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.

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

Click here to enter for a chance to win The Vinyl Conflict and three Slayer DVDs.

+++To read Kerry King's comments on each record, click through the box set images below.+++

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Brad Angle

Brad is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and video producer. He is the former content director of Revolver magazine and executive editor of Guitar World. His work has appeared in Vice, Guitar Aficionado, Inked and more. He’s also a die-hard Les Paul player who wishes he never sold his 1987 Marshall Silver Jubilee half stack.