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The last of the Old masters - 80%

morbert, December 17th, 2009

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’.