Show No Mercy


Metal Blade, 1983

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Many fans of thrash metal might have gotten into Slayer thanks to their major label debut Reign In Blood. But Tom Araya and crew—just like the other three bands of metal’s “Big 4”—cut their teeth on earlier releases, albums which might not have had the same level of polish, but had the same intensity.

For Slayer, their debut effort Show No Mercy is similar to their genre-mates, in that their birth cry on vinyl might have had its weak moments, but had enough promise to suggest greatness in their future. It’s not a disc I go back to often, but when I do, it is enjoyable enough to make me wonder just why I don’t listen to it that much when compared to other albums in their discography.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There has been some criticism leveled by others regarding the overall production and sound of this disc—but, to be fair, it’s actually not that bad. The dual guitar attack of Jeff Hannemann and Kerry King is evenly balanced with Araya’s bass and vocal work, as well as Dave Lombardo’s drumming. No one sound overpowers the other, and any effects used on Araya’s vocals are, thankfully, kept to a minimum.

Musically, there are songs here which have rightfully stood the test of time; tracks like “The Antichrist,” “Black Magic” and “Die By The Sword” still sound as good today as they did nearly 40 years ago. While Slayer might still have been discovering their signature sound in 1983, Show No Mercy demonstrates they were well on their way.

That’s not to say this is a perfect release. There are still some tracks which don’t live up to the same potential. The opening song “Evil Has No Boundaries” at times sounds like a stereotypical metal song of the ’80s, and doesn’t suggest that Slayer was about to break any new ground with their music. Similarly, tracks like “The Final Command,” “Fight Till Death” and “Crionics” just go nowhere; they’re pleasant enough to listen to, but that’s about it.

Still, Show No Mercy proves to be a fairly solid, if slightly uneven, debut effort from Slayer. Would I have predicted the level of success they eventually achieved? Honestly, probably not—but I would have definitely called them someone to watch had I listened to this in 1983. (Yes, I was late to the party… again.) Even today, it’s still worth dusting this one off, if only to hear where Araya and crew came from—and where they were eventually headed.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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