Rick Rubin is responsible for producing a good chunk of Slayer's discography, beginning with their 1986 classic Reign In Blood. The album was one of Rubin's first forays into extreme metal, which he believes sounds the way it does due to his then-lack of experience.
In an interview with Channel 4 News, Rubin said he recorded Reign In Blood to bring out "hear the precise tightness of it" instead of stick to more traditional rock sounds like Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Which makes sense – having those huge roomy drum sounds would sound blurry as hell in the hands of Dave Lombardo.
"When you treat everything the same, it waters down what it is. Speed metal was a new thing. The people who were recording speed metal up until Reign In Blood, recorded speed metal more like other hard rock or heavy metal. And it's different. It's all different. Everything we make is different.
"If you look at it in hip hop, if you make it like it's an R&B record – it's an R&B record with somebody rapping. If you make it like going to the hip hop club, It's hip hop.
"With speed metal, if you treat it like Black Sabbath, it won't do what Slayer does – in that case, Slayer is they play super fast. And the nature of things that are fast is, they come very close together, like the kick drums are super fast. When you listen to Led Zeppelin records, the drum goes [slower]. So if you have someone playing [fast], and you treat it like Led Zeppelin, it's just going to be a blur and noise; you won't hear any of it.
"That's what was happening up until Reign In Blood – and this is really in each case. It comes from my lack of experience. Lack of the 'right way' to do it. The 'right way' to record rock drums is the way Led Zeppelin did it. But in my mind, not if you're Slayer.
"So in some ways, because I wasn't experienced enough to know 'this is how you do it', I'm listening to it for what it is, and it's this very precise type of thing. And you want to hear the precise tightness of it. And up until that point, no one had recorded it that way."