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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.