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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.