Updated date:

A Review of "Reign in Blood" the Best Album of American Thrash Metal Band Slayer

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Reign In Blood is Still an Outstanding Release Even 30 Years Later

Few heavy metal albums throughout the history of the genre have stood the test of time so much that even many years later, they are still a band’s finest work. Such is the case for Slayer’s Reign in Blood album. Released in 1986, the third studio album from this California thrash metal band is pure speed and aggression, lasting less than 30 minutes. However, the extended edition has two bonus tracks. They are the songs "Aggressive Perfector" and a remixed version of the song "Criminally Insane." Pretty much every guitar solo in this album is FAST! Why is this album the band’s best work? For the simple reason that every song is good and it fits in with the theme of an album based exclusively on speed.

Tom Araya: A Fast and Aggressive Vocalist That May Be Underrated

This band has mostly members from the United States. The only exception is bassist and vocalist Tom Araya who is from Chile. He may be the most recognizable person in the band’s history, known for his fast vocals which are aggressive. They sometimes have screams in them too. This is particularly the case in the song “Postmortem” as Araya sings “fatality, reality, you await the final call.” He lets out the scream there at the end. Postmortem is one of the slower songs on the album having a catchy mid-tempo riff in the song. Once again, here is a song by song breakdown and analysis for those of you that are enthusiastic heavy metal fans. Finishing off the album is another famous song called "Raining Blood" which has the sound effects of rainfall coming down in the song.

The Great Song of 1986: "Angel of Death"

Reviews of the Songs on Reign in Blood

  1. Angel of Death-perhaps the most famous song on the album and one of the best in Slayer’s history, the lyrical themes in the song focus on World War 2 and the horrors committed by Adolf Hitler. The two minute mark contains some of the catchiest riffs that Slayer has ever written.
  2. Piece by Piece- this song is fast, heavy, and is about a vicious killer whose face its victims cannot see as he rips them apart. Buffalo NY based band Cannibal Corpse may have been influenced by these guys as their lyrics would be similar to the lyrics in this song.
  3. Necrophobic-this is the shortest song on the album clocking in at 1:40 and it is one of the fastest in Slayer’s history.
  4. Jesus Saves-at first glance when you read the lyrics this may seem like the band is trying to mock Jesus. On the contrary, the band is trying to point out that the song is actually about some of the things that Jesus preached about during his lifetime, such as not being motivated by lust. He also said that those who believe in HIM shall have everlasting life.
  5. Criminally Insane-this song starts out slowly but in usual Slayer fashion it speeds up. The song is about someone who has gone insane and gone on a journey to make life miserable for his victims.
  6. Epidemic- this is a song that addresses the major issues of poverty and disease which is spreading fast in some communities.

Reign in Blood Review & Analysis Continued

I find it hard for Slayer to have been able to top the solid nature of this album and even 2009’s World Painted Blood which I really like may not even be as good as this one. However, Reign in blood does not have a song as good as "Americon" or "Human Strain" so there’s that point to consider. However, instead of doing the standard thing of reviewing each song one by one for the last four songs of this album, we will use a different approach. For this album, Slayer just wanted to release the fastest and most brutal thrash metal album that was perhaps possible at the time. The excellent mid-tempo song Postmortem has an excellent main riff that some of you may want to keep on playing again and again.

Even with all of the super-fast solos that you hear on this album, they fit very well with the context of the album considering what style of metal that many bands were playing at the time.

Favorite Song on Reign in Blood

How Does Reign in Blood Sound Musically in 2020?

As we look back on this album in 2020, Reign in Blood is still Slayer’s finest album and it is not only because of the speed but because the case could be made that the album is part of the movement to solidify the thrash metal genre because prior to albums like this, probably only Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All in 1983 was the other famous album that symbolized the anger, rage, and partying style of the times.

A List of Some Other Notable Heavy Metal Albums Released in 1986

Metallica-Master of PuppetsTankard- Zombie Attack 

Megadeth-Peace Sells But Who's Buying?

Judas Priest - Turbo


Holy Moses-Queen of Siam






The Very Good Mid-Tempo Song "Postmortem"

More Reasons To Consider Why Reign In Blood is So Great

If Finished With the Dogs is considered Holy Moses’ best album and Master of Puppets is considered Metallica’s finest work, Reign in Blood may be considered in the minds of many to be Slayer’s finest work considering how short the album is. Overall, Reign in Blood is not just one of the best albums of 1986. It is also one of the finest fast thrash metal albums even 30 years later. For those of you that love albums with pure speed, Reign in Blood is recommended. If however, you prefer thrash metal albums with melody in addition to speed, then you can check out albums such as Kreator’s Enemy of God.

Even with the amount of controversy that these guys have faced in their career, they are a better band than Cannibal Corpse because they have been musically more consistent even if they have had down moments.

As I look back on this thrash metal classic, is Slayer really better than Cannibal Corpse? That’s tough to say because they are different bands but even if Slayer can be a one-dimensional bands at times, there are certain songs of theirs that are classics even to this day including the first song Angel of Death.

"Raining Blood"

Rate Slayer's 3rd Album Reign in Blood

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

Related Articles