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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.