Slayer’s third album Reign In Blood has been the gold-standard of thrash since it was released in 1986. Which means, if you’re going to cover any of its 10 songs then you best not fuck them up. Here are those brave souls who have come closest to capturing the very best of metals best.
Carnifex – Angel Of Death
On their third album Hell Chose Me, Californian deathcore pioneers Carnifex paid tribute to the iconic opening song from Reign In Blood. You almost have to admire their sheer gall for picking such a perfect song and trying to better it. To be fair to them, they certainly put their stamp on it, adding some cool triggered drums, a more guttural vocal delivery and a little extra beatdown before the wailing solos come in.
Malevolent Creation – Piece By Piece
Reign In Blood is an album that hugely influenced the formation of death metal, so you won’t be too shocked to see one of the genres earliest bands have a go at a Slayer song. Malevolent Creation covered the brutal Piece By Piece as a bonus track for their Best Of compilation released in 2003, and add a big dollop of sickening Floridan DM to an already crushing composition.
Most Precious Blood – Necrophobic
Another scene that greatly benefitted from Slayer upping the intensity levels on Reign In Blood was hardcore. New York’s Most Precious Blood are one of many bands that took the formula of punk rock spirit melded with thrash riffs and ran with it. To say thank you they covered Necrophobic on 2002’s Covered In Blood album, a hardcore tribute album to Slayer, and turned it into a circle pit starting bruiser of a song.
Invocator – Altar Of Sacrifice
Altar Of Sacrifice possesses one of the best openings to any metal song ever. Danish thrash band Invocator get it started right on this cover, before going on to pretty faithfully recreate Slayer’s original. Although, with all respect, it never really hits the same heights of eye-popping fury that we got first time around. Good effort all the same though.
Enslaved – Jesus Saves
Enslaved have come a long, long way since their pure black metal days in the early 90’s. But, as great as the more melodic and progressive minded version we know and love today is, it’s great to go back and listen to the band as furious, Norwegian teenage metalheads, their cover of Jesus Saves from the 1995 Satanic Slaughter tribute album is played straight as an arrow, but with vocalist Grutle Kjellson giving it a full, black metal rasp.
Edge Of Sanity – Criminally Insane
The Swedish death metal band Edge Of Sanity have been pretty much forgotten by most people these days, which is a shame because they were a band that mixed their fellow countrymen Entombed’s chainsaw guitar tone with Opeth’s more progressive leanings. They’ve split up now, but if you want a little taster of how great they were then this maniac version of Criminally Insane should give you the urge to check out their excellent The Spectral Sorrows album. The way that guitar comes in after the opening cymbals is a thing of beauty.
Crowd Deterrent – Reborn
Quite an easy one this, as, as far as we can see, no one has ever attempted to cover Reborn other than Ohio hardcore band Crowd Deterrent. It’s once again from the 2002 hardcore tribute album Covered In Blood, and it’s probably not quite as successful as the Most Precious Blood version. But it’s a rattling, clattering punk rock take on the song all the same. It starts at 9.18 in the video below.
From The Depths – Epidemic
Another long-lost death metal band, this time from the US, From The Depths clearly took a great deal of influence from the likes of At The Gates, who in turn wouldn’t have sounded the way they did without Slayer. This is a super-fast and savage cover, with some excellently throat ripping vocals that more than lives up to the original.
Body Count – Postmortem
We might be jumping the gun a little here, as Ice-T's metal band Body Count actually cover the song we’re about to talk about next before they head into an expert run through Reign In Blood’s penultimate track. It’s a weird way to put the songs together, but there’s no doubt that it’s a hell of a cover, so much so that we dropped out the likes of Havok and Pain, who both did great jobs covering the song, to include it here.
Tori Amos – Raining Blood
We've saved the weirdest for last. US singer and pianist Tori Amos is one of the most unique and individualistic musical artists in popular culture. On her 2001 covers album Strange Little Girls she took on the likes of Eminem, Depeche Mode and The Velvet Underground, as well as this genuine landmark metal song, turning it into a primal, thrash maelstrom into a brooding, haunting piano ballad, and thus making her the bravest artist on this list.
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