"Hell Awaits" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US thrash metal act Slayer. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in September 1985. Already with their debut album "Show No Mercy (1983)", Slayer had established themselves as one of the leading US thrash metal acts in those formative years of the genre, and with "Hell Awaits" they further strengthened that position.
While "Show No Mercy (1983)" featured more than a few nods toward NWoBHM, "Hell Awaits" takes Slayer´s music completely into raw and aggressive thrash metal darkness, with fast drumming, fast thrashy riffing and screaming atonal soloing and Tom Araya´s distinct aggressive vocals in front. The blasphemous lyrical themes that were introduced on the debut are further explored here in especially the title track, but also a lyrical theme like necrophilia is explored in a track like "Necrophiliac". Tracks like the two mentioned and "Kill Again" are the highlights on the album, and while the remaining four tracks are great material too, they don´t stick as well as the first three mentioned do. A couple of the tracks are also slightly too long. It´s like the entertainment value decreases and my attention wanders after the four minute mark in tracks like "Praise of Death", "At Dawn They Sleep" and "Crypts of Eternity".
The musicianship are as always solid, when talking about Slayer, so it´s the fact, that the songwriting´s still slightly imature and the sound production isn´t that powerful or well sounding either, that bring my rating down to a 3.5 star (70%) rating. That´s actually a very high rating considering the amount of negative criticism I just gave "Hell Awaits", but the rating is a testament to how great Slayer are, even when they release something a bit sub par to their best output.