Friday, August 26, 2016

Slayer - Show No Mercy (1983)

Funded by a loan from Kerry King's father and the savings of the famous respiratory therapist known as Tom Araya, "Show No Mercy" was released in 1983, and marked the beginning of Slayer, one of the founding fathers of thrash metal. The young band certainly made an impact on the public, quickly becoming the highest selling artist in (the still relatively young) Metal Blade history.

But what was it that gave Slayer this head start? Many would probably point out the satanic theming, and they would be right. Slayer was far from the first band to include satanism into their music (Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and Venom, to name a few, already did it), but these lyrics was combined with a sound that could as well have been stolen from any of the 7 circles of hell. The speed outclassed anything from that time, the riffs are outright demonic, and Tom Araya is probably the meanest and fiercest respiratory therapist out there (imagine his business card back then, "Tom Araya, Therapist and singer of Slayer").

The production however is kind of... meh. It is gritty, muddy, and in a lot of ways, cheap. Sure, the band got what they paid for, but they could have tried a little harder at least. It still got some type of charm to it that makes it tolerable, but it also takes away a good chunk of the band's excellent performance. Oh well, fortunately, that did not affect the band all too much in the early stages of their career.

What really mattered in the end, is the song quality, and sure enough, "Show No Mercy" has a pack of great Slayer songs. While they might be considered as typical Slayer songs nowadays, they were close to revolutionizing back when this album was released. Some songs have not aged all too well though. Songs like "Tormentor", "Fight Till Death" and the title track are okay at best when you know what the band would come up with in the future. In fact, some of these songs are closer to pure speed metal than thrash, which obviously showed that the band had not fully developed their own personal style yet.

The best songs on here are really good, still holding up to this day. Both "The Antichrist" and "Die By The Sword" shows up in the band's live set from time to time, and no wonder why, they are great songs that fits the band like a glove. But the crown jewel of this album is without any doubt "Black Magic". This is Slayer as we know it today. Frenetic riffing that sounds evil, fast drumming to get you pumped up, some shrieks from Araya, and best of all, an amazing solo that is sure to make you go nuts. If the previously mentioned songs held up to today, then "Black Magic" could almost be considered to be timeless, still sounding fresh today. A prime example of what would come with this band.

Everything that "Show No Mercy" lacks in production value is made up for with a great performance from the band, and the good song quality. Slayer truly laid the foundation to their legacy here, and while it may be rough around the edges, it still holds up as a solid piece of thrash/speed metal even today. After all, it is still a fast album that will get your blood pumping and your head banging, no matter if you are a seasoned veteran or a rookie. It is simply Slayer, even if it is kind of a warm up for what would come.

Songs worthy of recognition: Black Magic, The Antichrist, Die By The Sword

Rating: 7,5/10 Tormentors

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