Originally written by Nin Chan
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to write an introductory blurb about Slaughter. Their names would be on the lips of every hair gel brandishing, Jnco-panted mallrat, every mohawked anarcho-punk, every inebriated longhair, name-dropped religiously by anybody who’s ever had the gall to call themselves a ‘’metalhead’’. Alas, such is not the dimension we inhabit, and Toronto’s proudest export has remained but a cult phenomenon, spoken about in whispered tones by metal’s most rabid vermin, their legacy eclipsed by time. Of course, for a band as raw, as incendiary and as utterly disgusting as Slaughter, maybe such obscurity is to be expected- nobody understood Hellhammer in their time, nor Reéncarnacion, nor Vulcano when more intricate and melodically-inclined material was widely available. Slaughter was ugly, nasty, unapologetically CANTANKEROUS when other ‘80s bands were more concerned with technicality and speed, their magnum opus “Strappado” being a gruesome incestuous crossbreeding of Motörhead, Hellhammer, Amebix and Deathstrike/ War Cry that set new precedents for drunken blasphemy on Canadian shores.
What a lot of (uninformed) people remember Slaughter for most, though, is the fact that Evil Chuck Schuldiner once lent his six-string abilities to several Slaughter rehearsals. After having made the tape-trading rounds, one such rehearsal has now surfaced in CD form via underground institution Hell’s Headbangers. To review such an endeavor is truly difficult, considering first my overwhelming love for these hometown legends, as well as the fact that being a rehearsal, it is far too rudimentary and grainy to recommend to new fans as an introductory passageway into the debauched world of Slaughter.
To those of you who are unacquainted with rehearsal tapes, this might really be a revelatory experience for you, because it is precisely that- a spontaneous and free-flowing recording that is many times looser and more frivolous than any pre-meditated studio work. As such, you’ll hear between song banter, random riffs (Play spot the riff at the end of “Parasites”, hahaha) and such, wedged in between actual, surprisingly tight numbers. This is really very focused stuff for an impromptu drunken jam, though some might contend that Slaughter songs don’t require very much technical virtuosity anyway. At this point, I would like to advise all fans of polished, overproduced, sterile nonsense to leave the unhallowed hall, because this recording manages to make one of metal’s most putrescent bands sound even HARSHER.
That being said, if you worship at the altar of Hellhammer, Poison (Ger), Darkness (Ger)and Master, the REAL first wave of death metal, you will truly be up in arms at the material on offer here. What’s pretty interesting is the fact that they do two early, early Death tracks- “Evil Dead” and “Legion Of Doom” before launching into a barrage of Slaughter classics. To be honest, the difference between the material of both bands doesn’t differ greatly, both being at the very heart of death metal’s genesis, projecting ghastly morbidity via thrashy, primal, mid-tempo structures. Most of the early Slaughter classics are all here and accounted for- “Fuck Of Death”, “Strappado”, “Tyrant Of Hell” and my personal favorite “Parasite”, each of which channels unrelenting spite through a minimalistic Deathstrike type approach, giving each monstrous riff the time and space to grasp hold of your throat and asphyxiate you, each deliberate stroke of the kick drum to bludgeon you into submission.
While I would contend that the sound quality of this recording is FAR better than a lot of rehearsal tapes that I’ve obtained over the past few years, those of you raised on clean Morrisound and Abyss studios work will cringe at how muddy some of the output here is. There are times when everything coagulates into a nebulous mess and everything becomes quite indistinct, but for the most part individual riffs are clearly discernible from one another, and you will likely be too busy headbanging to give any regard to the quality of the recording. That being said, as mentioned above Fuck Of Death will likely repulse, disgust, even ENRAGE 99.999% of the metalhead population.
Ultimately, I am somewhat torn regarding my feelings towards this record. While every fiber of my being WORSHIPS this band, I find it hard to recommend it to anyone but the most hardened Slaughter completists. If you are among this perplexingly fervent minority, you will likely have purchased Nuclear Blast’s stellar reissue of Strappado, which features many of these songs played live and mixed a bit better than this record (including “Incinerator”, which is absent on this recording and is widely regarded as their best song). Also, this question will invariably arise amongst the underground’s cynics- just why is ‘’featuring Evil Chuck’’ emblazoned with such prominence on the CD back? Chuck Schuldiner’s fringe role in Slaughter has always been negligible, and one might suggest that Fuck Of Death is but another capitalistic product. I digress, though as another document of one of history’s most brilliantly raw death metal bands, this is fantastic. As a beginner’s portal into Slaughter, however, this is not quite as successful. One for collectors only, then, as brilliant as it is.