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I believe this was a crucial point in Slayer's career. Do they push forward trying something new and fresh or do they retreat back to their classic sound, what you end up with is somewhere in between which appeased many fans but angered many others.
Its sort of like a commercial approach to Reign in Blood. It follows a few of the same mistakes but to a much smaller degree although it does correct the issues found from Seasons in the Abyss, thus the higher score. The commercializtion comes from nu-metal influences (a sign of what is to come), these influences are in the guitar. The tone of the guitar, tuned lower then before, the simplicity of the riffing. The biggest tell is possibly the riffs themselves, they drive forward using the downtuned sound to its fullest with a groove influence. Not enough to make them groove riffs but enough to help with their drive in substitution for better alternatives,
The mistakes of Reign in Blood were failing to fully develop tracks to their fullest extents, short track lengths and how easily the tracks blend together. Sex. Murder. Art. follows these mistakes as it feels undeveloped. Dittohead and Serenity in Murder are also very short and could stand to have been longer though they don't feel undeveloped.
Seasons in the Abyss suffered from production that ruined the potential of the guitar work and was too vocal centric. It also had boring and unemotive spoken word vocals that did no justice to its energy levels or its lyrics. The vocals here return to shouts and yells but don't quite pack the punch of Slayer's old material though they are still a step in the right direction. There are still a few spoken word passages (Circle of Beliefs, SS-3 and Serenity in Murder) they are used more sparingly here adding variety and are far more emotive making them forgivable and even adding extra flavor. The lyrics focus less on hell and the unholy and focus more on murder and war, while these themes have been used before the focus of evil in the physical and human world instead of the religious and supernatural realms is a welcomed and refreshing change.
The guitar focuses on driving power riffs. They lack the technicality of Reign in Blood, in fact they are some of the most simplistic riffs Slayer has used so far but they drive and pack the punch they were meant to. The production on the guitar is a bit thin but not enough to weaken its performance. The solos are the classic screech and squeal guitar solos, still finely executed but they've lost their novelty (especially with other bands now using the same trick), I guess while this method of soloing is still rather clever and an essential 'slayerism' its getting a bit stale.
The bass again basically just rounds out the sound and is mostly mixed out enough to prevent it from grabbing any attention or taking center stage. The drums are turned up in the mix, though the snares aren't as emphasized as on South of Heaven which is a shame. This place in the production allows the new drummer to show off his skills. He isn't as good as his predecessor (he doesn't fit the Slayer formula quite as well) but he is skilled and peppers the record with double pedal beats.
Standout tracks: SS-3, Fictional Reality, Killing Fields and 213
Somewhere in the four years in between “Seasons In the Abyss” and “Divine Intervention” something was lost within Slayer. For the first time the band had spent actual time on pre-production. Where Slayer once sounded irrevocably evil here they sound… mundane and ordinary. It is an unexpected and jarring change that left fans confused. The most evil thrash/speed metal band in the world had apparently lost its way, and much of its identity. This change becomes more apparent by the band’s change in wardrobe. Instead of wearing leather, inverted crosses, spikes and denim Slayer now wore hockey jerseys, sunglasses and tennis shoes as they opted for a more urban look. Kerry King shaved his head bald, and Slayer were desperately looking to hang with the kids that loved Pantera, Machine Head and the very divisive “Chaos AD” by once-relevant Brazilian combo Sepultura. Not even a divine intervention could save this “Divine Intervention”.
This album is the recording debut for drummer Paul Bostaph, who cut his teeth with fellow thrash metal pioneers Forbidden, and it is as smooth as one can reasonably imagine given the unfortunate circumstances of how he came into the band. In fact Bostaph’s take-no-prisoners attitude behind the kit is exactly what gives much of these fairly dull cuts their edge. The drum intro to ‘Killing Fields’ or ‘Serenity In Murder’ is equal to original drummer Dave Lombardo in terms of intensity and power. It is obvious that Paul Bostaph has a different style, and although he uses similar techniques as Lombardo this is a different Slayer. As the second longest-serving Slayer drummer the cards were stacked against Bostaph, but he didn’t let the animosity get to him. The band was grasping at straws to hang on to the sound they worked so hard on to perfect. In the face of a changing taste in the mainstream metal scene, and the apparent need to appeal to a different demographic in terms of audience, compromises were made – and not all for the best. Slayer was a full of itself, and over-confident that anything would work.
The album starts off strong with the rolling drumbeat and kickdrum action of ‘Killing Fields’. The track slows down soon, and Araya’s vocals are far more controlled than ever before. The riffing is kind of there, and it isn’t. These mostly are characterless groove riffs and stolen metallic hardcore riffs. Araya’s bass playing is more interesting than the riffs it supports, thankfully the killer acceleration redeems a lot. As always, the solo’ing is the highlight of the track, and it is no different here. ‘Sex. Murder. Art.’ sounds like a surprise ending to the opening track, but is actually a song on its own despite being barely over 2 minutes long. ‘Fictional Reality’ passes by without a highlight to speak of, and ‘Dittohead’ is another explosive short song that is so energetic that it is hard to miss. The ‘Dittohead’ music video has Slayer playing in a crowded basement, and it is filled with news footage. ‘Serenity In Murder’ is much more colorful on all fronts, and has some minor production values worth mentioning. The band appears to be playing in a deeply red colored stripper booth, of all things. Bostaph’s drumming matches Lombardo’s rhythmic density, but doesn’t possess the same creativity in terms of fills. The title track is a dull groove number that starts with the most enunthusiastic opening riff imagineable. Was this the same Slayer that penned “Reign In Blood”? You wouldn’t say so from hearing this slugfest of two-note groove riffs and directionless plodding.
‘Circle Of Beliefs’ is a good track ruined by processed vocals, which thankfully are abandoned after the first verse but return later on. As always the solo’ing is superb. ‘SS-3’ is, like the title track, inspired in equal amounts by the rising groove metal – and Seattle grunge sound, and it is none the better for it. Bostaph’s spirited drumming is a plus, but it does little to elevate a track hampered by subpar riffing. The studio experiments with the vocals don’t help matters in the slightest. ‘Serenity In Murder’ is another short blaster that gets by on the grace of its abundant energy in the opening section, and the fact that it was a video track. The clean vocals in the beginning are nothing short of embarrassing, and if it weren’t for the great solo’ing this would be another throwaway track on an album that wasn’t strong to begin with. ‘213’ has a clean guitar introduction, and has the construction and feel of a power-ballad initially. There are more semi-clean and spoken vocals towards the latter half of the track. Closing track ‘Mind Control’ is pretty similar to ‘Killing Fields’ but it passes by without any real highlight to speak of. The drumming and solo’ing are great, but that’s about it. As a closing track it is anticlimactic and uneventful compared to earlier Slayer records.
Instead of churning evil thrash/speed metal riffs there are a lot of meandering groove metal riffs that borrow from the metallic hardcore sound that was all the rage at the time. The overall tempo is lower, but there are a good variety of slow and fast songs. Tom Araya’s vocals are toned down, and there’s a greater reliance on softer vocal cadences to fit the lower tempo. Araya doesn’t sound as out-of-control as on prior records. “Divine Intervention” follows the architectural template of “Seasons Of the Abyss” but misses the vital songwriting components to make it match its illustrious predecessor. The band has grown into a comfortable state of familiarity with its style. As a result of this, they have become complacent and content with itself. “Divine Intervention” shows no progress in terms of songwriting or instrumental skill from prior records, but seems to tread water in a confusing spot that isn’t here nor there. It does what it is supposed to do, but its goals aren’t set exactly high in the first place.
As per usual the album was steeped in controversy with ‘213’ referring to the apartment number where notorious cannibal/serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer tortured his victims, ‘SS-3’ concerned SS-hangman Reinhard Heydrich and ‘Dittohead’ formed a partial tribute to Republican fearmonger Rush Limbaugh. In 1998 the album was banned in Germany due to the lyrics of ‘SS-3’, ‘Circle of Beliefs’, ‘Serenity in Murder’, ‘213’ and ‘Mind Control’. The fascination with World War II and Nazi Germany previously got the band steeped in controversy with ‘Angel Of Death’ off of “Reign In Blood”, yet here the band unphased continue to draw from that black page in history. This is unsurprising as lead guitarist Jeff Hanneman is a collector Nazi war medals and memorabilia. Further media attention came from the Sepultura-Slayer feud after Max Cavalera accused Slayer of attracting neo-Nazis and skinheads. Slayer replied by calling Sepultura “low life cocksuckers”. At least the record was partly redeemed by the amazing artwork of Wes Benscoter and the inlay that featured the bloody, logo carved arm of a particular obsessed fan of the band.
Infamous for its troublesome production that saw the band switch studios and producers multiple times during the sessions, it is the recording debut for long suffering San Francisco drummer Paul Bostaph. The sessions were tracked at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, California and Sound City Studio in Van Nuys, California. It is a mixed bag of a number of truly good songs, two all too short singles and a bunch of songs that appear to be written to cater to a certain crowd rather than what the band wanted to write. It is a haphazard and confused record that can’t decide what it wants to be. Written equally between King and Hanneman, it is King’s material that defines this record. King’s confused writing and desperate appeasing to the groove - and grunge crowds is a signpost for the band’s future decline into mallcore wiggerdom and irrelevance. Slayer did not escape the fate that swallowed Metallica whole. “Divine Intervention” saw Slayer coping with the 90s, and undecided whether to stay loyal to their original sound/concept, or molding it to fit the then-current popular taste. As it turns out the album does a bit of both, but it is mostly remembered as the death certificate for the once unchampioned masters of extreme thrash – and speed metal.
Review originally written for Least Worst Option - www.leastworstoption.com
"Divine Intervention" was the sixth full-length of Slayer and at the same time the last album that could be easily associated with their fantastic early works. The band had not moved into modern times yet. Quite the contrary, it almost appeared as a return to the roots. The musical approach was closer to "Reign in Blood" than to the successors of this unique masterpiece. For example, the short outburst "Sex. Murder. Art." was an indication for this thesis, not only because of its brevity. The riffing and the songwriting pattern were well comparable with their classics such as "Piece by Piece" or "Necrophobic". Kerry King had been the main songwriter on the here presented album and he had not forgotten the success formula of "Reign in Blood". To mention an other example, the rapid "Dittohead" also referred to their legendary third album. In contrast, the title track went into the somewhat more leisurely direction of "Seasons in the Abyss", at least the guitar licks at the beginning.
However, Slayer offered one more time a musical assault that took no prisoners, although the magic of their early outputs remained unrivaled. Maybe this was just because of this special moment of surprise that was missing. As written above, you could more or less easily define the predecessors of most of the here presented tracks. The same went for the lyrics. For example, “SS-3” dealt once again with a historical person (Reinhard Heydrich) of the Nazi regime. These repetitions had not occurred during their first three albums. This made a small but fine difference. I do not want to be malicious, but "Reign in Blood" was the original and "Divine Intervention" marked its afterburner. One could therefore confidently notice that the latter fought a losing battle. This applied even in view of the circumstance, that the production team, consisting of Slayer, Rick Rubin and Toby Wright, had done a good job. But they had not worked flawlessly. The guitars should have been a tiny bit more powerful. The solos do not lack of intensity, but the guitar lines do not sound voluminous. Some might say that they have to be described as inoffensive, but I would not take it quite that far. From my point of view, the guitar sound was good, but not outstanding.
It was quite certain that all band members were fully engaged. The vocal performance of Tom Araya was well without achieving the brilliance of the early records, in particular that of “Hell Awaits.” Paul Bostaph was a suitable substitute for Dave Lombardo, but it goes without saying that we would have preferred the incredible drumming of Dave. Once again, it was the question of original and (good) copy. However, the band was still capable of performing stirring thrash metal. My personal favourite was the furious "Circle of Beliefs" because of its unbridled power. Due to its forceful beginning, it drew me under its spell from the first moment onwards. The second crusher was called "Mind Control". While being straightforward as a torpedo, it finished the album ruthlessly.
It would be an exaggeration to say that a stale aftertaste remained after listening to this record. Due to their previous outputs, the bar was just set too high. I am convinced that the band had used its best endeavours in order to fulfill the request of their fans. But it was just impossible for the group to achieve a better result. From this perspective, "Divine Intervention" made my day.
After 4 classic albums, each one being a cornerstone in defining what now we call thrash, speed, and death metal, according to a lot of fans, Slayer reached their peak with the fifth album, "Seasons in the Abyss", which is without a doubt a nearly flawless record where even the "fillers" ("Skeletons of Society", "Temptation", and "Expendable Youth") were almost at the same level of the "classics" ("Dead Skin Mask", "War Ensemble" and the title track). Also, that album probably draws an accurate picture of their most cohesive effort as a band, with Hanneman, King, and Araya all contributing ideas almost equally and Lombardo achieving his most amazing performance.
"Divine Intervention", on the other hand, was written, recorded, and released when the band started being dysfunctional. The album took 4 long years to be released, a time span when they lost the services of Dave Lombardo, changing recording methods with only one guitarist (King) actually recording all rhythms.
Well, that's not unusual; if you're familiar with Metallica you should know that Hammett only recorded his solos on "...And Justice For All" (with Hetfield taking care of all remaining guitars), but Jeff Hanneman (the key songwriter on all past albums) being absent from most of the writing credits along with his minimal contributions in the studio were clear signs of something going terribly wrong within Slayer's camp at that point.
Talking about the songs, well, there's not a single track standing out as an "instant classic". Maybe some riffing on "SSIII", "Mind Control", and "213" may grasp your attention, but most of the sick melodies, astounding riffs, and chilling guitar harmonies of the previous albums have been replaced by chugging on the bottom string and extreme, yet really schematic drumming as you can hear on the opener "Killing Fields".
To add insult to injury, the production does nothing to revive the uninspired songwriting; guitars are thin and buried under deflagrating drums, showing at least the excellent talents of Paul Bostaph, who tries his best to save whatever possible. Bass, as always, is completely inaudible.
Araya's performance on vocals is barely sufficient. He's really high in the mix and often uses a yelled singing style, especially on "Dittohead", which sounds like a D.R.I. or Nuclear Assault leftover and is likely the most well-known track of the album.
In conclusion, I think that "Divine Intervention" is somewhat comparable to Maiden's "No Prayer for the Dying" - a disappointing record after the last real masterpiece of a great band.
The fact that they didn't give up to grunge and kept on thrashing in those dark times will always be a merit and a monument to Slayer's integrity, but can't be a redeeming feature for a release that, by Slayer standards, is quite mediocre.
This is Slayer pretty much on autopilot. It's neither great nor awful, and while Paul Bostaph does a decent job as Dave Lombardo's replacement, something about his playing sticks out like a sore thumb. This is basically Slayer's "Black Album". And if you didn't like the half-songs, you aren't going to now, though thankfully there is only 3 of them.
Sure, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman have the typical evil riffage as before, but it seems sort of uninspired and bored. No, not boring, they just seem bored playing. Also, if you didn't like the half-baked solos, this album won't make you a fan. What's really irritating is they can actually play solos and melodies, which would really be the bloodstained icing on the evil cake, but alas, they continue with the whammy bar noise as before. At least there are a few more thought-out solos here than usual, which is a plus. To make matters worse, in parts where the drums are going berserk, the guitars seem to be drowned out some in the mix and in faster songs makes for a frustrating listen. They aren't totally lost, mind you, but the drums seem like they are too loud.
As for the bass and Araya's vocals, the bass seems to be absent and Araya's attempts to make his vocals more aggressive are just annoying. Okay, the bass is there, it's just not very well-mixed into the music like David Ellefson's is on Countdown to Extinction. Some of Araya's vocals seem forced and usually the only thing coherent are certain keywords like murder or the last word or two of a line. Circle of Beliefs has a verse that is discernible, which is commendable.
With the drumming being louder in the mix and taking up more than its fair amount of space in the mix, you can't help but notice this isn't Dave Lombardo, and while he's a decent drummer, Paul Bostaph just seems to stick out. To stay on the topic of drumming and get to the production later in this review, I can't help but wish that Paul Bostaph wasn't the drummer on this album. I don't care much for his playing; his drum tone does little to nothing for me and perhaps it's just me, but he seems to be trying to sound like Dave Lombardo too much. That said, I don't mind his drumming as much on Diabolus in Musica and God Hates Us All, which may have something to do with feeling more comfortable within Slayer. He's also said, "That record never had any consistency to it, although a lot of fans still like it,", which may have something to do with it.
Now onto the production and songwriting of Divine Intervention. I'm sorry, Slayer, but whether you have Toby Wright and Rick Rubin or have to fire your producer and resort to Karat Faye, you probably shouldn't produce an album yourself because, to be honest, you are not Paul Stanley. The songwriting is just sort of weird. On past releases, Slayer seem inspired by whatever it is they are going for on that record, but here it's like they are bored, on autopilot, and running on fumes. While I've been mostly negative for this review, the album isn't awful like I said before, and if you're a Slayer fan when they do the thrash thing, this is a mindless, enjoyable album.
With that, I must say that if you want to enjoy some Slayer and have worn out the thrashier pre-grunge albums, give this a shot. While I prefer Diabolus in Musica a lot more, it's still worth owning if you're a big Slayer fan and a completist.
Wow, I remember when this came out. My cassette player got a good workout of "Divine Intervention", Slayer's first album with new drummer Paul Bostaph and their first album since grunge really kicked off in the early 90's. This album is relatively short, clocking in at around 36 and a half minutes. Bostaph kicks this album off with a bang and an excellent drum intro on the first track of the album, "Killing Fields", following that up with a great riff and double bass drumming. Soon after, the song goes into mid-paced thrash mode while Tom Araya delivers the vocals with more anger and rage than anything since "Reign". The lyrics deal generally with the after-effects of war, akin to "Eyes of the Insane" off of Christ Illusion. After the second chorus, the song goes full out thrash with a similar riff that was heard throughout most of the song while Araya repeats "A choice is made of freewill just like the choice to kill".
After "Killing Fields" comes a relatively short and fast track, "Sex. Murder. Art", that contains no solos and blazing fast drumming from Paul Bostaph. The main riff sounds evil and intense and grasps the listener right into the song. The issue is the lack of solos, and the fact that the song does not seem complete, especially after the song ends like a door slamming and is unexpected. After this, "Fictional Reality" has a somewhat of a groove metal feeling riff to it for the most part, with some interesting vocal effects from Araya and a consistent double bass line from Bostaph. This is easily one of the weaker tracks on the album (not saying much) and is still incredibly brutal. It almost sounds like they listened to "Vulgar Display of Power" or "Slaughter in the Vatican" to much for this one. However, "Dittohead" takes you immediately back to Reign in Blood with its incredibly up-tempo drumming and intro riff. I don't even know how Tom Araya manages to sing the lyrics that fast to fit the music on this song. The lyrics tend to deal with the "corrupt" justice system and a problem with violence in the USA at the time. Kerry King plays an incredible solo on this song, probably the best on this album and one of the best Slayer solos of all-time. This track does slow down at parts but is incredibly relentless in pulverizing the senses with outstanding drum fills by Bostaph and speedy guitars from Hanneman/King.
"Divine Intervention", the title track and 5th on the album really sets the pace for what is to come. It kicks off with a slow riff and really maintains a mid-paced feel throughout the entire song. Tom Araya's shouting vocals have very bizarre vocal effects that almost make him sound as if he is talking on a telephone or something. They complement the song nicely, however. Like "Fictional Reality", this song takes on more of a groove-sounding feel to it (not all the way) before speeding up nicely around the 3-minute mark. This foreshadowed to some extent what was to come on their follow-up album, "Diabolus In Musica" (not including "Undisputed Attitude" with more of an evil sound to it. On "Circle of Beliefs", there is not much of an intro as Tom Araya shouts out his vocals from the first second of the song with some impressive double-bass fills accompanying him, with a short King solo following. The song's lyrics deal with negative aspects of religion (no surprise) and issues with prayer, etc. This song is very well done in the sense of guitar work and "guitar battles" featuring the King/Hanneman duo doing what the do best (solos). Like the previous track, Araya's vocals contain bizarre effects that do not help his vocals at parts. This song is more thrashy than most of the second half of the album, and contains a great main riff and closes out with a great outro riff. The seventh song, "SS-3" deals with similar lyrical matter (WWII Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich) as "Angel of Death" and starts out slow and groove-ish with a catchy first riff leading into Araya's vocals before exploding in to full-out thrash mode around the 2 minute mark with a blazing solo by Jeff Hanneman shortly there after. Like all of the tracks on this album, Paul Bostaph does a great job of replacing Dave Lombardo here. At 2:47, if listening carefully with headphones, in the right headphone you can even hear Jeff Hanneman burping! Cool little oddity indeed. After that, Kerry King launches into his first solo of the song, which after some Tom Araya vocals and a great closing riff, "SS-3" is finished. This is easily one of the best tracks on this album in my opinion. Next we have "Serenity in Murder", which after an incredibly fast intro really does not go anywhere from there and slows down dramatically from there. Araya's vocals seem to really suffer through most of the verses of this song, mostly due to more bizarre vocal effects (prominent in this album) and once again, this song has a very groove-oriented sound to it. The song finally picks up in speed at the 2 minute mark with a Kerry King solo followed by the outro verse in the song.
The next song is easily the best on this record, no doubt about it and the song I played the most. The haunting intro of "213" really sets the stage for a Slayer classic and one of their most under appreciated songs. The song deals with Jeffrey Dahmer and his killings. The song is named "213" after his apartment number. The main riff that starts around the 1:40 mark of the song is truly captivating and haunting, with Araya putting intense rage in to his vocal delivery here. The addicting chorus and descriptive lyrics almost shock the listener and keep them wanting more. The "I need a friend" part is almost scary as it leads into a great Jeff Hanneman solo and one of the better ones on this album from him. The dark and moody atmosphere of this song is indeed one that has not been repeated in a Slayer song since and was featured in "Dead Skin Mask" to a certain extent from "Seasons". The last track on the album, "Mind Control" is a blazing thrasher and the perfect ending to an outstanding song. The song contains a brutal verse riff, with a solo each from Hanneman and King and is once again reminiscent of "Reign in Blood"
This album is truly one of Slayer's best and is a brutal and haunting sonic assault with no track sounding near the same like "Reign in Blood". Some say that this is a "Reign" rehash, but if you listen to it again, you will clearly see that this is false. This album seems to be the overshadowed one in the Slayer discography, thanks to the success of grunge in the 1990's and "Seasons in the Abyss" being a classic release, with the horrendous "Diabolus in Musica" soon to follow. Bottom line: This album rules.
1994 was the year in which Slayer were one of the few eighties thrash metal bands still able to exist as well as resist the trends of the nineties. The year in which they released their last old school thrashing album before eventually succumbing in 1998.
Yes, of course there was more than only thrash already here. The 5/4 beat in ‘Killing fields’ and a few mid paced and clean sections. But they’d tried a lot of slower and clean stuff earlier on South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss. So in fact there wasn’t much renewal here. Even Paul Bostaph does his best to drum like Dave Lombardo or better said, to drum as needed for Slayer songs.
‘Divine Intervention’ in a way is a carbon copy of Seasons In The Abyss keeping in mind the variation in tempi and balance of aggression and eeriness. Yet the fast songs here are slightly more aggressive and the sharp production does the trick as well. If Seasons In The Abyss would’ve had this production I’m sure even more people would enjoy that album.
Because of the aggressive, sharp sound and the inclusion of some really short, furious and catchy songs, ‘Divine Intervention’ builds a nice bridge between South of Heaven and Reign In Blood. Of course for the fans of the old days, Slayer can’t go wrong with thrash metal eruptions such as ‘Sex, Murder, Art’, ‘Dittohead’ and ‘Mind Control’. But even the longer ‘Circle of Beliefs’ presents us everything there is to like about Slayer.
Problem however is that the slow paced material presented here is of somewhat lesser quality than we were used to keeping songs such as South of Heaven and Dead Skin Mask in mind. So unfortunately no classics in that department. The emphasis is slightly more on groove than eeriness unfortunately. But ‘SS-3’, ‘213’ and ‘Divine Intervention’ are not bad enough to justify people complaining about how mediocre this album supposedly was/is. Hell, the worst slow or groovy songs here are still better than the ultimate lameness that was ‘Behind The Crooked Cross’ back in 1988.
Secondly, each time you play this album right after the ‘South of Heaven’ album, it becomes clear the production and especially the band themselves sound double as furious here and ten times as convincing. Araya’s vocals haven’t sounded this pissed since Reign in Blood (with the exception of some moments on ‘Decade of Aggression’ obviously) so each time I hear someone complaining about how Araya seems to barks his way through this album, they can obviously kiss my rosy buttocks and get in bed with Rob and Judas Priest.
As said, plenty songs left to give one that good old Slayer feeling and keeping one happy. And the guitar sound is one of my favourites in Slayer history! A lot of people forget to mention this album when discussing Slayer and it has become one of those forgotten releases from the nineties when pretty much all thrash metal acts became utter crap. Yet if one takes time to explore Slayer and listen to ‘Divine Intervention’ without keeping an era in mind, it becomes pretty obvious this is a quality album no matter when it was released.
Highlights: ‘Killing Fields’, ‘Sex, Murder, Art’, ‘Dittohead’, ‘Circle of Beliefs’ and ‘Mind Control’.
Slayer is one of those bands you either love or hate. I happen to be someone who loves Slayer, I honestly can't say anything bad about them, even their album Undisputed Attitude is actually one I sometimes just jam out to. This is no exception. The main point around this album though is Slayer with a new drummer, Paul Bostaph, who honestly is much like the new drummer for Decapitated, but I'll get into that in a moment.
From a critical stand point, Slayer has always been considered the fastest in their field (at least of the Big 4 [Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer]). They still hold that honour in this album, but everything has become more extreme with riffing. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman really out do themselves with their dual soloing and complex riffing. Tom Araya is still top notch with his bass work and vocals, though the constant screaming (particularly from Angel of Death) while on tour is just starting to show as he just seems more into barking than screaming. And Paul Bostaph, while a good drummer, he's nothing like Dave Lombardo. Paul Bostaph is like Krimh of Decapitated, where Vitek had style and could actually control a great beat, Krimh just shoves all that aside and blast beats. Same can be said for Paul, he tries to pull off Dave’s style but just can't seem to keep himself from just playing fast and not actually try to be good.
The songs on the album itself vary in style. A majority are thrash oriented, like Fictional Reality and Serenity in Murder. Some are a throw back to the old school punk that influenced Slayer like Circle of Beliefs and Sex. Murder. Art. And you can also feel a bit of groove in there as well, 213 and Divine Intervention being the two main ones that stick out here. Kerry King was good friends with Dimebag Darrell by this point, so it doesn't surprise me.
As said before, the guitar seems more technical now. Songs like Fictional Reality, Serenity in Murder and Mind Control just seem to be trying Kerry and Jeff's endurance a little too much, but it still pays off beautifully.
And as much as I rag on Paul Bostaph, he actually has a good piece of drumming going for him on Killing Fields, which actually has a good technical feel to it, kind of like Richard Christy.
And back to Tom. As said before, Tom's vocals still tear up ear drums with hate filled lyrics and he all around does a great job here. He also goes for easy going vocals in some songs, like Serenity in Murder, where he has a very foreboding sound to himself, sounding down right creepy and deranged. But in the end, it just starts to feel like he's straining a bit too hard on his voice.
All around, Divine Intervention still holds up strong and is absolutely awesome. I honestly can say that it's one of my top albums, right after Seasons in the Abyss, but that's another album. If you're a big fan of Slayer and don't own this album, well, then you are a complete idiot. Now go get it!
Slayer are unquestionably my favourite band ever and as a great fan I must admit that this album is the last good one in their discography before the last Christ Illusion. I’m not one of those who are completely narrow-minded towards their favourite band, insisting on the fact that they never released bad efforts. Diabolous In Musica was mallcorish and quite bad for the songs and God Hates Us All was a bit better for the songs but it had a horrible, artificial production.
Anyway, there had a lot of expectations for this album, the very first one after the band’s split with Lombardo. The replacement was Paul Bostaph and despite all the criticisms, he’s a really good drummer. The main point is to erase the memory of Lombardo and conquer a small slice of the fan’s heart. At the beginning he was a bit criticised and that’s normal when you must replace a monster like Lombardo and take his burning seat behind the drums but at the end everybody understood and praised his style, brutality, passion and heaviness. Tom Araya once said that he is like a machine: you charge it and it goes until the end with no hesitations and I believe that it’s true also in the live gigs. He has always been a professional guy.
Talking about this album, the thrash metal period was definitely in crises and almost every band started to play groove thrash, at least the ones that survived but Slayer kept up the thrash metal massacre and released this Divine Intervention that could be easily considered a return to extreme after a more dry (for ideas) and less angry Season In The Abyss that was not the example of a band in perfect form. Maybe the four years were good for the band to get well again. Anyway, I really admire Slayer in this case because here we can see the right attitude of a band that never left the thrash path even during the grunge or alternative metal period.
I think that I admire more this album than Reign In Blood because here Slayer really demonstrated the balls even if the album is not perfect, but the will is what matters. The band itself has grown a lot since the early days and now the members reached a good level of technique. The tracks sound more or less a way between South Of Heaven and Reign In Blood, so we can meet hyper fast ones and darker, slower others. The massacre starts with the drums intro to “Killing Field” and the guitars soon enter the sound to create a massive wall of heaviness. No modernism, no melody but pure violence. Here Slayer are very clear in their message to the fans: we are back and fuck the trends. We still thrash hard.
The power of the new drummer is clear to anyone and with the following “Sex, Murder, Art” we go back to the 80s for speed and nastiness. Here Bostaph is inhuman while “Fictional Reality” is more mid paced but without the tired mood of the past released. The band is again vicious and some darker passages of the guitars are really good and well exalted by a truly pounding and clear production that puts in evidence all the instruments and give a vigorous sound to the axes. After, it’s time for “Dittohead” to break in with its massive burden of hardcore influences and neverending up tempo sections. The solo by King is, as always, devastating and truly thrash.
Also Tom’s vocals seem to be more pissed off and they re-conquered a lost brutality. His work on this album is very good but the bass is unfortunately not so audible. We go on with the title track that is a natural continuation of tracks like “Spill The Blood” and “Season In The Abyss” but this time with a more angry approach. The following “Circle of Beliefs” features four brutal, amazing, tremolo picking solos in four minutes of blasting power demonstration. The band is compact and seems a bulldozer that no one is able to stop. The fast sections of “SS-3” are amazing and the solos are just the pure inserts of insanity to an already excellent song, also during the first part that features galloping riffs and semi mid paced tempo.
“Serenity In Murder” is total mosh for the up tempo parts while it’s also able to be intense during the “calmer” parts. Surely the vocals’ artificial parts could be avoided because they are a bit annoying and naff. “213” is again a good break to the continue violence, showing good arpeggios and great dark atmospheres. Here they pointed more on the mid paced patterns and the last “Mind Control” is remarkable also for the catchy parts and the guitars duets that go along with the fury of a band that has found again the strength to put out really brutal stuff. Unfortunately, this album is just an isolated case in this sense and I wished that the following Diabolous In Musica could have sounded like this.
Coming to the end, I just want to recommend this album to those who were let down by Season In The Abyss because here the band is far more compact and brutal.
This is the first Slayer album I ever heard and I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Divine Intervention is the first of three studio albums which do not feature Dave Lombardo on drums. Paul Bostaph steps in instead and proves to be a worthy replacement. The intro to Killing Fields is proof of that. However, Lombardo is a legend for a reason and his presence here is sorely missed.
The best song on here is Killing Fields which gets the album off to a great start. The lyrics are easily the best on the album and the song does a great job of beating the listener over the head with riffs. Dittohead is close behind with it's neck-breaking intensity. Definitely their fastest song since the Reign In Blood days.
Those are the two really memorable songs from the album. The rest are good songs for the most part but don't rank among the band's finest moments. Serenity In Murder is probably my favourite of these songs. It's actually a bit different from other Slayer songs up to this point with it's use of distortion effects on Tom's voice. This would become more evident on the next few albums and become ever more annoying but that's another story.
213 and Divine Intervention are solid mid-paced songs particularly the former with it's macabre lyrics about Jeffrey Dahmer. As other reviewers have mentioned, the "I need a friend....please be my companion" bit is rather silly but it's not enough to totaly ruin the song. The only other song worth mentioning is Sex, Murder, Art. This is the most brutal song on the album after Dittohead and while it is a nice little number, it's too short! Just as you're getting into it, it ends abruptly. It could have been at least a minute longer! The remaining songs are nothing horrible but they're all pretty forgettable. Fictional Reality is a bit more memorable than some of the others but even that song is kinda generic.
This album was pretty underrated for some years after it’s release until God Hates Us All came out and it started to look like Reign In Blood in comparison. Although it's not one of Slayer's best albums, it's still a fun listen and it's far better than the two albums that followed it. If you have Slayer's first five albums, I'd recommend getting this.
For the longest time I’ve struggled to make sense out of this release, as it would seem to be either a reactionary piece of raw aggression to a changing world or a rather inconsistent attempt at turning back the clock. The album art would suggest a typical fit of pure evil similar to what was heard on “Hell Awaits”, but when you look at the various new clippings and the picture of a dead man with blood pouring out of his head (some suggest it’s a picture of Kurt Cobain) that populates the inner part of the foldout, the suggestion that some sand is being thrown in the gears becomes a distinct possibility, and does in fact occur in several areas on here.
The musical contents found on here are a somewhat bizarre mish-mash of speed/thrash, punk and modern groove influences. “SS-3”, “213” and “Divine Intervention” have the most groove influences injected into them, flirting with sounding like something off of Vulgar Display of Power from time to time. “Sex, Murder, Art” and “Circle of Beliefs” are the most overtly punk inspired both in terms of structural simplicity and vocal delivery. The rest of the songs are straight up thrash with plenty of signature riffs, fast as hell drumming, and plenty of guitar solo interchanges, although it seems that Kerry King is taking a dominant role in the shredding department.
Although I can’t really complain about the songwriting, even in the case of the groove inspired songs, the production on here is quite sloppy even when compared to the oldest albums in the genre. The drums have no depth to them at all, the snare is tuned way to high, and the high-hat symbol is way too loud. Paul Bostaph’s double bass kick work is hit or miss, he usually tends to suffer during the longer stretches of consistent blast beats (Killing Fields and Fictional Reality in particular), while during switch ups he tends to hit the mark accurately. Araya’s vocal mix is utterly atrocious; to speak nothing for the new style he is exhibiting. He avoids the cliché of worshipping James Hetfield that some other thrash acts had fallen into at this point, but the lower end shouts that he does end up utilizing are almost comparable to the crap that John Bush spewed out with Anthrax at around this time.
If I had to pick the best songs on this album, they would be the ones that tend more towards the Slayer that everyone loved in the 80s. “Divine Intervention” has a drawn out intro with some gloomy clean guitar sounds, before settling into some decent mid-tempo thrash, by far the most epic sounding thing on here. “Mind Control” and “Dittohead” are the best fast paced tracks out of the bunch, featuring wicked riffs, riveting solos, and the most consistent drum performances of the thrashers in the mix. “Serenity in Murder” is also loaded with quality riffing and listens well throughout, despite having a few groove moments and a somewhat flat vocal performance.
Slayer fans will no doubt have mixed feelings about this album, as I myself can’t condemn it as a failure or praise it as a masterpiece. It has its moments but it is consistently mired by an extremely poor drum mix and a lot of hints at the metal-core direction that they would later take in the vocals. Look for it at under $10 and be prepared to either skip around depending on your preferences in metal.
Oh, please...this is weak by classic Slayer standards. Paul Bostaph is not even a pimple on Lombardo's butt in this album! More on that later, but the opening statement sums it up pretty well, I think.
This was a stab at Slayer reclaiming past glories, an attempt to show they still had it and it only half succeeds, like its predecessor, "Seasons in the Abyss". The guitar sound is still respectably evil and dark, and the drums actually sound pretty good, but the playing is not there much of the time. The songwriting is not up to par and is uneven to say the least; "SS-3", "213", anybody? "Serenity in Murder" is actually pretty creepy on the verses with Araya's droning vocals, but the choruses get boring and played out in short order.
"Dittohead" is the only song on the album that really brings the dynamite in terms of them trying to show they were still valid, and the soloing even approaches their past manic intensity, or at least Kerry King's leads do; Hannemann totally phoned it in on this album. That one song on this album is the only one that comes close to getting my pulse pounding like, say, "Raining Blood". And then there is the joker with the sticks in his hands, he gets a paragraph all to his self.
Paul Bostaph? Paul BOSTAPH? Who the hell was he? Oh yeah, that joker who was in Forbidden and thought he could hang in Slayer. And they showed a lamentable lack of judgment in thinking he could fill Lombardo's huge shoes. For crying out loud, the opening of "Killing Fields" shows it plain as the nose on my face; his double kick technique is sloppy as hell! He falters messily and it's only when the riff comes in that he finally gets it together. You hear that in "Dittohead" as well, the little bit before the slower middle part where he tries to rev it up and is all over the place trying to do it. Now if they'd gotten somebody like Pete Sandoval on this record, that would've elevated it to the next level, but as it stands the drumming on this album sucks out loud and proves he was emininently unworthy to be in Slayer. You need a certain level of precision and tightness to hang in a band like this, and it was just not there on Bostaph's part.
In the long run, this album stands as a dividing line between Classic Slayer (everything up until and including "South of Heaven") and Shit Slayer (everything else released after that album). Disregard this unless you are a completist and absolutely have to have everything Slayer had ever recorded. Otherwise, save your money and download "Dittohead" and enjoy that as their last gasp at greatness. It falls short, but at least on that one tune they tried, anyway.
Yes it’s a surprisingly high rating for a Slayer album after Seasons in the Abyss but, as I find myself reaching for this album much more often than that or Reign in Blood, I realize it’s definitely worth it. After a four year absence and a new drummer (gasp) they came back with this and I was completely fucking blown away. The production is very nice and clean but with that it takes away a tad bit of aggression. But all fears of that are gone because it’s full of great riffs and some fucking fast great songs. I think many people that bash Bostaph are a little biased to the “classic Slayer.” He’s just as good as Lombardo was and shows some very incredible and technical double-bass work. He’s also a bit more fill happy than Dave was which isn’t a bad thing. There isn’t one horrible song and if a song starts to suck it’s replenished with riffs again.
And if you doubt Bostaph’s power behind the kit just listen to the first few seconds of the album. The small drum solo leads into a very different type opener for Slayer. Different as in, notice all the odd time signatures about 1 minute into it. It remains extremely kickass and transitions into a classic Slayer speedy section which is equally good. Holy damn, a short but memorable solo right there and chaos ensues until it abruptly ends. That was just 4 minutes? No time to breath as it’s quickly followed by a much faster Sex. Murder. Art.” Starts out with very fast double bass from Bostaph. Hmm, people seem to orgasm at the Angel of Death solo, yet who notices these moments? Some nice violent lyrics. “Beaten into submission, raping again and again.” With it being only 1:50 in length it’s similar to something found on Reign in Blood. Fictional Reality, with its catchy riffs, slows things down a bit with the verse. It also has the slow interesting breakdown section thrown in the middle with some strange guitar effects. Jesus christ Dittohead is not only the best song on the album but one of the best Slayer songs ever. Right up there with Necrophobic for speed, this is an incredibly fast aggressive piece of thrash. Tom Araya spits out words as fast as Kerry and Jeff shred and it’s all kept up by Paul’s drumming. It slows down slightly for a crushing breakdown and solo. After a weird little section it goes back into the speed and ends very nicely. By this point, Tom’s vocals aren’t that apparent but in the title track his vocals take a little spill. Besides that the song which is the longest on the album is a little weird in parts. Probably the only one I tend to skip sometimes. Three minutes into it gets very nice though.
Circle of Beliefs is the next track and is my second favorite. The opening riff just commands you to headbang. Tom’s voice seems a bit distorted in certain sections but isn’t really noticeable. It picks up the pace and gets really fucking nice. Good chorus, good leads, and riffs and riffs. They kick your ass with that opening riff again at 3:00.
SS-3 (anyone know what that name means?) starts out interesting and then goes into a kind of boring midtempo verse. Seems like its going to be a pretty dull song, but wait godlike riffing comes in at the 2 minute mark. Serenity in Murder has another oddly timed opening but turns crappy and midtempo with distorted vocals. But its saved again by some fast riffs later in the song. I believe they also made a video for this song. 213 starts out interesting with acoustics. It turns into sort of a Dead Skin Mask part 2. It actually isn’t a bad song at all but has some awkward (“My skin crawls with orgasmic seed……I need a friend...”) lyrics. Mind Control is how to end an album. Fast and aggressive with plenty of riffs to go around. It has another nice solo as well. In fact this album may have the better of Slayer’s solos on it.
It’s hard to make perfection so you can’t really ask for it. But this could have been pretty damn close. It’s kind of odd that the “classic” three Slayer albums, in my opinion, fall under both the early years and this one. Well it only gets crappier and crappier after this taking everything in more of a groove movement. This was a masterpiece for ’94 so at least respect Slayer for waiting a little longer to suck than the other big thrash bands.
This was Slayer´s mid 90's attack. Many people see this as the new "Reign in Blood" that appeared in the middle of the last decade...Well, i personally think this has gone beyond "Reign in Blood", because in the 80's we had a brutal band with speed and in the 90's we had a brutal band with speed...and technique...
"Divine Intervention" is without a doubt one of their best releases, a really angerful album, filled with some good riffs and an impressive sense of speed...
Slayer here remembered a little bit of the speed metal roots they had and that have been forgotten in the last few years before the edition of this album.
This was also an important album for another reason, being it the first time another drummer recorded something with the guys. Great transition made at the time, after all we are talking about Dave Lombardo being replaced for Paul Bostaph, and it came to be a replacement of a god for another...
Bostaph is even the one who kicks the action on, making the ferocious drum solo of "Killing Fields" intro, a great song, really heavy going from a progressive slow part to a more paced up one, managing to create a great vibe. "Sex, Murder, Art" is next and it has one of the most amazing riffage of this album, being followed by Kerry King´s "Fictional Reality" and the probably fastest song on this album, "Dittohead", in which every sound of that drum pounding is like a heavy thunder crack, hitting you really hard with that speed. This song has also some of the fast riffing of the album...
Next comes up " Divine Intervention", one of the greatest tunes on this album, with both Jeff and Kerry showing the highlights of their presence in this record. The intro is very good, being followed by a calm guitar interlude that antecipates the total devastation of the song´s rhythms.
"SS-3" has some good riffs but it could be better in those parts before the higher pace breaks in, "Serenity in Murder" is another of Hanneman and King´s odes to speed, really another highlight on this album...
The last two songs are the doom-melancholic sounding "213", something really original, something i´ve never heard Slayer playing before, being really a high quality tune and the total thrash finisher "Mind Control" with some amazing blast beats.
The boys really got themselves together again, having recorded one of the 90's best metal albuns, and kept a little hope for their fans to see Slayer return to their speed/thrash roots, hope that that beginned to disappear years later with the edition of "Diabolus in Musica".
This is a must have for any thrash maniac. If you don´t have this album (or Reign in Blood) then you´ll not deserve to be called like that...
It would still not be as good as The Highlight Years of Slayer. There are still half-a-songs to be found here (Sex Murder Art) and a few really shitty "Mr Gein?" moments. That said, some points of this album really fucking thrash like only Slayer can thrash.
This is pretty much the logical successor to Seasons in the Abyss, with both that and this being a response to the people that didn't like South of Heaven because it was too slow and variant - here, the slow is constrained into just a few songs, and for the most part the songs are fucking fast.
The real lowlight is Araya's vocals - while not nearly as distortion-irritating as on the next few albums, it is already a far cry from the clean shrieks of Classic Slayer. But the riffage, oh man the riffage... when this album gets going, it is EXCELLENT. Highlights include the opening sequence of Killing Fields, all of Circle of Beliefs, including the two different approaches to "can't you see... there's no validity", and of course the neck-violating crush of "Dittohead". "Fictional Reality" and "Serenity in Murder" are more midpaced vocals-driven songs that still fucking work.
The rest ranges from "effective, but unspectacular" (Sex Murder Art) to "kinda goofy" (SS-3), to an attempted rehash of previous title-track greatness (Divine Intervention) to utter fucking swill... I'm sorry but 213 is shit. Actually, it would be pretty good if it weren't for that fucking "I need a friend" cockswillfecalshit, which is a harbringer of the mallcore-related dimwitted stupidity that Slayer would descend into. That right there probably knocks the album out of the 80s... no one gets away with that sort of foul stupidity.
But hey, not bad. Even though it's sort of a retread of previous stuff, this is unmistakeably Slayer, and in this case that is a Good Thing. Also, the cover art is fucking awesome.