Slayer were one of the "big four" thrash bands of the 80's and
early 90's. I bought their "Show No Mercy" record when I was in high
school as a new release and was intrigued by their sound, although I hated their
insipid poser image. Slayer started life in 1981 playing Maiden and Priest covers. They eventually
began playing thrash that was partially inspired by early Exodus and their attendance at a Metallica show.
Guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman Hanneman died of liver failure on May 2, 2013.
I remember purchasing this
record as a new release and being completely floored by the sheer aggression.
Araya's vocals were so incredibly cool, especially those higher pitched screams
he would do. I remember thinking he sounded a bit like Cronos from Venom at times. I brought the record over to a friend's house who was equally blown
away by the band. We were also taken back by the band's photos on the back cover.
They were decked out in leather and studs and had this very eerie looking black
make-up around their eyes, a look that the band quickly abandoned. Kerry King
looked bad with his red BC Rich and Hanneman looked like a twisted KK Downing
with his blonde mane and blood spattered Les Paul. Songs like "Antichrist".
"Black Magic" and "Die By the Sword" were absolutely infectious. Even after
not hearing this album for over a decade, I still could easily hear that simple
but effective opening riff and Tom screaming out "I am the antichrist, It's
what I was meant to be, your God left me behind, and set my soul to be free". Even back then the lyrics bugged me since I had been raised in a Christian home.
While this type of lyrics are now cliché and overdone in some metal circles,
in 1983 these were pretty shocking, despite the fact that Venom were
already doing the same thing. I justified them in my mind that the lyrics were
meant as nothing more that b-grade horror and were not meant to be taken seriously.
Still it was due to this that I sold the vinyl back in 1989 and did not hear
this album again until this CD copy showed up in my mailbox in '06. Hearing
it again, I still think to myself that this is musically one great thrash metal
opus. Most Slayer fans will disagree with me, but I always thought this to be
their greatest recording. The lyrics still don't jive too well for me, even
though I now know for a fact that Slayer never meant for their lyrics to be
taken seriously. "Chemical Warfare" was not on the original release and was
originally released on the "Haunting the Chapel" EP. "Aggressive Perfector"was
originally released on Metal Massacre
Slayer - Haunting the Chapel (Metal Blade) 1984
1. "Chemical Warfare"
2. "Captor of Sin" (3:30)
3. "Haunting the Chapel" (3:56)
4. "Aggressive Perfector" (3:28)
The original "Haunting
the Chapel" EP had three songs. The CD reissue, which has also been remastered
also included the excellent "Aggressive Perfector". The three tracks on
"Haunting the Chapel" offered a slightly darker, heavier version of the material
on "Show No Mercy." Many a Slayer fan would list "Chemical Warfare" as one of
the band's best songs, ranking up at the top with songs like " Angel Of Death".
I would tend to agree. As a matter of fact, I much prefer the music on this
EP, as well as "Show No Mercy" to anything the band would release after it.
Regardless of my personal opinion, this EP inspired hordes of thrash bands to
play faster and heavier than ever before. There was nothing widely available
in '84, save for Metallica, that
was this aggressive and brutal. Overkill as well had released their second demo "Feel the Fire" that may very well have
matched the intensity, but again, this wasn't as widely available. Lyrically
the band was still playing around with comic book Satanism, as well as the ever
popular themes of death and violence. The lyrics seem heavily inspired by Venom.
As a matter of fact, listening to this EP again fresh after several years, I
really hear a huge Venom influence on the overall sound here, as well as the
lyrics. The re-release of this EP includes "Aggressive Perfector", the 1983
version that appeared on Metal Massacre
III. A speed metal song that would not have been out of place on "Show
There is also a version
of "Show No Mercy" that includes the original three cuts from "Haunting
the Chapel" as bonus tracks.
Slayer - Live Undead (Metal Blade) 1984
1. " Black Magic"
2. "Die by the Sword" (4:01)
3. "Captor of Sin" (3:32)
4. "The Antichrist" (2:57)
5. "Evil Has No Boundaries" (2:54)
6. "Show No Mercy" (3:04)
7. "Aggressive Perfector" (2:32)
Released only a year after
their first full length studio album, this short seven song live album seems
a bit unnecessary. However, when "Live Undead" came out, thrash was a fairly
new idea and we were hungry for any new releases and ate this one up. I was
actually in high school when this was released and it became one of the soundtracks
of our youth. Raw, aggressive Slayer recorded live in a studio before a handful
of fans. There is no denying that Slayer had a youthful energy that was captured
on tape here. Overall, I prefer the studio versions on "Show No Mercy". However,
the slight increase in speed on songs like "The Antichrist" are actually beneficial,
even if the vocal performance isn't quite up to the studio version. Tom Araya's
song introductions are rather bizarre, especially the foul introduction to "Captor
of Sin". I suppose the shock value was part of the novelty of this disc back
in the day. Now I just find it silly. The crowd noise in this CD is also part
of the charm. Unlike the sound of a big club or arena, this small group of people
sound like they are in the middle of an intense gang rumble. At times you can
pick out people screaming words like "Slayer" and "Metal!" It's actually pretty
haunting and a bit bizarre. The cover is also an important part of the package.
The nocturnal graveyard scene is the face of the music for sure. B-grade horror
is what Slayer were all about.
Slayer - Hell Awaits (Metal Blade) 1985
1. "Hell Awaits"
2. "Kill Again" (4:52)
3. "At Dawn They Sleep" (6:16)
4. "Praise of Death" (5:17)
5. "Necrophiliac" (3:43)
6. "Crypts of Eternity" (6:37)
7. "Hardening of the Arteries" (3:57)
Slayer steps up the intensity
level and releases an album that would be the soundtrack to many other thrash
bands for the future. ("Kill Again" has a riff that reminds me of "Terrible
Certainty" by Kreator and there is
no doubt that Dark Angel owe at least
part of their existence to this album.) The music is just pure testosterone
injected fury released at a frantic pace. Lombardo's drum work is almost dizzying
and Araya's vocals are insane. There is no denying Slayer's place in metal history
with this album. It was the transition album between the more memorable material
in "Show No Mercy" and the speed for speed sake of "Reign in Blood". Reign in
Blood is obviously a classic and a fan favorite, but this album excels at keeping
each individual song memorable, in my opinion. This is not only due to the vocals
and song arrangements, but the riffs are more distinctive as well, for the most
part. (I do admit that "Angel Of Death" from Reign in Blood has one of Slayer's
most memorable riffs ever.) The songs also are a bit longer on "Hell Awaits"
than the more popular follow-up. Here we have songs that are between four and
six minutes long, while the average song length on "Reign in Blood" is less
than 3 minutes. The intro to the title track is almost three minutes long in
and of itself. As with "Show No Mercy", the lyrics are all for shock value.
Shock sells records and no doubt it's worked well for Slayer. The Venom inspired dark lyrics run deep, although there were attempts here to move away
from this. "Kill Again" for instance seems to be written from the perspective
of a deranged serial murderer. "No apparet motive, kill and kill again /
Survive my brutal thrashing, I'll hunt you till the end / My life's a constant
battle, the rage of many men / Homicidal maniac!". Not exactly a song about
flowers and puppy dogs, but at least it's a move away from the devil fodder.
This will actually be a theme that Slayer will revisit may times over. 'Hell
Awaits' is a monumental thrash album.
Six Feet Under recorded a cover of "At Dawn They Sleep".
Slayer - Reign in Blood (Def Jam) 1986
1. "Angel of Death"
2. "Piece by Piece" (2:02)
3. "Necrophobic" (1:41)
4. "Altar of Sacrifice" (2:50)
5. "Jesus Saves" (2:55)
6. "Criminally Insane" (2:22)
7. "Reborn" (2:12)
8. "Epidemic" (2:23)
9. "Postmortem" (2:44)
10. "Raining Blood" (4:25)
can't go to a metal concert without some drunk metalhead screaming this out
in their best growly voice. For me, I have always thought that Slayer and this
album specifically, are a bit overrated. I was a big fan of Slayer in their
early days. I bought "Show No Mercy" as a new release and found it to be spectacular.
However, it is quite different from what Slayer later became. I am still a huge
thrash fan and own a very large collection of thrash from the popular bands
like Metallica and Overkill to the obscure stuff like Blackend and Consecrator. Because of that
I was getting at least one to two emails a month asking why I didn't own this
"thrash masterpiece." One email I received recently claimed that this was "the
greatest thrash album EVER released in any way, shape or form." This seems
to be the general consensus among thrash fans. Even magazines like Metal Maniacs,
Guitar Player and Pit magazine list this at the very top of the thrash metal
heep. Well, that being said, I never got it and perhaps that is because by the
time this CD came out I had already grown tired of Slayer's anti-Christian imagery,
especially since I am myself a Christian. So what does that have to do with
the music? Well, I honestly think nostalgia plays a big part in what people
think of music and that certainly holds true for me.
I admit that this is one
monumental and important album as far as it's place in heavy metal history,
in much the same way as Metallica's
"Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets." Certainly you can hear Slayer's
influence in much of 1990's thrash metal and you can also attribute much of
the death metal genre to "Reign in Blood", along with Death's
"Scream Bloody Gore" and Possessed's
"Seven Churches." "Piece by Piece" alone is probably responsible for the lyrical
direction of hordes of death metal bands. There is also no denying the insane
drumming of Dave Lombardo, the sheer aggression of Araya's vocals, and the tag
team guitars and the powerful riffage of King and Hanneman. Their production
and guitar tone alone is some of the heaviest ever laid down on vinyl. While
this album may seem tame compared to today's downtuned, extreme metal standards,
this was not true in 1986 when this album was released. They just didn't come
any heavier than Slayer in the mid-80's.
The albums lead off track
"Angel of Death", a song about the concentration camp horrors of Joseph "Angel
of Death" Menghele, and the album's closing track "Raining Blood" are the standout
cuts here. These two tracks alone were the soundtrack to many a rebellious teen
in the 1980's. Likewise, "Epedemic" and "Jesus Saves" stick out in my mind as
above average tracks on this album. The rest kind of leaves me cold. It just
has never done much for me. Yes, I know this is blasphemy for the average thrash
fan, but that's just my opinion. The album also suffers from the fact that no
less than eight of the ten tracks are UNDER 3 minutes long and the entire CD
is only 28 minutes in length. Shoot, I have EPs that are longer than that. Heck,
for that matter, I think I have single songs that are close to the length of
this entire album. Of course the biggest detraction for me is the anti-Christian
sentiment that runs throughout the lyrics. I realize that most of it was for
shock value and I also realize there are other themes represented here as well.
As mentioned before, "Angel of Death" is about Joseph Menghele, however there
is no denying the pure disdain for people of faith in "Jesus Saves" and several
other tracks. So, while "Reign in Blood" is musically an excellent CD and an
important part of metal history, it is marred by lyrics that I just find to
be offensive for the most part making this album more of a part of my metal
collection than something that would ever frequent my CD player. The reissue
contains bonus tracks of "Aggressive Perfector" and a remix of "Criminally Insane".
Havok recorded a cover of "Postmortem/Raining Blood"
Slayer - South of Heaven (American) 1988
1. "South of Heaven"
2. "Silent Scream" (3:02)
3. "Live Undead" (3:51)
4. "Behind the Crooked Cross" (3:12)
5. "Mandatory Suicide" (4:03)
6. "Ghosts of War" (3:55)
7. "Read Between the Lines" (3:21)
8. "Cleanse the Soul" (3:01)
9. "Dissident Aggressor" (2:34)
10. "Spill the Blood" (4:48)
The first album where Slayer
abandons the all out speed assault for a higher energy, tighter song structures
and a slamming power groove. Even Tom Araya attempts to sing on a few songs
using less of the shrill screams of the past. Rick Rubin gives the band a monstrous
wall of sound. This is also the first of three huge albums from this band putting
Slayer on the top of the pack, along with Anthrax and Metallica. The lyrical approach
on this disc strays from the band's 'hell and Satan' lyrics of the past, and
goes for a more social (antisocial) and political approach. Of course everyone
knew by this time that the band's whole 'Slaytanic' image was just a facade
anyhow, so I guess it was only natural to change the lyrical approach some.
At the time the band took some flack from some fans for slowing down and for
abandoning their stereotypical lyrics. It mattered little, however, as 'South
of Heaven' was one of the band's best selling CDs. I actually hate the whole
"Slaytanic" image anyhow, so I think it was an improvement. "Dissident Aggressor"
is a slamming Judas Priest cover.
Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss (Def American) 1990
1. "War Ensemble"
2. "Blood Red" (2:48)
3. "Spirit in Black" (4:07)
4. "Expendable Youth" (4:10)
5. "Dead Skin Mask" (5:20)
6. "Hallowed Point" (3:24)
7. "Skeletons of Society" (4:40)
8. "Temptation" (3:26)
9. "Born of Fire" (3:08)
10. "Seasons in the Abyss" (6:34)
Depending on who you ask,
"Season in the Abyss" is either the greatest thrash album since "Reign in Blood"
or it is the beginning of a downward spiral for the band. Either way you look
at it, "Seasons" is still at the top of that spiral and a solid thrash album
with those infectious Slayer riffs and Araya's nasty snarl over the top. The
album starts off with a riff that is reminiscent of "Evil Has no Boundaries"
and "Angel of Death" before switching to an instantly memorable riffs. "War
Ensemble"is a pretty darned good song, as is the floow-up, "Blood Red". I can't
understand how any fan of thrash couldn't at least appreciate the solid musicianship
and riff work of these two songs. "Spirits in Black" has a monster hook as well,
yet is still a brutal song. However, it is the last song that is the true thrash
classic of the album. The title cut is simply a signature song for Slayer. The
riffs, the guitar solos, the vocals, and even the feel of the song is all perfect.
There are these short parts where one guitar remains heavy, while another plays
these haunting acoustic melodies. It's just a darned cool song. As usual with
Slayer, the lyrics are pretty dark, although with "Seasons" the band sticks
more with social commentaries rather than the "look how eeeee-vile we are" themes.
Slayer - Divine Intervention (American) 1994
2."Sex, Murder, Art" (1:50)
3."Fictional Reality" (3:37)
5."Divine Intervention" (5:33)
6."Circle of Beliefs" (4:29)
8."Serenity in Murder" (2:36)
10."Mind Control" (3:04)
is basically a carbon copy of "Reign in Blood," albeit a very short
one at just over half an hour. The music is classic Slayer thrash sporting tons
of killer riffs, more than proficient playing, technical songwriting and great
production. My problem with Slayer has always been with their insipid lyrics
and poser Satanic image. I get tired of hearing them complain about TV preachers
and Christianity. Maybe if they actually knew something about true Christianity,
they would find something else to complain about. Drummer Paul Bostaph of Forbidden replaced Dave Lombardo who went onto Grip
Inc. He eventually left that band and played with Testament for a short time.
Slayer - Diabolus in Musica (American) 1998
1. "Bitter Peace" (4:32)
2. "Death's Head" (3:29)
3. "Stain of Mind" (3:24)
4. "Overt Enemy" (4:41)
5. "Perversions of Faith" (3:30)
6. "Love to Hate" (3:05)
7. "Desire" (4:18)
8. "In the Name of God" (3:38)
9. "Scrum" (2:18)
10. "Screaming from the Sky" (3:12)
11. "Wicked" (6:00)
12. "Point" (4:12)
Slayer are Slayer. They have inspired numerous other bands. There are imitators all over the world, yet none of the imitators sound exactly like Slayer. You can always pick out a Slayer song out of the pack. With "Diabolus in Musica", some said that the band was trying to experiment and incorporate more modern “nu” sounds. Frankly, I just don’t hear it. This is 100% Slayer. Sure, there are some slower songs, but they’ve been slowing things down since "South of Heaven". What we have here is pure, dark, heavy metal. There are the slower songs like "Desire" and the excellent "Screaming from the Sky", but there are some of the faster thrash songs as well such as "Bitter Peace", "Scrum" and"Point". It’s all here! Frankly I think "Screaming from the Sky" is one of the heaviest songs that Slayer has ever written. It’s simply pummeling.
Lyrically, the band is all over the map on this one. As usual, the overall feel of the album is pretty dark and angry. "Bitter Peace", for instance is a song that speaks of the inevitable war that the world faces. What would a thrash album be without some criticism of the U.S. Government. "Overt Enemy" starts off with a spoken-word intro that claims, “the government is suppose to be We the People!” Indeed! Perversions of Pain is about sadistic torture. Well what did you expect? Slayer certainly aren’t going to be singing about puppies and cup cakes. (Though it would be hilarious to hear them do a cover of Spinal Tap’s "Cups and Cakes".) "In the Name of God" echoes back to the bands Slaytanic image, with lyrics that criticize the church and question Christianity, much along the lines of "Jesus Saves". The album finishes with a fast and furious thrasher called "Point" featuring some of Paul Bastoff’s finest drum work.
Slayer - God Send Death (American) 2001
1. "God Send Death"
2. "Addict" (3:44)
3. "Scarstruck" (3:32)
A prerelease single for
the album "God Hates Us All." (Hmmm, I wonder what God they are talking about?)
Unfortunately, no lyrics are included but thanks to the wonders of the internet,
I was able to locate the lyrics to the title track of this EP. After reading
the mindless garbage, I now know I will not have to waste my money purchasing
the whole album. Of course the band's timing with the recent tragedy in NY/PA/DC
is impeccable. When America is currently focusing on God and looking for healing
and justice, Slayer is trying to be as controversial as possible by attacking
their idea of Christianity once again. I can imagine that the band is merely
trying to shock the crap out of everybody, since it is common knowledge that
the whole 'Slaytanic' image is nothing but a facade to sell records to mindless
people, some of whom take this stuff serious. Unfortunately with such devastation
still lingering in the air, the band does not come off shocking in the least,
but does come off as distasteful. Musically, the band sounds like they have
been listening to their old albums again. I mean this is some serious thrash
metal, with some raw and crunchy production. The band has all but dropped the
hardcore edge and has returned to their "Reign in Blood" roots, even giving
us some fast and furious guitar solos. Gotta love it. Too bad the lyrics have
to be so distasteful. Anyhow, tracks two and three are exclusive to this single,
or so the liner notes say. Must also mention that the cover to this single bears
a striking resemblance to the Priest's
'Demolition,' released only months before this disc.
Slayer - God Hates Us All (American) 2001
1. Darkness of Christ [intro] (1:30)
2. Disciple (3:36)
3. God Send Death (3:46)
4. New Faith (3:05)
5. Cast Down (3:27)
6. Threshold (2:29)
7. Exile (3:56)
8. Seven Faces (3:41)
9. Bloodline (3:37)
10. Deviance (3:09)
11. War Zone (2:46)
12. Here Comes the Pain (4:32)
13. Payback (3:05)
OK, I’ll just be upfront and honest, the title to this album alone irritates me and is an immediate stumbling block in my enjoyment of the album. To be quite frank, had someone not purchased this CD for me, I don’t think it ever would have made my collection. It seems to me that Slayer are attacking religion, and Christianity in the process, while at the same time promoting fascism. Yes, I know Slayer are all about the image and that they consider it nothing more than mindless entertainment. However, lines like “All men are not created equal, only the strong will prosper; only the strong will conquer” sound like something you would hear come out of the mouth of Hitler during his terror reign. Also, how appropriate that this album came out on Sept. 11, 2001 when some brainwashed, religious, nutcases flew planes into the World Trade Center in NY and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
But enough of my personal vendetta against the verbal diarrhea. What of the music? Well, "God Hates Us All" seems very paint-by-numbers Slayer. Fast, aggressive and furious as a bat out of hell. However, for me, "God Hates Us All" comes off as very one dimensional , even comparing it to "Diabolus In Musica". It’s almost as if Slayer were trying too hard to be angry, dark and perhaps even a bit more modern. Also, for some strange reason, Tom Araya’s vocals all are drenched in distortion and are screamed out as if in some tribute to comedian Sam Kinison. On my first spin of this CD, I found myself forgetting it was on and it quickly became background noise. I had to take it into my car where I could focus a bit more on the music without distractions. Even then, the album sort of blended together from beginning to end. The modern metal influences are felt throughout. I’ve heard some fans complain that this album is "nu-metal". I certainly don’t hear that, though some songs like "Seven Faces" most certainly have a more modern vibe. "Payback" most certainly does sound like any number of mallcore bands with it’s incessant screaming, excessive cussing and angry "I hate you" lyrics.
"You only live to be a parasite Your life must suck when nothing's going your way. Everything melts away before your eyes.
You're just a punk who doesn't have the sense to get away. Get the f*ck away."
When Overkill sang "F*ck You" in 1987, it had a lighthearted tone to it. It was almost funny and certainly nothing we took serious. With "Payback" it’s not much different than all the angry, baggy pant wearing, life-hating, mallcore bands. Perhaps the kids at Hot Topic in the mall dig this stuff, but for me it’s just boring. Honestly, I don’t know how much my dislike of this album has to do with the title and the lyrical direction, but I just didn’t find much to like on here, and I did like "Diabolus in Musica". Regardless of my feelings towards the lyrics, there is not doubt that the album is quite sorely lacking much in the way of variety and is very samey.
Slayer - Christ Illusion (American Recordings) 2006
1. Flesh Storm (4:16)
2. Catalyst (3:09)
3. Skeleton Christ (3:25)
4. Eyes of the Insane (3:32)
5. Jihad (3:30)
6. Consfearacy (3:09)
7. Catatonic (4:53)
8. Black Serenade (2:58)
9. Cult (4:42)
10. Supremist (3:51)
Christ Illusion is Slayer's first new album in nearly five years. It is also the first album to feature the original gruesome foursome in nearly 15 years with the return of drummer Dave Lombardo. Despite the change behind the drum kit, with Slayer you pretty much know what you are gonna get. "Christ Illusion" comes specially designed with offense and outrage in mind. From the overtly sacrilegious cover art to the misanthropic, disgust for everything from government to religion. Really, not much has changed in the Slayer camp. Unfortunately, I think that is part of the downfall of this album. Whereas other albums, the lyrics take a backseat to the music, with "Christ Illusion" it seems that the band is more focused on outrage than they are about good riffs and songs. In fact, seven of the ten songs are written by Kerry King and I found these songs to be the albums weaker numbers.
King's pens lyrics such as "Supremist", "Pissing on your faith/incinerate God’s whore/Perpetual is my reign/I will eat your soul" or "Skeleton Christ’s", "I laugh at the abortion known as Christianity/I’ve seen the ways of God/I’ll take the devil any day/Hail Satan“. Slayer almost seem a parody of themselves. Sure Slayer have always had that Slaytanic image, but at least it could be said that their lyrical direction was somewhat thought provoking, or at least written from an interesting perspective. That is not the case here.
Jeff Hanneman and Tom Araya offer up a slightly different take on religion with "Jihad" that will most surely offend any flag waving American, as well as anyone who was involved in the horrid 9/11 terrorist attacks. The song is written from the eyes of a terrorist. “F**k your god, erase his name/A lady weeps insane with sorrow/I’ll take his towers from the world/You’re fucking raped upon your deathbed.” If those lines aren't cold-blooded enough, the song also borrows a bit from a letter from Mophammad Atta, one of the ringleaders behind the 9/11 terrorists attacks. With this tripe, the band is obviously out to offend as many as possible.
Of course, most of this could be forgiven if the album itself was solid. Unfortunately, even after multiple listens, I didn't find as much to like here as on some other Slayer releases. There were a few songs that I found interesting. "Catatonic" is a slow, foreboding track that caught my ear each time I spun this disc. As well, despite my obvious distaste for the subject of "Skeleton Christ", I still found the song to be one of the better King tracks on the album.
The fact that this is a 'new' Slayer album at all will be enough to get most fans off. A band a legendary as Slayer have to big battle to overcome with each new release. When a band has released albums that many consider to be some of the cornerstones of the genre, expectations for anything new is usually very high. With the reunion of the original four members of Slayer, I'm sure the expectations were up even higher. Slayer certainly haven't lost any of their aggression and there isn't anything inherently wrong with the music on "Christ Illusion". The music is heavy, abrasive, and undoubtedly Slayer. However, in comparison to many other albums in the band's ever growing catalog, I think there is much more to like outside of this album.
"Christ Illusion" was re-released in 2007 with bonus tracks and a DVD called "Slayer on Tour '07". The album was also released on limited edition picture-LP in and on blood red-vinyl.
Slayer – World Painted Blood (American) 2009
1. World Painted Blood (5:53)
2. Unit 731 (2:39)
3. Snuff (3:42)
4. Beauty Through Order (4:36)
5. Hate Worldwide (2:55)
6. Public Display of Dismemberment (2:34)
7. Human Strain (3:09)
8. Americon (3:22)
9. Psychopathy Red (2:26)
10. Playing with Dolls (4:13)
11. Not of this God (4:20)
Slayer Painted Blood
Three years have passed since “Christ Illusion” and the buzz was that the band was going to get back to their thrash metal roots. We’ve all heard that hype before only to be let down. However, Slayer’s 11th full length release really doesn't disappoint. “World Painted Blood” is a thrash metal album made for thrash metal fans. When I first popped the CD into my deck, I simply smiled from ear to ear as the title track simply blew me away. However, one good track doesn't make a good album. When “Unit 731” came on, I knew that this was going to be a solid album, and indeed that is what it is. “Snuff” takes the aggression up a notch and doesn’t let up. “Beauty through Order” slows the pace down, sounding like something off “South of Heaven”. Really, everything is present here; the violent imagery, the angry aggression, the speed, the manic guitar solos, Lombardo cannon assault, and Tom Araya hasn’t sounded this good in a decade. The only song that doesn’t really work for me is the plodding “Playing with Dolls”. The production seems a bit sterile, but certainly isn’t bad at all. I actually like the guitar tone, though it is different from past Slayer releases.
As seems to be the case with any Slayer album, I don’t agree with all the ideas espoused in the lyrics, but I must say that some of these lyrics did give me something to chew on and think about. “Americon” is a pretty typical political manifesto from thrash bands. Listening to songs like this just makes me wonder what these complainers are doing to improve things, or is complaining about the current state of affairs just good fodder for angry thrash lyrics? “Not of this God” is typical Slayer anti-religious rhetoric preaching. Nothing new here really. I don’t think anyone expects Slayer to sing of puppy dogs and daisies.
A quick check on-line revealed that most reviewers are pretty negative towards this release. I really don’t understand that. For some reason, Slayer has become the band that everyone loves to hate and criticize. I’m not sure what fans expect from this band. “World Painted Blood” may not topple “Reign in Blood” as one of the greatest thrash albums of all time, but it is one of the better later day Slayer albums and certainly is no pooch.
Standout tracks: World Painted Blood, Unit 731, Snuff, Psychopathy Red.
Slayer – Psychopathy Red (Columbia) 2009
1. Psychopathy Red
2. Backwards Message
A 7” red vinyl, promotional single to promote Slayer's "World Painted Blood". The title track is inspired by the heinous Russian serial murderer, Andrei Chikatilo, who brutally murdered 56 children. As such, the record sleeve and insert are made to look like a Russian crime file. This LP was given out on the release day at certain record stores and was limited to 2,500 copies. (Though other sources on line also claim 5,000 copies). The song itself hearkens back to the band’s classic thrash sound, complete with an annihilating guitar tone. It falls somewhere between the thrash of "Reign In Blood" and the heavy, hooky approach of "Seasons In The Abyss". (Thanks Uncle Saxon)
Slayer - Repentless (Nuclear Blast) 2015
1. Repentless (3:22)
2. War Ensemble [live] (5:04)
Two song pre-release single for the 2105 Slayer release of the same name, "Repentless". This is the first studio album without Jeff Hanneman who passed away in 2013. In his place is Exodus main-man Gary Holt. Regardless, the new single just sounds like Slayer; fast, furious, thrash metal. A live version of the classic "War Ensemble" recorded in 2014 is also included as a bonus. The single was sold at Best Buy stores for $1.99 and comes with a $2-off coupon for the full length release. Smart marketing move for both Slayer and Best Buy.
Slayer - Repentless (Nuclear Blast) 2015
1. Delusions of Saviour [instrumental] (1:55)
2. Repentless (3:20)
3. Take Control (3:14)
4. Vices (3:32)
5. Cast the First Stone (3:43)
6. When the Stillness Comes (4:21)
7. Chasing Death (3:45)
8. Implode (3:49)
9. Piano Wire (2:49)
10. Atrocity Vendor (2:55)
11. You Against You (4:21)
12. Pride in Prejudice (4:14)
"Repentless" is the first new album for Slayer in six years. In that time the band has overcome the death of guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman and the separation from founding drummer Dave Lombardo. In their stead, legendary Exodus guitarist Gary Holt was brought in to help with guitar solos and drummer Paul Bostaph is once again behind the drum kit. With the loss of his songwriting partner Hanneman, guitarist Kerry King was left to compose the lion's share of the songs here.
Slayer had much to prove with this album and I think they succeeded in releasing a good record. The album opens with an ominous instrumental and leading way into the fast and heavy title track. This song is easily some of the best the band have done since their classic period. "Piano Wire" is a Hannamen penned track, which made the record as it was not completed in time for "World Painted Blood" and was finished for inclusion here. It has a very memorable melody in the verses that hearkens back to South of Heaven. Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya has such a distinct and unique metal voice that is immediately recognizable. However, I think that his previously melodious tone has since been replaced by a barking style. This has been the case for the last few Slayer records. It's still Tom, but it's not quite the Tom we heard on "South of Heaven" either. I think "Piano Wire" would have benefitted from that more melodious style. Still, as it stands this song and the title track are easily two of the best on the album. "Atrocity Vendor" and "You Against You" both feature crushing riffs and are examples of Araya singing moreso than barking.
Despite some skepticism from fans, for the most part the band has a die-hard following and the hordes of Slayer fanatics have immediately come out saying things like, "best Slayer album ever" and "the most important album Slayer have ever made". (Yes, those are actual quotes from fan reviews.) Now, I like Slayer and can totally appreciate that the band have overcome adversity, but neither of those quotes are accurate. Slayer's first four releases are some of the most influential albums in all of extreme metal. To make those claims about "Repentless" is to degrade the importance of those early albums. Nothing that Slayer releases at this point will top those albums. However, that is not to say they cannot release a good album, which "Repentless" is. All in all, this album sits comfortably with "Christ Illusion" and "God Hates Us All" in the Slayer catalog. Hopefully in the future Holt will be allowed to co-write some of the material to take some the pressure off King and possibly give the band a more diverse sound.