Slayer - Reign in Blood - October 7, 1986
Earlier in 1986, Metallica released an album that featured songs with extended run-times, with somewhat more complex arrangements and riffs that were repeated over and over, almost to the point of ridicule. Later that same year, Slayer decided to go in the exact opposite direction. With the exception of the opening and closing tracks, Slayer almost forego song development completely in favour of short, violent bursts of evil the likes of which the world had never seen. Their tactic is successful in a way, in that when the album is playing it is very enjoyable to someone who loves fast, energetic, evil-as-fuck music. However, once the music is over there's not a whole lot to remember.
If Slayer had made an album full of "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood", it would truly be one for the ages! But instead we have two fantastic songs, a few lesser lights like "Postmortem" and "Altar of Sacrifice", and then a bunch of under-developed drive-by's. The influence of this album is far-reaching, inspiring a host of death and thrash metal bands to up the violence and aggression, and to start playing those strangled-guitar solos that I kind of wish Kerry and Jeff never decided to play.
Overrated? Absolutely. This is nowhere near the best thrash album ever, and I really question why so many people feel it is. Innovative? Somewhat. Hirax did the fast, short, metallic bursts already, but Slayer brings a new level of credibility, professionalism and pure evil to it. Is it good? Yeah, it's good. It's fun as hell, but just not very memorable nor is it deserving of a lot of the praise that is thrown its way. That said, it still shits on a good share of the thrash albums that have come out up to this point and beyond, which is a testament to just how good a band Slayer were in their prime.
Standouts: Angel of Death, Raining Blood, Postmortem