Here are 10 totally killer death metal covers of Slayer songs.
Where would metal be without Slayer? More specifically, what about extreme metal?
Easily the most extreme of thrash's 'Big 4,' Slayer not only helped pioneer musical brutality, but lyrical brutality as well. Vivid expressions of humanity at its worst came to be their calling card after graduating from the Satanic/occult/horror aspects of their earlier works, the ideal complement to Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman's pounding rhythms and erratic, unhinged solos.
READ MORE: The Best Death Metal Album of Each Year Since 1985
Slayer's 1986 masterpiece Reign in Blood, in many ways, served as a prototype for what would later become death metal, as countless boundary challengers latched on to the chunkier rhythmic style and the controlled chaos of Dave Lombardo's drumming. Of course, peers such as Possessed and the infancy states of other death metal lynchpins Death, Morbid Angel, etc. were also permeating the underground metal scene at this time.
Below, 10 death metal acts pay their respects to Slayer with some blistering covers.
Monstrosity, “Angel of Death”
Monstrosity's first record without George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher remarkably saw the band no worse for the wear without his services as he jumped ship to front Cannibal Corpse.
Capping off the band's 1999 record In Dark Purity, a genuinely overlooked death metal affair, is a daring cover of Slayer's infamous "Angel of Death."
It's a faithful recreation with Araya's visceral scream replaced by deep gutturals, kind of like how Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel needed an amp that goes to 11 to achieve that extra edge.
Another elite cover here as Polish brutes Vader tackle the other most iconic song in the Slayer catalog — "Raining Blood."
The band has actually covered a couple other Slayer tracks — "Hell Awaits," "Silent Scream" — but there's no question that the fact that they added a new level of brutality to a track that largely helped shape the death metal genre is worthy of the nod in this list.
Vader have always sounded equally calculated and mechanized as they are groovy, giving this cover an ideal amount of push and pull.
Decapitated, “Mandatory Suicide”
If you think the material on South of Heaven is a bit too slow, then Decapitated's cover of "Mandatory Suicide" should suit you nicely.
This take on the Slayer classic appears on the tech-death group's 2000 debut, Winds of Creation, which was released when the principle members were teenagers. Despite their young age, their musical proficiency was more than up to (pardon the pun) speed.
Frozen Soul, "Mandatory Suicide"
Another cover of "Mandatory Suicide?" Yup! Is it excessive? Nope!
Texas' enemy of the heat, Frozen Soul, are one of the most exciting new bands to crop up in recent years, playing self-described Cold School Death Metal. Their style is more akin to Bolt Thrower and they bring their glacial approach to riffing to the already doomy opening of "Mandatory Suicide" and keep it low and slow with a runtime that exceeds the original by 17 seconds.
Children of Bodom, “Silent Scream”
Bodom's intensely melodic brand of metal is a harsh contrast to Slayer's commitment to evil and aggression, which is what makes their brilliant take on "Silent Scream" such a winner.
As much as Children of Bodom's style is predicated on flashy, '80s-inspired guitar playing, dueling guitar and keyboard solos as well as harmonized leads, let's not lose sight of the extremity that is an equal part of the sound.
Hearing a clinical take on Slayer's typically chaotic solos is worth the listen alone!
Revocation, "Altar of Sacrifice"
On Great Is Our Sin, Revocation discarded a lot of the thrashier elements that had pervaded their earlier sound, but they did not forget where they, in part, come from.
A cover of the Reign in Blood highlight "Altar of Sacrifice" closes out this platter of brutality with Dave Davidson discharging his totally mean mid-range grunt.
At the Gates, “Captor of Sin”
How did we ever get so lucky? Not only did At the Gates unleash the game-changing Slaughter of the Soul in 1995, it's from the same recording sessions that their cover of "Captor of Sin" was tracked.
The song originally appeared on Slayer's cult favorite Haunting the Chapel EP, opening with wailing, screeching guitar leads, and it sounds even more raw when At the Gates do it, despite the rest of the record being a rather polished effort.
And who could ever pass up hearing Tomas Lindberg's soul-searing, feral vocal wretch on this Slayer standout?
There's a seriously special quality to Slayer's 1983 debut, Show No Mercy. Not bashful about their NWOBHM influences, the record takes us back to that halcyon era where you could literally hear the sound of thrash taking shape.
Many will contend that "Black Magic" is the high point of this record and Sweden's Hypocrisy are not impervious to the track's spellbinding charm.
So it's pretty cool hearing a death metal take on a song that's, in part, classic metal. After all, that's the DNA of Sweden's influential melodic death metal scene!
Cephalic Carnage, “Jesus Saves”
Death-grinder Cephalic Carnage contributed their version of "Jesus Saves" to the Gateway to Hell 2 Slayer tribute album, and it's the most unique rendition of anything else here.
The band has a penchant for off-kilter songwriting quirks and they apply that to this Reign in Blood favorite. There's so many deviations from the original, and every 10-15 seconds feels like a surprise.
The third and final Polish death metal band to appear in this list, here's Yattering's take on the Divine Intervention cut "Dittohead."
It's one of the most intense songs Slayer ever crafted, making it a prime selection for Yattering, who raise the stakes with a short burst of blast beats.