 14 year old. For the most part this album was a missed opportunity at something that could have been awesome.
World Painted Blood – 2009
Released six years ago, World Painted Blood is Slayer’s latest, as well the last album that will ever feature guitarist Jeff Hanneman due to his death in 2013 and Dave Lombardo as he left the band around the same time. The album has good ideas and the lyrics are drastically improved, though it sounds really overproduced. The best track from this album is “Hate Worldwide“.
God Hates Us All -2001
Released on 9/11/01, the album’s original cover of a bible with nails and blood caused a lot of controversy. This caused a censored version of the album art to be released. The album style adds back the thrash elements while still sounding modern. While not Slayer’s best work, the album is a lot of dumb fun with over-the-top lyrics like “Paybacks a bitch motherfucker“. After this album, Paul left and Dave Lombardo would come back for a short while only to leave again then come back in the same year (not making this up).
Seasons in the Abyss – 1990
Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth Slayer album and considered by many to be their last great one. The album was more mid-paced than previous ones expanding on a trait started on the last album. The album spawned several classic tracks including “Dead Skin Mask” and “War Ensemble“. The lyrics deal more with war and society instead of Slayer’s usual horror and Satan lyrics. To celebrate this release, Slayer toured for the album with Megadeth, Anthrax and Alice in Chains. Twenty years later, they would tour for the album again with both Megadeth and Anthrax returning.
Hell Awaits – 1985
Slayer’s second album is also one of their most underrated. The album is Slayer’s first full thrash effort, as the last one had more of a classic metal feel. The lyrics on this album are all about Hell, Satan, and horror, just like on the last one. The title track is one of Slayer’s most well known songs and is still a concert staple to this day. The album though includes other killer tracks such as “Necrophiliac” and “At Dawn They Sleep“.
Reign in Blood – 1986
Reign in Blood is the third album by Slayer and the band’s most popular. The album is also the band’s fastest album to date and the first one to be produced by Rick Rubin, who would produce most of the band’s albums. The album spawned Slayer’s two most popular songs “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death“. The album has many cool deep cuts like “Altar of Sacrifice“, “Criminally Insane“,and “Postmortem” . Dave’s first departure was soon after the release of this album, though he would return… and leave again, then return, and leave again, and so on.
Show No Mercy – 1983
Back in the 80’s a little known band called Slayer was playing L.A. bars. They played a style similar to Venom and Mercyful Fate. They then saw Metallica play live and decided they needed to play faster than them, thus the sound of Show No Mercy was born. Unlike later albums which are mostly pure thrash, this album has a traditional metal feel, with some songs, such as “Tormentor“, not sounding like thrash at all. Best tracks from this album include “Die By The Sword“,“Black Magic“, The Antichrist” and “Evil Has No Boundaries“. Sadly, songs from this album are rarely ever played live nowadays.
South of Heaven – 1988
Slayer’s fourth album, South of Heaven is the band’s best album. On the first three albums,Slayer tried to be the fastest band on the planet. Each one would be faster then the one before it. On South of Heaven the band slowed down their tempos and tone down the vocals. The album focuses more on having good riffs and diverse songwriting. The songs “South of Heaven” and “Mandatory Suicide” to this day are concerts staples. The album is loaded with other amazing tracks such as “Ghosts of War“,”Silent Scream“,”Spill the Blood” and pretty much every other track on the album. This is one of the best thrash albums of the 80’s and a must listen for any fan of the genre.