Slayer - Soundtrack to the Apocalypse
American Recordings
Textbook Thrash
Disc 1: 18 songs (77:06) Disc 2: 22 songs (76:51) Disc 3: 17 songs (65:38) Disc 4: 17 songs (70:06) Disc 5: 14 songs (72:47)
Release year: 2003
Slayer, American Recordings
Reviewed by Jay
Major event

It’s hard to believe that Slayer formed the year I was born. They put out their first album before I could walk and were touring the world before I even started school. I was introduced to their music in 1996 when I was 14 years old. The memory is perfect. I let my friend borrow The Black Album and he lent me Reign in Blood. I put in my CD player and 29 minutes later, I was still trying to absorb what I had experienced. This band managed to play faster, louder, and harder than Metallica in about half the running time of The Black Album. From then on, I was hooked on Slayer. The power and the speed behind their music was unmatched at that time and they still put 100% into every show and album they release to this day.

This box set is a career spanning retrospective of 20 years of Slayer. You might be thinking, “Well I have all of their albums, I don’t need this.” You’d be wrong. This box set is essential for every Slayer fan. Yes, a lot of the songs are on the albums and discs one and two will be nothing special to you, but it is still worth paying the price to have this set. The box set breaks down like this. Discs one and two are a greatest hits collection. Disc one spans Reign in Blood through Decade of Aggression. Disc two spans Divine Intervention to God Hates Us All and has some unreleased tracks at the end including “Disorder” featuring Ice-T. Disc three is titled “Shit You’ve Never Heard” and is a collection of live tracks and rare recordings. Also included on this disc is the Slayer and Atari Teenage Riot joint project “No Remorse (I Wanna Die)” from the soundtrack to the movie Spawn. Disc four or “Shit You’ve Never Seen” is a career-spanning DVD starting in 1983 and ending in 2003. From their early beginnings in dismal clubs in California to headlining a French metal festival, this DVD chronicles Slayer’s ascent to the pinnacle of metal. The limited edition has a fifth disc which is a full concert recorded on the God Hates Us All world tour last year. This disc is packaged in a plastic sleeve filled with fake blood and floating plastic skulls, known as the blood pack, which is fun to play with. Also included in the limited edition is a replica backstage laminate, a poster flag eerily reminiscent of one the SS might have used and a full color book featuring an essay, photos and quotes about the band. This is all packaged in a large cardboard box as opposed to the regular edition which is in a foldout digipak. Discs one through four are in jewel cases in the box set each with a track listing on the back and a booklet with a spread picture of each of the band members. Judging from this, Dave Lombardo may (hopefully) be permanently be back in the fold. All the discs are black plastic similar to Playstation games.

Disc one is an early greatest hits. The only complaint with this disc is that all the material before Reign in Blood is skipped over. While we get “Hell Awaits” live from Decade, some awesome songs like “Evil Has No Boundaries” and “Black Magic” are absent. The version of “Criminally Insane” that is included is heavily remixed, and cuts out most of the speedy drumming that powers this song. It is a different version and while the guitars are at the usual tempo, the drumming of the song is similar to that of the intro for the whole song. The original version is better and I question why this remix was included here and not on the rarities disc.

Disc two is a late-era greatest hits until you get to the end where there are some hidden gems; the first of which being a cover of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” which thankfully is under four minutes long. It is a great cover and manages to capture the spirit of the original song. “Disorder” featuring Ice-T which is average until it speeds up and becomes a classic style punk song similar to Dead Kennedys which transitions to a more traditional Slayer song. All in all, this could be a true moshpit favorite and I’d love to hear this one live. Most of the rest of the songs were never released in the US which leads me to believe they’re probably Japanese or European bonus tracks (“Addict” and “Scarstruck” were on the Japanese release of God Hates Us All). “Memories of Tomorrow” is under a minute long and is a true thrash out. “Human Disease” sounds like Lemmy singing unless Tom Araya intentionally tried to copy him. It’s a slower song but it should be heard. “Unguarded Instinct” is another slower song with a melodic dual soloing. This track sounds like it was recorded around the time of Seasons. “Wicked” is a six-minute track which is awfully reminiscent of “South of Heaven” at times, especially during the intro. “Addict” has some weird guitar effects on it before the harsher part begins and is similar to other tracks on God Hates Us All. “Scarstruck” is a mid tempo track in which Paul Bostaph shines. His drumming drives this track.

The third disc is mainly live tracks and some rare mixes. One of the odder songs is “Dittohead” in which Tom Araya’s vocals make him sound even more insane. The recording quality of the garage songs is low but you can see where they came from. “Raining Blood” has some quirky laugh sound effects during the intro to this live version. The funniest songs are Jeff Hanneman’s home recordings. Imagine Hanneman jamming on what would eventually become “Raining Blood” and “South of Heaven” with a drum machine accompaniment. Araya’s intro to “Necrophiliac” has him talking about Mussolini having sex with corpses. Interesting. The rough mix of “Piece by Piece” is virtually identical with the exception of the bass intro which was eventually cut out. Also of note is “No Remorse (I Wanna Die).” This is an example of what happens when you combine the most brutal thrash band with the most brutal techno band. The track is a mix of styles, vocals and sound effects and is worth a listen. This is the sound of insanity encapsulated in under five minutes.

A video component is a great compliment to this box set. This DVD could use some minor adjustments. For one, logos are blurred out for the whole disc. So when you see Slayer playing in Michigan, the Raiders logo on Kerry King’s shirt is blurred out. This becomes a pain in the ass since occasionally they blur out his guitar and speedy fingering. The early recordings are of low quality but this is to be expected as they had no money and video recording equipment was extremely expensive back then. The quality picks up with later recordings. One nice touch was the inclusion of Slayer accepting the Heaviest Band ever award at the 1996 Kerrang! awards. The EPK (Enhanced? Extended? Early? Press Kit) for Diabolus in Musica is a mix between the band talking about the recording of the album and showing a rehearsal of “Stain of Mind.” The best track in terms of quality is “Bloodline” which was taken from an ESPN broadcast. Sadly, the quality of the last two songs, “Disciple” and “God Send Death,” recorded at a large open-air festival in France this summer are terrible quality. Kerry King’s guitar and Tom Araya’s bass cannot be heard at parts and the video is low quality.

The final disc is a live concert recorded last summer in Anaheim, California. It’s a standard Slayer show with a great set list. The only problem with the recording is that it’s unmixed. In the booklet the reason given is that the band wanted to try and present an accurate portrait of what it’s like to see Slayer live. The only problem run into is the inability to hear the vocals at parts. Tom Araya also has some great between song dialogues in this one too, so check it out. The book that is included has a long essay written by Mark Paschke which is overall good but redundant at times. The picture of Kerry King’s “doctor’s note” enabling him to fly with his musings is worth a laugh as well. The doctor obviously didn’t know King well with the advice of “stop drinking.”

Five nearly packed discs and 88 songs later, this box set totally, totally rules all other box sets I have purchased to this day. Slayer has managed to craft a box set that fits them. Nothing too gauche or overstated. Nothing to minimal. All first class. This band is completely about the fans and it shows with the effort put into a release like this one. Great job guys. Hail Slayer.

Killing Songs :
Grab a disc at random and play a random track. It will be a killing song.
Jay quoted no quote
Other albums by Slayer that we have reviewed:
Slayer - Repentless reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Slayer - Haunting the Chapel reviewed by Tony and quoted no quote
Slayer - World Painted Blood reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Slayer - Divine Intervention reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Slayer - Undisputed Attitude reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 14 reviews click here
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