Rotting Christ Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Rotting Christ are a Greek black metal band from Athens, consisting of brothers vocalist/guitarist Sakis Tolis and drummer Themis Tolis. Often overlooked, and with a career spanning over three decades, the time has never been better to take a look through their back catalogue, as we rank and review every album through history.

#13 – Rituals (2016)

Not a bad album by any means, but one that I find difficult to return to as frequently. The ideas on display here are all solid, with Ze Nigmar and Elthe Kyrie being particular highlights. It’s a dark album through and through and prioritises atmosphere over the stellar guitar work the band is known for. 

#12 – Sanctus Diavolos

A product of its time, the early 2000s were not the most accomodating years for black metal, and unfortunately Rotting Christ right come away unscathed. Sanctus Diavolos is rarely talked about these days and that’s a shame, there are some great songs here such as Shades of Evil, Tyrannical and You My Cross. It’s a heavy album that is more on the forgettable side when considering the band’s other works. Worth a listen for sure, but they did much better.

#11 – Genesis (2002)

Suffering from many of the same problems as Sanctus Diavolos, Genesis benefits from more focused songwriting, whilst also tripping up in its own unique ways. This was one of the first Rotting Christ albums that I ever heard, and there are so many phenomenal tracks on display, with Dying, Daemons and Lex Talionis being some of my favourite songs by the band. This momentum isn’t carried evenly throughout the rest of the release, as a result I feel it unfair to rank Genesis higher than some of the more consistent outputs.

#10 – Khronos (2000)

Redefining blasphemy, Khronos rocks. Hyperbole aside there is a lot to love on this release. This album could quite easily be considered Rotting Christ’s darkest to date, songs such as; If It Ends Tomorrow, Art of Sin, Fateless and You Are I can attest to that. Unlike some other entries lower on our list, Khronos is very consistent, I don’t find myself reaching for the skip button to find gems among the filler.

#9 – The Heretics (2019)

What an improvement over Rituals! There’s so much life and passion poured into every fibre of this record’s being. It oozes out from every pour, rich black blood. Where to start with this one? Highlight for me is that incredible guitar solo towards the end of Fire, God and Fear. Special mention too for the band’s adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven as well. From start to finish The Heretics impresses, it’s clear just how well-read Sakis is and his lyrical songwriting has never been stronger. It’s a little slow in places, mostly speaking about I Believe and In the Name of God, but when this release is in full swing it’s something to behold.

#8 – Sleep of the Angels (1999)

Building on the blueprints laid down by prior albums Triarchy of the Lost Lovers and A Dead Poem, Sleep of the Angels delved deeper into the slower and more deliberate approach that gothic metal employed. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable dark metal album that gave us standout songs such as After Dark I Feel and The World Made End. I missed the traditional black metal approach of early records, but this was the culmination of new ideas fully realised, and I need to give it the respect due.

#7 – A Dead Poem (1997)

My thoughts on this album are largely interchangeable with how I feel about Sleep of the Angels. There’s a heavy emphasis on synths and clean passages. It’s a beautiful sounding record, richly produced too, where the novelty of this new approach hadn’t quite gone as long in the tooth as it would. As If By Magic and Full Colour is the Night are gorgeous! Don’t sleep on this one.

#6 – Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού (2013)

My first exposure to the band and still one of their finest outings. Eaytoy broke away from the Theogonia formula and took things back to the band’s roots in stellar fashion. In Yumen – Xibalba is iconic! Just as the lyrics ‘Welcome to my dark kingdom, behind the sun!’ haven’t left my mind since I first heard them all those years ago. I was pleased to discover that this album is spoken predominantly in Ancient Greek, and it was refreshing to hear Sakis’ powerful bark in his mother tongue.

#5 – Triarchy of the Lost Lovers (1996)

The album where the fearsome Rotting Christ began to slow down. The old school sound may have been lost, at least before the likes of Thou Art Lord (band), though with such enjoyable songs on the tracklist, it’s difficult to stay mad for long. In my opinion, the gothic influences were expertly implemented here. One listen to King of a Stellar War or Tormentor and you’ll hear exactly what I mean. It was something new and exciting, and the risks paid-off well.

#4 – Aealo (2010)

This album is absolutely brutal! It may be less special than its predecessor, but Aealo is one heavy motherfucker! Same time, the band melded traditional Greek instrumentation with their aggressive chugging guitar some, rhythmically resembling the rumble of battle. I love Aealo. It’s a challenge to pinpoint the best moments, but you cannot go too far astray starting with Demonon Vrosis and Noctis Era.

#3 – Theogonia (2007)

Few albums can claim to innovate a genre quite how vividly Theogonia had. Learning from what worked on their early 2000s releases, Rotting Christ struck a death blow of vitriol that permeates every second on this modern masterpiece. Gaia Tellus, Enuma Elish and Nemecic are just skimming the surface on the majesty of this record.

#2 – Thy Mighty Contract (1993)

A crowning achievement in the black metal genre and one of my favourite albums ever recorded. The only reason why it doesn’t take the top spot is because I personally believe that the band’s sophomore effort does things just that little bit better. The undeniable force that is The Sign of Evil Existence, the insidious His Sleeping Majesty, and The Coronation of the Serpent cement this album into that of legend.

#1 – Non Serviam (1994)

I will not serve! The very quintessence of Rotting Christ. My first thought when considering exactly what the Tolis brothers stand for, and nearly 30 years later nothing has changed. It’s as Sakis says, religion is rotting. The standouts from this landmark album for me are The Fifth Illusion and Where Mortals Have No Pride. Greece may have been overlooked in the black metal scene, especially when compared to that of Sweden and Norway at the time, but Rotting Christ are a key reason that demonstrates that the country can hold their own.

Soilwork Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Soilwork are a metal band from Helsigborn, Sweden. Their current lineup consists of vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, guitarists David Andersson and Sylvian Coudrat, as well as Sven Karlsson on keyboards and drummer Bastian Thusgaard.

With the band’s new, EP A Whisp of the Atlantic, released earlier this month, the time has never been better to take a deep dive into the band’s diverse history, as we rank every main Soilwork record.

#11 – Verklighten (2019)

Let’s start things off by saying that I do really enjoy this album. It’s beautifully produced and features some catchy hooks, though it’s too light and airy for my tastes, ultimately lacking the emotion and impact that I have come to expect from Soilwork.

Arrival and When the Universe Spoke are two incredible tracks, but so much on Verklighten leaves a lot to be desired. It’s clear just how much of an impact Strid’s side band, The Night Flight Orchestra, has had on his songwriting, there’s a lot of crossover. I actually prefer NFO to Soilwork ironically, though that does not sway my mind.

#10 – Sworn to a Great Divide (2007)

It’s unfortunate to phrase something so harshly, but there’s no other way to say it. The 2000s were dominated by Soilwork largely phoning in their performances, and it shows.

Great Divide has some good songs on offer, the title track and Your Beloved Scapegoat being great examples. It doesn’t negate the fact that this album is thoroughly unmemorable. I have been a fan of the band for many years, and I never revisit this one. Divide avoids bottom place as at least it’s heavy enough to keep my attention.

#9 – Figure Number Five (2003)

Here’s where I’m torn. I find this album as a whole to blend together into a haze of forgettable white noise for the most part. Contrast this stance, however, with the fact that two of my favourite Soilwork songs Rejection Role and Distortion Sleep are on the tracklist.

If anything, that makes the disappointment of this album sting worse. Imagine if the songwriting quality was that consistent across the board, I would be singing a different tune for sure. As it stands No. 5 really let me down.

#8 – The Panic Broadcast (2010)

In an effort to break away from their established formula, Soilwork’s 2010 album tries to do a lot of different things, and it was certainly a step in the right direction that should be commended.

Deliverance and The Thrill brought back the reckless and relentless edge, as heard on the band’s early work, where Let This River Flow successfully melded acoustic guitars and sweeping melodies with the rich ballad inspired highs of Strid’s singing voice. There’s variety here, it’s not as predictable or safe.

#7 – Stabbing the Drama (2005)

Following directly after Figure Number 5, Stabbing the Drama is an album that knows what it wants to be and makes for comfortable listening.

A similar story with the predecessor, Drama features some very strong songs, namely the title track and Nerve, two tracks that are still live staples to this day, and for good reason.

The rest of the record tends to feel unremarkable. It has its moments for sure, but is unlikely to wow on first listen. I have a comfortable nostalgia for Drama, and yet I cannot be deterred.

#6 – A Predator’s Portrait (2001)

Perhaps the darkest album of their discography, Soilwork combines lofty ambitions with powerful songwriting to create a record with a razor sharp touch.

Grand Failure Anthem, Like the Average Stalker and Bastard Chain are highlights on this release. All three are fast, brutal and punchy, never outstaying their welcome. That’s what I appreciate so much about this album, it says what it needs to and wastes no time in going straight for the throat.

#5 – Natural Born Chaos (2002)

Shifting gears away from the more straightforward melodeath sound of the trilogy of albums that proceeded it, Natural Born Chaos introduced many elements that would later go onto define the modem Soilwork sound.

Songs included acoustic guitar and a heavier use of synthesisers, with Bjorn utilising his singing voice more proactively than before. No More Angels, Follow the Hollow and Black Star Deceiver stand far and away my favourites from Natural Born Chaos, and illustrate exactly how special this sound was, whilst also condemning the band too in the near future.

#4 – The Ride Majestic (2015)

A very strong album that unfortunately had massive shoes to fill. The previous album was a landmark in metal music, we’ll get to it momentarily, though for all that The Ride Majestic gets right, it can’t help but linger in the shadow of what came before.

I genuinely love every song on this album with highlights including that of the title track, Death In General, Whirl of Pain and Petrichor by Sulphur. I remember the day this record dropped, I couldn’t stop listening to it. Definitely one of Soilwork’s most overlooked albums, and that’s a shame.

#3 – The Chainheart Machine (2000)

Everything you could ever want from melodic death metal. The Chainheart Machine is unforgiving in its aggression and speed, here Bjorn Strid really does get to live up to his namesake.

Possessing the Angels and Machine Gun Majesty are fiercely fast melodeath tracks that cut straight through to your very core. Bulletbeast is an all-out assault on the senses, in the best way possible. If I was to mark this album down for anything, it would be the production. This album is a product of its time, with guitars a little too buried in the mix, and the tones omitted a little thin for my liking. Still, very minor issues.

#2 – Steelbath Suicide (1998)

As with The Chainheart Machine, and at the risk of repeating myself, I ask you, what more could you possibly want out of melodic death metal?

It’s all here. The guitar riffs are polemic, Strid sounds the best he ever did with his harsh vocals and the impressive pace of it all never waivers for long. At just over 35 minutes in length, Steelbath Suicide manages to be equal parts memorable and influential, especially impressive for a debut following in the wake of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and other melodeath greats emerging from the country at the time.

#1 – The Living Infinite (2013)

Was there ever any doubt? At nearly an hour and a half in length, across 20 songs, it’s a testament to Soilwork’s creativity and talent when I tell you that every single song on this album is phenomenal.

Performances across the board are immaculate too. The band strike a considered balance of melody, choruses and strong riffs that all have their place on this monolithic double album.

It’s challenging to know how to nail it down specifically. My best advice I can offer is just to listen to it in its entirety. I remember when this album launched, I was overjoyed as I realised that Soilwork had not only redeemed themselves for previous efforts, but completely innovated too.

If you’re looking for a place to start with this album, might I recommend The Windswept Mercy, Tongue, Leech, and This Momentary Bliss. It’s rare for a band to be putting out their best material decades after a debut, but even more so to change an entire genre so vividly. I am aware of how negative I may have come across in this article, just know that my critiques come from a place of love and understanding. I’ve seen them over five times, even the low ranked material is worth spinning at least once, I just hope we get more in the vein of this album, and less bleeding through from other bands in the future.

Paradise Lost Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Paradise Lost are a British doom metal band formed in Halifax, England in 1988. The band consists of founding members vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, as well as bassist Steve Edmondson, with current drummer Waltteri Väyrynen (Bodom after Midnight, Abhorrence) who joined in 2016. The band has gone through many different stylistic changes throughout their 30+ year career, and with the release of Obsidian in May 2020, the time has never been better to rank and review every main release.

#16 – Host (1999)

Evolving on from the softer edge of their prior record, One Second, Nick Holmes and company abandoned the guitars in favour of dialling up synths and electronics. It’s a shift which, while jarring at first, ultimately comes across as a solid album, albeit one that shares much more in common with Depeche Mode, New Order and Duran Duran than anything in the rock or metal scene. For what it’s worth, I really do love this album for what it is, and spin it frequently to this day when I’m in the mood for something mellow and morose. With songs like It’s Too Late, Last Day of Summer, So Much is Lost and Permanent Solution on the track list, it’s worth checking out at least once to make your own mind up.

#15 – Believe in Nothing (2001)

A very similar album in tone and approach to Host, but one that brought back guitars, however minor of a role that they play in the mix. This album tends to get unfairly bashed by critics in a way that I have never really understood. It sounds to me like the perfect and logical evolution of what started in One Second and Host with a little more structure. Some songs here are well worth listening to, and Nick Holmes’ soaring singing voice in the choruses of tracks like I Am Nothing, World Pretender and Fader are worth the price of admission alone. Believe in Nothing tries some new things, not all of it works, but it’s a pleasant ride all the same.

#14 – Symbol of Life

Completing a trilogy of electronic/gothic rock albums, Symbol of Life takes what worked in their prior two entries and runs with it. There’s more of a guitar presence here, more so than Believe in Nothing, and overall, a greater sense of ferocity that was lacking on everything passed Draconian Times up to now. Coupled with the cleaner production and some genuine guitar riffs and bass lines at last, this album comes full circle in the experimentation period and does enough right to edge it up on the others that were released around the similar time. One listen to Primal or Channel For The Pain will tell you everything you need to know.

#13 – One Second (1997)

The band had a lot of guts to change up as drastically as they did when writing and releasing their follow-up to 1995’s Draconian Times, and that should be commended. Gone was Nick’s gruff metal bark and absent were Greg’s emotive lead lines and solos. Instead, One Second shifted leaned fully into gothic rock territory. Synths were present in Paradise Lost’s music before, but now they were the main focus. This change was controversial at the time but now, when looking back, I think that this album has rightfully earned its place in history as one of the best in goth rock. There are some really great tracks on offer too: the title track is an obvious highlight, though Say Just Words is a live staple for a reason, with Another Day, Mercy and Soul Courageous being no slouch either.

#12 – Paradise Lost (2005)

The first of many bold claims on this list, arguably if you don’t count how low I’ve decided to rank One Second. Regardless, on their tenth studio album, the band went back to the drawing board and attempted to redefine exactly who and what Paradise Lost was. The result? A record that keeps the emphasis on melody and catchy hooks from albums like One Second and Believe In Nothing, whilst Nick’s barking metal vocals are once again in full force, a full decade after they were last heard on Draconian Times. Synths are still here, but the guitars once again sounded dirty and heavy. There was no mistakes that this was a metal album through and through. Close Your Eyes and Sun Fading can attest to that. A great blend.

#11 – Tragic Idol (2012)

It’s a tough call ranking everything from this point on, as every album on this list I love in almost equal measure. Tragic Idol largely carried on from the groundwork laid by the two albums that came before it: In Requiem and Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, but fails to do anything to surpass what could be found on those records. Tragic Idol is instead a refinement on some great atmosphere and stellar songwriting, that doesn’t bring all too much new to the table. Standout songs from this one include: In This We Dwell, The Glorious End and the mammoth that is Fear of Impending Hell.

#10 – In Requiem (2007)

Finally! This is what I was expecting to hear of a modern Paradise Lost album in the 2000s. Here were the hallmarks of everything that made Paradise Lost as special as they were in the decade prior, with the benefit of better production and a broader soundscope. This album was very atmospheric and moody, much like Shades of God and Icon, but still retained the synths, pianos and melodic chorus hooks of the 2000s output by the band, all wrapped up in a slick 45-minute package. Is it perfect? No. However, In Requiem was the return to form that fans, myself included, were expected when the band began to get experimental at the turn of the decade. Ash & Debris, The Enemy and Your Own Reality can attest to it. Gothic and doom in equal measure. A lot to love.

#9 – Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us (2009)

I take no pleasure in ranking this gem as low as it is on this list, if anything it’s a testament to just how strong these next few records are. Boasting a gorgeous level of production and the best title track in the band’s history, Faith Divides is a savagely instrumentally heavy record that punches up the aggression far beyond anything that had been heard from the band since Draconian Times. Living with Scars is one of Paradise Lost’s heaviest tracks in decades, with striking pinch harmonics squealing in the intro riff and chorus, and a thick chugging rhythm throughout. Rise of Denial is equally punchy too, there are many strong contenders to the gothic/doom crown on this record that make you want to give yourself whiplash from how hard your head sways, not to mention the pure sludge of Universal Dream. Hard to go wrong with this one.

#8 – Lost Paradise (1990)

When the topic of early Paradise Lost records is brought up, I seldom hear anyone mention their debut record, and that’s a shame. As with any proto genre album of this type, there are certainly certain teething problems, with holds Lost Paradise back from true greatness, but it’s a masterpiece of slow, old school death metal grinding all the same. This concept was nothing new, arguably what was going on from other acts at the time such as Obituary and Death were of a similar vein, but Paradise Lost managed to strike that core balance of death metal’s heft and doom metal’s oppressive atmosphere. Performances are solid across the board too, first instance of Nick’s growl that wouldn’t return for decades. Stand outs include: Our Saviour, Paradise Lost, Rotten Misery and Internal Torment II.

#7 – Medusa (2017)

I can’t lie, I fucking love this record. To be completely honest, I love all of these albums in almost equal measure. Medusa built upon the blueprint of The Plague Within, with clean vocals taking a backseat to Nick Holmes’ aged growl once again, and all the better for it. Medusa was the band coming full circle to the days of Lost Paradise and Gothic, which had also evolved the structure of death/doom tenfold in the near thirty-year gap. This was a record that showed the band on top form, and is incredibly strong with songs such as From The Gallows, Gods of Ancient, Until the Grave and No Passage for the Dead demonstrating that some of Greg’s work in Vallenfyre had rubbed off in equal measure to Nick’s role in Bloodbath. Immeasurably heavy. Unapologetically doom.

#6 – Draconian Times (1995)

Yeah, you read that right. I really have ranked Draconian Times, the landmark gothic metal masterpiece this low in their discography. Here me out. As with Medusa and Death Unites, I really do love this album, and its legacy is a large reason as to why I’ve put it this highly, but in comparison to Shades of God and Gothic, I feel that the axe is a little more dull, if you know what I’m saying. Draconian Times is a very catchy album, with melodies and rich chorus lines throughout. Nick’s shouty Hetfield impression is also peak here, and fits the tone perfectly. Make no mistake, this isn’t a soft record, but it more accessible than all that came before. This is a gothic metal record through and through, very little death remains, and that’s okay. Spin Once Solumn, Shadowkings and I See Your Face for a solid taste what this record has to offer. It rules.

#5 – The Plague Within (2015)

With the news that Nick was replacing Peter Tägtgren, as vocalist for Bloodbath circling in 2013, expectations were high for not only what Old Nick could do for the death metal Swedes, but also what impact that would play for the future of Paradise Lost. The result? One of their best records, ever. Arguably for the first time since their debut effort in 1990, the band had embraced their death metal roots for a record that defied all expectations. Sure, Death Divides Us and Tragic Idol were great albums, but THIS was something else. Without question one of, if not, THE darkest albums in their discography, The Plague Within represents all things death/doom to me, and for good reason. It’s a fucking masterpiece. Need convincing? Listen to Beneath Broken Earth, Punishment Through Time or Terminal and get back to me, I’ll be waiting.

#4 – Obsidian (2020)

I took my time carefully considering where to place the band’s newest work, and after two dozen or so listens since May of this year, I think I have my answer. Catering to fans of every era of the band, well maybe not Host, Obsidian gracefully transcends conventions of death/doom whilst also genre-melding gothic and alternative metal. The intro track Darker Thoughts starts with a stunning acoustic piece, before the muscle of the guitars and growls breaks out. For fans of Medusa and The Plague Within, you’ll be right at home with The Devil Embraced, Fall From Grace, Ghosts and Ravenghast does the heavy lifting where Ending Days, Hope Dies Young and Forsaken takes cues from their mid-2000s output. It’s something very special, and I’m happy that amidst all this in 2020, we get such a powerful record to indulge ourselves in.

#3 – Icon (1993)

Take everything that I said about Draconian Times, double it, and apply it to Icon. It’s hard to believe that Paradise Lost’s trilogy of gothic metal records all came out a year apart from each other, with Icon being the last before Draconian Times in 1995. What we have in Icon is a confident and melodic metal soundscape that features some of the best choruses and guitar solos in the band’s history. Difficult to go wrong with any of these songs, and these final three records to rank on this last are largely interchangeable at this point. What can I say that hasn’t already been said better by someone else in the near 30 years since this dropped? I recommend Embers Fire, Dying Freedom, Joys of Emptiness and Widow.

#2 – Shades of God (1992)

The levels of imagination and experimentation on this album are spellbinding. The World Made Flesh for example, having more to do with Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss than the works of Hypocrisy. Slow and hypnotic lead progressions marry gorgeously with the gloomy feel that leaks out of every fibre of this glorious affront to humanity. The screaming lead that begins Crying For Eternity echoes the pain of mortality just as masterfully as the sludgy doom riffs that follow. As I Die being a seminal work for the band for a very good reason. Emotionally charged and just as resonant sonically. Even something like Iron Maiden’s galloping guitars are replicated in morbid fashion on this release with Daylight Thorn. What more can really be stated? It’s a milestone for a reason.

#1 – Gothic (1991)

Be honest, did you expect anything else to top the list? For any record that innovates on death metal, think Skydancer or Lunar Strain for instance, it can be hard to get everything right on the first go. If Lost Paradise was the band’s pre-emptive strike, then Gothic was their killing blow. Every bit as heavy as their debut album, Nick’s growl still as powerful, but the instrumentals have moved away from the likes of old-school death metal and transitioned into something far more macabre and sinister. I feel like with these last few entries that I’m just stating the obvious over and over again, so I’ll let the music do the talking. If you somehow haven’t spun this yet. Here’s your place to start: Shattered, Falling Forever, Dead Emotion and Rapture.

Ghost Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Ghost are a Swedish rock/heavy metal band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2008 by Tobias Forge. In the last decade they have become one of the most prominent names in the industry, having released four studio albums, as well as performing arena tours with the likes of Metallica.

With the new leader appointed, Papa Emeritus IV, and a new record likely around the corner in 2021, there has never been a better time to review and rank one of music’s most creative forces, as we take a closer look into their discography, ranked! From worst to best.

#4 – Prequelle (2018)

Their most recent release, at time of writing, did a lot of things right. By attempting to go in a pitch-black lyrical direction and taking influence from pop and shock rock of the 1980s, Ghost struck a confident and catchy balance of hope and gloom contrasting throughout the record.

There are some truly incredible songs on this release, including the likes of: Rats, Faith, Dance Macabre and Witch Image, but overall the complete package left a little more to be desired. Just over 40 minutes in length but featuring three interluding instrumental tracks, I can’t help but listen to this and simply wonder, ‘where’s the rest of it?’

When this album is good, it’s incredible and boasts powerful performances from Forge and his newly assembled team of touring musicians, in a few ways it just lacks the magic of what came before.

#3 – Meliora

Without question, Meliora was a record published at the height of the band’s popularity and features some of their most well known works. Forge’s Papa Emeritus III persona remains the most well realised and well loved incarnation of the character, and everything about the younger, more sexualised, frontman fit the looser pop-oriented motif of this record perfectly.

This album is a little more guitar-driven that what was found on their previous record but, for the most part, favoured catchy melodies and pop hooks than delivering on the overt Satanic premise of what came before. Monolithic efforts in rock were created here including the almighty From The Pinnacle To The Pit, haunting Luciferian love song He Is and the Grammis award winning Cirice. If the album had a little more of songs like this and not some of the filler tracks like Spirit and Majesty, then no doubt it would rank higher. It’s a crime Zenith was left on the cutting room floor.

#2 – Opus Eponymous (2010)

Let’s preface my opinion here by saying that I believe Opus Eponymous to be one of the most important rock albums of the last decade. A winning combination of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple combined with a Satanic indoctrination theme melded beautifully together.

What originally began life as a song for previous rock band Magna Carta Cartel, Stand By Him, is one of the greatest classic metal songs in history, in no small part are the likes of Ritual, Elizabeth and Prime Mover far behind either.

Taking a stripped back approach to rock and roll and insidiously inserting ghastly messages into it worked to an insane degree, and Opus Eponymous benefits greatly from such a strong set of songs, immaculate production and nail-biting atmosphere.

#1 – Infestissumam (2013)

With an album name that translates directly to ‘the most hostile’ or ‘the biggest threat’, there should be no confusion over the intention of this album. Defiant to its very core in opposing the Christian religion, featuring not only the band’s darkest lyrics and imagery, but also their best songs ever written.

Ditching the classic rock elements of Opus Eponymous and instead switching out to full on old school doom metal, Ghost hit their stride with anthems like Year Zero, Monstrance Clock, Idolatrine and Secular Haze. There’s an aura of evil that permeates every second of this album, and the fact that it is this memorable and melodious in the face of that, is quite frankly astounding.

The most sinister version of the band and their leader complimented by their most sinister ethos and heaviest songs, It should be no doubt that Infestissumam takes top spot on the list.

Slayer Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Slayer were a prolific thrash metal band from LA County, California. The original lineup consisted of guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (RIP 2013) vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo. Paul Bostaph would later replace Lombardo for duties behind the kit, Exodus’ Gary Holt would carry the legacy of Hanneman after his death.

Covering almost four full decades across eleven studio albums, it’s impossible not to mention important heavy metal music without Slayer’s name passing your lips, with no need for any further introduction, let’s take a closer look at the band’s extensive history, ranked!

#11 – Repentless (2015)

Slayer’s final album as a band and one that gets a lot of negative attention for reasons both deserved and not. Repentless was an album written lyrically by Kerry King, one of the only times that he had sole songwriting credit on a record, as primarily it would be the double act of King and Hanneman, and it’s safe to say that the writing here is the weakest in their history.

Musically Repentless plays it very safe but there are some highlights that elevate the material higher than you would expect from the stigma stuck to the album. The title track and Pride and Prejudice are great examples of aggression and that classic ruthless nature of the band’s earlier spirit. However, there are a lot of filler tracks and songs in the list that do absolutely nothing but diminish the legacy violently, to just being plain boring and passe. See: Implode, Take Control or Piano Wire for instance.

Does that make Repentless lazy or by the numbers? Maybe.
Arguably this is a record that Slayer shouldn’t have even made according to many fans, It’s clear that listening to it that the omission of Hanneman’s input is sorely missed, may he rest in peace.

#10 – World Painted Blood (2009)

No sanctuary. World Painted Blood is a completely fine album with no real high points or obvious lows. The title track itself is a great time, but it’s a struggle to commit much more to memory from this 2009 effort. The musicianship is completely fine, vocals are good. It is business as usual, almost like the band are on autopilot, and that’s the reason this album ranks so low compared to some of their riskier efforts that we will get to later down the list.

#9 – Diabolus In Musica (1998)

Slayer go nu-metal and it was something that probably should never have happened but this record yielded some surprising diamonds amongst a lot of rough. For the most part, it doesn’t work. Though, Diabolus In Musica’s strong suit came in its oppressive atmosphere and the grinding and fierce nature of tracks such as Stain of Mind and In The Name of God.

The latter song especially has such a slick and sublime opening with a rioting, thick chugging guitar pulsating into a vile eruption of powerful snarls from frontman Tom Araya over that stunning infectious main riff. These kind of moments are peppered all throughout Diabolus In Musica, that seductive groove just rocks so fucking hard that it’s impossible to resist, hence why I can’t rank the record any lower.

#8 – Divine Intervention (1994)

What more can really be said about Divine Intervention apart from the fact that it’s Slayer’s sixth album? That may sound reductionist but hear me out. How the fuck do you follow up genre masterpieces from the late 80s such as: Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood and South of Heaven? It seems the answer with this record was simple, replace Lombardo behind the kit and try and speed up a little following Seasons In The Abyss infatuation with everything slow and heavy.

By no means a bad record, Divine Intervention just seems a little underwhelming when compared to the wealth of records that came before it and had large boots to fill. There is a lot to love here: The Killing Fields, 213 and Fictional Reality are incredible songs in and of themselves, but do they really match the heights of their predecessors alone? Not really. This album just didn’t do enough different to stand out in a positive or risky way.

#7 – God Hates Us All (2001)

Here’s where things get fucking controversial. Before I’m dragged out into the streets by raving fans and hogtied to the railway tracks, let me try to justify this entry for you. There’s a reason why songs like Payback and Disciple remained live staples for the band even when this record seemed to underperform critically and commercially, because they are powerful, aggressive and catchy as all hell tracks.

From the chanting chorus on the latter, to the formidable way that War Zone seems to entrance you into fighting an entire army bare handed (especially that opening riff) God Hates Us All remains to be Slayer’s most underrated album that they have ever produced. There is so much that is stellar about this one, it sounds grandiose and overpoweringly omnipresent with a modern touch that differentiates itself from Slayer’s early work.

#6 – Christ Illusion (2006)

With their tenth album, Slayer somehow managed to channel their unholy powers into creating a record that touched on elements of not only Seasons In The Abyss but the groovier parts of God Hates Us All too, whilst still harkening back to their roots all at once.

Jihad is a phenomenal that fits the description above in every respect. The slow acoustic intro leading into that thundering rhythm guitar main riff and mesmerising guitar solo. It sounds completely and utterly massive. Look no further than Skeleton Christ if you’re in any doubt that Slayer can’t make you fucking move on this record, it may sound simple musically, but it’s heavy as all sin and it is one of my personal go-tos when the band’s name is mentioned in conversation. Goes without saying that Araya shouting ‘Hail Satan’ is an absolute win too.

#5 – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

Slayer started the new decade revitalized with this masterclass in pacing, progression and power oozing from every pore of this disgusting beast. As mentioned above, this was the album that the boys took a different approach on compared to their 80s efforts, slowing down and being more atmospheric and sinister in a way that paid off greatly.

Seasons In The Abyss is now thirty years old but stands the test of time beautifully for its simply flawless lineup of incredible songs. Choose literally anything featured on this record and you’re in for a winner. There are no low points, I have virtually nothing bad to say about Seasons and that’s because with outstanding tracks like: Dead Skin Mask, War Ensemble, Expendable Youth, Hallowed Point and Born of Fire, how could I?

That’s simply the caliber of the material that we’re dealing with here from this point on. Really, consider everything onwards as effectively completely interchangeable with one another. This is the Grade A stuff.

#4 – Reign In Blood (1986)

Widely considered by many to Slayer’s most brutal album, if not the most savage record ever at the time, what can I really add to the conservation about Reign In Blood that hasn’t already been said? It’s been dissected to death over the last three decades and for good reason, it’s one of if not the great thrash metal albums ever forged.

From the chilling album art to songs about Joseph Mengele (Angel of Death) and that unstoppable all-time classic Raining Blood, there’s frankly nothing new I can say, so what’s the point in trying? It’s Reign In Blood and it’s amazing, but you already knew that.

#3 – South of Heaven (1988)

South of Heaven was the fourth record that the band put out following a two year absence from Reign In Blood, and that time was used to strip back and refine their core sound into something darkly magical.

It might not be as immediately overt as the likes of what came before but the more primal yet controlled rage from Tom Araya and the steady, trance-like drumming from Lombardo are arguably a career best to this day. This record contains some of the most well written songs in the band’s history, included but not limited to: Behind The Crooked Cross, Ghosts of War and Cleanse The Soul.

Heaven feels like the culmination of their classic sound. It is not as violent as later entries, and it shares more in common with speed/heavy metal than the gut wrenching thrash it would later inspire, as it stands though with an album as well made as this, I can’t help but love every single second.

#2 – Show No Mercy (1983)

A bonafide classic for the ages to be sure. The original and many would say the best. A rare case where the origins of how this album came to be is nearly as interesting as the end result itself. Show No Mercy is an institution and it changed the face of not only thrash metal but shook the landscapes of the music world and pop culture for decades, even to this very moment in time.

Containing the almighty Die By The Sword, the spellbinding Black Magic and the insidious Evil Has No Boundaries, among others. I find myself often unabashedly praising this release almost every time the topic of metal music is brought up in any regard. Here was a record that single-handedly birthed so many genres and inspired so many generations of musicians across the world, it’s unbeatable.

#1 – Hell Awaits (1985)

Take everything that I’ve just said about Show No Mercy and amplify it by a million. Whilst Slayer’s debut is a landmark victory in music to be sure, their true prowess was unleashed masterfully in their sophomore record Hell Awaits.

Cast your mind back to the year 1985 and what were the hottest heavy metal records releasing at the time? Sure, there were strong efforts by the likes of Saxon, Exodus, Celtic Frost and Possessed, but there was nothing that matched the face melting speed or scorching brutality of Hell Awaits.

This was the album where Slayer shed their NWOBHM skin and struck out on their own with something incontestable, in every sense of the word an unadulterated monolith of sound that would not be caged or rivalled by mortal man. On a less hyperbolic note however, the track list is simply marvellous and nails everything you could ever possibly want in a heavy metal/thrash record from the surreptitious villainy of Necrophiliac, to the incinerating guitar solo of At Dawn They Sleep and beyond.

Slayer were and always will be an incredible band and a shining example of music as art. Sure, they had their missteps over the decades, but I would be remiss to deny them their rights as an irresistible force of nature. They will be missed, but they left one hell of a legacy!