Through his official account on Genius, a music annotation site, Rubin gives some insight into recording Reign in Blood.
“In terms of writing, I’d say the Reign In Blood album was pretty close to complete when they came in,” said Rubin. “I think we just stepped up the recording from what they had done independently before that. It was really more the engineering.”
Renowned engineer Andy Wallace, who later produced Nirvana’s Nevermind, had a huge hand in creating that crisp, clear, in-your-face thrash sound, which had way less reverb than on Slayer’s previous two albums.
“Andy Wallace did it, which is what later got him in with Nirvana, absolutely. A hundred percent. It was insane. It was punk energy but with a precision that punk rarely ever had. It was much tighter than punk,” said Rubin about Reign in Blood.
Most of the songs on Reign in Blood were brutal, morbid and disturbing for many people back in 1986, but none more so than “Angel of Death”, a Hanneman track about Nazi SS officer Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed sickening experiments on Jews at Auschwitz, the Nazis most infamous concentration camp.
With it’s no-holds barred look at Mengele’s work, Columbia records (Def Jam’s distributor) refused to distribute the record. Many of the record label owners were Jewish, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. However, Geffen Records did distribute it, but because of the controversy, Reign in Blood was not on the their release schedule.
It should be noted what a key contributor the late Hanneman was for Slayer back then.
He wrote the music for every track on Reign except for “Piece by Piece”, a King composition. Hanneman also contributed lyrics the intense lyrics for “Angel of Death” as well as “Necrophobic”. He also had a hand in the words to “Criminally Insane” and “Raining Blood”. There was a massive hole in Slayer when he died in 2013 of liver failure.