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Well... - 50%

MurderNArson, July 17th, 2006

Let me start by saying although I do love Slayer, I've never been a huge fan per se, so this is review is not coming from the perspective of a fanboy. The only albums of theirs I have are Reign in Blood and God Hates Us All (the former I like, the latter...eh, not so much), so I can't really compare this to their previous material other than to say that it sounds more like RiB than GHUA.

That said, let's take a look at this new song that took them five years to come up with.

First of all, the positive side:

The intro is pretty damn cool, and it's nice to hear them doing some progression instead of the appalling simplicity that dragged down about 2/3 of the songs on GHUA. The first thing I noticed is how much better the guitar tone is than on the latest album. That in itself is a plus for me, but not only do the guitars sound better, they're also playing decent, memorable riffs again. Not riffs to shit oneself over, mind you, but decent all the same. The main thing is they have a little bit of that evil sound to them that the riffs on God Hates Us All sorely lacked. Oh yeah, and there are pretty good solos, too. Yes, solos, plural, because there are multiple solos in this one song...a little trick that Slayer seemed to have forgotten you could do.

The best news, however, is the fact that Tom Araya actually sounds good. Gone is the distorted Slipknot shouting of the previous release, and back is the harsh thrash-yell that he used in the early days. If he does the whole next album this way, it should actually be listenable - which is more than can be said for God Hates Us All.

And now for the negatives:

Despite improvements, "Cult" is still haunted by a shadow of the bad songwriting into which Slayer appeared to have descended by 2001. It's not quite as disjointed as some of their other songs, but it seems a bit unfocused. That and well, it's sort of a mediocre song as a whole. It may be inestimably better than anything they put on their last album, but that still doesn't mean its anything special objectively speaking.

And then there are the lyrics. Pretty silly, and nothing we haven't heard before - but then again, if I cared too much about lyrics, I probably wouldn't be listening to Slayer in the first place.

So there you have it. If I were to compare this to God Hates Us All, I'd probably give it a 90; if I were to compare it to Reign in Blood, maybe only a 25. Objectively, I give it a 50 because it's good but unspectacular...and also because only putting one song on a CD single is kind of lame. Throw in a cover, a re-recorded old song, or a b-side or something. We're not picky.