Reign in Blood is the third studio album by American band , released on October 7, 1986 by Def Jam Recordings. The album was the band's first collaboration with producer , whose input helped the band's sound evolve. The release date of the album was delayed because of concerns regarding the lyrical subject matter of the song “Angel of Death.” The opening track "", which refers to and describes acts such as human experimentation that he committed at the , provoked allegations of . However, the band's members stated numerous times that they did not condone Nazism and were merely interested in the subject.
Reign in Blood was well-received by both critics and fans, and was responsible for bringing Slayer to the attention of a mainstream metal audience. Alongside 's , 's , and 's , Reign in Blood helped define the sound of the emerging US thrash metal scene in the mid-1980s, and has remained influential since. The album was Slayer's first to enter the , peaking at number 94, and was certified Gold on November 20, 1992.
Following the positive reception Slayer's previous release had received, the band's producer and manager realized the band were in a position to hit the "big time" with their next album. Slagel negotiated with several record labels, among them Rick Rubin and 's Def Jam Recordings. However, Slagel was reluctant to have the band signed to what was at the time primarily a label. Slayer drummer was made aware of Rubin's interest, and initiated contact with the producer. However, Slayer's remaining members were apprehensive at leaving , with which they were already under .
Lombardo contacted , which was Def Jam's , and managed to get in touch with Rubin, who along with photographer agreed to attend one of the band's concerts. Friedman had produced 's , in which Slayer vocalist made a guest appearance in the music video for the album's single "", pushing Suicidal Tendencies's vocalist . Around this time, Rubin asked Friedman if he knew Slayer.
Guitarist was surprised by Rubin's interest in the band, and was impressed by his work with the hip hop acts and . During a visit by Slagel to a European music , Rubin spoke with the band directly, and persuaded them to sign with Def Jam. Slagel paid a personal tribute to Rubin, and said that Rubin was the most passionate of all the label representatives the band were in negotiations with. Following the agreement, Friedman brought the band members to for two days of publicity shots, possible record shots, and photos for a tour book; Rubin felt no good photos of the band had been taken before that point. One of the photos was used on the back cover of the band's 1988 release .
Reign in Blood was recorded and produced in Los Angeles with Rubin. The album was the label boss' first professional experience with heavy metal, and his fresh perspective led to a drastic makeover of Slayer's sound. Steve Huey of believed Rubin drew tighter and faster songs from the band, and delivered a cleanly produced sound that contrasted sharply with their previous recordings. This resulted in drastic changes to Slayer's sound, and changed audiences' perception of the band. Araya has since stated their two previous releases were not up to par production-wise. Guitarist later remarked that "[i]t was like, 'Wow—you can hear everything, and those guys aren't just playing fast; those notes are on time.'"
Hanneman later admitted that while the band was listening to and at the time, they were finding the repetition of guitar riffs tiring. He said, "If we do a verse two or three times, we're already bored with it. So we weren't trying to make the songs shorter—that's just what we were into," which resulted in the album's short duration of 29 minutes. King had stated that while hour-long records seem to be the trend, "[y]ou could lose this part; you could cut this song completely, and make a much more intense record, which is what we're all about." When the record was completed, the band met with Rubin, who asked: "Do you realize how short this is?" Slayer members looked at each other, and replied: "So what?" The entire album was on one side of a cassette; King stated it was "neat," as "You could listen to it, flip it over, and play it again." The music is abrasive and faster than previous releases, helping to narrow the gap between and its predecessor , and is played at an average of 220 .
Although the album received no radio airplay, it was the band's first release to enter the Billboard 200, where it debuted at #127, and attained its peak position of 94 in its sixth week. The album also reached #47 on the , and on November 20, 1992, it was in the US.
Reign in Blood was critically acclaimed by the underground and music press. Reviewing for , which was established in 1991, Steve Huey awarded the album five out of five, describing it a "stone-cold classic." critic Clay Jarvis awarded the album an A+ grade, calling it a "genre-definer," as well as "the greatest metal album of all time." Jarvis further remarked the song "Angel of Death" "smokes the asses of any band playing fast and/or heavy today. Lyrically outlining the horrors to come, while musically laying the groundwork for the rest of the record: fast, lean and filthy." magazine described it as the "heaviest album of all time," and listed the album at #27 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time". magazine named it "the best metal album of the last 20 years" in 2006. ranked Reign in Blood among their list of the "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time", and ranked the album #67 on their list of the "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005". Critic Chad Bowar stated: "1986's Reign in Blood is probably the best thrash album ever recorded." In August 2014, placed the album on its "14 Thrash Albums You Need to Own" list. In 2017, it was ranked 6th on 's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".
Adrien Begrand of observed that "[t]here's no better song to kick things off than the masterful 'Angel of Death', one of the most monumental songs in metal history, where guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman deliver their intricate riffs, drummer Dave Lombardo performs some of the most powerful drumming ever recorded, and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya screams and snarls his tale of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele." When asked why Reign in Blood has retained its popularity, King replied: "If you released Reign in Blood today, no one would give a shit. It was timing; it was a change in sound. In thrash metal at that time, no one had ever heard good production on a record like that. It was just a bunch of things that came together at once." inducted Reign in Blood into the Decibel Magazine Hall of Fame in November 2004, being the first album to earn such award.
Slayer embarked on the Reign in Pain tour with the bands in the United States and in Europe; they also served as the opening act for 's U.S. tour in 1987. In late 1986, drummer Lombardo quit the band; he said: "I wasn't making any money. I think I had just gotten married, and I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally—on a major label—I wanted my rent and utilities paid." To continue the tour Slayer enlisted drummer .
Rubin called Lombardo daily to insist he return, telling him: "Dude, you gotta come back in the band." Rubin offered Lombardo a salary, but he was still hesitant about returning; at this point Lombardo had been out of the band for several months. Lombardo's wife convinced him to return in 1987; Rubin came to his house and picked him up in his , taking him to a Slayer rehearsal.
Reign in Blood is regarded by critics as one of the most influential and extreme thrash metal albums. In its "Greatest Metal Bands Of All Time" poll, praised Slayer's "downtuned rhythms, infectious guitar licks, graphically violent lyrics and grisly artwork," which they stated "set the standard for dozens of emerging thrash bands," while "Slayer's music was directly responsible for the rise of ." MTV described Reign in Blood as essential listening, and the album was ranked number 7 on 's "Top 25 Most Influential Metal Albums".'Raining Blood' and 'Angel of Death' are played at almost every show.
Asked during a press tour for 1994's about the pressure of living up to Reign in Blood, King replied that the band did not try to better it, but just wanted to make music. In 2006, 's Don Kaye drew a comparison to the band's 2006 album , and concluded, "Slayer may never make an album as incendiary as Reign in Blood again."
Rapper was heavily influenced by the album, and has remarked that it takes him back to the 1980s, "when shit was pure". vocalist Zoltán Farkas describes the album as one of his primary influences. of stated Lombardo's performance on the album helped him play faster throughout his career. Kelly Shaefer of said: "When Reign in Blood came out it changed everything! That is easily the best record ever!"
Hanneman said that the album was his personal favorite, reasoning it was "so short and quick and to the point". Araya has remarked that Slayer's 2006 album "comes close", but that "nothing can surpass Reign in Blood for intensity and impact. No one had heard anything like it before. In the twenty years since then, people have got more desensitized. What was over the top then might not be now."
– Slayer's drummer from 1992 to 2001, and 2013–present – first heard the record while a member of . At a party, he walked towards music he heard from another room, and approached Forbidden guitarist Craig Locicero. Asked what was playing, Locicero shouted, "The new Slayer record." After listening closely, Bostaph looked at Locicero, and concluded his band was "fucked".
of cited 'Altar of Sacrifice' as his favourite Slayer song: "It's the one I would always play for my friends when I was getting into Slayer. They would get this glazed look in their eyes and worship the while doing the ."
In 2006, the album won a award for Best Album of the Last 20 Years.
In 2016, ranked Reign in Blood #1 among Slayer's eleven studio albums.
The tracks "" and "Angel of Death" have become almost permanent additions to Slayer's live set, and were Hanneman's favorite tracks to play live. The band played Reign in Blood in its entirety throughout the fall of 2004, under the tour banner "Still Reigning". In 2004, a live DVD of the was released, which included a finale with the band covered in fake blood during the performance of "Raining Blood".
King later said that while the idea of playing Reign in Blood in its entirety was suggested before by their , it was met with little support. The band ultimately decided they needed to add more excitement to their live shows, and to avoid repetition incorporated the ideas of raining blood. When asked about using fake blood in future performances, King remarked: "It's time to move on, but never say never. I know Japan never saw it, South America and Australia never saw it. So you never know." In 2008 the band performed Reign in Blood in its entirety once again, this time in , France, during the third European .
Although it was omitted from a number of concerts because of short time allotments, Slayer have often said that they enjoy playing the album in its entirety. According to Hanneman: "We still enjoy playing these songs live. We play these songs over and over and over, but they're good songs, intense songs! If it were melodic songs or some kind of boring 'clap your hands' song, you'd be going crazy playing those every night. But our songs are just bam-bam-bam-bam, they're intense." The band was on stage for 70 minutes, which only allowed seven or eight additional songs to be played following the album's play. King stated this arrangement "alienates too many people". In the of 2004, however, the album was played in its entirety during Slayer's set as the last ten songs to end the show. The album was performed live at the festival in May 2012. In May 2014, it was announced that Slayer would perform the album in its entirety at in Chicago and Denver.
The artwork was designed by , who at the time was creating political illustrations for , , and . The cover art was featured in 's 2006 "top ten heavy metal album covers of all time."
Def Jam's distributor, , refused to distribute the album due to the song "Angel of Death", because of its setting and description of the Holocaust. Reign in Blood was eventually distributed by ; however, due to the controversy it did not appear on Geffen's release schedule.
For the album, Slayer decided to abandon much of the earlier themes explored on their previous album , and write about issues that were more on a street level.Reign in Blood's lyrics include death, anti-religion, insanity, and murderering, while the lead track "" details conducted at the by , who was dubbed "the Angel of death" by inmates. The song led to accusations of Nazi sympathizing and , which have followed the band throughout their career.
Hanneman was inspired to write "Angel of Death" after he read a number of books on Mengele during a Slayer tour. Hanneman has complained people usually misinterpret the lyrics, and clarified: "Nothing I put in the lyrics that says necessarily he was a bad man, because to me — well, isn't that obvious? I shouldn't have to tell you that." The band utilized the controversy to attract publicity, incorporating the into their logo (also the S in the band's name resembles the used by the SS), and writing a song in titled "SS-3", which mentions , the second in command in the .
"Raining Blood" was covered by on her 2001 album . King has admitted that he thought the cover was odd: "It took me a minute and a half to find a spot in the song where I knew where she was. It's so weird. If she had never told us, we would have never known. You could have played it for us and we'd have been like, 'What's that?' Like a minute and a half through I heard a line and was like, 'I know where she's at!'". The band, however, liked the cover enough to send Slayer T-shirts to her. The song was also covered by , , , , and , who covered the entire album on a . "Raining Blood" was also covered by the New Zealand drum and bass band on their 2003 album , and by Nashville, Tennessee band Asschapel on their 7" "Satanation". A medley of "Raining Blood" and "Postmortem" appears on 's 2016 album , preceded by a short monologue by lead singer where he names Slayer as both a major influence on Body Count and as one of his favorite bands of all time "and always will be"; a video for Body Count's version was released in August 2017.
In 2005, the Slayer tribute band Dead Skin Mask released an album with eight Slayer tracks, including "Angel of Death". The death metal band covered the song in 1999, while the track was featured on the classical band 's 2006 album . A Slayer tribute album titled Al Sur del Abismo (Tributo Argentino a Slayer), compiled by Hurling Metal Records, featured sixteen tracks covered by metal bands, including Asinesia's version of "Angel of Death".
"Raining Blood" was featured in the 127th episode, "", aired on 16 March 2005. The plot centers on the town of South Park, which has been overrun by . states "Hippies can't stand " and proceeds to drill through a hippie concert onto the main stage to change the audio to "Raining Blood", making the hippies run away. King found the episode humorous and expressed his interest in the show, ending the interview with "It was good to see the song being put to good use, if we can horrify some hippies we've done our job." "Angel of Death" also appears in several movies, including , at the point when the character Mohawk turns into a spider,, where it is played during a car stunt scene, and in the 2005 documentary .
"Angel of Death" was featured in the multi–platform video game . Nolan Nelson, who selected the soundtrack for the game, asserts: "one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever recorded. Don't know who Slayer is? I feel sorry for you." "Raining Blood" was included in the in–game radio station . "Raining Blood" is also one of the songs featured in , and is considered one of the most difficult songs in the game, if not the hardest of the career song list. "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood" are both available as for .
Track listing1. "" Hanneman 4:51 2. "Piece by Piece" King 2:02 3. "Necrophobic"
"Aggressive Perfector" was shorter and had clearer production than the previous version featured on the reissue of the . The reissue also fixed a problem with some CD pressings which incorrectly set the beginning of "Raining Blood" into the blank pause in "Postmortem".
Charts and certificationsCharts Certifications
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