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Erik Hinds: Reign in Blood

Andrey Henkin By

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It would seem on the surface that the visceral, hyper-masculine ambience of death metal would be at odds with the intellectual musings of free improvisation. However, since much of what Peter Brötzmann ever did is as violent as any metal, and many of today's free improvisors are young and grew up listening to the stuff, the gap has narrowed.

Which is where this album comes in. Erik Hinds is a musician out of Atlanta who grew up on Slayer and particularly the group's 1986 Reign in Blood album (the most brutal 34 minutes on record and a highwater mark for the band and the genre). He chose to interpret this album not only solo but on an instrument of his own construction, the h'arpeggione, which mixes elements of guitar, lute, and sitar. He respects the album and knows it thoroughly. So we are left with the drunken debauchery of Slayer as seen through a musician whose solo thoughts are informed by players like Evan Parker and Peter Kowald.

Anyone who grew up on Slayer's music might initially wince at this project, given what Tori Amos did to the LA band's work back in the '90s. But Hinds is not presenting some novelty act, or at least that is not the result. He uses the different themes and feels (of which, for a metal album, there are many—a key to the record's stature) as vehicles for intense, thoughtful playing. Slayer was not grindcore or punk. The group's work had subletly and excellent musicianship. And when stripped of the loud amplification and "demonic drumwork, the minor-key themes sound vaguely ethnic, perhaps a soundtrack for primitive tribal ritual.

Those listeners who know nothing about metal or this historic album can listen without context and still find the music satisfying. Those who know the album can grasp at the occasional familiar melodic snatches or drum intros played in the side of the instrument while marveling that someone could play an electric quartet's pieces solo acoustically and still create a worthy document.

Track Listing: Angel Of Death; Piece By Piece; Necrophobic; Altar Of Sacrifice; Jesus Saves; Criminally Insane; Reborn; Epidemic; Postmortem; Raining Blood.

Personnel: Erik Hinds: h

Title: Reign in Blood | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Solponticello

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