30 years of Hell Awaits - A Tribute To "Hell Awaits"
All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: April 11, 2015
The year was 1985 and a massive flood of great underground Metal albums was underway. Albums like Piledriver's Metal Inquisition, Overkill's Feel the Fire, Destruction's Infernal Overkill, Exodus' Bonded by Blood, Possessed's Seven Churches, Exorcist's Nightmare Theatre, Leige Lord's Freedom's Rise, Razor's Evil Invaders and Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion were just some of the noteworthy records released that year.
In March 1985, Slayer's second album Hell Awaits was cast out of hell and it changed our view of how diabolical, evil and absolutely mean Heavy Metal music could sound. Eye-popping artwork on the cover where gruesome and gory happenings in the middle of hell's fire are illustrated with vile demons ripping the bowels from a naked human corpse and another sitting on the shoulders of a beheaded victim, all with Slayer's pentagram logo at the top left, further sets the vicious image in our minds. A new, more brutal era in Heavy Metal was just beginning.
As Hell Awaits celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015 and as it has affected so many Metalheads from all around the world, The Metal Crypt asked several musicians what role Slayer's second album played in their life both musically and otherwise. The results were quite surprising and even amusing and you can read them yourself in this feature about one of the most important Thrash Metal albums ever released.
Luxi: When Hell Awaits was released in 1985 can you recall your first reaction after you spun it for the first time (most likely on your turntable)?
Mike Browning (NOCTURNUS AD): Yes. I was completely blown away by how good it was! And if you were around when this first came out, you probably only did have it on vinyl because CDs had not been invented yet!
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): Of course, I can remember it like it was yesterday! Amazing music and amazing atmosphere. We were lucky enough (Possessed) to be able to tour with Slayer for both the Show No Mercy and the Haunting the Chapel tours through US and I had been big into Slayer from the very first time I heard them in the early 80's. The first time I saw Slayer was at Ruthie's Inn in Oakland/Berkeley CA and they literally turned that place into a huge mosh-pit. The pit swept away all the tables and chairs and went all the way around the bar. So of course I was waiting eagerly for the Hell Awaits album and bought it as soon as it came out. Hell Awaits is a true classic and to date is still one of my all time top 10 favorite albums. It is a classic and eternal in its composition and delivery and heavy as hell.
Marko Saarinen (DEAD SAMARITAN): I only heard the album later in the year and asked my friend to copy it on tape for me. I had heard the song "Chemical Warfare" by Slayer earlier and I felt like "wow, this is the fastest band in the world". Hell Awaits really blew me away! The intro for the title track was such a perfect build-up; no comparisons come to mind. I was nearly shitting my pants like "man, you can not get any heavier than this, you just fucking can't!"
Phil Rind (SACRED REICH): I thought it was the greatest record ever. It was heavy and fast and dark and relentless. The fade-in to Hell Awaits still gets me all fired up in anticipation.
Chris Pervelis (INTERNAL BLEEDING): I remember hearing the title track when I was in school (11th grade) and I was floored. For me, it was really the first song since "Black Sabbath" that had a dark, ominous atmosphere to it. On the way home from school that day, I stopped at my local record store and bought a copy right away. I went home, put it on my turntable and listened to it the rest of the day. From then on I was completely hooked. I remember blasting the album in my car and all my metalhead friends were freaking out over it. I have Hell Awaits in my top 5 list of albums that changed my life.
Rami Jämsä (CONVULSE): I was 12 years old when Hell Awaits was released and it was among my first contacts with Thrash Metal. I taped it from my friend and I cut out Tom Araya's photo on the cover. Hell Awaits scared a zebra stripe into my underwear. Especially the title song which was very scary and I loved to play it at home parties for other kids and make them suffer. Later I bought it on vinyl when I had spare money for it.
Rob Urbinati (SACRIFICE): I remember it being exactly what I had hoped for. It really influenced me probably more than any other Slayer album.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I remember being very excited about and amazed by this record, almost a bit scared of it, I'd say. It sounded so morbid and dangerous and it still does. The intro gave me the creeps, not to mention the insane chanting in "At Dawn They Sleep." "Kill, kill, kill, kill..." Hell Awaits is Slayer at its most evil. Absolutely!
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): To be honest, the first Slayer record I bought was Show No Mercy. That was in approximately 1985. Strangely I never listened to/bought Hell Awaits when it was released. Maybe mainly because I didn't have that many friends that listened to Metal back then, and the ones that did didn't have the album. I may have heard some songs from it in clubs or at concerts but I didn't buy the record when it came out. If I remember correctly I even bought Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss before I bought Hell Awaits, so those albums are "closer to my heart" than Hell Awaits.
Chris Monroy (FUELED BY FIRE): Yeah, I think it was the rawest and most aggressive/evil album I had heard and since then it has become my favorite from Slayer. This album is the one that introduced to Death Metal.
Strzała (REPULSOR): Well, it wasn't in 1985 because I hadn't even been born yet. And it wasn't on turntable but cassette. The first time I heard Hell Awaits was somewhere around the mid 90's when I was a toddler. It scared me with the screams and creepy album cover. It was a very scary experience. I still have the tape. It belonged to my uncle and he later gave me it and I got more into Slayer's music.
Fenris (BLOODHUNTER): Well, almost all of Bloodhunter's members were not born in 1985 (*LOL*) but I can remember the first time I listened to Hell Awaits. I was at high school and a friend loaned me Hell Awaits, Reign in Blood and Decade of Aggression. My first reaction to the studio albums was that they were awesome. Hell Awaits has a lot of great riffs and kick-ass rhythms!
Sebastian (CEASELESS TORMENT): I was born eight months after the release so I got the album years later. I remember thinking that this was the most brutal Slayer album I had heard.
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): I can't claim to have purchased this album upon its release. I was 9 years old at the time. However, my first exposure to it was a revelation, as I heard the song "Necrophiliac" on a Metal Massacre compilation that I picked up around that time (it was cheaper and had a longer running time), and it stands to this day as my favorite song off the album. We didn't have lyric sheets or the Internet back then so whatever Araya was saying most of the time was anyone's guess. I did hear the phrase, "Satan's cross points to hell" and "fuck the sinful corpse" and I knew these were uncharted waters. "Necrophiliac" is also a classic riff, especially the second riff in the song, just before the whacked out drum fill which precedes the first verse. That's a riff that has been ripped off by a million Death Metal bands to this day, and those intervals are the cornerstone of all Death Metal riffing.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): What remains as the strongest impression of that album is the opening track, "Hell Awaits," which is perhaps the best opening track of an album ever. That ominous intro, the backwards talking, the drums, the chugging groove and then all hell breaks loose, man, it is perfect! Also, Araya manages to slay all rappers with his diabolically fast singing!
Miikka Merikallio (NERLICH): Hmmm, it wasn't the first Slayer album I heard, I wasn't even born at that time, but I liked it immediately when I heard it. It had a darker feel than the other Slayer records that I had heard (the Rubin produced stuff had completely different style of production). I guess I heard it at some record shop for the first time. At that time I used to go in and just pick some record and ask if I can listen to it first. After a quick listen I decided to buy it. This time taking a chance wasn't a waste of money since I had found a great album.
Dimi Pontiac (RANGER): We weren't even born but the impact when we started listening to various Hard and Heavy Rock/Metal bands was shocking! I mean it was so evil and sinister that it really grabbed you by the balls.
Mehmet Zendut (EXUMER): Utter fascination and total awe! The sound and the delivery of the music/vocals was the pinnacle of Speed and Thrash up to that point in time. I bought the album the day it was released in Europe and listened to it over and over again.
Shaun Farrugia (IN MALICE'S WAKE): Hell Awaits was released a long time before I began listening to Metal (I was two when it was released!) but I still remember hearing it for the first time. Man, that intro - surely still to this day THE best intro to a Metal song ever. I can't listen to Decade of Aggression without the hairs on my arms standing on end; such incredible atmosphere and presence. Hell Awaits is just full of incredible riffs, lyrics and tracks - killer!
Isto Jänönen (VAINAJA): Actually first time it heard was on cassette. One of my friends in school copied it for me with Metallica's Ride the Lightning on the other side. At the time they were released they were the most extreme Metal you could find. They were almost too extreme for a kid like me for whom the heaviest stuff at the time was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. It was shocking, so much so that it took months before I could actually come back to it and give it some additional listens. I was intrigued by the album's dark sound. It felt scary and, like horror films, you are not sure if you like it but you need to get it. I grew up liking the album very much so I had to buy it on vinyl.
Tristan Hernandez (AGGRAVATOR): I was born a year after it was released so instead of a turntable I first listened to it on my Discman. After the first spin I replayed the entire thing again. I was blown away. The intro to Hell Awaits is one the best ever recorded by any band. The way it builds up and then leads into some of the most aggressive and heavy music ever written, it's just amazing. There aren't many albums I can remember hearing for the first time but Hell Awaits is one of them. It was definitely more intense than any of the other metal I was listening to at the time.
Vitaly Lushchenkov (CIST): Unfortunately I was born a bit after Hell Awaits was released but in my youth I discovered it for myself and it's my favorite Slayer album nowadays...
Derek Jones (AGGRAVATOR): I was 17 when I first heard Hell Awaits and was blown away, of course. I loved the rawness of the production and the longer song structures. I started with Reign in Blood and worked backwards. In order it was Reign in Blood, Show No Mercy and eventually Hell Awaits. Top 3 favorites; that record rules!
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): I was still a little kid in 1985 and heard my first Slayer record in 1989 (Reign in Blood), but I remember seeing the cover for Hell Awaits around that time and being fascinated by it. It had this nasty, haunting feel to it that made you wonder what kind of sick music was on that album. I actually still go back to that moment as a 10-year old and seeing the cover, back to a time when metal still seemed "dangerous."
Luxi: When you looked at the album cover for Hell Awaits for the very first time what were your initial thoughts? Did it disturb or even shock you at some level?
Mike Browning (NOCTURNUS AD): No, it didn't shock me at all, but I thought it was a really badass album cover.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): I wasn't so much "shocked" as just thinking, "man this is cool as hell." With all those bulls and horns and the Slayer with the pentagram... fucking killer!!
Marko Saarinen (DEAD SAMARITAN): I was more like intrigued rather than shocked. To me the artwork was very satanic, grim and just so evil. Of course I was way too young to try to comprehend all the things related to Slayer's lyrics and cover art but as I already loved horror movie imagery this was just a natural continuation. Of course I started drawing all these little demons and devils everywhere after that.
Phil Rind (SACRED REICH): I just thought it was a perfect representation of the title and the music contained within.
Chris Pervelis (INTERNAL BLEEDING): At first I thought the cover was really cheesy, almost a joke — as if a high school kid sketched it in his notebook. But the more I stared at it, the more I began to understand that the amateur feel to the cover somehow made it look like it was painted by someone whose mind was just not right; a mental patient perhaps. Once I latched onto this idea, I really began to appreciate the album cover and found it to be mentally disturbing more than shocking or evil.
Rami Jämsä (CONVULSE): The cover is simply a perfect match to perfect music and represents pure genuine evil!
Rob Urbinati (SACRIFICE): I liked the cover but I stopped being shocked by album covers long before this came out.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I wouldn't say I was "shocked" but it certainly left me speechless the first time I saw it. It's one of those record sleeves you wanted to hide from your parents. It was a perfect visualization of the music they played at the time. In my opinion it's one of the most memorable Metal album covers right next to Killers by Iron Maiden.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): Yeah, I remember that I was quite shocked and disgusted by it. It was/is brutal, raw, aggressive and vulgar. There weren't many album covers around in 1985 that were that brutal.
Chris Monroy (FUELED BY FIRE): Yea, it was fucking awesome!! It went perfectly with the music and the lyrics and that's why to me Hell Awaits is one of the best albums ever written.
Strzała (REPULSOR): Definitely. As a child, I had very exuberant imagination. That's probably why I got so scared. Flames, devils and bodies twisted in everlasting pain. I imagined that I would be in that place someday maybe even while listening to this record. Then came the backward-played intro of the title track and I started to scream with Tom Araya, ha ha!!
Fenris (BLOODHUNTER): I like the details of covers and I love this one so much. I didn't stay in shock but I must say that I spent hours looking those demons torturing people in hell!
Sebastian (CEASELESS TORMENT): It didn't shock me. I thought the album cover was pretty cool.
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): It was a shocking transition from the first to the second album for Slayer. The first one was kind of goofy, like some kind of tribesman dressed up to look evil and drawn by a 12 year old. The music matched it, too. On Show No Mercy you had a lot of happy sounding, triumphant riffs, more typical of Iron Maiden. So Slayer wasn't scary at that point. Hell Awaits showed that Slayer meant business. All this happened around Seven Churches and Bathory's The Return and the Geraldo specials on Satanism. We all knew Ozzy and Iron Maiden weren't devil worshipers (not to mention Twisted Sister or Kiss) but with Slayer and Bathory, you weren't quite sure. Were they really performing human sacrifices? Did their evil rituals work? I have to admit to trying a few of them out to destroy my enemies (school yard bullies) and render them to ash. The cover art was a step toward taking it seriously though I thought the cover for Reign in Blood was even more ghastly.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): The album cover had an eerie, evil feeling to it. I really got the sense of falling, falling into the depths of hell. And those beasts certainly fueled the hellish vibe of the cover. By the time I got into Hell Awaits I was already into Death Metal quite heavily so I had seen worse and wasn't that shocked. I was born too late I guess, he he!!
Miikka Merikallio (NERLICH): It looked killer, maybe it was even one of the reasons I ended up buying it, I don't remember. It didn't shock me at all as there were much more shocking covers around at that time. I just liked the artwork, which complements the music.
Dimi Pontiac (RANGER): Yeah, it was a huge shock! Demons dragging that guy to hell would scare any 13-14-year old! But it was exciting at the same time and left you hungry for more.
Mehmet Zendut (EXUMER): I was not shocked but loved the artwork because it perfectly fit with the lyrics. I said it many times and will say it again here; Hell Awaits is my all time favorite Slayer album. Maybe it is a personal connection to the album that I have felt from the time I have heard it but this album will always remain my personal favorite from Slayer!
Shaun Farrugia (IN MALICE'S WAKE): By the time Hell Awaits made it to my collection there were already enough Cannibal Corpse and other extreme Metal albums present to ensure that I wasn't shocked. However, there is a fantastic sense of an endless abyss and torment in hell depicted by the cover. I believe that the following Slayer covers, Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss all topped Hell Awaits in terms of atmosphere, but Hell Awaits fits right in among Slayer's many great album covers... except maybe Show no Mercy... :o)
Isto Jänönen (VAINAJA): When I listened to the album the first few times I had not seen the cover. Still, the music gave me an impression of what hell would sound like. When I got the album itself I knew then how it would look, heh! A perfect match for the music!
Tristan Hernandez (AGGRAVATOR): I grew up in a pretty conservative household as far as music was concerned. I wasn't allowed to listen to Heavy Metal at all so my friends would sneak me albums. It's pretty ridiculous looking back but that's how it was. Sneaking around and discovering Heavy Metal bands, I eventually came across Slayer and holy shit those album covers were pretty intense for a kid. I always thought that the Hell Awaits cover was pretty cool, minimalistic but great nonetheless. That one didn't really shock me when I first saw it but South of Heaven and Reign in Blood kind of spooked me a bit.
Vitaly Lushchenkov (CIST): Pretty inspiring and fits the content...
Derek Jones (AGGRAVATOR): Not so much the cover art but the intro did. Music did more justice for me on a shock level.
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): Damn, I just answered question two in my previous answer...
Luxi: How did Hell Awaits change your view about Heavy Metal music in general? Did you think there must be something very special about the guys in Slayer who were able to put out such an earth-shattering and diabolical Heavy Metal record, one destined to become a classic?
Mike Browning (NOCTURNUS AD): To me, being in Morbid Angel and Incubus around the time it was released, I really thought that Slayer had stepped up with this release. Hearing that backwards intro into the first song was pretty mind blowing back then!
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): I guess I see Slayer a bit differently than most people. Since I had grown up with Slayer and toured and played with them I knew from the very first time I saw them live that they had what it takes. They consistently put out great stuff and I knew that Hell Awaits would be another great album. Just how great I couldn't have imagined until I actually spun the record. My friends and I were all amazed and happy that we had yet another all-time-favorite album for our collections.
Marko Saarinen (DEAD SAMARITAN): It showed me that you could do things a lot heavier and nastier than had been done before. Most of all Slayer was all about the magic of insane RIFFS, and nobody could write them like Jeff Hanneman. Everything was perfect; those riffs, Araya's wicked voice and Lombardo's ruthless pummeling. And man they looked cool on stage with all those spikes, bullet belts and whatnot.
Phil Rind (SACRED REICH): My two favorite bands were Slayer and Metallica. Metallica were more varied in their approach where Slayer was just fast and brutal. The record just blew me away.
Chris Pervelis (INTERNAL BLEEDING): By 1992 I had lost interest in Metal music. I thought it had become so cheesy and boring. It wasn't threatening, heavy or menacing anymore. I had moved into listening to bands that seemed more threatening such as Black Flag and a host of NY Hardcore bands. When I got Hell Awaits it was like salvation for me. "Finally!" I thought. Metal has been redeemed!
Rami Jämsä (CONVULSE): It opened the gate to heavier and meaner music for me. At first it was only shocking but quite soon I realized all the brutal energy of that special album. Slayer was a great influence on my first Speed/Thrash band called S.D.S. (Seven Sins of Death). S.D.S. had the same guys that were in Convulse a little bit later. Slayer overall, and Hell Awaits especially, have always had a influence on Convulse's sound.
Rob Urbinati (SACRIFICE): The riffing and arrangements really put them above almost everybody else at the time. This was the album where Dave Lombardo made his mark as a legendary Thrash drummer. This album changed Thrash drumming forever.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): It's a very diabolical sounding album indeed, yet so well played and cleverly written, you simply couldn't overlook it. You knew there was something to these guys. If my memory serves me right, I heard Hell Awaits after I had discovered Reign in Blood, so I'd say, together with Reign in Blood, it was a momentous album for me. Before that my understanding of extremely heavy and fast music was Metallica. You have to remember this was in the 80's so to come across to something as brutal as Slayer was thrilling, to say at least. It was a lesson in extreme Metal really. It expanded my comprehension of what Metal can be and schooled my ears to embrace even more violent sounds, just like Metallica had done before.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): As I said in my answer to question two, I may have heard some songs (like the title track) earlier, but I didn't buy the record before the beginning of the 90's. For me Reign in Blood is the best Slayer album and has influenced me quite a bit. But this doesn't mean that I think that Hell Awaits isn't a fine piece of brutal Metal. It is, but for me personally the album is not the best Slayer album.
Chris Monroy (FUELED BY FIRE): It totally changed how I looked at Thrash Metal and Heavy Metal itself. Honestly I think Hell Awaits influenced a lot of the early Death Metal albums because to me Hell Awaits is sort of a Death/Thrash album. It has been one of the biggest influences on the way I write music for Fueled By Fire or any other band.
Strzała (REPULSOR): Time passed and I got more into Metal. Slayer became my favorite Metal band (and that is still the case) and Hell Awaits is my favorite record in their whole discography. I think that this album totally changed Heavy Metal music. I love the transformation when Speed/Heavy Metal, inspired by bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, became wilder, dirtier, hellish and right out of control. It was an absolute breakthrough. It's absolutely unique. I think that Slayer hit the right place at the right time. That's why they succeeded.
Fenris (BLOODHUNTER): Hell Awaits and Slayer in general formed my bridge between classical Heavy Metal and more extreme sounds. When I listened to it for the first time, Slayer was already a big band.
Sebastian (CEASELESS TORMENT): As I said earlier, I was born a bit later after the release of Hell Awaits. ;o)
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): To be honest, I was still hoping for a better sound. At the time I was listening to stuff like Powerslave and Mob Rules, which are still some of the best sounding albums ever. Hell Awaits had the typical Metal Blade sound; reverb and distance on all the guitars. I think they realized this, or at least Rick Rubin did, and Reign in Blood ranks above Hell Awaits because of the direct, in your face quality of the guitars. Hell Awaits had more ambitious songwriting though and I wish a better production could have brought that out more.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): I was more into Show No Mercy, Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss so Hell Awaits took more of a backseat for me. To answer this question properly I think I should've heard it when it came out. I got into Slayer in 1991. But I could certainly hear the influence it had on many Death Metal bands like Sepultura, Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed, etc. etc.
Dimi Pontiac (RANGER): Of course it led us to a lot of similar bands that were emerging from the Bay Area and all across the states like Possessed, Dark Angel and even a few early Death Metal bands. I think that Hell Awaits is so extreme because of its lyrical content and the crazy drumming from Lombardo. Listen to Araya's vocals on "At Dawn They Sleep" and Dave's thunderous drum fills. Crazy!!!
Mehmet Zendut (EXUMER): It did not so much change my view about Heavy Metal as it opened my eyes to where the movement could go and cemented my desire to start a Thrash Metal band that would be just as intense as Slayer.
Shaun Farrugia (IN MALICE'S WAKE): Hell Awaits took the incredible riffs and songwriting of Show No Mercy and upped the sense of evil tenfold. The haunting and iconic sound of the Slayer guitar riff really came into it's own on this album. I listened to Hell Awaits after the Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss albums, so I already knew that Slayer had written more memorable riffs than just about any other Metal band out there. In hindsight Hell Awaits suggested that would happen very clearly. It is such a killer album and ahead of its time.
Isto Jänönen (VAINAJA): It changed my point of view quite a bit. At the time I would not have realized that such extreme music existed if I had not heard the album. That was the start of a journey deeper into Thrash Metal and after that, Death Metal. It is definitely a milestone in the history of Metal and one of my personal favorites. I remember getting a crappy VHS copy of the Combat tour 1985 with Slayer and Exodus. I watched that so many times! There was definitely something special with these guys, hell yeah!
Tristan Hernandez (AGGRAVATOR): Looking back at that era Hell Awaits changed the entire formula. You had bands that were fast and sang about evil shit like Venom and Mercyful Fate, but Slayer took that idea and turned it on its head. They became the fastest and most nefarious band around. On Slayer's first record you could hear the Maiden and Priest influence in the guitars as they where trying to find their place in the world along with every other Metal band at the time. When Hell Awaits came out Slayer became Slayer. They weren't trying to be like other bands. It was the fastest and most evil thing available at the time and without Slayer I don't think we'd have the extreme genres like Death or Black Metal that we have today.
Vitaly Lushchenkov (CIST): Such music used to be beyond my comprehension but later I became a big fan. The album itself is legendary, no doubt...
Derek Jones (AGGRAVATOR): It's an obvious hall of fame-worthy album and I still jam it probably once a month to this day. My views of Heavy Metal were already pretty open. Hell Awaits is very special though, bar none. It is at the top of the list of Thrash albums and has paved the way for a lot of bands.
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): Reign in Blood has always been my favorite Slayer album and I've played the two records after that more than Hell Awaits, but I've always seen Hell Awaits as one of the first Death Metal albums. Although the vocals are definitely Thrash Metal, the music has so many elements that defined old school Death Metal and that it makes Hell Awaits an essential Death Metal album. Would Abominations of Desolation and Altars of Madness have sounded the way they did if it wasn't for Hell Awaits?
On another note, Hell Awaits is the record where Slayer really found their style, turning into the monstrous double-bass fury we all know them to be with screaming tremolo picking leads, chromatic runs, dive bombs, aggressive riffing, etc.
Luxi: How important album is Hell Awaits for you personally and why?
Mike Browning (NOCTURNUS AD): This album had a huge affect on me because of the song "At Dawn They Sleep." That is where I got the idea for naming my band Nocturnus. It was the line "Nocturnal spectres hiding from the light" and I was going to call my next band Nocturnal Spectres but I didn't want it to sound like I took it right from Slayer so I looked up nocturnal in the dictionary and saw that the Latin form of that word was Nocturnus and when I saw that I knew that is what I wanted to name my next band.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): It is very important. Just like Black Sabbath or Venom or Motörhead, Slayer will always be in my top-ten list of bands that I love and listen to on a regular basis. And along with Show No Mercy and Haunting the Chapel, Hell Awaits will always reign in my top three favorite Slayer spots.
Marko Saarinen (DEAD SAMARITAN): Hell Awaits is an insanely important record for me, especially when linked to the era it came out. I got to hear it back then and it showed that you can tighten the screw and make things heavier.
Phil Rind (SACRED REICH): Hell Awaits came out when I was a sophomore in High School. Every morning I would wake up and drop the needle on side one of my Hell Awaits record and get ready for school. When we were writing the first Sacred Reich songs, I wrote the lyrics to "Draining You of Life" while listening to "At Dawn They Sleep". There are other blatant Slayer ripoffs on our first record Ignorance. The first time I met Bill Metoyer I freaked out and told him that he "recorded the greatest record ever made", Hell Awaits. It was kind of a big deal.
Chris Pervelis (INTERNAL BLEEDING): I think my answers above help flesh out why it is personally important for me. But to elaborate on something I said earlier, this album is number two on my top five list of albums that changed my life. Black Sabbath's Paranoid is the first so that in my view is pretty good company. Hell Awaits re-centered Metal and what I mean by that is it's an album that changed the Metal game. Suddenly every other Metal band was weak and just sucked ass; Slayer just annihilated them.
Rami Jämsä (CONVULSE): It's on the top ten list of my all time favorite albums, for sure. Why? Because you just never forget the first feeling when you get to hear something that is so totally and diabolically Metal!
Rob Urbinati (SACRIFICE): This album really changed Thrash Metal. Slayer became better songwriters and did so without becoming more commercially acceptable. Hell Awaits is the blueprint for bands that don't give a fuck about commercial acceptance.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): I think I partially answered this in the previous answer. It's one of those albums you never forget. You come across them at a tender age during times when there's not much stuff like that around and it just blows your mind. I have a very special relationship to this record because more than any other band it was Slayer with this particular album and the uber-classic Reign in Blood, that inspired me to form my own band Phlegethon in ‘88.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): It wasn't that important. Not as important as Reign in Blood, which had a big impact on me.
Chris Monroy (FUELED BY FIRE): Very important and it will always be just because it's such an amazing album it will always be on my top five albums list. It will always influence me when writing my own music. Nothing will ever be as aggressive, raw and evil as Hell Awaits.
Strzała (REPULSOR): I'm glad that you are asking this question. When some years ago I saw a video from the Hell Awaits tour in 1985 called Ultimate Revenge, along with record itself, that became my main reason for starting a band. I was obsessed with starting a group that would bring up that same vibe as I was disgusted with "modern" Metal bands back in those days. I will always have sentimental feelings for this album and for the video.
Fenris (BLOODHUNTER): As I said, Slayer was my bridge to get into more extreme sounds because albums like Hell Awaits sounded very rough, straight and just powerful. It cranked my "extreme" knob, ha ha!!
Sebastian (CEASELESS TORMENT): I could say it's important for me because I've listened to it a lot. And I think it's the most brutal and evil Slayer album. It features the same elements that inspire me in our own music.
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): I'd say the song "Necrophiliac" was a bigger influence than the album as a whole. It was the heaviest song in the world at the time and to a Metal maniac in his formative years it was all about heavier, faster and more evil. This album paved the way for Altars of Madness, Hammer of Gods and Apocalyptic Revelation and has there been another one like it since? I'm not sure but not for me anyways.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): Of the five first Slayer albums I'd say it's the least important because it is so uneven in quality. It has some really great songs like the title track, "Kill Again," "Praise of Death" and "Necrophiliac" but also some pretty dull, long tracks like "At Dawn They Sleep" and "Crypts of Eternity." Maybe they should have saved the awesome songs on Haunting the Chapel for the Hell Awaits album, exchanged them for some of the more mediocre ones and it might have been the best Slayer album.
Miikka Merikallio (NERLICH): Old Slayer and Death were really important bands for me when I was younger and starting to play guitar. Those two were the main reasons I formed Nerlich back in the day. Hell Awaits had that great dark atmosphere that I liked and wanted to have in my music, and of course a lot of killer riffs, but Reign in Blood was also really influential for me around that time.
Dimi Pontiac (RANGER): It's one of those records that still give you goose bumps and make you feel like a homicidal vampire maniac every time you spin it. The length and the sound on the record are just perfect. The musicianship is top-notch and the whole atmosphere is phenomenal. Some P.M.R.C. and Christian guys even accused Kerry King of having been in hell. Now that's fuckin' cool! \m/
Mehmet Zendut (EXUMER): Everything about this album is special to me but the most personal connection would be that I met Ray, the other co-founder of Exumer, during a Slayer show while they were touring Europe for Hell Awaits and asked him if he would be interested in forming a band with me in the vein of Slayer.
Shaun Farrugia (IN MALICE'S WAKE): I had the opportunity to see Slayer during my first few years of getting into Metal and it's a first impression that has certainly lasted. This album demands that the guitar riff is worshipped and remembered. This is what I have always aimed for with the songwriting for my own band. Slayer showed just how powerful a strong riff can be, and this is something that will always stay with me. The early to mid era Slayer lyrics are simply fantastic; haunting, fitting and timeless. Hear the piercing cry of all that found out Hell Awaits!
Isto Jänönen (VAINAJA): As I mentioned, it is definitely one of my all-time favorites and I even put it above Reign in Blood, which is usually the most recognized album by Slayer. It introduced me to the world of fast, aggressive and dark-sounding Heavy Metal and was a big inspiration to the Death Metal genre that arrived later.
Tristan Hernandez (AGGRAVATOR): I'd put Hell Awaits in my top five Heavy Metal albums of all time. I've always loved it and always will. The songs are great and pushed my playing to another level when I was learning guitar. The album also opened my eyes to a more extreme side of Thrash and Heavy Metal and primed me for the style of music I play now.
Vitaly Lushchenkov (CIST): It was one of the first albums that had a great influence on me and made me who I am.
Derek Jones (AGGRAVATOR): It's very important to me especially because it blew away what I thought I knew about aggressive Thrash. It's one of those albums that didn't need the production guitar crunch to sound powerful. I always wanted to dig deeper into older, first-wave Heavy Metal and Thrash bands with classic reverb and monster drums. I still prefer that style today.
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): Honestly, although there are some killer songs on there, like the title track, "Kill Again" and "At Dawn They Sleep," I was already getting heavily into Death Metal when I got to hear the entire record so it didn't play as big role as Reign in Blood, South of Heaven or Seasons in the Abyss. Remember back in those days you could only purchase a CD now and then and trade tapes with friends so it'd take a while before you'd get to check out everything you wanted to. But as said before, I realize its importance and legacy in the evolution of Thrash and Death Metal.
Luxi: How well has Hell Awaits withstood the test of time? Hell Awaits was released 30 years ago. Have there been any other Metal albums that have been a match for Hell Awaits' brutality, evilness and especially quality?
Mike Browning (NOCTURNUS AD): Hell Awaits will always be my favorite Slayer record. To me it sounds just as good today as it did back then!
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): In my mind, I always think that I am living in some sort of time capsule. I think one of the reasons people and fans like me are so "old school" is because of bands like Slayer and albums like Hell Awaits. They are just so damn good that we stick with them and they will never get old. Every time I play it, it just gets better. There are no other albums; Hell Awaits is a force all its own. Slayer is a way of life, not just something you do on weekends. Long live Slayer and long live Hell Awaits!!!
Marko Saarinen (DEAD SAMARITAN): It is one of my all-time favorite albums. There are only a couple of albums that are a match; Reign in Blood and Dark Angel's Darkness Descends. Surely there have been many, many evil and brutal albums made since but these three bad buggers showed the way and Hell Awaits was the first.
Phil Rind (SACRED REICH): It's interesting. For me Hell Awaits is as important as any metal record. It was a huge jump in Slayer's career. Too me it's when they became Slayer. My oldest son, who came later, would much rather listen to Reign in Blood, arguably their greatest record. I can understand where he is coming from, because he lacks the context of the time they were released. I loved Hell Awaits for what it was when it came out. There was no Reign in Blood. Is Reign in Blood a better record? I would say yes. Everything is tighter, the songs, the production, the band. It is their apex. Hell Awaits sounds more open. It has a quality of wonder and possibility. Reign in Blood is concise and contained in its efficiency and brutality. Hell Awaits is a pummeling with a baseball bat. Reign in Blood is evisceration with a scalpel. The only band from that time that could match them in intensity was Metallica with Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. Still my two favorite Thrash bands. No one is even close.
Chris Pervelis (INTERNAL BLEEDING): I still listen to the album regularly and my thoughts are that good songs will always be good songs. A lot of that album is catchy, memorable and downright damn good. It stands the test of time for sure. I think there are plenty of albums released since that match — and even surpass — Hell Awaits, but that does not diminish the groundbreaking quality of it. It was a game-changer.
Rami Jämsä (CONVULSE): Hell Awaits will always be Hell Awaits and nobody will ever take that from me while Reign in Blood and South of Heaven are right behind. There have been plenty of decent Thrash and Death Metal albums since Hell Awaits of course, but an equal match to that classic Slayer record? I don't think that any album can really match Hell Awaits' diabolical perfection.
Rob Urbinati (SACRIFICE): The songs most definitely pass the test of time. If this album had the production of Reign in Blood it would be at the top of everyone's list. You had to be there in ‘85 to understand the impact of this album.
Lasse Pyykkö (HOODED MENACE): Maybe the production hasn't aged as well as, say, Reign in Blood, which still sounds flawless to my ears, but Hell Awaits has that special dark quality that reeks of pure evil. It has a very unique atmosphere and because of that, not to mention the great song material, it has stood the test of time. I think classic Metal albums such as Seven Churches and Beyond the Gates by Possessed as well as Bathory's Under the Sign of the Black Mark and The Return... have a kinship with Hell Awaits when it comes to atmosphere but Slayer's ability to write songs and play their instruments is a notch or two higher, though Possessed's guitarist rule, too.
Martin Missy (PROTECTOR): I think Hell Awaits is still a good album, but there were other brutal recordings in 1985, like Seven Churches from Possessed and Infernal Overkill from Destruction, that I listen to more often than Hell Awaits.
Chris Monroy (FUELED BY FIRE): No matter what, Hell Awaits will always be a whole album for me; I can never just listen to one song. I always have to listen to the album in its entirety and I think this is very important for any album. I feel it's the same for a lot of other people that have listened to this album and to this day it continues to influence many bands including both of mine. Yea, there are a few that have come close like Darkness Descends by Dark Angel. I also really enjoyed Infernäl Mäjesty's None Shall Defy. Some others not as evil but just aggressive and brutal are Demolition Hammer's first two releases. And one of the newer era would be Nekromantheon's Rise, Vulcan Spectre.
Strzała (REPULSOR): I think that Hell Awaits, along with Possessed's Seven Churches, is the grandfather of Death Metal. This album also inspired many Black Metal bands. Talking about other albums that are similarly important in Metal history, I would mention To Mega Therion by Celtic Frost or Death Strike's F*ckin Death. Still, Hell Awaits is my favorite. 1985, what a year, huh? Time is passing by, tomorrow has become today, but Hell Awaits is still unbeaten. Many have tried but for me none has succeeded.
Fenris (BLOODHUNTER): I think that good music is like wine; it improves with time. Hell Awaits doesn't sound over-produced like most Metal albums nowadays. It is tight, the songs are played well with some great riffs and it has songs that are still enjoyed at each Slayer show. As for some other Metal albums that can match with Hell Awaits, I'd say maybe Reign in Blood can be considered the continuation of this awesome album. It's as good as Hell Awaits. Also Kreator's Pleasure to Kill belongs in the same category.
Sebastian (CEASELESS TORMENT): I think Demolition Hammer's Epidemic of Violence is at the same level of brutality and evilness as Hell Awaits.
Matt Barnes (CHAOS INCEPTION): The sound quality hinders the album in my opinion and it dates it and it places it on Metal Blade Records in the 1980's. To me all Metal Blade albums had crap production values. Just take the reverb off the rhythm guitars for Satan's sake! It would work for an atmospheric sound, probably something blacker, colder, something like Striborg or Faustcoven. But evil Thrash or Death Metal should be up front; it should sound like a firestorm in your face, like Covenant, Reign in Blood or even The Eyes of Horror. It's amazing that it has been 30 years and is still relevant and a touchstone and a defining moment for Black and Death Metal.
Johan Reinholdz (NONEXIST): In 1985 no such other albums were around except maybe Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, an album which still holds up today. An album that matches Hell Awaits in brutality? Reign in Blood and Death Metal albums like Altars of Madness. It has that special Slayer brutality that is hard to match.
Miikka Merikallio (NERLICH): Maybe some people might think that it sounds old and the production of Hell Awaits doesn't match modern productions, but I personally think that it's aged really well and that the modern overly compressed and plastic sounding records are the ones that are not going to age well.
Other great releases from that same year, which are also some of my all-time favorites, are Killing Is My Business... by Megadeth and Bonded by Blood by Exodus. I really like those two, maybe even more than Hell Awaits, even though they don't match its dark atmosphere.
Dimi Pontiac (RANGER): It's a timeless classic and the record that surely started it all. Sure, there are some albums from bands like Possessed, Dark Angel, Sadus and Sodom that are all true classics also. Hell Awaits just has a lot more and since it was released it has paved the way for more evil sounding Metal bands, I think.
Mehmet Zendut (EXUMER): You can guess my answer but I obviously think that the album has held up just fine over time. I do not want to compare the album to or with other albums but there were definitely albums that followed in Thrash Metal that can deliver a similar but less personal punch as Hell Awaits. Darkness Descends from Dark Angel, Possessed and Seven Churches etc. I don't want to drop titles for the sake of dropping titles but would rather let Hell Awaits be the monolith that it still is.
Shaun Farrugia (IN MALICE'S WAKE): I think in terms of writing the songs hold just as much power now as they did when they were first written and released. The production of this album isn't my favorite; the vocals could definitely be lower in the mix and everything a little clearer. Still, that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of it though! The three Slayer albums that followed all did brutality, evilness and songwriting. I would put Sepultura's Beneath the Remains and for something more modern Testament's The Gathering up there also. When you're in that certain mood however, sometimes only Slayer will do. :o)
Isto Jänönen (VAINAJA): Of course when I listen to it now, it sounds a bit dated, a definite 80's production, which has its good and bad points. Their next album was a pioneering moment in modern Metal production with its tight sound. Hell Awaits has the typical 80's character to its sound; loud vocals and drums and thin guitars, but still it does not take anything away from the songs, which are of superb quality! With all the reverb it also gives the impression that the music echoes from the depths of hell! Sound and production match! To me a match in terms of brutality, evilness and quality would be Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, Possessed's Seven Churches and Entombed's Left Hand Path. They were also very important albums in their genres, and matching in terms of brutality, evilness and quality. I could also add Black Sabbath's first album of course!
Tristan Hernandez (AGGRAVATOR): Hell Awaits has undeniably stood the test of time. It's a benchmark for Heavy Metal and has been influencing bands for the past 30 years. As for as an equal match I don't think one has been, or ever will be, done. There are a lot of bands that are fast and evil and talented but they will never capture the vibe of Hell Awaits. The vibe of that album can never be replicated; it belongs to Slayer in 1985. It doesn't matter how much you detune your guitar or how guttural your vocals get Hell Awaits will always be heavier than you.
Michael Dorrian (ANATOMY OF I): The Hell Awaits sound is something that has been referenced by many bands in the old school Thrash/Death and blackened Death genres. So, from that perspective, it definitely stood the test of time and bands to this day try to emulate that sound. Of course, there have been many albums that took elements from Hell Awaits and pushed them to further extremes but when you realize what music bands were putting out around that same time, they was really no match in terms of brutality.
Vitaly Lushchenkov (CIST): Such albums never die; they are like classic masterpieces! As for matches there are lots of Death Metal bands out there that have inherited Slayer's brutality and evilness such as Possessed, Deicide, Morbid Angel and others. All of them became sort of cult bands in the Metal music scene.
Derek Jones (AGGRAVATOR): It has stood the test of time because it is 37 minutes of pure instant Slayer magic. No song lets you down! "Kill Again," "Necrophiliac," etc. come on. I would say perhaps Bathory's Return of Darkness and Evil, Venom's Possessed, Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, Kreator's Endless Pain and Possessed's Seven Churches are all way up there. 1985 was a badass fucking year for THRASH METAL!! HAILS TO SLAYER!!! CHEERS TO THE MASTERPIECE; HELL AWAITS!!!!!!!!!!!
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