Goodwin Fine Art gallery
Denver, CO 2014
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
1985. Hell Awaits
is the second album by band Slayer, The band’s previous release, Show No Mercy, became Metal Blade Records’ highest selling release; as a result, producer Brian Slagel desired to release a second Slayer album. To that end, Slagel financed a recording budget (Show No Mercy was paid for by band members) and recruited several experienced producers to help in the studio.
Lyrical themes on Hell Awaits include hell and Satan, as their debut. The intro of the first track “Hell Awaits” played backwards reveals the repeated phrase “join us”. Musically, the album features the band’s most progressive and diverse work compared to their previous releases, and according to Kerry King, he and Jeff Hanneman were very into Mercyful Fate at the time, which then led to the longer and more progressive songs. Defined as “influential to future extreme metal acts,”
Drummer Dave Lombardo, on the other hand, asserts the album was professionally done compared to Show No Mercy: “I didn’t have to overdub the cymbals, and we had a really good engineer.” Lombardo’s favorite song is “At Dawn They Sleep”, “because it was kind of slow and grungy, but then it had that double-bass part at the end.” While recording the track, neither guitarists King or Jeff Hanneman who wrote the lyrics were in the studio—only Araya and Slagel. On reading the lyrics, which featured a misspelled word, Araya sang it as it was spelled, although it’s not a real word.
In the book Legends of Rock Guitar, Hell Awaits was defined as “a psychotic exploration into the depths of Satanism and physical torture.” The book, a chronology of the great guitarists of rock which includes both Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, observed the band’s evolution in comparison with their previous album, Show No Mercy, saying, “The musicianship is improved, as is lead singer Tom Araya’s voice, making the band sound less like hacks and more like metal fiends. The sludgy riffs, which were pure [Black] Sabbath, are offset by some of King’s and Hanneman’s faster solos, giving Slayer entrée into the speed metal realm.
""Evil perfection. Araya, Hanneman, King, and Lombardo are at the top, creatively and musically. All seven songs are merciless works of art that totally re-shaped the heavy metal landscape.""
Hell awaits…and you shall join!
Tom Araya Jeff Hanneman Kerry King Dave Lombardo
Blasphemy “Live Ritual - Friday the 13th”