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With their second album, co-produced by Metal Blade’s headbanging head honcho Brian Slagel, satanic thrashers Slayer upped the ante from their debut in every way. More graphic album art, breakneck tempos, gruesome lyrics, and proper production gave the band a punchier sound while retaining their native aggression. Whereas their debut sounded like a band flirting with the dark side, Hell Awaits is where the band begins to sound truly sinister and evil. Dave Lombardo’s famous double bass drumming strongly came into play here, further propelling the lightspeed riffing and twisted solos of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, who would help propagate a style of carpal tunnel-inducing axework for forthcoming generations of extreme metal bands. To accompany this metal maelstrom, bassist tom araya appropriately growled and barked out all manner of dark lyrics, exploring the mind of a serial killer (“Kill Again”), vampires (the slower, moodier “At Dawn They Sleep”) and the demented lust of a “Necrophiliac”. Wisely, the band knew when to mix up their tempos and keep things from sounding homogenised. Hell Awaits is definitely one of the ’80s high water marks for both black and thrash metal.