10 Best Slayer Songs
Choosing the 10 best Slayer songs is a difficult task, considering the band’s prolific career. Having unleashed a brand of unforgiving thrash metal for over 30 years, Slayer are one of the most iconic and influential bands of all time. Beyond the realms of metal, Slayer have almost built an entire ecosystem around their music, which has seen great appreciation and respect from all types of music fans. As one of thrash’s ‘Big Four,’ Slayer have pummeled fans with 11 albums, two live records, four gold-selling discs and five Grammy nominations (including two wins). Slayer are currently in the process of writing their 12th studio album, which is tentatively set for a 2013 release, but for now, we celebrate the band’s phenomenal career with our picks of the 10 Best Slayer Songs.
Note: List updated 05/15/13
For all Slayer fans, ‘Mandatory Suicide’ is no less than a mandatory listen. Held in the center of the band’s ‘South of Heaven’ record, ‘Mandatory Suicide’ hones a massive riff along with the thrash act’s character-defining sense of chaos. As awesome as the track may be, please refrain from actually committing suicide … this song sounds better to the living.
As somewhat of a return to form for Slayer, the band unleashed ‘God Hates Us All’ in 2001, with ‘Disciple’ instantly becoming a fan favorite. The unforgettable yell of ‘God hates us all!’ gave a new iconic phrase for Slayer fans to scream along with frontman Tom Araya. In an incredibly strange coincidence, the ‘God Hates Us All’ album was released on Sept. 11, 2001, giving the album an additional dark overtone.
As Slayer’s first full-length album, ‘Show No Mercy’ features at their very-most raw. ‘Black Magic’ may not be polished, but that’s not what we want, is it? The main riff of ‘Black Magic’ showcases the bane of what allows Slayer to stand out from all other thrash bands. How does a human being write a guitar line that sounds so evil and energetic at the same time?! Satan must be impressed.
‘Dead Skin Mask’
It’s utterly ridiculous how Slayer were able to cram so many iconic riffs into one album, but they achieved unparalleled creative success with ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ and the standout track ‘Dead Skin Mask.’ The prime cut was inspired by infamous murderer Ed Gein, who wore the skin of his dead victims. Adding a further piece of horror to ‘Dead Skin Mask,’ a voice of a child can be heard in the outro, crying, “I don’t want to play anymore, Mr. Gein,” and “Let me out!”
As the title track to one of metal’s most influential releases, ‘Hell Awaits’ is one of the key Slayer tracks that demonstrates the diabolic atmosphere that the band is able to conjure. Although the track is mostly instrumental, ‘Hell Awaits’ grabs you with a Satanic grip as is drags you down into the fiery pit. This track can only be described as purely terrifying.
‘South of Heaven’
Honing yet another memorable lick that only Slayer could unleash with such undercurrent, ‘South of Heaven’ is yet another cut that delves its demonic hooks into your flesh. ‘South of Heaven’ floats somewhere within the many lakes of fire explored by Slayer, taking the listener to an igneous crypt completely new to metalheads at the time, but all too familiar to the devil’s favorite band.
Opening the ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ album with Slayer’s classic take-no-prisoners attitude, ‘War Ensemble’ is without a doubt one of the strongest beginnings to an album in metal history. Still a staple of their live show decades after the release of ‘Seasons in the Abyss,’ ‘War Ensemble’ never fails to incite screams of ‘Sport the war! / War support!’ while Tom Araya concludes the iconic chorus with, ‘The final swing is not a drill / It’s how many people I can kill.’
‘Angel of Death’
Beginning with a scream that embodies the suffering felt within the walls of the Auschwitz concentration camp, ‘Angel of Death’ is written from the perspective of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. The doctor has become infamous for the sadistic experimentations he performed upon Auschwitz prisoners, including children. For this, he was gifted with the title, ‘Angel of Death.’ Slayer explored the monstrous acts carried out by Mengele with lyrics such as “Surgery, with no anesthesia / Feel the knife pierce you intensely.”
‘Seasons in the Abyss’
As the closing chapter to the album of the same name, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ shows what Slayer can achieve musically without constantly driving at full speed. Much like some of their earlier works, Slayer creates a hellish atmosphere with ‘Seasons in the Abyss,’ with the feel of the track complementing the title perfectly. Don’t go to sleep while this song is playing, because you’ll surely dream about walking through the realm of purgatory.
Thunder strikes as the sound of menacing rain and electric shrieks of perdition echo across the realm of the eternally damned. As the demonic sound begins to crescendo, Slayer take hold as they unveil one of the most evil riffs in metal history. From the ‘Reign in Blood’ album, which many considered to be the heaviest record on history at the time, ‘Raining Blood’ feels like it was handed down by the devil himself. As a band who perfected the concept of atmospherically evil thrash, ‘Raining Blood’ is certainly one of metal’s highest peaks, as well as the most immortal achievement of Slayer.