Greatest Album Debuts: Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983).

( Listing a top five of anything is always hard but thrash legends Slayer is definitely a mid-lister on my top ten. This was the band that really made me a fan of thrash music. It—as well as Bathory and Hellhammer—were the next stage of speed metal in a similar vein as NWOHM era band and black metal—not Black—pioneers Venom.

Along with the other two bands mentioned, Slayer kept up the sinister and dark lyrics but went darker, faster, more aggressive, and with more raw power. Like Venom, over time Slayer would catch up to the musicianship and popularity of peers Metallica and Megadeth—and explore different paths in modernizing their sound like their peers.

Slayer - Show No Mercy

However, their adventures allowed for the band to stay within its familiar, speedy and aggressive confines without entirely changing what brought them to the dance. It might not have been Slayer at their best but it was definitely Slayer.

With that said, we’re going back to Slayer at their best with its 1983 debut album Show No Mercy, ten tracks of speed metal, thrash ooze.

The Performance of Show No Mercy

This is Slayer when it still had its inspirations and contemporaries proudly in their music. You can hear Venom and Onslaught in each track. I called Blind Guardian’s debut Battalions of Fear an album that doesn’t let up from opener to closer—Show No Mercy is the same.

The opening track lets you know what kind of party this is going to be but doesn’t give you time to prepare. You’re just in it and it’s going to be quite the ride until the second song. Speaking of these two songs, the entire A-side is brolic.

While my favorite of the A-side is “Evil Has No Boundaries”, this side has two classic Slayer songs in “The Antichrist” and “Die by the Sword.” These three tracks in a row pack a lot of power to get the listener locked in for the rest of the album. Following “Die by the Sword” is “Fight Till the Death”.

I believe “FTTD” is one of the stronger tracks on the A-side with only the opener and A-side closer “Metal Storm/Face of the Slayer” being stronger tracks. It rides similar to the opener which I really love. That would be rare for me to put a song that half an instrumental as the second wrecking ball but I really dig this track.

The other two more technically proficient tracks I feel and I enjoyed “Die by the Sword” more of the two.

The B-side opens with another Slayer classic in “Black Magic”, a dope track but again, I don’t feel that this is even one of the B-side—or album’s—bangers. It’s a good song, yes but “Show No Mercy” slams harder. Then again, you don’t always have to start a side or an album with what slams the hardest. It’s just what I prefer to kick things off with.

For it’s placement on the album, it makes for one of the tracks you can’t really skip. It slams, can stand on its own or close out an album but it also kind of bleeds into “Tormentor” which is a banger. This is a head banging-inducing track. It just slams and has an approach similar to “Evil Has No Boundaries”, “Show No Mercy”, and our next track “The Final Command.”

Now “The Final Command” is a song that could’ve easily been a Slayer classic live tune. It’s short, it slams and it rides. This track had to have been a major influence on many in the early 2000s era of the New Wave of Thrash Metal. I’d say what trips it up is that it’s basically the “Fight Till the Death” of the B-side.

“Crionics” is a track that has gotten live play and Slayer would pop it out here and there. It’s probably my least favorite track on the album but it doesn’t torpedo the quality of the album or anything. I should also add that it’s not a case of thrash burnout. After “Tormentor” and “The Final Command”, it’s like “It’s fine.”

The album closes with the B-side’s strongest track, the album’s strongest track, the titular “Show No Mercy.” I’ve always liked albums closing with the title track, it adds some pressure to the song since it’s the lynch pin. It can’t be mid, right? It has to slam or add to the overall project. To me it has to at least be the second-best track but I’m expecting it to be the best.

Needless to say, “Show No Mercy” did not disappoint. Oh no, it absolutely slams start to finish. It comes in hot with drums before ripping into a chainsaw riff. In the background, you’re just got the drums riding while lead singer and bass player Tom Araya yelling over the assault.

What a chaotic ride to end the album with!

Power of the Opener: Evil Has No Boundaries

Honestly, the album could’ve started with either “Evil Has No Boundaries” or “Show No Mercy”, I believe this pick did an excellent job in setting the pace for every track that followed including the closing, titular track. “EHNB” has a lot of power to it! It’s also roughly the same length as the closer so, either would’ve been fine.

Another opener candidate is “Tormentor” as it has an explosiveness to it that can match “EHNB” and “Show No Mercy.” I will say that it is a little longer than both the opener and closer but I believe it had the speed and aggression to hold a thrash fan or newcomer to thrash.

As for if “Evil Has No Boundaries” is flexible. I’d say kind of? It would be strongest as an opener or closer but I suppose it could hold a place in the middle of the album. I couldn’t image it placed elsewhere but its similar to other tracks on the album, so why not?

Strongest Tracks: Show No Mercy, Evil Has No Boundaries, Tormentor, and Metal Storm/Face the Slayer

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.