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Slayer - Hell Awaits
Review: Fast and terrifying violent music fused from the alienated self-contrast of thrash and the accelerating rhythms of extreme speed and black metal, Slayer came hybrized but full of vigor. The clean-sung but entrenched, riot-shouted vocals of Tom Araya guide a pugilistic network of respondent drumbeats upholding a harangue of ambient fast-strummed riffs and nervous, erratic, chaotic metaspoken lead guitar.
Noise-based as much of the lead guitar pyrocuneiform is, the power of Slayer's composition is to amplify a simple virus through breakdown into multiple variations of a core rhythm in architectural riffs built from fragmented scales and basic harmonic ideas to emphasize basic mathematical concepts behind the apocalyptic lyrics and budding nihilistic aesthetic. Even the faster songs and the savage self-combative moments of self-conflicted rhythm carry a complexity borrowed from the progressive rock gods of the previous generation and the metal masters who bestowed their creations with the complex metaphorical language of imagination.
Rhythmic emphasis comes entirely through guitars, which lead drums because the linear complexity tracking of the song moves fluidly through the variations of riffing which migrate, ambient, through patterns over the percussive components of the song, allowing drums to maintain greater simplicity and to unleash guitars to freedom of voicing over predictable rhythm upholding self-defined major components of each song. Slayer's composition is often called chromatic, meaning that it uses linear scales, but more appropriately it is nihilistic: a note or chord becomes the basis for invention of new recombinant pieces of information, creating a self-specialized centerless evolutionary compositional space for the conception of each song.
Nihilism pervades also the virulent lyrics and the haphazard, almost careless method with which guitarists K. King and J. Hanneman drop into a solo and work it through motions of noise toward architectural clarity. Slayer's obssession with the seat of control of violence and death, as well as from the alienated methodology of their major ancestors in hardcore and thrash creates musical nihilism not as aesthetic but origin. Without pretense they wrest beauty from the essential deconstruction of music, and from that beauty they create romantic epics of despair and oblivion that influenced all metal, and much of popular music, to follow.