without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
...for nu 'metal' is alive, and you can't kill it.
Pardon the reference to an old Slayer song, for this album does not deserve to be graced with such a thing. This is their big sell-out, and unlike Sound of White Noise, Metallica or Countdown to Extinction, Slayer fail completely at it. And the odd thing is, they don't bend over backwards for commercialism quite as much as the aforementioned commercial blockbusters of the 90's. Unlike the aforementioned albums, which compared to their predecessors are virtually unrecognisable as efforts by their respective bands, this is undeniably Slayer. And that makes this feel so much worse - this isn't a makeover for the '90s, this is a watering down of their trademark sound.
The sound on display here is actually very confused. They take the groovier parts of Divine Intervention and Seasons in the Abyss, and then some modern hardcore and crap nu 'metal' influences in an attempt to be one with that scene. The end result is an album with very downtuned guitars (the lowest the guitars go for a Slayer album, I believe) playing bastardised 2-3 note grooves or generic '-core' chugging. At the same time though, that is all mixed with some pretty average thrashing with songs like 'Scrum' or 'Bitter Peace' and what amounts to a restrained version of typical Hanneman and King lead work. This is so utterly weird to listen to and look at, seeing the Slayer logo written in an odd 90's fashion on the album cover and then listening to rapped nonsense like 'Death's Head' right after some thrashing mayhem from the opener.
Slayer weren't trying on this album, because the two albums that surround this one are far more consistent and solid than this. Hanneman and King put almost no effort into their riffing, instead opting for the superficial heaviness found through repeated, slow, downtuned grooves. This of course, squanders any attempt at actual, oppressive heaviness or actual aggression, and instead gives utterly boring, repetitive songs that mostly go nowhere. Araya just doesn't give a damn here, though his voice continues down the 'maximum shout' road, it lacks the conviction of previous performances. He attempts to get around the lack of dynamics and atmosphere his voice had on Divine Intervention by adding in some whispering ('Death's Head', 'Stain of Mind') to no effect, it just sounds utterly revolting. Even on their previous 2 albums, the style he used worked well on faster tracks and even some slower tracks. However, here his voice conveys nothing whatsoever; it is just boring and monotone. Paul Bostaph tries his hardest to make the music better through his now trademark precise, fill and double bass happy style, but no amount of admittedly good drumming can cover up the myriad of flaws here. He is the only member to improve on previous performances, and the only one that appears to care about what he is doing.
The songwriting isn't good, but it isn't absolutely horrible. They have the decency to keep things short for the most part, because these songs have very little worth to them, as exemplified by the bonus track 'Wicked'. It just can't keep the listener gripped for its 6 minute run time, and barely manages to keep interest after 2 minutes. Another issue can be found in the opening track. 'Bitter Peace' has a needless 90 second drudging intro; it would have made more sense to just start it at the moment the song actually starts. This happens a few times during the album, the song will change up from a very boring section to a less boring faster section, but with a bit of silence separating them. It feels like they are trying to make the songs and albums longer through filler, because these sections really drag the album down.
The songs generally fall into 3 categories, the worst of which is terrible nu 'metal'. Tracks like 'Love to Hate' or 'Death's Head' are irritating rapped nonsense, while 'Desire' and 'Stain of Mind' both load up the quiet sections with whispered vocals, which amounts to an attempt at atmosphere through a nu 'metal' filter. Needless to say it fails, and these songs are utterly revolting and terrible. Meanwhile, tracks like 'Screaming from the Sky' and 'In the Name of God' are Pantera/Sepultura worship at best, being as boring and stagnant as those bands' respective '92/'93 groove blockbusters. From this heap, a mere 3 tracks can be salvaged. For the most part, 'Bitter Peace', 'Scrum' and 'Point' amount to double bass driven, watered down versions of the modern thrash sound established on Divine Intervention. Though these would be outtakes at best on that album, and wouldn't even be that on earlier works, here they sound like the greatest thing ever, especially in comparison to the uninspired groove and sickening nu 'metal'.
Save for the really Korn-esque moments, this is a mostly boring and worthless album. This is so boring in fact, that I fell asleep trying to listen to it... at one in the afternoon. Every song has this 'grey' tone to it, especially with the unending downtuning and Araya's boring to disgusting voice being the main cause. No amount of decent solos or drumming can fix this, for most metal albums live or die by a vocalist with conviction and a set of decent riffs. However, ALL albums live or die by how many ideas they have musically, relative to the length of each track and the number of tracks. In addition, good songwriting with smooth transitions from one section to another is essential. This fails all of these, except for the 3 decent thrash metal songs found within. Don't bother with this, even the fairly mediocre God Hates Us All is at least one league better
Slayer came into the end of the millennium with all the brevity of Comic Book Guy shoving past patrons to get Homer and June Bellamy’s autographs. Try as musical society would like, the Bay Area antichrists would not go down without having as much of a say so as possible, and if it meant having to kowtow just that little bit, then why not? It wasn’t an unheard of concept (with plenty of examples to boot), and it’s not like they’ve kept up the unrighteous speed and blinding fury that put them on the map back ten or so years ago. No, theirs was more of a methodical undoing, a sort of “settling” that happens when people get older, perspectives shift accordingly and what once gave you that extra spurt of adrenaline just ain’t cuttin’ it no more. It’s happened to all of us in all walks of life, and that seemed to be the case with this quite clearly…
So this has been considered to be their absolute worst release and one of the worst metal albums ever. Well…the first argument may hold water under the right circumstances and amount of weight behind it, but with the second, for what it’s worth, that ain’t true. It’s really not a wholly useless release. “Diabolus in Musica” captures a few things in the Slayer camp, not all of it good, but as well not all of it bad. For one, the pacing and level of performance sounds pretty enervated; save for Paul Bostoph doing his best to demolish his kit, the rest of the band plods about at roughly half a tank. Not exactly “phoning it in”, but all the same not letting loose the demons within so to speak. That in itself robs much of the spirit from the recording, which I feel could have been much more beefed up if this was done by the Slayer we all knew and (once) loved. Guitarist/resident tool Kerry King once opined that, at the time of the album’s composition, he/they were pretty fed up with the whole “music business” thing, which leads credence to as to how and why they sound so down and out (it’s hard to care when there ain’t much worth caring about, after all) and his own serious lack of creative input. Which leads to another thing captured off the album, this time in a better light; the songwriting is quite a ways improved here than on the previous outing “Divine Intervention”. Throw tomatoes at me all you want, but while “Divine…” is jagged and uneven in many places, “Diabolus…” segues from one riff and track to the next with a sense of logical flow, not nearly as detached in itself as it all progresses.
It helps that Jeff Hannemen was easily the better songwriter of the guitar-led duo, more inclined to rely on melody and actual song craft versus two-dimensional brutality and speed, and as a result you get charming bits of gristle betwixt the teeth in “Stain of Mind”, “Desire” and “Screaming from the Sky”, though they as well don’t short change you on the heaviness in any way. Just that’s it’s a heaviness that’s easier to accept on the ears is all. Beyond that, the presentation of the album is also a bit suspect…the production is really murky and unkempt, and while Slayer’s never had great production throughout their entire history (like…ever, really…) this was definitely on the low side of things, a little less clear than “Divine…” and not as bright and sharp as the next chain link “God Hates Us All”. The drums are snappy yet thin, the guitar tone is shadowy and dense and Tom’s vocals, while the clearest layer of the bunch, are probably the worst offender of them all. I’m not gonna say that Mr. Araya is a wholly convincing singer (heh…”singer”…), but I’ve not heard him sound so…phony…in all the band’s entire existence. I wasn’t persuaded in any way that he was as maniacal as he makes (made?) himself out to be, and at best he sounds mildly pissed as opposed to homicidally raging. It may match the general sound of things, but for lead vocal work they leave a lot to be desired. Was Tom just as wishy-washy as Kerry, maybe? Possibly? I wonder…
All in all “Diabolus in Musica” is, I can admit, Slayer’s weakest hour, but beyond that it’s not a complete loss. Compared to the nu metal dreck that was knockin’ ‘em dead during this time (which many folks claim Slayer catered to with this, to which I wag my finger and cast shame upon you chuckleheads…ain’t no nu metal with this!), this is a far less inimical offering and, as we’ve all heard, you could do a lot worse. As far as the band goes with this…well…you could always pop “Reign…” back in for another go. So there’s that…
Being the kind of metalhead who came to the genre from the most obvious bands of the day (“my day” was the early and mid 00s), a lot of the early albums I bought from classic bands were not really the classics – maybe I knew the name and nothing more. So, it should come as little surprise that my first Slayer album was ‘Diabolus in Musica’, which happened to be the cheapest album in the shop. Some would say that it was rightfully the cheapest album in the shop, because no one is going to buy it, but I can see the merit hidden in such a release. Perhaps hidden isn’t quite the right word, since this album doesn’t exactly have depths to explore; however, it also isn’t much simpler than the earlier Slayer albums, which do have a recognisable formula to them, the difference being that metal purists prefer the thrash formula to many others. Personally, I find the thrash formula a little tiring and repetitive at times, so I do not bemoan the changes made on this album, nor did I have the band’s legacy to consider when I first heard this release.
Now, I’ve seen some accusations of nu metal (mallcore) dalliance being thrown around in relation to this album. I don’t really buy into them that much, because this doesn’t sound like Korn or Deftones or even Slipknot, who were always a heavier prospect in that scene. You can trust me on this because I’ve listened to those bands for many years and, occasionally down-tuned and slow guitars aside, Slayer don’t end up close to the same aesthetic with bouncy riffs or spooky vocals or sound effects instead of solos. ‘Love and Hate’ has an opening riff that sounds like something culled from Sepultura’s ‘Roots’, yet the rhythm of the vocals – which may sound a little like rapping – is in fact the same straightforward delivery that Tom Araya has previously used, just slowed down for the pace of the song. The style is about 80% identifiable as Slayer, though several of the songs are slowed down and attempt the same sort of atmospheric riffing approach that ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ played with to some success. There are few out and out fast songs, maybe ‘Scrum’, ‘Point’, and a large part of ‘Bitter Peace’, while ‘Desire’ stays out of thrash territory for its entire duration and still ends up sounding completely like Slayer in the vein of ‘Dead Skin Mask’.
While genre hasn’t altered a great deal, some of the style certainly has. The band are mostly playing slower (this and ‘Reign in Blood’ are like the tortoise and the hare) and some of the riffs take on a groovier quality, with a rounder, less sharp, guitar tone and few real thrash breaks. The solos follow the same pattern and appear both less frequently and for a shorter duration than on the older albums, while the style is less virtuoso and manic. This leads to a million purists despising ‘Diabolus in Musica’ because it messes around with the revered style of the sacred cow that is Slayer. For me, there is no sacred cow, especially from my chronological perspective, so King and Hanneman simply need to come up with something special to induce excitement, in which they sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. A few of the riffs (‘Love to Hate’, ‘Screaming from the Sky’) are boring and don’t make a big impact, while some of the slower, creepier songs seem to be a little Slayer-by-numbers and don’t quite have the desired effect. The drums are probably the heaviest thing here and so obviously do more than keep time that the nu metal accusations seem ridiculous on a song like the tumbling ‘Point’ or even some of the slower numbers. Paul Bostaph is always aggressive and provides even groovy songs like ‘Stain of Mind’ with a certain Slayer stamp. Tom Araya does a decent job on bass, though sometimes he plays too straight, while his vocals range between very convincing to very uncertain. Slayer lyrics tend to be lists, which suits some of the faster-paced songs, but doesn’t work so well with the slower material.
The songs come as a slightly mixed bag and, depending what kind of relationship you have with Slayer, you may or may not find a lot to like. Classic fans will enjoy ‘Bitter Peace’, ‘Scrum’, and ‘Point’, and might find ‘Desire’ acceptable if they deem Araya’s vocals creepy rather than weak. Fans of metal should additionally like the more varied numbers like ‘Overt Enemy’ and ‘Perversions of Pain’, the latter of which might be my favourite song on the album, with its slide between outraged and eerie. Verbal bombs have been hurled on account of ‘Death’s Head’ and ‘Stain of Mind’, but I stand in defence of both of them. ‘Death’s Head’ has lyrics with the word “trigger” in, which doesn’t make it into a gangster song, nor is Araya rapping, and whoever believes he is does not possess a pair of ears. The solo is a little cool and I admit it’s not thrash, but whatever. ‘Stain of Mind’ is an unacceptable departure for some traditionalists, with its bouncy main riff and stuttering rhythm, though I feel the song generally works well and is a decent listen. The songs that I have not mentioned are of poorer quality and do not reward repeated listens.
‘Diabolus in Musica’ has been singled out as a Slayer release that departs entirely from the band’s style, which is not entirely true. However, it does represent a dip in consistency that began after the end of the 80s, and some of the songs have boring moments and recycled ideas. I find something to like in most of the material on offer here, and the musical style has more of a general appeal outside thrash metal, but many will be disappointed by this album.
It took me a while to warm up to Slayer. I was not a metal fan until I was in high school, and even then, my tastes were limited to Pantera, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, and Metallica. It was a good friend who brought Diabolus in Musica over to my house and made me listen to it. Ever since, this has been my archetypal Slayer album. It’s heavy, it’s driving, and it’s lyrical content bangs your head into the harshness of wartime reality which is that “mutually assured destruction will occur.” Pantera wrote the song “Fucking Hostile,” but this album is just that. It is a heavily infused thrash fest of destruction. Where Divine Intervention began to feel like a typical Slayer sound (my own opinion), Dialobus in Musica takes the band in a heavier and heavily refreshing direction. It holds its own in the pantheon of albums like Reign in Blood, and Seasons in the Abyss while offering a depth of heaviness not heard on either album. It may not be better than Reign in Blood, but it rips open one’s skull in a very satisfying way.
One particular song of note from this album is “Scrum,” a song that begins with fast drums and heavy guitars and tears into your brain with Araya’s harshly oppressive vocals. This is a song that begins heavy and gets fast, bringing their signature thrash speed to their (then) current heavier sound. Meanwhile, “Stain of Mind” is a song that MUST be played at high/full volume. This song is driving, heavy, and beautifully structured with brief refrains at the beginning of each thrashing chorus. This is the song that I would use to induct any new listener into the realm of Slayer. Even their slower riffs, such as found in “In the Name of God,” carry a depth that only adds to the intensity of the album. The juxtaposition of slow riffs and quick-paced soloing delivers only the harshest of effects as can be expected from Slayer. When combined as a whole, the end product of this album is a wholly satisfying experience.
Compared with the bands earlier achievements, this album fits very well in their catalogue. It’s a mature addition that serves to develop the bands familiar style and lead into their following albums, God Hates Us All, Christ Illusion, and World Painted Blood. However, this is not a bridge album. It stands on its own strength, not just the fact that it opens the door for the band’s following albums/styles like many bridge albums are known to do (Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven comes to mind). When heard among earlier works such as Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits, Dialobus in Musica stands strong. The familiar speed of the first two albums remains while a newer level of deep riffing and vocalizations serve to expand the band’s sound. In short, this is a mature thrash album. And therein lies its strength. It is an evolution from the bands previous mid nineties albums and a maturation from their earlier eighties albums.
This is an album everybody can enjoy. It bears the heaviness many fans enjoy while maintaining that fast paced thrash element fans of classic Slayer look for. It progresses beyond the stale sound developed from Divine Intervention and Undisputed Attitude. Finally, it honestly and wholeheartedly kicks ass. The louder the better, as I have mentioned. Do not play this album on your laptop speakers (which I am guilty of doing as I write this review right now); play it at maximum volume on stack speakers or towers. Play it in surround sound. Play it over and over again.
I bought "Divine Intervention" when it came out and still feel the same way about it today as I did back then. It sounds a bit too dry, too forced, and just a little uninspired. I'd say "Season's in the Abyss" is when Slayer finally started to repeat themselves and were beginning to run out of new ideas and sounds. That's not to say "Seasons" isn't great, because it's a fucking masterpiece, especially the title track! But by "Divine Intervention" it was modernizing an old formula with a new drummer who was trying to fit in and be himself at the same time. For me, that album never quite clicked, as obvious as it should have. So when "Diabolus in Musica" came along, I was not sure what to make of it.
I was a big fan of Pantera as well as my share of grunge. But "Nu Metal" was never something I bought into. Was not into Biohazard, Fear Factory, Korn, etc...I didn't even care for Machine Head's first album. But as the years have gone by and nu metal has sort of died down and bands have again embraced the popular stereo types allocated to their respective genres, I popped in "Diabolus" to see how it holds up. To my surprise, it is a great album. Probably Slayer's only great album post "Seasons."
First off, the sound is heavy ass all hell. Great care was taken to create a sound here that is at once organic, crushingly heavy, interesting, and somewhat varying. The bass, for example, is easily Araya's best tone on any Slayer album. It's obvious the band (or Rick Rubin) were really scrutinizing themselves and asking what they have NOT done previously. "Well hey, why not have a killer fat ass bass tone on this one?" Now let's talk about the drums - now I am a Lombardo freak. But I decided the main difference between him and Bostaph is that Bostaph is just simply much more stiff and solid. I do not mean this as a criticism. Bostaph, in a way, carries this thing. I mean god, the guy just crushes and shines from start to finish. It must be his finest recorded moment. It's so brutal hearing him just crush those drums and lay it down like a giant steel tractor going 200 miles an hour. What this is, is Slayer performing AS A BAND together. Not trying to "sound like old Slayer." And that is the difference between this and "Divine Intervention." This is what a great band that has had time to work on the songs sounds like. Not trying to recapture an old sound, but to feed off each other and what they are listening to and just let it come together. This is what Metallica always SAYS they do, but end up coming up with complete shit instead. Hats off to Slayer for accomplishing this.
Now, this album is not without its flaws, and that is why it didn't get 100% from me. Araya's vocals are so monotonous and fake sounding at times. They are basically, his best attempt at hardcore vocals. But it's just too hard to take them seriously, with all the effort he puts into it. I hate to say it, but his vocals really are the weakest part of the album. The other flaw would be he leads. While not "bad," they are just so forgettable. But both of these elements are somewhat lost in the production, which takes on a very conceptual sound in my opinion. And I really think the leads in particular, are used more as aesthetic shades of sound here, rather than "I'm a rock star" sort of moments. Again, I applaud them for trying something new. It took balls and it did not involve a ballad. Think about it.
I think it was Jeff Hanneman who once said he didn't really care if Slayer was the "fastest," he just wanted it to be the "heaviest." And I have to say, "Diabolus" has got to be one of the heaviest sounding albums ever. Sure, it is strange to hear Pantera, overt hardcore, or other 90s influences in Slayer, a band who only is supposed to show how it is done, not copy! But I must say, when Slayer tried to modernize here, it was done masterfully. The effort here paid off, and the artistic risk taken was worth it. The result is what I would call Slayer's very last revolutionary album creatively speaking.
Oh yeah, and the "industrial sound" people keep speaking of? All I hear is a very loud master volume which sounds to be just beyond the peak range where distortion occurs. I'm almost certain this was done on purpose to add a level of extremity to the sound. Usually this would be some "arty farty" fake attempt - but I think Slayer and Rick Rubin succeeded 100% here in reinventing Slayer in an interesting, heavy as fuck way. And it reminds me way more of Black Sabbath, CroMags, or COC than it does Pantera or Slipknot, but that's just me. Yeah, it's got lots of groove. But does it really spoil the killer riifs and freaky dual guitar passages? Fuck no, relax and quit tripping off the fact it ain't "satanic" anymore. Just take it at face value and it will crush your fucking skull.
Let's face facts: Slayer ran out of their presumably inexhaustible supply of relevance when they ran out of sounding evil. History will record that this transpired between the years of Seasons in the Abyss (1990) and Divine Intervention (1994). Coincidentally, these were the same years in which other big names of the extreme metal genre were experiencing their own difficulty in coming to identity with the changing 90s. The dominance of grunge, 'alternative', British sop rock and the peaking of the rap game. Like Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax and so many others, they felt forced to adapt themselves to this oncoming rush of change, and while they might not have bent so far as others in the declining thrash metal category, we were nevertheless left with the pungent shit-stain that is Diabolus in Musica, an album about as attractive as a fit of irritable bowel syndrome.
What the hell am I looking at? Billy Corgin masquerading as a Christian superhero? Or were Tom Araya and the boys finally giving us the reveal that they are not, in fact, nearly so Satanic as one might have believed from their legendary 80s albums. The strange new logo and decidedly 90s cover image (which inspires nothing but remorse) would be one thing, and one thing I expected during a time in which Janes Addiction and Tool were considered the peak of musical artistry, but very quickly does the composition of its content take a dive for the lowest common denominator, the wretched wigga groove metal scene inhabited and dominated by acts like Korn, Machine Head, P.O.D. and whoever else I'm too horrified to recall. Now, don't get me wrong...they attempted to stave this stench off for as long as possible. Divine Intervention was an entirely mediocre record, yes, but it was Slayer being Slayer. Only boring, which no one in their right mind could really want, but that was the worst it could be accused of. An urbanization of their esoteric, interesting subject matter into the burgeoning Information Age.
The boredom continues here through "Bitter Peace", a track that at least teases us into thinking their will be a good thrashin' waiting at the end of this ghetto rainbow. Mundane groove chords stretch on into banality like some sorrow attempt to recapture the magic of Reign in Blood, that flawless exercise of an album that (unfortunately) launched a billion metalcore kids with its inescapable breakdowns. Well, sure enough, the band picks up the pace for some speed/thrash reminiscent of Divine Intervention, only the riff is entirely throwaway and not even remotely evil. The later breakdown sucks, and about the only tolerable point of this song is the period from around 2:57 when the leads break out against a decent but self-derived rhythm guitar. And then, then it all goes to shit, with the total LCD groove metal track "Death's Head", the very definition of JUMP DA FUC UP for disenchanted Limp Bizkit expatriates who seek a seance with Satan.
This was a joke, right? Surely they were having a laugh on us? Oh no, my friends of misery, for "Stain of Mind" put the strain on mine. "Overt Enemy" offered us political commentary to the beat of the cheesiest chug rhythm the metalcore mosh-squad living on your corner ever could dream of. "Perversion of Pain" attempted to bring back the psychedelic, haunting layered Araya vocals of Seasons but forgot the good music to go with them. "Love to Hate" clobbered us with another clutter of vapid grooves that missed the mark no matter how hard Paul Bostaph tried to jazz it up. The list of complaints I could write for this album could compete with Black Friday foot traffic at your local Wal*Mart. It sucks, hands down, and even at it's arguable best, the cluttered speed of "Scrum" or the clumsy, familiar grooving of "Screaming from the Sky" it feels like a half-assed grasp at a paycheck.
I'm surprised Rick Rubin didn't submit this directly to his friends over at Def Jam. Okay, so maybe it's not a rap metal record exactly, but it feels like a clear swerve towards that crowd of collegiates who discovered all their latest faves while loaded at the latest Lollapalooza or Ozzfest. All they needed were some Mike D and Ad Rock guest slots and they could have pushed 2-3 million of these bottom line. And you know something? This all might have been fine if the grooves were good, the notes memorable, the vocal patterns as effective as their yesteryears. Diabolus in Musica is such a dull, creatively bankrupt recording that it makes even its mediocre successors seem like brilliant bulbs of passion and musicianship. Of the many missteps made among the 'Big Four', this is second only to St. Anger in terms of its failure. I don't know about you cats, but I want my Slayer to sound like it originated from Malebolge, not the mall. An icon of perdition, not parachute pants.
Slayer are one of the few bands that have earned the respect of all metal fans. No matter what their favorite genres are, power, progressive, death or black, they accept Slayer as the top extreme metal band. Therefore every new album they are about to release is awaited with great eagerness and anxiety. Such were my feelings for Diabolus In Musica, the successor to Divine Intervention, which to be honest hadn’t lived to my expectations but still, was rather good. Bearing in mind that the in-between release, Undisputed Attitude was something they did just for fun, I prayed this time I would listen to the good old Slayer. What a fool I’ve been!
This album is the total disappointment, the end of Slayer if I may say so. Where is the thrash metal in here? Where are the spiting fire guitars and the machine-gun drums? Where are the vomiting vocals by Tom Araya, the once master of screams? Where are the songs meant to make you suffer severe head and neck injuries from the non-stop headbanging? Where is the Slayer we knew and worshiped?
I am sorry to say it but they are dead or if you prefer they are catching their final breath. Slayer have sold their souls to the altar of hardcore (!!) and have disgraced all of us, who stood by them through all those years. I never believed they would come to the point to sound like Suicidal Tendencies or I don’t know what the fuck else. The only one I don’t blame for this is Bostaph. His role in the band is insignificant and he is there just to play the drums. They might as well have used a drum machine. Men, Dave Lombardo was very clever to step away.
What we had heard in Divine… is now in full development. The glorious, deadly thrash riffs have given their place to hardcore themes and tunes. Araya’s vocals are cold and dead. They no more send shivers down your spine. Instead they wanna make you scratch your balls out of boredom. Most of the songs are soulless and completely dull. They are based upon the same structure. Slow intros, then they go hard-shit-core. At some point they throw us a bit of thrash to fool us like a bone thrown to a dog to trick its hunger. Then they wrap it up in a nice hardcore pack end everything is well. Most of the people I know that listen to hardcore liked this album a lot. Does that tell you something?
There are only a few songs that remain out of this shit-hole. The opening track, Bitter Peace is quite good with sharper guitars and a more “thrashy” feeling. Also Overt Enemy and Scrum are closer to the spirit of the old greatness than the shit-ness I experienced with the rest.
I have Diabolus In Musica on tape and I have written at the end of the tape the track Lesbian Show by Nightfall from Greece. THIS is the best song of the tape!! I’ll say no more out of respect for what Slayer used to be. Slayer R.I.P.
Most people criticize this album for its Nu-Metal influences…that’s not the problem. The problem is those Slayerisms, which I will get to. This album has more of an industrial metal vibe to it like Fear Factory and Godflesh with trash elements then Nu-Metal. I do give the band credit for trying something new, god forbid that Slayer will ever experiment. The album’s overall tone is very dark and eerie. The artwork is messed up, in a good way. But here are the problems….
Jeff and Kerry’s solos, they have been playing the same dam solo since 1986. Does Slayer believe that melody is gay or something? Look at other extreme metal acts like Entombed, Dismember, & (old) Sepultura…they all have melodic solos in their songs. Is this some type of American thing? An acoustic guitar can actually sound pretty creepy when used right.
Tom’s vocals sound like Jerry the “King” Lawler from the WWE. Since 1994 Tom has performed in a rather comical high pitched scream, which sounds like you are watching a WWE match, with Jeff and Kerry going at it in the ring. I’m not a fan of vocal effects but that is one of the highlights of this album. Look at “In the Name of God,” the effects in the middle of the song fit the music better, than Tom’s normal vocals. The vocal effects on “Screaming from The Sky” give the album that industrial feel I was referring to. Songs like “Point” are ruined by the vocals. This song has so much potential before Tom starts singing. This album could have used some spoken word sections or audio clips to add to the atmosphere of the album.
The slower pace of this album is a highlight. Some of the heaviest metal albums come from slower paces. Ex, “Bitter Peace” is the best Slayer opening ever; it’s heavy and grabs your attention with a slow build up on guitars and drums. Nice drums fills and bass lingering in the back ground as the guitars drone off for a bit. This is only the first 1:32 seconds of the song…then goes into Slayer mode.
This album is downloadable at best. If you want a good Slayer album buy Show No Mercy or South of Heaven.
It is with a rather odd fit of self-irony that I have to say that this isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. By no standard is this good or even an album that could be described as being enjoyable for those who wanted thrash metal and got stuff like this instead. But if the basis of comparison is albums like Metallica’s “St. Anger”, Machine Head’s “The Burning Red” or Sepultura’s “Roots”, this is a superior album. It still contains some elements of the older Slayer that everybody loves, more particularly the one that put out decent music on “Divine Intervention”, albeit in sparse intervals within certain songs. There’s plenty of groove and stagnated chugging that makes “Countdown To Extinction” sound like “Darkness Descends”, but what results is something more along the lines of a “Chaos A.D.” or “Vulgar Display Of Power”.
Unlike most of the nu-metal brethren of the day who were farting all over the concept of the guitar solo and creating actual riffs to bolster a bare bones arrangement rather than 2-3 note drones with rapped nonsense and loopy studio vocal effects, there is actually an attempt at musical variation and even an aura of technicality. The guitar solos that occur are essentially a slowed down and restrained version of what would ordinarily be going on, almost comparable to what was heard out of Kirk Hammet and Marty Friedman at around this time. The groove sections are naturally annoying insults to the concept of guitar playing, but there are usually brief instrumental breaks that explore the old dissonant harmony work of better days, albeit in a much slower and less catchy capacity.
There are basically four songs on here that don’t put the concept of metal over a barrel, but even this songs are fairly flawed afterthoughts that might have amounted to B-sides on “South Of Heaven” or “Seasons In The Abyss”. “Perversions Of Pain” and “Point” are basically full thrash songs and fairly decent, perhaps measuring up to some of the fast works heard on “Seasons”, but also containing breakdown sections that are a little bit too modern sounding. “Bitter Piece” also is pretty fast and catchy once it gets going, but you have to wait through about a minute and a half of repetitive monotony to get to it. “Scrum” is a little better during the slow sections and throws out a few decent riffs before it starts cooking, and also features the wildest yet shortest lead break on here.
Everything else found on this album falls into two categories, one being really bland groove metal in the mode of Sepultura and Pantera circ 1992-93, the other being the Mallcore drivel of Korn and The Deftones. A good example of the former is found in “Screaming From The Sky”, which is perpetually locked in mid-tempo land but does show a little bit of riff variation within a fairly limited range of ideas. For the latter look no further than the grating, homeboy hat sporting nonsense that is “Death’s Head” and “Love To Hate”. If you have never experienced pure 3 note groove redundancy with the most poser oriented tough guy yelled crap, this is one of the places to experience, but try not to listen to these songs too many times or your balls might shrink while your pants get baggy.
The jury is back and the verdict has been rendered, this is a lousy quarter-thrash album that would best be buried in the graveyard of nu-metal gayness. Itunes has made it possible to download individual songs from albums, so anyone looking to hear something that is fairly decent, stick to the 4 songs mentioned in a positive capacity here. The lesson to be learned if you are actually masochistic enough to purchase this entire CD at any price above $2, is that the old cliché of “too big to fail” is an utter lie and that anyone who speaks this nonsense should be beaten mercilessly with a wet super shammy.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 24, 2009.
When everything seemed to go well for Slayer, came Diabolous in Musica. With the Divine Intervention album, Slayer proved us that they were avoiding the groove/grunge period very well but the hopes of a solid, still thrash metal effort were destroyed by this album, the weakest point in their career. I can say that if it’s even acceptable because after 15 years of music the inspiration can go away for awhile, but the music here is not good…and I must admit it, me, a huge fan of this band. Nothing is perfect and they are human beings too, even if in the previous efforts they looked like (or played like) gods to me.
I’ve listened to this album a lot of times in the past because I was younger and as a teenager with a low knowledge of metal, I was attracted by anything that sounded heavy and it did to me. By the way, growing up as a guy and as a metal aficionado, I understood that this album had nothing to do with the previous ones. The 90s were a quite bad period for the genres born in the 80s and this is the proof, even because the “nu-metal” was putting the head out and was becoming a popular genre among the young bands. I can’t say that Slayer completely went “nu-metal” but they filled their sound with new elements and the songwriting changed a lot.
The beginning is not bad at all and it gives you the idea that the band is back again with a furious opus of thrash metal. The introduction to “Bitter Peace” and the following up-tempo parts are just blowing. The band is compact, brutal and fast. The production is clear, pounding and truly devastating. Bostaph at the drums is always great and the furious restarts with the fast bass drum parts are very good. Tom’s vocals are always good and angry but some filtrated vocals are a bit weird. At this point I wasn’t worried because everything seemed a continuation of Divine Intervention. “Death’s Head” shows signs of changes for the more hardcore/punk patterns and guitars parts with sudden doom breaks. The riffs are far simpler than in the past and some effects are actually new in their sound. Everything seems directed in a different way than in the past. Everything is extreme in another direction and this time the first groovy parts are more audible. The atmosphere, anyway, is truly gloom and dark and this is the thing I liked the most. Even the whispered vocals are dark but they are a bit in Slipknot style, so… “Stain of Mind” follows more or less the patterns of the previous song, while the doom atmospheres of “Overt Enemy” and the sludgy riffage are too boring. Tom’s here is terrible and the vocals remind the ones on the following God Hates Us All.
The riffs are sloppy and the solos have lost that uncontrollable fury of the previous works. The fast parts are better and they avoid me from falling asleep. By the way, even in this part, the thrash metal is just present as a tree in the Sahara. The refrain on “Perversion of Pain” is terrible with the clean vocals but the fast parts are finally what I call thrash metal. The solo too is far better. The riffs on “Love to Hate” are one of the most horrible things ever by this band. They are senseless and without even a hint of power and rage. “Desire” is utterly boring in its purpose to be dark and obsessive. As always, the vocals are shit and the arpeggios are flowing crap. Oh my, what a mountain of shit. “In The Name of God” makes me laugh and at times I wanna cry too… here Slayer are almost unrecognizable and completely anonymous in their way of playing. They were born to play thrash and anything different they did they did it bad. No fast parts, no impact, no THRASH, no METAL! This is desolating and going on this album continues in going downhill. The rest of this album isn’t worthy a description. Except for some good riffs on “Scrum”, the rest is to throw away.
They give you the idea that when they decide to play thrash metal, they are still unmatchable but they don’t want to do it in the greatest part of the album. This is definitely the lowest point in their discography and objectively a musical wreck. Ok, if you want to change, do it with a style and this is not the right way. Also the following album would be quite bad but with this one we reached the limits. Unless you are constipated, avoid this album and you’ll live better, for sure.
While not quite as bad as the album that follows it, Diabolus In Musica is pretty forgettable. It seems Slayer have attempted to make an album that sounds like Korn or System Of A Down. A lot of the thrash is gone in favour of groove riffs that sound like watered down Pantera. An unfortunate turn of events considering the quality of their earlier work.
Things start off well enough with Bitter Peace. The beginning is pretty slow and it starts to become boring after about a minute. Thankfully, the song really picks up at the 1:33 mark and it thrashes along quite nicely. It’s definitely the highlight here. The next six songs vary in quality from average (Stain Of Mind, Perversions Of Pain) to horrible (Death’s Head, Love To Hate).
Things pick up a bit with In The Name Of God. I like the riff and it has some pretty good drumming but it’s nothing special. It sounds like something Fear Factory could have done apart from the solo of course. Scrum is a short brutal thasher and is a welcome relief from the tedium of the previous eight songs. Screaming From The Sky is a mid-paced song that isn’t too bad. It just sounds like the band is going through the motions. The album does end on a good note with Point. Like the opening track, the beginning does drag a bit but it speeds up a bit quicker this time. Once it does, it’s very enjoyable. It does slow down again in the middle but it speeds up again before the end. At least the song manages to hold your attention throughout.
I don’t recommend buying this album unless you’re a Slayer fan. There’s only 3 good songs and a couple of ok ones. The rest is pretty forgettable. This is definitely a case of downloading a few songs rather than buying the whole thing.
Four years since Slayer’s last album (not counting Undisputed Attitude, of course), and we get this mediocre piece of pseudo-groove-thrash. Not the worst album in the world by any stretch, despite popular belief, but it’s a damn shame to what happened to this once evil and amazing metal band. Most of the songs are tired, groovey, and unSlayer-like; the band has obviously been affected by the nu metal/mallcore climate during its time. Listen to the verse riff of ‘Stain of Mind, which squanders the promising intro and mutates the song into this lameass three-chord riff. Stinkers such as ‘Death’s Head’, ‘Perversion of Pain’, ‘In The Name of God, ‘Love to Hate’ unabashedly use nu metal elements to fuller effect. I am not sure if Slayer were consciously aiming at radio airplay, which actually became the case for ‘Stain of Mind’, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to compose and write trite material like this. Another weak aspect of the album is Tom Araya’s monotonous and grating vocal performance. If you think the vocals on Divine Intervention were irritating, wait till you hear the lame hardcore barking of ‘Love to Hate’, and you will really love to hate this song.
Nevertheless, there are diamonds in this rough album. ‘Bitter Peace’ is a nice attempt to return to their thrashtastic glory. Although it does sound like Machine Head, i.e. modern thrash, it still does not compromise the intensity of the song. ‘Overt Enemy’ is a different beast, a lurking, heavy song, which is unfortunately ruined by Araya’s newly-found hardcore posing. ‘Undisputed Attitude’ is just badass. From the double-bass intro, to the sinister sounding chorus, this song harkens back to the glory days, albeit to a slower effect. ‘Point’ is the pinnacle of the album, arguably the best underrated Slayer song ever, with great lyrics, nice variety of pace creating mood and distance, and great dynamics.
Personally, this album opened the gates into the world of metal for me, so I might be subjected into giving this album a greater grade than it deserves. Still, despite its glaring shortcomings and lame moments, there are good songs that keep the album worthwhile to listen to. Proceed with caution.
I have to admit, when this album came out I initially took no notice. For the first time in many years, I wasn’t at the store on release day to pick up the new SLAYER album. Boy, did I pick the wrong album to blow off. “Diabolus In Musica” marks a magnificent return to form for the band. For me, the two things that push a SLAYER album from the “pretty damn good” category to world class metal are Jeff Hanneman’s song writing and Rick Rubin’s production. My favorite SLAYER albums–-“South of Heaven”, “Seasons in the Abyss” and now “DIM” all have those commonalities. “Reign in Blood,”no doubt as classic as SLAYER gets, also was produced by Rubin, but the song writing duties were more evenly split. Although Hanneman and Kerry King both always have writing credits on each album, over the years they have begun alternating being the main contributors on albums.
Between 1990's “Seasons in the Abyss” and “DIM”SLAYER released “Divine Intervention” in 1994 and 1996's album of punk covers, the ill fated “Undisputed Attitude.” After those two albums I lost interest a little. King’s songs on “Divine Intervention” have definite punk element added to the band's thrash sound, and the album of punk covers just two years later left me thinking the band had taken a turn in direction away from their more classic sound. On this album, improved writing, production and a reformed style add what was missing.
The band makes their intention clear with the first song. “Bitter Peace” begins with a muted slow riff intro before the full band and volume kick into the track (a la “Ghosts of War”). Not only do they kick in, they double the pace and the song starts to really fly. The sound is thick, the band is tight, and the song is brutal. And just like that you know: SLAYER is back. They pull the same trick with the second track, a rhythmic intro straight into a heavier and quicker verse. The intro is short and the effect is that the listener has a couple seconds to catch a breath before plunging right back into the ferocious pace. Don’t think its all a rehash of the past, though. The band tries a few new tricks, most notably the slower, groove heavy verse of “Love to Hate,”which also finds Tom Araya using a modified vocal approach to his usual gruff bark. This is one the fans will either love or hate–-it works for me.
Poor Paul Bostaph. As well as he drums, the fans always say the same thing: “I wish Dave Lombardo was back.” No doubt Lombardo is a legend, but Bostaph plays incredibly well on this album, and like Lombardo his contribution is a major factor in the band’s appeal. He is a force throughout the album and his rolling double bass on the intro and outro of “Stain of Mind” is just one example of how he makes a great song even better.
Fans always gripe when people compare albums to older favorites. You may or may not think this album is as good as “Seasons in the Abyss” or “South of Heaven.” However, I do believe that if you favor the style and sound of those recordings then you will dig “Diabolus in Musica.”
Is this the most underrated album of all time? Maybe. All I know is that it's way better than what most people give it credit for. Most of the thrash is gone, the songs are slower, the album is more melodic, and Araya actually sings here and there. So? It's a vast improvement over Divine Intervention, and that's what matters.
The best song is the first you hear, 'Bitter Peace'. It's pretty thrashy, actually, and completely and relentlessly in-your-face, and one of the best Slayer songs ever! Yes! While the rest of the album isn't as good as this, it sure is a cool album still. 'Death's Head' is the first departure from the trademark Slayer sound. It has lot more groove than any other song before it, and many metalheads hates this groove-thing that's going on with this album. And some people have the indecency to label it "mallcore". It's heavy metal, people! Wash your freaking ears! Now, the song itself is very good, with a nice tag-along riff, and a nice....GROOVE...Now, for even more....GROOVE...check out 'Stain of Mind'. Hip and modern, something all old farts hate. Furthermore, it's a bleedin' awesome track. The main riff ain't complicated, actually it's something I could play (WOW!), but it's damn catchy. Which leads me to this album's main advantage compared to the older Slayer albums, it's a whole lot easier to remember the songs, as they intrude into your mind, never letting you go. That's called catchiness.
'Overt Enemy' is more of a slow number. Not as in ballad, but as in doomy and gritty. Some excellent harmonies at the beginning helps set the mood, and the riff that follows and leads into the awesome verse is very nice. Hell, this song even has a memorable solo! When did Slayer write memorable solos!? Halfway the song speeds up slightly, losing none of its excellence. There's some cool lyrics in this song. An even better song you can find in 'Perversions of Pain'. Again a in-your-face track. It's not as fast as 'Bitter Peace', but it sure is great. The guitars works furious rhythms, and the drums are blasting into your now damaged brain. I am of the opinion that Paul Bostaph is the best drummer Slayer ever had, and his work on this album is mindblowing. Too bad he wimped out eventually. "Perversions of pain/seep from my eyes/into your brain/visualize" Excellent and evil lyrics, haha. Then we have 'Love to Hate' which some people has the nerve to call rap! Yes, it sounds cool and modern as hell, but how does that make it rap? There are guitars, killer drums, and all the heavy metal there should be. I do admit, though, that this could've been a reworked rap song from RunDMC or something. Hell, I don't hate rap, so why should I be in denial?
'Desire'....ok, so now the album takes a little dive. But only a very small one, for this is an alright song. It's midpaced (as most of the album is), and there's nothing really wrong with it, except the slightly lame chorus, and the fact that nothing really happens. 'In the Name of God' is a bit better, but you start to realize that maybe Slayer used up their best songs for the first album half. Still, this is good stuff. Again mid-paced, with a nice chugging riff, cool dual lead guitars, and awesome drumming. Halfway in the song gets more attitude, which MAKES the song, simply. Great section, especially the "Antichrist is the name of god!" And then we have a slow, grinding riff which just kills. Talk about a song going from ok to fuckin a! What is a scrum? I have no idea, but 'Scrum' is still a nice song. The section 43 seconds into the songs is cool as hell, and the thrashy section that follows makes you wanna headbang like crazy, maybe because there has been so little thrash so far. You gotta hear the solo, total killer.
More songs. 'Screaming to the Sky' isn't as good as 'Screaming for Vengeance', but hey, what is, right? Damn, now I want to listen to Judas Priest! I'll wait 'till this review is finished, I guess. Here I go again: 'Screaming to the Sky' is not that great. The chorus is a little stupid, there's extreme vocal distortion in the middle, which almost always suck, and the riff....what riff? Can't even remember it even though the song plays as I write. Forgettable, then. The "Japanese" bonus song, Wicked, is, in fact, also a European bonus song. So there. I just wish it wasn't included. Ok, so the beginning is badass, but six minutes of this song is too much. If it was cut by two minutes, it would be fine. The last song is 'Point', some of the thrashiest found in "Diabolus...". It doesn't sound like that to begin with, but a minute into the song, the thrash comes crumbling down on you. Awesome stuff.
"Diabolus In Musica" is really a unique album. I can't think of anything else that sounds like it, not even anything Slayer. They wrote it a time where they were pissed off and tired of music and the music business, but that doesn't really show. It's not Slayer's finest, but it's not far from it. Vastly and horribly underrated.
This album seems to get absolutely slaughtered by most but I think it's better than GHUA by far. The opening track Bitter Peace is one of my favourite ever Slayer songs, it just roars through at a hyper speed. The 2 that follow it, Death's Hand and Stain of Mind are also very good catchy metal songs. Overt Enemy and Perversions of Pain are where things begin to take a nosedive, however these are 2 satisfactory songs. After that we enter the 12 minutes of shit. Love to Hate could be passed off as listenable filler, but Desire and In The Name Of God are both terrible. They're not particularly fast...infact they aren't fast and I'm really not sure what they were trying to achieve with these songs, they sound quite alot like Slipknot worship but I'd hesitate to call them nu metal. Scrum is where things pick back up, a fast paced track that is very welcome after the two abortions before it. Screaming For the Sky is more listenable filler, Wicked is just too long and is very boring, and the final track on the album, Point, is fast and aggressive, just like Slayer SHOULD be.
Overall this album is pretty much Slayer's worst album in many people's eyes, but personally I think a fair bit of it ranges from good (Death's Hand, Overt Enemy) to GREAT (Bitter Peace, Point). Basically if they took off Desire, In The Name Of God and Wicked it'd make the album a fair bit better. Love to Hate and Screaming From The Sky are basically 2 filler songs, but they sound good enough to keep the mood of the album.
Musically Slayer all play pretty well. Tom Araya does sound alot more of a hardcore vocalist these days, but Paul puts out one fantastic drum performance when the pace picks up. The riffs are great, groove driven mostly, and Hannemann handles them well. Kerry King's solos, as ever, sound like a dial up modem and he really adds nothing to the band. Overall though, this is a decent album, I'd recommend buying it if you see it used for cheap purely because the first 3 and the last track are very good indeed.
This album is really fucking mediocre. There are maybe two good songs on here, that have the typical Slayer catchiness, which are Bitter Peace and Scrum. Nonetheless, they would still be the crappiest song by far if featured on any of their 80s albums. At least they're a bit catchy and memorable.
There rest of this album sounds... shudder... MODERN!!! Also known as that fucking shit style that a variety of bands have, ranging from Nevermore to Slipknot, where they disregard the ideals of classical songwriting that were rightfully worshipped in the 80s in favour of a grating, noisy, completely anti-catchy, hideous sonic ear-rape. Abominations like "half-thrash" and "mallcore" all have this sort of diarrhea vibe to them, and even the mighty Slayer has descended to this level.
It's just total shit. Don't play riffs. Don't play fast. Take all reasonable standards of melody and poop on them. Be not menaching. WHINE. Lose track of what key the song is in, that is if you ever had any idea in the first place.
FUCK YOU, KORN. Fuck you and fuck the horse you rode in on, and fuck your countless feces imitators and fuck your downtuning and fuck your modern-ness, and FUCK YOU too, NIRVANA. Everything that is wrong with music. MODERN. I defecate on your goddamn grave.