Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Slayer - Postmortem (1986)

Following the success of Hell Awaits, Slayer was offered a recording contract with Def Jam Records, which was a rap label, of all things. Seeing the opportunity to broaden their fanbase and spread their music far and wide, they accepted this deal with the enemy. Prior to releasing Reign In Blood, they put out a few singles. One of these was the Postmortem 12", released in 1986.

Side A featured one of the best songs from the upcoming album, "Postmortem". This song begins with kind of an epic build up, before going into a mid-paced thrash riff. This would see the birth of a drum technique that Dave Lombardo would wear out, over the next few albums; riding the cymbal far too much, but it isn't enough to hinder this song. Tom's vocals retain the dark and evil feeling from the previous albums, if not a little bit restrained. He still manages to throw in a high-pitched scream when needed. After a couple minutes, the song begins to speed up. These riffs don't sound as if they would have been out of place on Hell Awaits. The only difference is that the song structure appears to be more straight-forward and less complex. The last verses see Tom racing at full speed to keep up with the riffs, suddenly stopping and fading into oblivion.

Side B starts with "Criminally Insane". This version fades in, using the same intro that would be heard for "Raining Blood", minus the sound effects. Once the song begins, there is another hellish solo before the first verse. The riffs are very much the same as on the L.P. version, but the drums are very slow, with too much use of the cymbal. For the solos, the drums pick up the pace a bit, actually complimenting the sound better than the album version. Again, these riffs would have fit on Hell Awaits, somewhere in the middle of a longer song. For the last verse, the drums pick up the faster pace that many may remember this song having. This song does more to create a dark atmosphere, but the drumming is annoying during the first two verses.

The final song on here is a re-recorded version of "Aggressive Perfector". This is a bit faster than the original (that appeared on Metal Massacre III). Tom's vocal delivery isn't completely on par with the first recording, but he does still scream at the top of his lungs, when it is called for. The hellish solos, near the end, add a nice effect. This sounds pretty much like the live version from Live Undead, but it lacks a little bit of the atmosphere from the original. This sterile sound would have a huge effect on the upcoming L.P. as well.

This isn't as essential as Haunting the Chapel, but it is an interesting release. It may be difficult to come by, but well worth checking out if you are a die hard Slayer fan.