As pockmarked tanks rolled across middleastern deserts, with dusty skies penetrated only by columns of inky black smoke; bodies carried off planes and paraded slowly through towns; with a grinning mannequin in Number 10 and an unhinged ape at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue - it was 2005, and nothing made sense until I heard Reign in Blood, specifically, the opening cut, Angel of Death. With it's angular artwork and essential parental advisory sticker, I'd rushed home clutching one of the many CD rereleases to play it loud. Hearing for the first time the opening bars of Angel of Death may be one of the few genuinely transformative experiences of my life. Sleep's Dopesmoker is transcendent and shamanic, but I was prepared, Pig Destroyer's Prowler in the Yard is ferocious, but that kind of ferocity has to be hardened to, slipped into like an acid bath, on first listen it simply calcifies. I didn't really know about heavy metal, and all at once as the spinning, reeling riff that opens Angel of Death, followed by the guitar squeal that transforms into Tom Araya's tortured scream, the doors of perception weren't so much opened as smashed off their hinges. More than speed, it was meteoric, more than vocals, the screams I'd only ever heard before in apocalyptic war nightmares, but it had rhythm, it had that tone that hammered it into the skull like frozen nails into a coffin's dark wood and at that moment the world, to my fifteen-year-old eyes and ears, started to make more sense. In honour of this occasion, why not dip into Andrew Liles' stunning 30 minutes of Angel of Death to celebrate 30 years since the release of the seminal Reign in Blood, like Holy McGrail's excellent Shake Appeal cover, only more likely to implode the universe.
Written under duress by Steven.
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