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Well, this is about the quality I thought Slayer would uphold on their much-anticipated new song. After the thrashy yet derivative Christ Illusion, it was fairly obvious Slayer weren’t going back to their ‘80s glory days. Still, songs like “Flesh Storm” were competent, and there seemed hope for an at least decent new album.
However, judging by this song, that doesn’t seem like it will happen. This is Slayer without the groove or industrial tendencies, but even so it is extremely watered down. The opening riff is rather lacking, resembling something a third-tier thrash band would come up with rather than one as great and as well known as Slayer. This lackluster quality in guitar continues through the song, which contains about three riffs, none of them memorable. The solo in no way stands up to earlier shred fests; in fact, it’s actually rather poor. The drums are a bit generic – there’re too many blast beats and not enough variation. However, the bass takes a stand here, easily heard and actually at the forefront of the production. There’s even a speedy “bass solo” in the middle of the song.
What seem to have suffered most, though, are the vocals. Tom Araya sounds like he’s losing his voice from all that endless screaming he’s done over the years. He literally sounds “watered-down.” Araya’s screams have ceased to be interesting – the middle of the song contains one that, instead of the high, pitch-sliding screams in, say, “Angel of Death,” holds a single, middle-of-the-road note. In the final section of the song Araya sounds as if he were being castrated without anesthesia – and it’s awful stuff.
So, if this is what we’re in for later this year, count me out. There are too many mediocre thrash bands around, and what with Anthrax sucking for almost 20 years, Metallica failing at a comeback, and now this, it’s up to Megadeth to revitalize the “big four” of thrash. Now excuse me while I go back and listen to Hell Awaits … again.
Well Slayer is back…again, and with it has come a lot of justifiable skepticism. Like all members of the Big 4; this band definitely took a nosedive in quality of output since the mid 90s, and have yet to fully recover from it. The question that is naturally on the minds of everyone who was dissatisfied with the halfway back to thrash, middle of the road release “Christ Illusion” is whether or not this will be a genuine return to form or just another collection of semi-groove oriented neo-thrash with a few token thrash songs that will often grab pennies from the creative well of past efforts.
The jury is still out on whether the new full length will be a solid thrash album or another failed comeback attempt geared towards straddling the lines between old and new, but if this song is any indication of how the album turns out, there is a good degree of hope. “Psychopathy Red” is definitely not a groove metal song and cooks hard the whole way through, and seems to be reaching for a middle ground between the extreme speed and riff frenzied nature of “Reign In Blood” and the formulaic and fairly catchy approach of “Seasons In The Abyss”. There is a strong sense of activity in the riffs, drawing upon the dissonant chromatic approach of rapid ornamentation with a proto-death metal feel that was first explored on “Hell Awaits”, but in the brief, almost crossover oriented span of 2:30 minutes.
The only area where this seems to come up short is in the vocal department, as the wear and tear on Tom Araya’s voice after close to 3 decades of screaming his lungs out has definitely taken its toll. He sounds less like a seasoned thrash vocalist in the way that Blitz Ellsworth does (granted, these two have radically different sounding voices) and listens closer to a scratchy hard core singer after a few years of chain-smoking and screaming in a bar loaded with second hand exhalations of other chain-smokers. It’s on point enough to get the job done for this sort of song, but definitely don’t expect the same level of attitude that was reached in the mid 80s.
If judged by the standards of one of the many fast songs occupying the inner track list between the opening and closing songs on “Reign In Blood”, this is a solid song that is sure to get the horns up in the air at concerts. Having said that, it’s also one of those songs that work best when in a full length album occupied by other songs with different pacing and structures, as was the case with the songs that I’m comparing this to. It doesn’t particularly stand well on its own, though I could say the same about “Piece By Piece”, which is a song that I like very much. It would be good to hear a few times before the album comes out, but I’d be hesitant to spend money trying to get one of the limited edition hard copies, unless you’re a real diehard Slayer fan and just can’t wait.
“Psychopathy Red” is the newest single from one of the most famous thrash metal bands in existence--Slayer. This single is a very promising one and shows that even though they their influence was slightly more occupational in the remotest sense, were more popular in the 80’s, that they still have it. It’s basically a 2 minute 31 second track with a little bit of everything from them. With this track you don't exactly get what might be termed the ‘‘signature Slayer sound’’ (this division certainly hinges upon the Reign in Blood vs Hell Awaits dichotomy of choices), but you just get exactly what makes Slayer such a great band, in its certainly rarefied, genuine form redolent of their early sound.
The track starts off with some of the best guitar work I have heard in a while, slightly more re-invigorated in its approach than the plethora of neo-thrash “primogenitors”. It’s just another one of those Slayer riffs that once you hear it, it will stay in your head, vacillating its haunting reminiscence of Slayer’s very approach (ala “Dead Skin Mask”, “Raining Blood”, “Mandatory Suicide, etc.).Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman show why they have become some of the most famous guitarists in all of metal, despite the pervading thoughtless improvisational solo-wankery that often distracts from the overall musical message intended. The guitars manage to procure and evoke some shockingly wild, “barreling” riffage. Hanneman and King basically wrote the book when it comes to guitar riffs and this riff certainly proves it. As for the rest of the guitar goes, it's just as good as the intro. In essence, what you have here is Slayer’s “core”, albeit one slightly vitiated by the band’s age
Vocals here are not like what you would expect from a vocalist like Tom Araya. They are very similar to the earlier Slayer release “Christ Illusion”. Here Tom plays some pretty rapid bass, albeit lacking any dynamic flair (it could be argued this might be termed an unrealistic expectation). He definitely exemplifies why he has become so famous as a vocalist and bassist in thrash metal. I would consider his performance on this track some of the best that he has ever recorded since being in Slayer—which of course, is on a comparative basis. Tom’s shouting throughout the track elegantly coheres with the remainder of its constructional elements, especially the bass itself.
Lombardo’s drumming remains precise and fast, backing the pace of the song with a steady, continual drive. Basically since its Dave Lombardo you know what the drumming will be like in its formulaic approach. There was one section that has impressed me ever since I heard it. It starts at around 1 minute and to me it almost sounds like a Slayer breakdown. This section of the song just shows how good of a drummer Dave is and how good of a band Slayer is in general. He manages to pack a punch on any track he plays on, in one way or another.
Another aspect of the music that stood out to me was the production. Obviously it has improved since their earlier releases like “Hell Awaits”, and “Reign in Blood”. It’s definitely a step-up from any other release as well. I would consider it the best production on any track that I have ever heard. This along with the music, is what makes this song one of the best in Slayer history, with especial emphasis on their recent periphery of offerings since their magnum opus.
Everything this track just shouts thrash metal to me, in a number of exceptional ways: Drums, vocals, production, and guitar this track is probably the best Slayer single I have ever heard to date, with the exception of maybe "Angel of Death" or "Raining Blood". If you don’t already have it then you need to check it out. It should serve as an interesting listen!