Reign in Blood is the third studio album by Slayer, released in 1986. The album began the band's long-term relationship with Rick Rubin (who would produce every Slayer album until the band signed to Nuclear Blast in 2014 and released Repentless the next year) and was their first on a major label — Rubin's Def Jam Recordings, which before was largely restricted to Hip-Hop. It was a Breakthrough Hit for the band, marking Slayer's debut on the Billboard 200 album charts and later their first of four gold sellers.
This album remains Slayer's most successful and (in)famous record, not only due to highly controversial lyrics and cover art but also because it was highly influential music in the metal community. This album combined Slayer's dark thrash sound from their first two albums with the tempos and song lengths of Hardcore Punk to create an extremely high tempo album filled with gruesome thematics and chaotic performances. It quickly became a huge hit in the extreme metal community and inspired bands across all genres, perhaps most significantly on Death Metal. Even today, Reign in Blood is widely considered a thrash classic and one of the best albums ever produced in heavy metal.
The album contains the band's two signature songs, "Raining Blood" and "Angel of Death", the former later being notorious for being one of the hardest things to ever set foot in Guitar Hero. Other popular songs include "Postmortem", "Jesus Saves", and "Altar of Sacrifice". The band has been performed the album in its entirety on more than one occasion, including a DVD of the album Still Reigning.
- "Angel of Death" (4:51)
- "Piece by Piece" (2:03)
- "Necrophobic" (1:40)
- "Altar of Sacrifice" (2:50)
- "Jesus Saves" (2:54)
- "Criminally Insane" (2:23)
- "Reborn" (2:12)
- "Epidemic" (2:23)
- "Postmortem" (3:27)
- "Raining Blood" (4:14)
Bonus Tracks (Expanded Edition):
- "Aggressive Perfector" (2:30)note
- "Criminally Insane (Remix)" (3:18)
- Tom Araya - vocals, bass
- Jeff Hanneman - lead and rhythm guitar
- Kerry King - lead and rhythm guitar
- Dave Lombardo - drums
Tropes in Blood:
- Album Title Drop: The last line in "Raining Blood:"Now I shall reign in blood!
- Darker and Edgier: Reign in Blood is notable for being the first hint of mainstream success the darker, more sonically violent brand of thrash more popular in Germany and Brazil than the United States received, a sound that made it clear they were a completely different beast compared to bands like Metallica and Megadeth.
- Death Metal: Reign in Blood itself is not a death metal album, but its blistering speeds, atypical playing techniques, and morbid lyrical themes were all-important in laying down the blueprints for the genre and in some cases ended up getting this label strapped onto Slayer anyway. (Infamously, South Park was guilty of making this mistake).
- Dramatic Thunder: Used at the beginning and end of "Raining Blood" (the latter being used to denote the end of the actual music — the track continues with the sound of rain after that).
- Fading into the Next Song / Siamese Twin Songs: "Altar of Sacrifice" into "Jesus Saves" and far more famously, "Postmortem" into "Raining Blood".
- Gorn: Several of the songs on the album get extremely nasty, notably "Angel of Death", "Piece by Piece", and "Necrophobic". Even the album cover art could be an example.
- Hate Sink: Infamous Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele is portrayed in as horrific fashion as ever, reveling in his depraved experiments as the song's narrator condemns him as a "butcher" and his acts as "sickening".
- Horrible History Metal / Those Wacky Nazis: "Angel of Death", about the titular "angel of death" Josef Mengele, who was notorious for performing horrific experiments on concentration camp prisoners during World War II.
- Large Ham: Araya, and the album is all the better for it.
- Loudness War: Given Rick Rubin's infamous penchant for this, it may be slightly surprising to modern listeners that original issues of the album were not affected by this trope at all. However, modern remasters more than make up for it, to the extent that it could be considered a prime example of Keep Circulating the Tapes.
- Mad Lib Metal Lyrics: Most of the albums' lyrics ultimately end up like a bunch of phrases strapped together to illustrate dark imagery. "Criminally Insane" is one major example.
- It's quite likely that the band often chose words for their sounds as much as for their meanings; in addition to the dark imagery, an awful lot of the words used contain strident consonants that make them fun to belt out. Araya spends most of the album chewing the scenery, but the strident consonants particularly coincide with his hammiest moments on the microphone here.
- Metal Scream: Tom delivers one of his best and most famous at the beginning of "Angel of Death". Also used near the end of "Epidemic", and about halfway into "Postmortem".
- Miniscule Rocking: The main album is just under twenty-nine minutes long, with only three songs longer than three minutes and one song ("Necrophobic") under two. The album sticks out for this as the 37-minute-long Hell Awaits had seven songs leaning towards the opposite direction.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: The whole album is around 9 territory, but at the time of its release it'd probably be considered 10, with a few songs (namely "Angel of Death", which today is an extremely hard 9) going up to 11.
- Motor Mouth: One of the album's trademarks is its often ridiculously fast vocal delivery, with "Jesus Saves", "Reborn", and "Necrophobic" being standouts.
- New Sound Album: Slayer was always a Thrash Metal band, but their first two albums have a bit of Early Installment Weirdness to them (Show No Mercy was heavily New Wave of British Heavy Metal influenced and Hell Awaits had long songs with a heavier emphasis on darkness than straight-up brutality). Reign in Blood saw Slayer pumping their music's Hardcore Punk influence way up, paving the way for some of the heaviest, fastest, shortest and morbid thrash ever, setting the scene for many other "brutal" thrash acts and much of the early death metal movement. The album is also different lyrically, focusing less on the satanic themes of the first two (religious songs now generally lean towards Religion Rant Song than about Satan or Hell) for more "street level" but still very dark topics.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Postmortem" isn't mentioned anywhere in the song.
- One-Word Title: Almost half the tracklist consists of these.
- The Plague: "Epidemic" appears to be somewhere getting hit by this.
- Precision F-Strike: The album's one case of swearing, "Criminally Insane", demonstrates this trope nicely:Locked away and kept restrainedDisapprobation, but what have I doneI have yet only just begunTo take your fuckin' lives!
- Rain of Blood: "Raining Blood" of course. The track ends properly with what is presumably rain of blood dripping away.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: "The sky is turning red", presumably as a result of the trope above.
- Religion Rant Song: "Jesus Saves" is a Type 2, attacking those who are reliant on Jesus...
- Sarcastic Title: ...Which isn't exactly indicated in the song's title.
- Villain Song: "Angel of Death", probably the most famous (but far from only) one in the band's catalog.