SLAYER - Show No Mercy (METAL BLADE - LP 1989)
“Show No Mercy” truly is a legendary album. Not only because it was the first such extreme and fast metal record ever spawned with the Devil’s blessing, but also because it was one of my first extreme metal albums, which I have ever heard in my life, so I can say that its lethal riffing and screaming vocals has infected my blood and thus changed my life. It was in the end of 1991, when I have heard it for the first time, so it wasn’t new anymore and there were more brutal bands and albums around, but back then I was still enjoying my Metallica, AC/DC, G’N’R or Maiden cassettes, when came this! Ha, many years later I can say one thing - it is not my favourite Slayer album, but for sure one of my favourites in their long discography. Maybe the problem with “Show No Mercy” is that if you look at the tracklist then you realize that along with some truly classic and excellent songs, the album contains also some better or worse fillers, with couple of songs, which just don’t match the quality of the best Slayer material. Of course they are an integral part of one of the first extreme metal albums, so they have part in the history, but did such “The Final Command” survive the time? I don’t think so.
This album has a start like a dream and I bet that side A of my vinyl has songs, for which most metal musicians would sell their souls to the Devil, just to have the credit for writing them. “Evil Has No Boundaries” – maybe one of my three most favourite Slayer songs ever! Damn, I just love that opening riff and also that chorus part – it is a classic metal song! And then we have “Antichrist” and “Die by the Sword” and tell me if these are also aren’t just perfect, utterly amazing thrash metal songs? For me they are. “Antichrist” was at the time probably one of the fastest and most aggressive songs known to the mankind and “Die by the Sword” has such a catchy, killer riffing and generally it sounds so damn awesome and memorable than sometimes I can hardly believe that already in 1983 someone was able to compose something like this, such an eternal classic it is. So yeah, you can see now what I meant when I wrote that side A of my vinyl is just perfect, right? And I say that also because songs from side B are not quite as good as those from side A, at least in my opinion. I don’t want to say that “Fight till Death” or “Metal Storm / Face the Slayer” are bad, because they are very, very cool and I like them, but you know… would you include them on your list of mandatory metal classics? Hmm, no. I think they’re just like such Maiden’s “22 Acacia Avenue” or Metallica’s “Trapped Under Ice” – you know, good songs, which are an integral part of important classic metal albums, but just not as good and memorable as „Run to the Hills” or „For Whom the Bell Tolls”, right? “Metal Storm / Face the Slayer” is a song, which I think is more than just solid, I truly like some of the riffs in it and that memorable playing and singing. I know it may sound funny, but for me this song sounds almost like Metallica, with that great influence from NWOBHM, but obviously everything has been played so aggressively and furiously like nothing before! Awesome! Ha, I am lucky that my copy of “Show No Mercy” has couple of bonus tracks and first one of them appears on side B... and it is "Aggressive Perfector"! Damn, another classic song from Slayer!
Side C meanwhile is opened by one of my truly favourite Slayer songs ever and I really mean it. Of course songs from side A were so fuckin amazing, but “Black Magic” is “Black Magic” – this is utterly killer song, with some of the best riffs, best vocals and best feeling ever. LOVE IT! But then there are two songs, which I am not so fond of. First is “Tormentor”, which is just decent. It has quite simple, almost punk riffing, very simple structure, but it just isn’t as aggressive as “Black Magic” or some other songs on the album and is also just not quite as good. Then we have “The Final Command”, which again has a strong punk feeling and NWOBHM inspired riffing, but for me it is just the weakest song from the entire album, a real filler, if you ask me, and I wouldn’t really cry if it has never been recorded. I guess the main problem is that if you have such aggressive songs as “Black Magic” or “Die by the Sword” then such song just doesn’t fit here. It is OK, but I can again use my comparison to such “22 Acacia Avenue”… You know, you probably will never really like this song so much, but since it appears on such classic album then you just must live with it. Finally we have side D and “Crionics” opens it. Well, this is quite weird song, Araya tries to sing more melodiously here, what is a little bit bizarre, but the song is quite catchy, it again has some riffs, which are so much like Iron Maiden on adrenaline for example that it is amazing how aggressive some other songs on “Show No Mercy” are. That mid to end part of “Crionics” sounds for me almost like “Transylvania” or “Phantom of the Opera”, but I honestly like it a lot. But you can hear great difference between this song and the title track, which is next, and which is again an aggressive thrash metal attack and is the fastest and most vicious song with some razor sharp riffs and really unstoppable tempo. Thrash metal was born! Side D has also the second bonus track, which is “Chemical Warfare” and this is yet another classic song on this vinyl; fast, aggressive, violent. Killer.
Right, I guess I would probably have to also write something about the performance of each of Slayer members? But is it really necessary? Everyone knows how awesome guitarists King and Hanneman are, how well they cooperate together, how tight and precise is their playing, especially those leads… Sure, this was only their debut release, so the best was yet to come from these two gentlemen, but they already sounded damn impressive and most importantly, they came up here with a collection of truly memorable songs and classic riffs. Lombardo is the drumming master and if I can sometimes moan about Ulrich or whoever, then Dave has never been playing bad, he invented the extreme metal drumming, so hails to the master! And Araya… well, I can sometimes moan on his high pitched vocals, because I don’t like them so much, but some of his other vocals sound really evil and vicious. His bass playing is sometimes hardly audible, but I can live with his performance and all in all some of his vocals on “Show No Mercy” are just good, some are maybe not quite as good, but it is OK. Artwork? Well, first thing, which you notice is that great huge pentagram with Slayer logo written in sharp letters, with sword inside the circle. Isn’t it one of the best logos ever made? Artwork for “Show No Mercy” is nothing special maybe, but I can put it next to “In the Sign of Evil” or “Morbid Visions”, if you know what I mean.
Standout tracks: “Evil Has No Boundaries”, “Die by the Sword”, “Black Magic”, “Crionics”
Final rate: 85/100