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"Angel of Death," "Raining Blood," "War Ensemble" — everyone knows that these Slayer bangers are some of the best metal songs ever recorded, but the thrash pioneers' discography goes a lot deeper than just the hits. Across 12 albums, the Huntington Park titans helped redefine heavy music in their own fast-and-evil-as-fuck image, and there are so many tracks in their catalog that are just as good as the iconic ones even if they're not as well-known. Ahead of International Slayer day on June 6th, we asked you the fans to choose the best Slayer deep cut. Below, are the top five vote-getters ranked accordingly.
"Bloodline" originally appeared on the metallic Dracula 2000 soundtrack before it was included on Slayer's 2001 record, God Hates Us All. On this one, Slayer were tinkering with the sounds of the day by combining the slower and chuggier heft of late-Nineties death metal with a melodic chorus that sounds more akin to Metallica's "Black Album" than anything on Reign in Blood. It's the perfect balance of heavy and catchy.
Slayer are often rightly credited for having a massive influence on hardcore's heavy turn at the end of the Eighties, but "Payback" is an instance where the band seemed to take influence from the musical world they helped create. God Hates Us All's closer features tough-talking insults like, "You've got a fucking catheter in your brain," a snarling punk attitude and a mosh part that could easily pass for a Hatebreed breakdown in a blind listening test. "Payback's a bitch, motherfucker."
In atypical Slayer fashion, "213" is a love song. But in typical Slayer fashion, it was named after Jeffrey Dahmer's old apartment number, and its lyrics are a graphic telling of the notorious serial killer's perverted deeds, so don't worry, Araya didn't go all gooey on us here. The second-to-last song on 1994's Divine Intervention moves at a creeping pace that doesn't have their signature thrust, but its subject matter is as intense as any of the band's gnarliest riffs.
Given that "Gemini" is the only original song in Undisputed Attitude's tracklist of hardcore and punk covers, it's easy to see why the 1996 track is overlooked in the greater Slayer catalog. Nevertheless, this sludgy crusher is a fascinating cut that boasts numerous tumbling drum fills, a dive-bombing breakdown and a speak-singing delivery from Araya that takes subtle cues from the band's groove and industrial-metal peers of the time.
"At Dawn They Sleep" was Dimebag Darrell's favorite Slayer song, so no wonder it ended up at the No. 1 slot. The third cut from Slayer's pivotal sophomore album, Hell Awaits, isn't deep in the tracklist sense, but having to live in the shadow of the record's title track and the sickeningly badass "Necrophiliac" means that it's not the average fan's obvious pick from their 1985 opus. That said, it should be. At once hypnotically fast, heavy and downright evil sounding, "At Dawn They Sleep" deserves to be heralded among their many masterpieces.