Sound: It was August 1984, a few months after the release of "Show No Mercy" in December 1983, which is considered the birth of thrash metal for many fans of the genre, along with Metallica's "Kill 'em All" and others. In "Show No Mercy", despite the furious riffs and solos at the speed of light (imagine such things going on in 1983 and people thinking "what the..." after listening to it), you can still hear a lot of influences from NWOBHM, a lot of riffs coming from traditional heavy metal (no wonder the band have been discovered while playing a cover of "Phantom Of The Opera"). But in "Haunting The Chapel", released on August 4, 1984, you can clearly hear that something changed in the band's sound, since the first time you listen it. The 3 tracks released on it were just like an "opening act" to what was going to take place in "Hell Awaits". The songs got darker, solos got even more ruthless (which became a trademark of Slayer: solos that make almost no sense, full of whammy bar insanity, completely noisy), the whole thing just got more even more intense.
Such a change in the sound of the band is what made metal classics like "Hell Awaits", "Reign In Blood" and "Seasons In The Abyss". King and Hanneman tuned their guitars a half-step down and developed insane riffs. Araya's solid bass lines just matched up the riffs, and well, praise Dave Lombardo for his work is like raining in a sea (Dave Lombardo became a really good friend of Gene Hoglan during the recording sessions of this EP, and looks like they shared a few tips about their instruments). The EP was re-issued with "Aggressive Perfector" as a bonus track, a song that was previously on the "Metal Massacre Vol. 3" compilation. Basically, this EP was groundbreaking for the band, and their songs helped to define what Slayer would become. Lasts less than 15 minutes and it's still a classic. // 10
Lyrics: When it comes to lyrics, the EP got a highlight called "Chemical Warfare" (and not only when it comes to lyrics, this became a classic and a live staple of the band). The lyrics of "Chemical Warfare" discuss and criticise the effects of a nuclear weapon, or a nuclear war (remember: maybe talking about this today is outdated, but in 1984 the Cold War was still going on and nuclear threats were frequent. No wonder it became a frequent theme on the lyrics of many bands. And I personally think this kind of discussion is not outdated). And it makes a nice mix: use the reality of nuclear threats and mix with supernatural things like "the lords of hell awaits" to really emphasize the horrors of the war. Probably one of Slayer's best lyrics. The other songs, "Captor Of Sin" and "Haunting The Chapel", talks about evil and satanic tales, pretty much like in "Show No Mercy", with "Haunting The Chapel" notably attacking christianism. Well, for Araya's voice... I think we can say this is one of his best works. His screams sound evil, his voice sound evil... Fits perfectly in Slayer's sound. Sometimes you think that Satan himself decided to sing in Slayer. // 9
Overall Impression: Well, despite its short length, this is still a classic, and a great work made by a great and respectable band. Really helped Slayer to define what they would sound like in the years that would follow. I point "Chemical Warfare" and "Haunting The Chapel" as the most impressive songs, but so is "Captor Of Sin". I think we can say it doesn't even compare with their classics that followed this EP, like "Hell Awaits" and "Reign In Blood", but nevertheless it's a great EP. It's just quick and straight to the point. If someone steal this from me, the robber would be really proud of himself after listening to this. // 10