Review: Slayer — "The Vinyl Conflict"
Slayer may be the most uncompromising, consistent and radical speed/thrash metal band since, well, forever. Starting with their 1983 debut, Show No Mercy, the SoCal band has delivered nearly three decades of genre-defining sonic brutality. And with the release of Slayer’s most-recent box set, The Vinyl Conflict, they're treating fans to the most deluxe Slayer experience yet.
The limited-edition collector’s item presents the band's entire Def/American Recordings catalog—Reign In Blood (1986), South of Heaven (1988), Seasons In The Abyss (1990), the double-record Live Decade of Aggression (1991), Divine Intervention (1994), Undisputed Attitude (1998), God Hates Us All (2001), Christ Illusion (2006), and World Painted Blood (2009)—as a vinyl box set.
More than just a repackaging, all ten albums have been remastered from the original analog flat master tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl—the kind of care that audiophiles expect from crazy jazz retrospectives, but which has never been bestowed upon extreme thrash metal.
And the benefits of this treatment are immediately clear when you drop the needle onto one of these babies. Basically all the songs Slayer fans lose their mind over are here, sounding heavier, livelier and more brutal than ever.
Slayer: The Vinyl Conflict
“Slayer defines speed metal and these albums define Slayer. Listen at your own risk.”
—Producer Rick Rubin
The opening drum/chord hits on “Angel of Death” connect like a punch to the throat, while the tormented beginning moments of “Raining Blood” resound with unexpected clarity and creepiness. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s guitars cut through with surprising warmth on “South of Heaven,” while Tom Araya’s sinister delivery of “Dead Skin Mask”’s tortured narrative takes on an even eerier quality than the original release (who imagined that was possible).
The remastered sounds and vinyl format also encourage you to really sit down and tune in to these classic records, which led us to rediscover some forgotten gems and nuanced playing. One example is Dave Lombardo's middle drum “break” in “Spill the Blood,” the final cut on South of Heaven. Lombardo steps forward for only a brief few seconds, just enough to demonstrate of his unparalleled clarity, power and restraint.
Another track that rattled our speakers was “Bitter Peace,” the opening song from Diabolus. This has got to be one of the strongest cuts in the Slayer arsenal, but it rarely gets the credit it deserves. Listening to the remastered version—of this angry buzzsaw riffer—reminds you of how great this song really is.
Beyond the rich sounds, collectors will appreciate the look of these large-format album sleeves, the bloody pentagram-adorned box, and the fact that reproductions of the original LP inner sleeve artwork have been converted into 12x12 inserts.
This is a must-have for Slayer completists, as well as all of you old-school vinyl heads whose original LPs have seen better days.
For more information on how to purchase this record, head over to Slayer.net.
+++To read Kerry King's comments on each record, click through the box set images below.+++
“ 'South of Heaven' is the only time historically we had a game plan going into a record. We made a conscious effort to play slower, heavier stuff.”
“We shot the ‘Seasons’ video at the end of the tour, and nobody wanted to go [to Egypt]. We landed in a light sandstorm and you couldn’t see 30 feet in front of you. The next morning we opened the window and the pyramids were right there.”
“ ‘Decade of Aggression’ was recorded over two shows. That was the first time anyone could have Slayer live…unless it was a tape trader kind of thing.”
“ ‘Divine Intervention’ is the first one we did without Dave [Lombardo], so that was a weird experience. That album starts with a drum fill…like ‘Here’s Paul [Bostaph], let’s go.’ ”
“ ‘Undisputed Attitude’...to this day that’s my favorite sounding record. It just sounds great top to bottom. It’s my favorite guitar sound of any of our records."
“ ‘Diabolus in Musica’ is my least favorite record. I wasn’t very into doing music then. I was down in the dumps cause Limp Bizkit was popular and I couldn’t understand why people were into this fucking ridiculous music.”
“God Hates Us All is one of the coolest statements I’ve ever come up with."
“ 'Christ Illusion' was the first one with Dave back. It was cool...[and made us] whole again.”
“ 'World Painted Blood' is one record that was very weird for us, because usually we’ll go in with 90% of it done. This time we did three songs in October of  and it was our first experience with Greg Fidelman, [which was] kind of [his] trial by fire."
“Everybody thinks ['Reign in Blood'] was this mastermind of 10 songs that were gonna light the world on fire till the end of time…the funny thing is…it was just our next 10 songs.”