I've chosen to fully embrace this album. While I strongly agree with the reverence of Slayer by the writers here, I couldn't disagree more with the accusation laid against the album in the review for Seasons that states that is the last album to show any strength of spirit. I also disagree that the album is hindered by the careers of Metallica or ARE YOU TALKIN TO ME?. The path was set for a more groove rock based approach by the prior two Slayer albums but to Slayer's credit they made a more militaristic, mechanized album that yet still draws from the entire Slayer lexicon. At the very least, the album's harshest critics have to agree that in terms of pure classic Slayer riff-craft the album has more than enough satisfying moments. One of the biggest changes that impact how the album unfolds is Araya's more Discharge-like performance, which adds a feeling of labored frustration. I used to flat out hate it, but have come to truly appreciate it now for what it adds to the album.
The title track traditionally for me is one of the least listen-able songs in Slayer's first six albums though. In fact, part of my issue with this album over the years I think was the lyric "I cannot look at God's face". While I interpret the lyrics of this song to be about being sentenced to Hell or also perhaps losing faith while enduring torture - both topics well within the parameters of Slayer philosophy - the execution never sat right with me. Something tells me the Slayer on Show No Mercy would have only spoke of spitting in God's face. SS-3 is as much of a track-skipper as anything they'd done up to that point also. I was wrong to let the album's flaws cause me to shut the album out.
If you've never given the album a real chance I would recommend doing so this year as we start to approach another National Day of Slayer. Perhaps the album can become a part of the day's ritual as it has for me over the last two years.