Rating:
7.8
Slayer - Hell Awaits
September 1985


01. Hell Awaits
02. Kill Again
03. At Dawn They Sleep
04. Praise Of Death
05. Necrophiliac
06. Crypts Of Eternity
07. Hardening Of The Arteries


Back in the days of spikes, make-up and inverted crosses. Back before they were "discovered" by a competent producer. They were pretentious, arrogant and absolutely brilliant. This is possibly the most evil sounding album Slayer ever put out. It is layered with some of the most demonic riffs and solos ever put to record. It has elements of the burgeoning black metal scene of the time, death metal, thrash and speed metal.

The musicianship, especially the drumming far exceeds that on their debut. The songs are long by Slayer standards, have some complex arrangements and the bass is much more prominent than usual. It is not your typical Slayer record. The production is completely different to anything else they ever did but compliments the music perfectly.

The album reeks of the pseudo Satanism popular at the time. As the title suggests the album evokes images of the darkest depths of hell, the psychotic mind and references to murder, vampirism and intimate encounters with the dead abound. It was also the beginning of the "Kill, Kill, Kill" phrase much plagiarised across metal genres in the coming years.

Despite the outward anger if you listen carefully it is still a very introspective album questioning the motives for the actions described in the lyrics. It taps into the most primitive need for religion and the natural rebellion against it. It is a depressive body of music leaving the listener with little hope except to act against whatever stands in front of you. They had yet to fully grow into themselves musically and refine their song writing skills but the album tells the story of the underground metal scene at the time and puts many of the sub-genres which only took off later in the decade into perspective.

It was a key album as it managed to get them noticed by producer Rick Rubin who took them on to far greater things. It was incredibly instrumental in its influence on countless bands to follow. This is not an album for everyone. Many younger Slayer fans may not fully appreciate the importance of this album or the great forward leap it took from Show No Mercy, but the anger, hatred and intensity is undeniable.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Band profile: Slayer
Album: Hell Awaits


 


written by Stuart | 04.04.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Demonmayonnaise - 15.08.2008 at 20:57  
This album does seem to have long songs (for Slayer anyway). Its like a progressive side of Slayer, a progressive side that hasnt really been seen since then. Its a good album, one of my favorites, too bad its completely over-shadowed by Reign in Blood.
AngelOfDisease - 01.03.2009 at 04:11  
I find this album to be pretty boring, but I'll give it a 7 just because of the evil sound and the influence it gave
Elio - 03.04.2009 at 19:34  
I'd say this is a kinda good album, slightly inferior to the debut but nonetheless very interesting.
breX - 06.06.2009 at 16:09  
U r nuts! this album deserves a 9.5 at the very least!;D
Uirapuru - 15.06.2009 at 07:22  
Yeah, I guess it is kinda boring, but it has great moments, and it's musical quality is undeniable.
ponderer - 19.10.2010 at 15:19  
I loved your review but I think this album is a 9 easily. It has been completely overshadowed by Reign in Blood but I think it's still a worthy contender. There's some extremely dark themes and heavy ass riffing on this, but most importantly it has a raw, brutal feeling you don't hear on any of their other releases. Yes, Reign in Blood is a behemoth masterpiece but compared to Hell Awaits it is polished and refined whereas Hell Awaits is raw and you can actually hear the bass guitar which is always a major plus in my book.

HELL AWAITS!!!
Alla Xul - 28.02.2011 at 15:20  
10/10
one of their best albums
RavenKing - 01.03.2011 at 00:47  
Written by Demonmayonnaise on 15.08.2008 at 20:57

This album does seem to have long songs (for Slayer anyway). Its like a progressive side of Slayer, a progressive side that hasnt really been seen since then. Its a good album, one of my favorites, too bad its completely over-shadowed by Reign in Blood.


Personally, I Like "Hell Awaits" much more than "Reign In Blood".
Angelic Storm - 01.03.2011 at 06:16  
I do feel that "Hell Awaits" has always been unfairly overshadowed by "Reign In Blood". It sticks out in Slayer's catalogue, because of the longer, almost progressive structures in some songs, and at times, is also a little melodic. It's my fave Slayer album along with "South Of Heaven", another album with an overbearing atmospheric quality abscent in most of Slayer's work. Every song on "Hell Awaits" is amazing, from the apocalyptic title track, and the frenzied melodies of "Necrophiliac", to the bloodthirsty menace(and my personal fave) of "Kill Again", the album is a masterfully created evil masterpiece. "Crypts Of Eternity" is like a mini masterpiece all it's own, and the end section is just awesome!

I myself would give the album a 10, as I really can find no fault with it whatsoever. Although I can see why "Reign In Blood" gets so much praise, and the huge impact it had on thrash, (and metal in general) it's always been slightly eclipsed by it's predecessor for me. Dark, and truly evil sounding, but with a musical and melodic sensibility that was certainly ahead of it's time. It's like how Venom would sound, if they were truly gifted songwriters. lol
RavenKing - 01.03.2011 at 14:33  
Written by Angelic Storm on 01.03.2011 at 06:16

I do feel that "Hell Awaits" has always been unfairly overshadowed by "Reign In Blood". It sticks out in Slayer's catalogue, because of the longer, almost progressive structures in some songs, and at times, is also a little melodic. It's my fave Slayer album along with "South Of Heaven", another album with an overbearing atmospheric quality abscent in most of Slayer's work. Every song on "Hell Awaits" is amazing, from the apocalyptic title track, and the frenzied melodies of "Necrophiliac", to the bloodthirsty menace(and my personal fave) of "Kill Again", the album is a masterfully created evil masterpiece. "Crypts Of Eternity" is like a mini masterpiece all it's own, and the end section is just awesome!

I myself would give the album a 10, as I really can find no fault with it whatsoever. Although I can see why "Reign In Blood" gets so much praise, and the huge impact it had on thrash, (and metal in general) it's always been slightly eclipsed by it's predecessor for me. Dark, and truly evil sounding, but with a musical and melodic sensibility that was certainly ahead of it's time. It's like how Venom would sound, if they were truly gifted songwriters. lol


It's precisely those longer, almost progressive structures in some songs, along with variety between songs, that make this album much more interesting for me than RIB. I already mentioned that RIB suffers from a too one-dimensional nature and lack of variation. "Hell Awaits" doesn't have this weakness. Also, I prefer production on "Hell Awaits" by far. Imo, Slayer's music works much better with a raw sound and they should have always kept this raw sound.
And that's why I don't even own any post-Hell Awaits Slayer album nowadays.

As for individual songs, I would have mentioned "At Dawn They Sleep". Most likely my favorite song on the album. I like riffs and vocals so much in this song.
Angelic Storm - 01.03.2011 at 14:49  
Written by RavenKing on 01.03.2011 at 14:33
It's precisely those longer, almost progressive structures in some songs, along with variety between songs, that make this album much more interesting for me than RIB. I already mentioned that RIB suffers from a too one-dimensional nature and lack of variation. "Hell Awaits" doesn't have this weakness. Also, I prefer production on "Hell Awaits" by far. Imo, Slayer's music works much better with a raw sound and they should have always kept this raw sound.
And that's why I don't even own any post-Hell Awaits Slayer album nowadays.

As for individual songs, I would have mentioned "At Dawn They Sleep". Most likely my favorite song on the album. I like riffs and vocals so much in this song.


I also prefer the production on "Hell Awaits". The sound is very raw and grimy, which just makes the songs sound even darker than they already obviously are. Everything can be heard very well on the album, you don't need ultra modern production for that. (although some mistakingly think you do) I also love how Tom's bass can be clearly heard in the mix (another rarity for Slayer albums), and it really adds to the overall sound. "Hell Awaits" is more varied than RIB, and I think that's why I prefer it as well. The more complex song structures, along with still keeping some of the old school metal sound of "Show No Mercy", makes the songs very individualistic, and they don't blend in with each other. Aside from the overall sound production wise. Woah, Im getting all technical here! lol

I specifically didn't mention "At Dawn They Sleep", because it's a very well known song from the album. With very good reason though! What I love about that song is the way it builds up. The tension in the song steadily increases as it goes on. I love the way it's structured, and the way it keeps creeping up on you. It is a great song, definitely one of the stand outs in Slayer's catalogue. xD
RavenKing - 02.03.2011 at 00:22  
Written by Angelic Storm on 01.03.2011 at 14:49

I also prefer the production on "Hell Awaits". The sound is very raw and grimy, which just makes the songs sound even darker than they already obviously are.


I think the whole album has a sinister vibe I really like.



Written by Angelic Storm on 01.03.2011 at 14:49

Everything can be heard very well on the album, you don't need ultra modern production for that. (although some mistakingly think you do)


Totally agreed. Lots of people have this misconception because they're used to metal albums being overproduced nowadays.



Written by Angelic Storm on 01.03.2011 at 14:49

I specifically didn't mention "At Dawn They Sleep", because it's a very well known song from the album. With very good reason though! What I love about that song is the way it builds up. The tension in the song steadily increases as it goes on. I love the way it's structured, and the way it keeps creeping up on you. It is a great song, definitely one of the stand outs in Slayer's catalogue. xD


That's what I like so much about this song: how it builds up. There's something grim, malignant and powerful in its atmosphere. A constant tension that increases until the song gets much faster. Imo, it's a very well-written song.
Tetravirulence - 23.05.2011 at 15:54  
This album is so underrated unbelievable, every song in this album is simply killers and tickets to the entry to hell
Mr. Doctor - 23.05.2011 at 16:29  
Written by RavenKing on 01.03.2011 at 00:47

Personally, I Like "Hell Awaits" much more than "Reign In Blood".

Written by Angelic Storm on 01.03.2011 at 06:16

I do feel that "Hell Awaits" has always been unfairly overshadowed by "Reign In Blood".


I agree 100% with this... Hell Awaits is easily my favorite Slayer album. It's a sin how underrated this album is compared to Reign In Blood, an album that's is indeed good but like Ravenking said, one-dimensional... While this album is definitely more interesting in songwriting and with a very dark atmosphere... And "atmosphere" isn't really something I would say together with "Thrash" but this album really makes me think again.

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