Gather around the campfire, kids, and we'll tell you what 1986 was like. Ronald Reagan was president of the USA. A typical new car was under $10,000. There were bad times (like the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger), and there were good times… like on October 7, when Slayer released their third album, Reign in Blood. It was their major label debut, produced by a young guy named Rick Rubin, and it grabbed the attention of many people who, at the time, had never experienced music this extreme. Even today, 30 years later, Reign in Blood stands up to examination as one of the heaviest, most raw, and powerful albums to ever come out of the thrash metal realm (average beats per minute of the entire album: 220), and helped set the path for dozens of bands that came afterward.
Slayer has had a long relationship with ESP. The band’s co-founder and one of its main contributing songwriters, the late Jeff Hanneman, was a longtime ESP player, and we still offer our popular Jeff Hanneman Signature Series guitars. Frontman Tom Araya has had ESP Signature Series basses for many years as well. The guitarist who was brought in to handle the nearly impossible task of replacing Hanneman, Gary Holt (who continues as a member of Exodus) joined the ESP family a couple of years ago, and also has an ESP Signature Series.
In 2011, to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary, ESP released the limited-edition LTD SLAYER-2011, which featured the Reign in Blood cover art in a graphic finish, and sold out almost immediately. And now here we are, another five years later, and it’s hard to believe that 30 years have gone by since the first time we got to hear songs like “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood”. Hats off to Slayer, who are still kicking ass with albums like 2015’s Repentless, which they’re currently supporting on tour with Anthrax and Death Angel.