Hell Awaits is a huge leap forward from Slayer’s debut album, Show No Mercy. It's fully immersed in the band’s signature style of hellish thrash. The opening song begins as a descent into Hades: deranged guitar fades in as the listener is greeted with a backwards recording of a demonic voice repeating the phrase “join us.” Like a locomotive picking up steam, “Hell Awaits” starts out as a steady punching riff before exploding into a torrent of bliztkrieg guitar. Brian Slagel’s production style is deeper and sludgier than Show No Mercy. “At Dawn They Sleep” and “Praise of Death” shift between chugging rhythms and breakneck assaults, while the punishing “Crypts of Eternity” culminates in a torrent of guitar and a blood-curdling scream from Tom Araya. The album goes out as it came in. “Hardening of the Arteries” fades out on the tribal pounding of Dave Lombardo’s drums, as the guitar writhes and claws like a body submerged in lava. For a moment it feels like the listener is being pulled back from a scene of carnage — or else being completed overtaken by the band’s violent onslaught.