Slayer - Show No Mercy
Metal Blade
Thrash Metal
10 songs (35:18)
Release year: 1983
Slayer, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Goat

A little over twenty-five years ago, an underground band by the name of Slayer released their debut album to little initial acclaim. As everyone knows, the four-piece from California wouldn’t get fame for their foul deeds until 1986’s Reign In Blood, but it’s worth noting that Show No Mercy would go on to sell between fifteen and twenty thousand copies, four times the average for a Metal Blade release at the time. The underground of the time clearly knew that they were getting something special, and even now Show No Mercy is a great, great album.

Frequent visitors to the site will know of my... let’s say lukewarm appreciation for Thrash in general, but there are several classic albums that I have no hesitation in bowing down and worshipping before. Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains is one, Celtic Frost’s To Mega Therion another, and Slayer’s debut deserves a place next to those classic Thrash albums moreso than any other subsequent Slayer album. For one, it’s actually a varied listen, as opposed to the single-minded Reign In Blood, usually touted as the band’s best. Here, Slayer were still in thrall to the elder gods: Judas Priest, Venom, Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden were influences on the band, and they all are obvious elements in the Slayer sound circa ’83; a speedy blast of melodic yet aggressive power.

Reading down the tracklist is like reading a list of the band’s best songs... from opening blast Evil Has No Boundaries with Araya’s deranged screams, the first ever mentalist screechy solo, and backing vocals from Gene Hoglan amongst others, through the catchy riffs of The Antichrist and personal favourite Die By The Sword, to the awesomeness incarnate that is Black Magic, everything is amazing. The playing is top-rate, Araya’s vocals are the best they’d ever be, and whilst the production is often criticised, I think it works wonderfully; this is no polished pretty-boy pizza-Thrash, after all, this is a necrotic blast of hatred from the depths of hell! Recorded in a single night to save studio time, the drums especially suffer in sound, but as Araya said in a 2004 interview, for the time and place, the early Slayer albums are amazing. They could redo it, but why ruin it? No modern band could get such a kickass sound, including Slayer themselves.

Show No Mercy is a truly excellent debut album, and in a genre where debut albums are hailed as bands’ best work, this is saying something. Of all the American Thrash bands, Metallica may have been first, Megadeth had the most attitude, Exodus were the purist’s choice, but Slayer were the most evil, using fake blood and satanic lyrics before others and managing to stay controversial ever since. Fine, it’s dated badly, and that artwork is embarrassingly bad, but for a foretaste of all that was to come from the Slayer name, Show No Mercy is a classic. It’s certainly better than Megadeth’s and Metallica’s first efforts, and for my money, a better, more enjoyable listen than Exodus’s oft-quoted classic. Wherever you personally would place this album in the Thrash Hall of Fame, you can’t deny that it’s a truly wonderful release that is all too often overshadowed by the inferior Reign In Blood. Are you afraid of the night? For your soul, it shall be mine...

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Slayer that we have reviewed:
Slayer - Repentless reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Slayer - Haunting the Chapel reviewed by Tony and quoted no quote
Slayer - World Painted Blood reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Slayer - Divine Intervention reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Slayer - Undisputed Attitude reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 14 reviews click here
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