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Slayer have tried a variety of things in their career haven't they? From thrash to groove to mallcore. From breakneck speeds to midtempos. From being the emissaries of darkness to the angry anti-religion dudes. Its been a varied career and through it all they've managed to keep it sounding Slayer.
Many say screw them for selling out, but I say respect them. Respect them for showing the middle finger to your rules and playing THEIR career THEIR way. Respect them for trying to be versatile instead of re-releasing Reign in Blood until their lack of creative flow turned around and bit their heads off and showing us just how bad RiB could have been with a lack of creativity in place of the genius song writing. These last 3 albums may not be classics but they have good material spread throughout.
Tom Araya has returned to spoken word. A good choice on his part as hearing another album packed with strained vocals wouldn't have impressed me much. His performance getting weaker with every album meant that this would probably be the album where he started failing to get the job done and slipping into the sloppy. His shouts are still present but spoken word has took the forefront. He emotes much better then he has in the past and definitely puts his energy into it, the job gets done again, nothing more and nothing less (except on Psychopathy Red where his yells are crap)
Unfortunately in Slayer's long career they have stumbled upon a lot of things they struggled to pull together, for example the slower the tempo the harder the band have to to try and force it. I mention this because the opening/title track is midpaced, even midpaced seems to be too slow for the Slayer boys to handle and right from the start it seems time to give up on any hope you had for the release. Well the tempo speeds back up and we get some more fast tracks that are much more tolerable, but slow tracks always creep in and break the album's momentum. The beginnings of a mixed bag album.
The guitars range in tempo though tend to pull much better work on the faster tempos. The technicality that was regained on the last album is lost again but they pull some power and muscle. Then they have to come and throw in some chugging and kill an entire track with it (Human Strain and Americon I believe). I can handle 'chugging' its when it is literally chug-a-chug-a-chug (wait for the choo choo but it never comes) at a slow tempo it drives me nuts.
The drums are fast and pounding again, that's an extremely good thing. The bass however is inaudible. The production is kind of crap, the drums sound like plastic, the guitar seems to have come under some assault in the studio where the guys with the buttons decided to attack it to see if they can make it sound better except instead they took off a bit of the edge. Good job fuckheads.
Standout tracks: Unit 731, Snuff, Hate Worldwide.
'World Painted Blood' is a difficult album to review, as most of the features of this album are almost identical to 'Christ Illusion'. So, seeing as I don't want a redundant review, I will only explain what has changed. Also, it's worth noting that I consider this the last album Slayer will ever make, as the death of Jeff Hanneman is too big a loss to carry on creatively.
Firstly, this album tends to be less consistent than 'Christ Illusion', as it has both the greatest Slayer song since the title track off 'Seasons In The Abyss' ('Public Display Of Dismemberment'), which wouldn't have sounded out of place on that very album with it's ferocious speed and intensity, but it also contains the worst Slayer song overall ('Playing With Dolls') with it's meandering structure, laughable attempts at singing and half-rapping. Between these, there is a massive variation in quality here and if you want to listen to a summary of Slayer's career, with it's highs and lows, this is the album to get.
Secondly, the production is actually worse than before, giving way to almost no dynamics at all, ruining any impact 'World Painted Blood' would've otherwise had. It is truly a shame how all the metal albums Rick Rubin produces nowadays turns into victims of the loudness war. You'd think that Metallica and Slayer would start to back off from him from how these albums sound, wouldn't you?
Finally, some songs seem hastily put together with simplistic riffs and lack of memorability such as 'Unit 731' and 'Human Strain'. This gives me the impression that Slayer had enough material to make a great EP, but they decided that an album would sell better and therefore added a load of filler. Also, Slayer rely on past riffs a bit too much here. For example, 'Hate Worldwide' is almost entirely based on the verse riff in 'War Ensemble' and the title track's verse borrows heavily from 'Chemical Warfare''s intro. From this, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Slayer didn't have much in them after 'Seasons In The Abyss', and pretty much gave all the quality they had left in 'Public Display Of Dismemberment' and 'Psychopathy Red'.
Overall, 'World Painted Blood' actually serves well as a swansong, summing up Slayer as a whole very accurately. This does not, however, mean that it is a good album as when on the subject of Slayer, you really don't want to think about anything past (and maybe including) 'Divine Intervention'. This may be why many have a positive view of Slayer despite them having a creative drop just as bad as any other. So, that's it for Slayer.
That Slayer's later material is not on par with their earlier recordings is not an opinion, but a fact. Indeed, to compare the return to thrash album Christ Illusion with such great albums as Hell Awaits or Reign In Blood borders on ridiculous, simply for the fact that the industry outgrew Slayer. That, in my opinion, is why Slayer's more modern albums do not get anywhere near the praise their first five albums garnered. They have to date released ten studio albums and are in the process of recording their next one. Their modern albums do not get any praise whatsoever and are considered to be really poor.
However, their last album, World Painted Blood, in my eyes, is a solid enough album. I never understood the hate that gets thrown upon this album, and never will do. World Painted Blood contains all the things that Seasons In The Abyss, their last "great" album, had. There was the mixture of incredible speed and slower, chugging numbers. There was also the mildly technical guitar work and the frantic fretwork during the tuneless solos. However, the industry left Slayer behind, as thrash died. Slayer were a thrash band, but thrash ceased to need one single fastest, most aggressive band. Since Slayer, there were far more evil sounding bands, and much heavier ones, and therefore, the industry no longer needed Slayer. But Slayer were still alive.
In fact, the blisteringly fast opener World Painted Blood proves straight away that Slayer are as intense and heavy as they have ever been, and Tom Araya's insane screeching over the top showcases perfectly the energy that the band had in the prime of thrash metal. This is how Slayer should sound, not the nu-metal garbage put out on Diabolus In Musica, this is raw aggression in its finest form, with hate filled lyrics spat out with venom, and great tremolo riffing to accompany it, with Dave Lombardo's speedy drumming as good as it ever was. And if you thought the band was done with just one thrash number, guess again. Unit 731 has riffs aplenty flying all around, with sickening lyrics fired off with murderous intent and one of the best drum performances since Seasons In The Abyss from Dave Lombardo. For all those who said Slayer was dead around the time of Diabolus In Musica or God Hates Us All, take a listen to the talent on display here, and remember the band you used to love, for they are all back in action now.
The single off of the album, Psychopathy Red, is a short song, that delivers the message in little over 2 minutes, but remains one of the high points of the album. The drumming to this is absolutely top notch, the guitar work is insanely fast and sheer incredible, the vocals are as pissed off as Tom Araya has ever sounded, and there is even a brief snippet of a bass solo thrown in when Kerry and Jeff rest their fingers. This is one of the finer songs from new Slayer, and is a very good one to thrash your neck to. Hate Worldwide, Not Of This God and Public Display Of Dismemberment and Snuff are four straight up, balls to the wall thrashers that rip the listeners face clean off as Tom Araya threatened to on the song "Exile" from God Hates Us All. The fast songs on here are all aggressive, and whirl past in just the right amount of time. However, many a Slayer fan will no doubt wish to hear of the quality of the slower numbers.
Human Strain is alright for the first minute, but after that it starts to drag on too long, with the same riff being repeated for far too long, and becomes snooze-inducing. Playing With Dolls is slightly above average, with the weird guitar lines, good lyrics and demonic shouting from Tom Araya as well as some singing for once. Americon, however, may well be the worst song the band has ever put out, with some silly lyrics, boring guitar work and even sub-par drumming. The song is completely one dimensional, predictable, and flat. The production is also not the finest out there with some rather poor guitar tones and the drums feel empty with no reverb on them whatsoever.
For all the praise i have given this album, it is by no means perfect. The slower paced material really does drag this down from the upper echelons of the Slayer discography. However, it is nice to hear Slayer sounding like they did in the 1980's, but also a shame that they will never enjoy the level of love for their albums as they did during that age. This is an angry and aggressive modern Slayer album that stands tall above their past few albums such as Christ Illusion and is a more than listenable album.
Ever since their inception in the early 80's, Slayer have become a household name amongst the metal community. Records such as Reign In Blood and Seasons in the Abyss are widely considered to be amongst some of the best thrash metal albums of all time. Fast forward to 2010, and this band is still going strong, but do they still kick as much ass as they did with their early albums? This is something metal fans debate on a regular basis, but in my honest opinion, no. This band, ever since the 2000s has become incredibly stale for me, and World Painted Blood is absolutely no exception. But hey, if you like repetitive 4/4 16th note thrash riff patterns, you'll eat this up.
First off, let's talk about the production. When I first heard tracks from this album I thought this had sounded like a Slayer version of Metallica's Death Magnetic, which is not a good thing in my book. Apparently Rick Rubin, who is known for producing most Slayer albums, and who had produced Death Magnetic the previous year, must've thought his production on that record sounded so good he wanted to replicate it on the next Slayer album. Well, I suppose that could explain why World Painted Blood sounds the way it does. The guitars and drums sound incredibly dry and over-compressed here, and half the time you can barely hear any bass. This creates a really bad overall sound to the album, and just makes it feel empty and lacking the punch that good thrash metal albums have.
Let's talk about the songs, shall we? The title track begins with an interesting sample of foreign chant-like voices, and then a half-decent melodic guitar harmony comes in for a few measures before breaking into one of the least creative thrash metal riffs I have honestly ever heard. It's the same stereotypical simple tremolo picked pattern which we've heard in the last 100 or so Slayer songs. The song continues throughout with more of these predictable and uncreative riffs, along with Tom's worn out voice yelling about death and plague (oh gee, I didn't see that coming). Speaking of which, Tom's vocals sound way too monotonous throughout this album, his tone of voice almost NEVER changes! Even those Half the tracks on this album recycle the same formula one after another, and there is almost no diversity to be found here. Songs such as Beauty Through Order, Human Strain and Playing With Dolls start with slower tempos but eventually build into more of the same generic crap over and over again. Oh and guitar solos? If you know Slayer's back catalog, you won't find anything in the solo department you haven't already heard. Just more random wankery with no real thought put into them that we already know. Drums, again, nothing special. Same stuff you've heard in just about every thrash metal album. Nothing creative here. Honestly I think the lyrics are just a tad more interesting than the past couple Slayer albums, which is really the best thing I can say about it... but even that's not saying much, as there's still nothing mind blowing here in terms of lyric writing.
Overall, this album feels like a very one-dimensional, lazy compilation of riffs rushed together, only made worse by its irritating, Death Magnetic-like production. It's not completely unlistenable, nor is it absolutely terrible, it's just not special in any way, and gives me no reason to ever care to return to it.
Slayer’s early material is almost universally praised by metal fans worldwide. You will hardly ever see someone bash “Show No Mercy”, “Haunting the Chapel”, or “Hell Awaits”. Some might say that every Slayer album sounds alike, however those who have listened to their discography know that this is not the case. When Slayer released “Diablous in Musica” in 1998, many fans were disappointed by the new direction Slayer took with their music. Many felt it was “mallcore” and when “God Hates Us All” was released, these feelings continued. I agree with most fans that those two albums were weak and uninspired albums with only a couple of strong moments. In 2006 the band released “Christ Illusion” which returned some elements of the early days; however some felt that they still did not harness their full potential. In the year 2009, a new album by Slayer entitled “World Painted Blood” was released. Did this album bring Slayer back to their glory days? The answer is very simple; yes.
Slayer, over 25 years later, has created a very good record that has many moments which will remind listeners of their early material. There are some weak moments on this album with “Americon” and “Human Strain”. “Americon” might just be one of the worst songs Slayer has released, and easily contains their worst lyrics ever. However aside from those two tracks, this album is very well written. The album kicks off with the title track, with a thrash break that will remind some of “Angel of Death” or “Epidemic”. Immediately one will wonder if Slayer has pulled together. “Beauty Through Order” sounds like it could have been a track on South of Heaven, while “Psychopathy Red” (which is possibly the best song they have done since “Seasons in the Abyss”.), “Public Display Of Dismemberment”, and “Unit 731” could have fit on “Reign in Blood”. Slayer also made a very unique song with “Playing With Dolls” which has a very distinct song structure and a very eerie feeling. By the end of "Not of this God" one should feel proud to be a Slayer fan again.
This album really shows the return of Slayer. Crushing riffs are found all throughout this album, as they are found in most of Slayer’s albums. Jeff Hanneman has always been a better song writer than Kerry King, and it is shown once again on this album. However even the King songs on this album are entertaining as seen in “Hate Worldwide” and “Public Display Of Dismemberment”. Hell, even the solos on this album, which have been Slayer’s weak point since “Hell Awaits”, are decent. Tom Araya’s vocal performance stands out as he sounds very angry here, however, he sings on “Playing With Dolls” which gives a twist to that track. And as always, Dave Lombardo provides intense drum beats that show us once again why he is considered one of the greatest metal drummers of all time. Some may complain about the production of this album, however if you are a fan of “Hell Awaits” or black metal, then the production on this album should not disturb you.
Slayer is back. This is definitely a thrash album. The only traces of “nu metal” are found in the two weak tracks mentioned above. However, do not listen to this record expecting to hear something such as “Show No Mercy” or “Hell Awaits”. If you want to compare the sound of this album their previous albums, it is like a mix of “Reign in Blood”, “South of Heaven”, and “Christ Illusion”. This is easily the best album they have put out since “Seasons in the Abyss”. And to compare this album to the other recent material of the “Big 4 of thrash metal”, this album is much better than Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” and about on par with Megadeth’s “Endgame”. But Slayer has granted us with some great thrashers on this record along with some unique tracks. Who knows what is in store for the future of Slayer. This could be their last album, this might not. However one thing that is for sure is that this is a fantastic record for an aging Slayer. If you are a fan of Slayer, you will be very proud of them for making a record like this. This is Slayer, and they have returned.
Highlights: “Playing With Dolls”, “Psychopathy Red”, “Public Display Of Dismemberment”
Slayer is a band that has a long history with metal. They were one of the bands responsible for the birth of the extreme side of the genre and it is no doubt that they have influenced a countless number of bands, even some non metal ones. But any fan of the band, who isn't a fanboy or new to them, will admit to the fact that their quality has deteriorated over the years. From the nu metal acrobatics on Diabolus In Musica and God Hates Us All, and the unsuccessful 'comeback' of Christ Illusion, Slayer has proven that even the mightiest of metal bands once considered invincible can fall, and fall really hard. Getting to World Painted Blood, Kerry King compared this album to Seasons In The Abyss, because 'it has a little bit of everything'. Well, Seasons is a good album and even though it's not their best, an album like Seasons couldn't possibly further hurt the band's legacy, right?
Well, there's a problem with Kerry King's analogy. It barely sounds anything like SITA. This album doesn't have much variety, if any at all. So perhaps, I should like it for what it is, a fun thrash album. Oh wait, it doesn't fit in that category either. I suppose I should get to the music, but I have a hard time deciding what I go for first as there is so much wrong with this album.
The guitar riffs. Well, I will not shy away from the fact that some of them are pretty catchy. But a lot of the times they are really bland, lack any kind of intensity and sound so half assed. They try to go for the classic 'evil' Slayer sound but instead end up sounding annoying and simple. Same can be said for the guitar melodies. The solos are insanely messy, and this wouldn't be such a bad thing if they weren't so damn directionless. The same type of solos worked well in Slayer's earlier days because thought was put in to the placement of the solos so they could be effective. Now, they just seem to throw in a random, structureless solo whenever and wherever they feel like it.
As for the vocals, Tom has really messed up his voice over the years. Even with the high budget production, I can tell something's off in his voice. But that aside, he seems to think screaming and ranting like an angry 13 year old boy sounds great. I remember a time when Tom utilized his voice for the best, using chanting, whispering, singing and screaming, all in a nice balanced state. Now, it's 90% screaming, a bit of nu metal talking, and mallcore-ish singing. He manages to keep the choruses and some other parts catchy, but not interesting. The lyrics are kind of dumb. From the annoying, repititive ranting of 'Murder is my future! Killing is my future!' in Snuff, to the infamous 'It's all about the motherfucking oil', the lyrics manage to bring the quality of this album down.
Drums are probably the only good part about this album. Dave Lombardo provides energetic beats, fills and double bass parts. However, they are buried underneath at times due to the production. speaking of the production, it just seems really weird. I can't point what exactly is wrong but I can tell that the guitars aren't as effective as they should be and the bass is pretty difficult to hear most of the time. There are some pretty intense moments on the album but they are so less that I'm pretty sure that I can count the number of intense seconds on my fingers. One thing this album lacks and could really use is atmosphere, something they've completely avoided since Divine Intervention. Just another reason it doesn't sound anything like SITA. Some of the ideas presented on the album are interesting, like the structure of Playing With Dolls. But due to the terrible terrible execution, for example the wimpy intro riff and the dumb mallcore vocals, the potential of the idea is completely pissed on. The album is really monotonous for the most part, as it goes for a fast approach and tries to be Reign In Blood (which, I think is their worst album up to '94, but that's another topic altogether) but fails to even do that.
What else can I say, this a very disappointing album. It's better than anything they've since after Divine Intervention, but that really isn't saying much. The nu metal bull is still present, up to lesser extent but pretty noticeable nevertheless. The vocals are terrible for the most part. The drums are good, but the guitars are ineffective. The bass is just.... there. Slayer has forgot what made them a great band once. But hell, why do they need to remember anyways? All the rabid fanboys and people new to Slayer who don't know any better have and are going to buy this album. What does Slayer have to lose? Other than their integrity and legacy I mean.
I always listen to an album at least 10 times before I review it, but my future is apparent if I listen to this anymore. Makes me regret spending 10 bucks on it at Future Shop due to the constant recommendations by friends and thrashheads alike.
I've always twitched a little when someone mentions most of the Big Four's work, with the exception of a few albums here and there. Seasons in the Abyss, ...And Justice For All, and Rust in Peace come to mind, just because I've never really liked any of it. This album causes me to dislike all of Slayer's aspects, drums, vocals, and riffs altogether. This being said, I'm still a diehard thrash metal fan who owns many other thrash icons' discographies (Kreator, Exodus, and Sodom, just to name some.)
Most people (including Slayer themselves) have proclaimed "World Painted Blood" to be their new version of "Seasons." Well, hogwash and poppycock I say to them! Seasons being one of the only Slayer albums I actually enjoy listening through from start to finish, I was actually insulted that the band themselves would compare this piece of mediocrity to that piece of superiority.
The riffs are tired, reused, and old, which isn't surprising because Slayer's riffs have always appeared somewhat repetitive and forced to me. King and Hanneman have both run out of creativity, which becomes even more apparent with the unoriginal drivel that they pour out in what they call "solos." I don't call them solos, I call them boring. Guitarists should never have to exchange speed for creativity, but that's what they at least attempt to do
Dave Lombardo has always been my favourite part of the band, for me. He's been one of my favourite thrash metal drummers for quite some time due to his work on Angel of Death (only song off of Reign in Blood that caught my attention), and is one of the inspirations for me to become a drummer. That's why it extremely disappoints me to say that his performance on this album makes me wish he let Bostaph keep the job as drummer for this band, allowing him to explore new fields. I can't tell if Lombardo is purposely slower due to the inferiority of King/Hanneman, or if Tom Araya is no longer able to spit lyrics out like an auctioneer, or if he's just plain tired. In any case, his drumming is sloppy, it lacks any form of gusto it had back in the day, and he sure as hell didn't have any groundbreaking thrash revival drumming. The only track where he somewhat sparkled is Americon, which also happens to be the only track that I enjoyed on this album.
I'm dividing Araya's section into two parts. His vocals are what they've always been, and are what's expected from a thrash metal band. He shouts. And shouts some more. And when you think he's done, he shouts. And then he screams and you can hear his voice crack, so he shouts some more. And then he tries to attempt clean vocals, which make you realize how much all this shouting affects someone's voice. Needless to say, his vocals have become strained, lack any form of aggression at all, and just make him sound like he's throwing a temper tantrum. Onto his bass, it's gone. You can't hear it all, except for a few seconds on the track Psychopathy Red. It's impossible to justly review a few seconds of audible bass, which is only audible because the guitars take a rest, especially when the reviewer isn't a bassist himself.
Needless to say, this album is so bad it makes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 look good. If you have an unnatural desire to flush money down the toilet, buy the album, and then send it down along with a few hundred dollar bills, because all you'll get with this is the same thing you've had for the last couple decades if you listen to Slayer: The exact same thing, with a nice set of manboobs.
Slayer’s music became one of the bases for death metal, alongside Sepultura. The band has made fast thrash anthems like “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood” which became a trademark for the band. After the disappointing release of “Christ Illusion” and three more years, we get “World Painted Blood”. Let’s see what it sounds like…
Remember when Tom Araya said that this album will sound like “Christ Illusion”? Well, it does, but on the other hand, this album has a lot of edge. The songs are quite short, with an average length of three-and-a-half minutes. The songs also have more punk feel done Slayer-style (late Slayer, that is), with breakdowns included. Well all that’s noticeable even for the untrained ears. A lot of things have changed like the riffs and the music, both of which sounding more hardcore than ever. But the big change here, really, is the vocal work. It’s quite noticeable that Tom Araya is really getting old, but al the very least his voice doesn’t seem to have dried up excessively. Most of all, what I’ve really liked in this album are the solos. Yes, those dissonant yet musical solos that makes your head bang. It really screams “Kerry King” out loud. The solos still are very original and inspired in every shape and form, which reminds me of their good old days.
The title track really is an excellent way to start the album. It has an eerie feeling, worthy of the Slayer name, though it doesn’t have much speed. “Snuff” is another good song, with a hell lot of solos and a lot of sheer ferocity, minus the whiney ending. “Hate Worldwide”, although quite repetitive and has a silly ending, has enough ferocity and speed. “Americon” is one groovy song, though it seems out of place anywhere you put in the album. And lastly, “Not of This God” is my personal favorite here for being both eerie and fast, though it slows down in the middle.
One major problem about this album is that they focused too much on speed, though there they have three mid-tempo songs here. Listen to “Unit 731”. It might be fast but it’s nothing special, really. Another thing is that the mid-tempo songs remind me of the Christ Illusion fillers. These guys could do better than that, just like what they did on “Skeletons of Society” and “Dead Skin Mask”. Both songs might not be fast, but they’re wicked sick. Last thing is that they shouldn’t recycle ideas to a lot of songs in a single album.
This is a good album that gets stale with every listen. Though still a pretty good snag, these guys should create something that will withstand the test of time. I hope they will create something better than this in their next release, but a very good improvement since their last album though!
Originally made for http://mystifymyserie.blogspot.com
There’s a certain sweetness that comes with seeing a great band finally get back on the ball, but seeing 2 members of the good old Big 4 get their act together is quite a treat. In terms of overall faithfulness to the original tenants of Thrash, Slayer’s “World Painted Blood” carries the day, though as an overall quality metal album “Endgame” edges it out. Both make definite references to the past, though Slayer’s revisiting of the glory days of the genre is not quite as multifaceted. The band set themselves apart from other thrash outfits by focusing mostly on speed, aggression, creepy themes, brutal lyrics, and a chaotic atmosphere.
For the most part, this album tries extremely hard to be another “Reign In Blood”, but ultimately comes out musically as a midpoint between “South Of Heaven” and “Seasons In The Abyss”, with a vocal performance that tends towards “Divine Intervention”. Suffice to say, Araya’s vocals are completely depleted of any banshee wails, and concentrate on a morose, yet still tonal shout. It is less ridiculous than the slovenly hard core inspired vocal drivel on “God Hates Us All”, but still with a limited range and character that showcases the band’s principle weakness since the mid 90s.
The production is really dry and plain, particularly the popping quality of the drums combined with an overloud cymbal presence, but solid riff work and riveting musicianship, particularly on the part of Hanneman and King, tend to mask this otherwise glaring flaw. A quick listen to wild leads such as heard on “Snuff” and “Psychopathy Red”, the former of which contains leads so methodical that they could be hummed along to in spite of being all over the place, will solidify a high expectation of riveting greatness in the soloing department not witnessed since 1990. Sure, the atmosphere surrounding each crazy shred fest isn’t as dense and haunting as on “Hell Awaits”, but things are put together so well that you hardly notice.
For the most part, Slayer came full circle here in terms of songwriting and is now backing into the proto-death/thrash territory that they were flirting with in the mid 80s. A quick listen to selected riffs and sections on “Beauty Through Order”, “Public Display Of Dismemberment” and “Psychopathy Red” will reveal a familiar collection of creepy chromatic themes that were paraphrased by Deicide, elaborated on by Death, muddied up by Bolt Thrower, and exaggerated into tonal oblivion by Cannibal Corpse. Most of these songs are kept under the 3 minute cap, and differ from the acclaimed bands that were influenced by this one in the vocal approach and a somewhat less surreal and graphic lyrical depiction of human depravity.
Much like the band’s most renowned release “Reign In Blood”, most of the time these songs cook at varying rates of moshing insanity, and their most ambitious and memorable songs are the opener and the closer. Both of these songs generally incorporate the same driving, fast as hell combination of thrash beats and signature riffing heard in the shorter numbers, alongside a set of slower atmospheric sections, but taking the route of a more human testimony of the events depicted rather than the otherworldly nature of the 80s material. But unlike said album, there are a few slower songs on here with commonalities to various experiments like “Fragments Of What Used To Be” and “Dead Skin Mask”, culminating in “Human Strain” and “Playing With Dolls”, both of which are decent but don’t slay the senses like the rest of the album does.
Disagreements will naturally be had amongst Slayer’s fans over this album, largely because most associate the band’s past greatness with the somewhat dense atmospheric aesthetic that their classic works was steeped in, which is not present here. But it is otherwise a nearly 100% faithful revisiting of that period musically, perhaps to the point of asserting its desire to have been released in 1992 rather than 2009. But at the end of the day, the important part of any album isn’t the year it was copyrighted, but the contents contained therein.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 1, 2010.
Starting with Christ Illusion I started buying Slayer stuff again for the first time since Divine Intervention. Hell, Slayer sound like Slayer again since 2006 for the first time in many, many years. Just like with all the thrash metal bands from the eighties I’d be rather senile to expect or demand releases just as genius as their ancient masterpieces but it’s damn good if they at least start thrashing again. So to be honest when such a band just releases a thrash metal album instead of those nineties-ridden nu-metal, poprock or groove attempts, I’m happy. And this is exactly what Slayer has done, save a few dull tracks, for the second album in a row.
What could be the complaint or discarding-argument of some people, the riffs (or even the entire approach of their faster material) sounding old fashioned or even rehashed, actually is a strong point in my humble opinion. Isn’t this exactly what legions of fans cried for when Slayer went AWOL on Diabolus in Musica and God Hates Us All? Well, on World Painted Blood most Slayer riffs are Slayer riffs, it’s their signature sound. Just listen to ‘Psychopathy Red’. This can’t be anything but Slayer. And honestly, if this reminds you of something, it’s Slayer themselves again and again. And if it reminds you of something else, it’ll be a band that has been influenced by Slayer.
As said in my opening statement, there is enough real old school thrashing Slayer happening to make it a good album. There is a decent amount of fast tracks with catchy choruses and great riffs here which remind me of the days of Born On Fire and SexMurderArt. On this album ‘Unit 731’, ‘Snuff’, ‘Hate Worldwide’ and the earlier mentioned superb ‘Psychopathy Red’ are the best examples. There are enough of these tracks or sped up sections to make this yet another solid Slayer release. But are they just solid? Well ‘Psychopathy Red’ would have been a great tune on any Slayer album. ‘Unit 731’ and ‘Snuff’ are packed with more energy than you’d expect after all these years from these aging guys and they have a more than obvious hint to crossover this time.
But this time the group also managed to write some good slower material again. I’m not talking about ‘Human Strain’ (just dull and dragging) nor ‘Americon’ (which even sounds like groove-era Sepultura) but ‘Playing With Dolls’ apart from that annoying nineties-orientated guitar picking hovering over the song, is actually pretty good in essence. The basic riffs, vocal lines and build-up, are memorable. It’s a matter of arrangements here. Had that higher pitched guitar on the verses and bridge here been replaced by an eerie melody, it could have become a good song in Seasons Of The Abyss tradition. Apart from that there are several tracks on which slower sections have been incorporated but the songs take all kinds of directions. For instance ‘Beauty Through Order’ is not that special but has an interesting atmosphere before it erupts at a point at which you actually didn’t expect it coming anymore before settling into a classic midpaced Reign-South era middle section.
Slayer does nothing new here. But neither do they disappoint and on one song they even exceed expectations. Only the guitar tone, rather flatly produced drums and the fact that the vocals have been mixed in too soft are highly debatable details. Yes I know, these are three quite important aspects. But there is more enjoyment than there are complaints as far as I’m concerned.
SLAYER…the perfect name for one of metal’s greatest acts. The name screams honor, necessity, and importance…and it’s the best thing to scream amidst a crowd of drunken, sweaty, fulfilled concert goers the world over. It’s been many, many fantastic years since their introduction into an unsuspecting Bay Area, where, as time progressed, Satan, serial killers and warfare slit the throats of every rose having its thorn, Dr. Feelgood and disposable heroes, standing the test of time, even in the face of a country’s popularity overhaul. And though many people have been pissed by consistent style changes (honestly, I liked “Diabolus in Musica” and “God Hates Us All”…), their hard-nosed existence should be something to vilify, not shit on.
And so we have “World Painted Blood”…
Well, I gotta hand it to them…they’re certainly prolific (insert vast sarcasm here). Not as bad as the TYPE O NEGATIVEs or the METALLICAs of the world, SLAYER should still have fingers wagged at them for taking so damn long to get off the road and give us new material in a timely fashion. So one would ask “is this, like the superior ‘Christ Illusion’, worth the wait?” The answer is a resounding “yes“. While experimental elements were present in previous works, it’s a bit more truncated this time around, where the steamroller of thrash is without most of the mind-fuck moments, though retaining enough to keep it from becoming stagnant. But all in all the band beats the ever-loving hell out of pop-culture and “metal” bands that have been part of the effluvium of American musical values lo these many, bothersome years. While things start slow with the “too much, too soon” title track, things get right down to violent business; the unstoppable wrecking ball of “Unit 731” and “Hate Worldwide” hits the immovable wall of “Beauty Through Order” (with a delightfully old-school section half-way through) and “Human Strain”, where the Jeff Henneman/Kerry King school of riffery and guitar neck strangulation is in full session…a lesson from the book of “Divine Intervention” with a few pages of mid-era death metal is in store, chock full of the metallic fury that have permeated within SLAYER’s many releases, never in short supply. This is pushed along by the backdrop of Dave Lombardo’s ever-so-superior drum work and Tom Araya’s screams of pure insanity…even after all these years, his voice is still strong enough to cause chills to go down spines aplenty. And when combined, the listener is reminded why SLAYER is still one of the last great metal bands in existence.
So all in all “World Painted Blood” is a very satisfying listen, where the now-perfected riff butchery, percussive torture and twisted lyrical content combine into a fist of pure metal being shoved into your face. Say it loud, and say it proud…SLAYER!!!!!!!!
It's been 11 years now since Slayer screwed the pooch and released the abominable Diabolus in Musica. In the interim, we've gotten a pair of albums that, while not a total bust, were largely forgettable when compared against this band's body of 80s work. So three years pass after Christ Illusion, and the buzz is mounting for World Painted Blood, Slayer's 11th full length release. How does it stack up?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. World Painted Blood is by and large a thrash metal album, and I for one am grateful to hear it. But it's not a very good thrash album...it exudes none of the menace or aggression of their many classics, and part of that is a product of the album's production. Tom Araya still sounds quite fierce, but the guitars have a different, crunchy sound to them. This isn't to say they sound bad, but there is a sterile feeling to the album which often scored a few yawns while I was listening. The album does have a few blistering tracks, like "Unit 731" and "Hate Worldwide", which are certainly as explosive as anything else the band has produced in nearly 20 years. "Playing With Dolls" is an interesting track, which teases with some clean vocals and melodies before adopting some chugging, old school Slayer grooves and, well, 'bounce' like lyrics. But I found most of the other tracks to be rather ho-hum for Slayer, pleasant enough to listen through but creating no compulsion to replay.
To tell the truth, I'm not a whit disappointed by the album, because I have expected little to nothing from this band for years. Musically, the band shows they still have the chops to set themselves on fire. The sporadic leads are still in place, the lyrics are dark, the tone of the album vaguely summons forth nostalgia for Seasons in the Abyss. Of the 11 tracks and 40 minutes, there are about 10-15 minutes where I was clenching my fists and admiring the threat this band can generate. The rest? Meh. I doubt many of these tracks will be making their setlist in the years to come.
Highlights: Unit 731, Hate Worldwide, Not of This God
If I’m not wrong, it was way back in early 2008 or so, that slayer announced that the next album might just be their last. Then in early 2009, they released their first single Psychopathy Red, a fairly praiseworthy and satisfactory effort I must say. But now, we have the full album with us, and I’m wondering just how much of its hype did it live up to. I don’t want to sound like one of those asshole fans who don’t realise how hard it is to make music, but this release has really left me disgusted and heart-broken, and an undeserving hype has never helped the music, as (recent) history will tell us. Death Magnetic? Ah, leave it.
The problem is not that this album isn’t anywhere near their first 5 efforts, in fact, sound-wise it’s probably closer to it than any album in the latter half of their catalogue. The problem is that Slayer simply refuses to work on their flaws, and here it seems they’ve got more of it than they ever had. While it might be hard to actually compose great songs, being a guitarist myself, I believe I can confidently say that making a few good riffs is really no big deal. But Slayer is far from that. They fail to conquer even the easiest of grounds. In structure, the songs here are unbelievably pathetic and childish, no flow, no continuity, no ‘moments’ (you know what I mean, right?), nothing. It’s surprising how such experienced and well-known musicians can sound so amateurish, incompetent and downright awkward. Almost all songs start with a variation of that one single riff, gain some pace, maybe slightly alter the tempo, and then suddenly break into a little soloing. Soloing as you might know has always been their weakest territory. Needless to say, here they give further proof to that, using the whammy more than they ever have. This is incoherent music without a start or an end, filled with painfully monotonous tunes and the exact same resentful vocal lines that will pretty soon result in an unbearable headache.
Trust me, there is not an ounce of exaggeration in my words, but then, maybe I’m making a mistake trying to review it as music and not loud-garbage-that-you-can-put-on-as-a-substitute-for-breaking-things-which-obviously-is-something-you-can’t-do. I wish the band had given me something I could talk positively about, except their uncanny ability to infuse power & aggression into their music, something I’ve always appreciated about Slayer. And maybe (I’m trying hard here fellas), I could give them some credit for the fact that they wrote down some lyrics, for they are the only thing that make these songs different from one another.
As most of you might already know, Slayer has now nearly 10 albums under their belt. It's almost as if there's no stopping for these dudes. Or should they stop? Seriously, to be a little rational of things here, there's a saying "If you eat the same recipe, you're sure to get bored of it". World Painted Blood is showing us that. I mean, come on. Same riffs, same messages, is hard for me to devour something with the same formula without adding newer treatment. W.P.B creates a sea full familiar oldies, that seems to be extremely saturated.
I must say the first 2 tracks were amazing. Never heard of anything like this from Slayer for quite a while. With lyrics that shows they still have fire in them. But right after these two tracks, boy was I wrong. Each of the track reminded me everything about Christ Illusion.
Similar riffs connected with the same themes in lyrical content, that has been told countless of time with the only difference in period. Even there are some newly written contents on the album, what really made me felt discourage of this whole album is the overtly long lyrical content. "World Painted Blood" was by far their longest lyrics ever written in their career (and it's not even written for a long epic song). You got to be kidding me? Was Araya trying to write this for some lame death-rap music? Even if people didn't mine about this, the lyrics didn't have flow. Therefore, it could sound corny as hell. Like the last lines from "Snuff"; 'Killing is my future/Murder is my future' was horrible. Writer's block I guess.
Let's jump into the music. As I said before, the riffs, the structure and the content of W.P.B is almost as similar to Christ Illusion. Repetitive riffing and reused materials from previous albums, these I would not call a good sign. Including the annoying high pitch solos from Kerry King and Hanneman. It just shows how noob these guys have went. Christ Illusion was a very pale version of what Slayer did in their early days. Since World Painted Blood has similar structure as Christ Illusion was, they should have name it "Christ Illusion 2".
As we enter the new age of metal with crappy metalcore bands dominating the world, I expect more from old school metal bands like Slayer or Megadeth, hoping they could rid the world of bad modern metal bands such as "Bring Me the Horizon" which is the most despicable band in the universe. Instead, what Slayer presented is something that is lacking some juiciness in it. It is good to keep playing the same trademark sound even after 20 or 30 years later because it works for the musician and fans alike. But honestly, do you think it can stand on its own for long? Sometimes a band needs to mix newer things from the outside with the older ones just to see what one gets. Here we have a band basically using pretty much the same blue prints that has been used for nearly 30 years untouched. So what else is Slayer gonna do next? "God Hates Us All 2"???
I think we've all agreed long ago that reviewing bands like Slayer and Metallica these days based purely on the merits of their newest material is an impossible task, but I will give it my best shot. When bands reach such a size cutting through the hype, the over-exposure and the fanboy idiots is as big a task as listening to the album objectively in itself. Given how long ago Metallica left the realms of 'metal' it has been down to Slayer for a considerable period of time now to manage the space that was vacated by their once thrash-brothers, which given this fact makes it all the more incredible how loved they still are.
"Christ Illusion" was no damp squib but it had been 16 long years since Slayer had released anything half-decent, going all the way back to "Seasons in the Abyss". I mean, that's nearly one whole "Chinese Democracy"! And so while Slayer's early back-catalogue is quite simply a hallowed and untouchable spectrum of work, the band have struggled to remain a force to be reckoned with since and it is through this length of time that unavoidable questions have arisen over the band's worth nearly 30 years after they formed. In this respect "World Painted Blood" closes as many questions as it leaves open as on occasion Slayer pull out a riff, or a tempo, that shows some life in the old dog yet but invariably they feel like the dad on a wedding party dance floor, trying to resurrect their moves from their 'prime' while of course being wholly incapable of doing so.
The production of "World Painted Blood" feels as much to do with Slayer's negatives on album number 11 as it does the album positives. On the plus side it accentuates the feel of old-school, as occurred too on "Christ Illusion" that I feel is absolutely essential to the making of any great Slayer record, yet in repeated listens I can't help comparing it to the production of "Reign In Blood" and safe to say the comparison is not favourable. Before you start screaming "you can't compare everything to the greatest metal record of all time!! lulz", think about this fact: for much of "World Painted Blood" the riffs and writing feel strongly reminiscent of that 1986 classic yet that songwriting is let down by a vastly inferior and blunter production. "Reign In Blood"'s production was light years ahead of it's time but 23 light years ahead? And it is with this comparison I realise in the 23 intervening years Slayer have lost much of their bite and edge that made them veritable gods of their time, as that realisation is frankly unacceptable if you come here looking for a modern day classic.
With Tom Araya's vocals you can always be sure of just whom you are listening to and for that we can be truly thankful. In the riffs too of "Public Display Of Dismemberment", "Psychopathy Red" and "Unit 731" you would accuse the band on your stereo of ripping off Slayer if it weren't for the fact it was Slayer themselves, and that's no bad thing. After all, Slayer fans don't wish for their heroes to transform into a freeform jazz quartet and if they wish to try and repeat what makes "Reign In Blood" the only 11/10 album of all-time that must be admired. But to hear a number of tracks fall short of this standard only confirms what we originally knew: that Slayer are a long, long way past their best. "Playing With Dolls" harks back to the kind of slow-song composition I've heard from bands of 16-year-olds who formed last week while "Americon" returns the kind of headaches I get when just thinking of 2001's "God Hates Us All". This is not to mention on top the number of songs that sit squarely in the middle territory of 'dull', thus making finding anything to say about them difficult - "Beauty Through Order", "Human Strain" and "World Painted Blood". So I’m not going to try.
Naturally we are expecting much but then this is SLAYER!, the band that people willingly carve the logo of into their arms. I'm sure you'll get many claiming a change of underwear was in order after their first listen to "World Painted Blood" but ignore them and listen to me instead: there are moments worth shouting about here but if you want to experience these legends at their best do yourself a favour and travel back two decades plus.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
An artist’s youth is arguably his most fertile creative period. It is here, past the struggles of adolescence but not yet at the point of complete maturity, where he develops experience without yet abandoning his instinctual methodology, often creating his most beloved works in the process. In heavy metal, it is far from uncommon to find the majority of a band’s fans worshipping at the feet of their older albums, many going so far as to deride the band’s later works in order to create a sharper contrast between them and the favored albums of old. But while age comes with decreased ability, physical weakness, blurry vision, obsolescence, and a host of other debilitations, the benefits of maturity can be just as far-reaching. And if this experience is reconnected with the fervor of youth, even an old dog can learn a few very impressive new tricks and remind the pups that he ain’t a hound to be fucked with.
With that, we reach World Painted Blood, Slayer’s tenth studio album. This one managed to sneak up on me quite unlike their last album, Christ Illusion, whose development I followed fervently from first announcement to opening day purchase. That album had “comeback” hype branded on it from day one, leaving us fans to nervously cross our fingers until we were (mostly) satisfied with the results. World Painted Blood did not have this hype; after all, once you’re ‘back,’ expectant fans need you to merely keep up the good work. Apparently hype and immediate gratification must be directly proportional, because World Painted Blood didn’t have that going for it either when I finally got my paws on a physical copy. Where Christ Illusion wasted no time demonstrating the renewed vigor of the aging band, World Painted Blood takes time to warm up: its title track, though traditionally in either the opening or closing role on a Slayer album, serves as a less-than-ideal opening cut when compared to some of the album’s other tracks and further exacerbates the patience of those hopeful listeners geared up for the spine-tearing thrash-fest that eventually ensues. But patience is a virtue, as they say, and the virtuous will find that what Slayer has done here is not merely recapture the furiously controlled chaos and vintage riffs of their better days, but the subtlety and unnerving atmosphere of those days as well, all without the throwback vibe that so frequently soils new thrash albums, from young bands and old alike.
The first intimation of Slayer doing things how they used to is also the most obvious. Slayer once performed the tightest, most genuinely enjoyable thrash metal on the face of the earth, and on at least half of World Painted Blood’s tracks, they seek to do this once again. “Snuff,” “Psychopathy Red,” “Unit 731” and their brood are direct descendents of the sort of thrash that Slayer used to command in the 80’s, most overtly on Reign in Blood. Not every song has the raging thrash hard-on that these songs have, but most of the rest have abundant fast passages of varying degrees of importance in their respective structures. But more on those later: right now, let us bask in the glow of Slayer’s glorious fucking riffs. If there’s one thing this band has never ceased to execute masterfully, it’s no-nonsense thrash. At first, it’s easy to get the impression that’s it’s simply “new” Slayer playing “old” Slayer, what with some of the lower tuned guitars still making the occasional appearance, but hey, it beats “new” Slayer playing “new” Slayer, right? The impression dulls as the album continues, eventually disappearing completely in wake of the fury of the particularly potent “Psychopathy Red,” which is as fearsome a track as they’ve ever written. The people who'd dislike this stuff are probably the same people that haven’t liked anything since Reign.
One nice thing about these faster tracks is that they break Christ Illusion’s annoying habit of going to hell when the tempo drops. You know the feeling: you’re nicely thrashing along when all of a sudden an unsavory groovy bit hits you hard, reminding you of the GHUA days a bit too distinctly. Here slow passages are handled like they used to be handled, as fucking devastating contrast to the main riffage. There’s one such break in “Public Display of Dismemberment,” which plummets to a Hell Awaits-era crawl before racing back into the tempo proper. There also a nonlinear feel to the songs that recalls the old days. Verse riffs will mutate as the songs progress, 4’s will be liberally swapped with 3’s in the meter and arrangements, and there’s just a generally unpredictability to these songs without losing fluidity. These sorts of things happen frequently and the moral seems to be that the band is just doing things the way they should be, the way they used to.
Need more proof? A quick breeze through the liner notes reveals that the songs are once again balanced between Hanneman and King compositions, where the last two albums were heavily King-composed and Diabolus was mostly Hanneman’s blunders. Lyrically we have a return to the plainspoken violence of the old days, with lots of Araya serial-killer literature resurfacing and only a few isolated “Kerry King hates religion” dead horse beatings. Now the actual quality of the lyrics is pretty low, as there’s a scrappy, unfocused quality to them that is nowhere near the legitimacy of their old stuff (not to mention the titles….Slayer have apparently entered a crappy song title competition, and I bet any money that they’re winning…) but the effort is there, and I feel like its honest. And that’s what fucking counts. Certainly someone will slag “Snuff” for opening with a guitar solo and someone else will slag “Human Strain” for not having one, and I know someone will shit on Tom Araya’s hectic screeching at the end of “Psychopathy Red” because he doesn’t sound as good as he did, but it’s all in the name of giving a damn, and there’s plenty of young bands you really can’t say the same thing about. Take “Public Display,” with its notorious blast beats (Dave Lombardo, more than his bandmates, is at the top of his game on this album from beginning to almost end. He doesn’t use triggers either, as far as I can tell) and death-metal inspired riffing. Slayer haven’t been at the forefront of extremity for something like a quarter of a decade, but does that bother them? Apparently not; they’re playing whatever the fuck they want.
And on World Painted Blood, sometimes what they want is to play a little slower. Though Slayer’s most high-profile relationship was their disastrous affair with groove/mallcore trademarks for Diabolus and GHUA, they’ve always been a band that has openly courted controversy. As such, there were bound to be a few tracks on here that would prove controversial due to the latent numskullery of a certain portion of their fanbase. And it’s when the band kicks the tempo back a bit that this is most likely to happen. For instance, the title track has a lengthy buildup before climaxing into a riffset that’s a few bpm’s less than one might expect, particularly for an opening track on a fucking Slayer album (more like an old Exodus tempo). But it works, and the middle part is as memorable as any they’ve ever crafted. Getting into the meat of the album, the listener will find Slayer willing to go slower still. “Human Strain,” “Playing with Dolls,” and especially “Beauty Though Order” find the emphasis shifting away from speed, immediately calling to mind their unfortunate turn of the millennium experiments. The actual result is a reemergence of the atmospheric emphasis that they introduced on South of Heaven, developed on Seasons in the Abyss, and refined on Divine Intervention. “Beauty Through Order” doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary (though it appears to be about Elizabeth Bathory, which is cool), that is until the bridge suddenly lurks from out of the shadows and strikes the same chord of menace so often utilized by this band (see: “Behind the Crooked Cross,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Divine Intervention,’ among dozens of others). “Human Strain” has a similar effect, the riffs suddenly evaporate leaving one strange chilling sequence, heightened by Tom’s vocal melody (yes, he uses those again, further reinforcing the Seasons/South of Heaven influence). It is the creepy, disturbing variety of Slayer riffage that has not been properly employed since the old days, and I tell ya, I didn’t even realize that I missed it until this album so eloquently reminded me how well it can be done.
It is three of the last four tracks on the album that somehow prove most controversial and, aside from the overall lyrical weakness, are the only detrimental bits on World Painted Blood. “Playing with Dolls” is one of the experimental ones, featuring a “new” Slayer riffset that takes the idea of the intro riff from “Jihad” and expands it into a whole song. It’s not a highlight (Tom’s clean vocals are not as chilling as they were on say, “Serenity in Murder”) but it has some interesting melodic interaction that fits with their resurrected atmospheric intentions. “Not of This God” has Kerry and Jeff dusting off their 7-strings for another go and the results are also mixed. The fast parts are passable; the bridge can’t help but remind you of Disturbed or something. Only one track deserves not to be here, and that’s “Americon.” Not only are the lyrics noticeably worse than anywhere else, its clunky groove riffs stake out a middle ground between the enjoyable thrash and atmospheric bits showcased earlier without being thrash, atmospheric, or enjoyable. Arguably one of the most tedious songs they’ve ever written, up there with “Overt Enemy,” “Wicked,” and the ones they did with Ice T and Atari Teenage Riot.
As a final aside, those interested in picking up the album will notice that there are two different versions floating around: the regular and the special edition. The difference? The special edition costs more and features a DVD with a 20-minute “animated graphic novel” based off the music of the album. I’m pretty ridiculous about having all of Slayer’s extra shit (for instance, I’m one of those saps that bought the Christ Illusion rerelease as well as the original) and even I’m glad I didn’t fall for this shit. The “film” is poorly produced and amateurish, not to mention entirely predictable. After about three minutes in, you know exactly how the other 17 minutes are going to go. It also has very little to do with the album’s music, merely featuring little snippets here and there (including one non-album track which probably rules, if you could hear more of it that is). In short, it’s lame as hell, so get the regular edition if any at all. Anyone needing proof can find the video on Youtube anyway.
Those wanting a full return to Reign in Blood aren’t going to get it. Neither are those wanting a return to South of Heaven or Christ Illusion or any other one of their albums. But while it isn’t exactly the new Slayer album you might have wanted, it’s the new Slayer album that you need. World Painted Blood is the sound of an aging band once again operating at the peak potential for where they’re at. Perhaps not as transcendental as the sound of youth, but the sound of age comes with self-assurance in the quality of your material, regardless of whether or not it’s fitting trends or if the fans will dig it. The result here is the most fluid compositions and legitimate intensity we’ve seen from Slayer in a long time. It’s a grower, for certain, but the payoff is more than satisfying.
Highlights: “Beauty Through Order,” “Psychopathy Red,” “Public Display of Dismemberment”
Slayer has been around a long time; that much is unquestionable. These guys got popular way back in the 80s, ironically for promoting things that were generally unpopular, like Satanism, bloody crosses, evil demons and everything else that made the soccer moms quiver in their expensive green station wagons. So, with such a history of blasphemous blasphemies, how does Slayer’s latest foray into grimy, hate-filled metallic misery entitled World Painted Blood stand up? Pretty damned well, I say.
I mean, okay. It’s not great. It’s not even really that good from an objective point of view, but, damn, it’s fucking Slayer. I didn’t really know what to expect, but they churned out a really thrashy, ballsy album, especially for guys who have been past their prime for the better part of the last twenty years. World Painted Blood is filled with short, angry manifestos that have as much attitude as a boozed up Hell’s Angel on a fourth of July rally. Sure, the solos are messy and barely even sound like solos to begin with, and sure the music is sloppy as all get out, but that’s the charm of the whole thing! At the core, the band exudes primal, pure attitude from every pore.
That’s the best thing about Slayer, you see; the attitude. These guys write music that is so cathartic to the angry mind that it made them famous, and it carried them kicking and screaming through whatever trend of the day arose, coming out bruised, but mostly unscathed. And World Painted Blood continues this, without an inch of subtlety or restraint in their blood at all. The title track is a heavy, chugging ball-buster, with Tom Araya belting out brash, hastily written lyrics with enough energy to topple a street full of power lines. The band follows up with ass-kickers like “Snuff,” “Public Display of Dismemberment” and the more calculated “Beauty Through Disorder,” which has some nice build ups for the grinding riffs. Really, the only song I don’t like on this thing is “Playing with Dolls,” which falls victim to some truly ghastly experimentation. Seriously, guys, lose the alt rock guitar strumming. It’s lame as fuck.
The only thing truly wrong with this is the production, which sounds like it belongs to some lame nu-metal band or something, not a classic Thrash band like Slayer. Bring back the gritty Reign in Blood guitars and ditch the modern shit. There are also some parts that get pretty Hordes of Chaos-esque embarrassing, like the chorus of “Not of This God” in particular. Yeah, Tom, nice vocals there. You sound about as credible as a kid throwing a temper tantrum, it’s just pitiful.
But otherwise, good job, Slayer, you smashed my expectations for this album with an iron-barbed ax. World Painted Blood is heavy, vitriolic, fast and gnarly, with a lot of bite and vinegar added in. And since I know you’re all waiting for the part of the review where I compare it to the recent releases by the other Big 4 bands, yes, I think this is better than Death Magnetic and Endgame. A Thrash band releasing material in 2009 that is in the same ballpark as their 80s material? Fuck me sideways; it finally happened.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Slayer has been somewhat of a strange entity at this point in time because their name seems to be synonymous with both the worlds godly and shit at the same time. Their 80s work is easily some of the best in the genre of thrash, where as their 90s stuff has been…Well, not so great. Suffice to say, I haven’t been too impressed with their 90s work before as it really played off the whole nu/alternative scene which I always though was quite crass. On Christ Illusion, they sort of bred out some of the nu-metal tendencies, but they were still apparent. What is great about World Painted Blood is that it’s a sign that they’ve almost completely bred the nu-metalness out of their music! Only 4/11 tracks are not total old-school-Slayer thrash metal!
The album starts off with the evil title track which is equal sinister sounding as it is catchy, although it does lack a little of the “oomph” that the rest of the album has when it comes to thrashing out. After that, the tracks Unit 731,Snuff and Hate worldwide take you back in Slayer time, putting you through a barrage of Slayer’s signature break-neck thrash riffs, guaranteed to destroy your vertebrae with the balls out, thrashing attitude of old school Slayer. The track afterwards, Public Display of Dismemberment, sounds somewhat like black metal for a bit, especially in the opening riff which is all tremolo picked single notes with some raw distortion, and the drumming is almost purely snare drum smacks and blast beats. On the next track, it slows down into some average (but not horrible considering Slayers previous work) groove metal tracks which aren’t very impressive. After that little break, you’re exposed to another dose of head banging with Psychopathy Red. Afterwards, it’s down into the most bizarre Slayer song I’ve ever heard: Playing with Dolls. One second it sounds like radio rock, and then it sounds like Jihad from the previous record. It then plays into some evil sounding slow riffs, to attract your interest. Finally, the last track, Not of this God, ends the record on a very high note with one of the better Slayer tracks I’ve heard, with their evil tremolo picked notes and violent riffs and drumming leaving you completely bruised.
Now, to say this album is totally on par with their 80s work would be a false. It would be near impossible as they are way too old to go all out throughout a record like they used to, as seen here. Despite this, World Painted Blood definitely has some of their strongest work since Seasons in the Abyss, going back to the Reign in Blood style of brief blasts of sinister sounding tremolo picked notes between heavy riffs and chaotic drumming, but not so much that the average song isn’t under 2 minutes long. I must say, World Painted Blood may very well be a future classic.
The instrumental work on this album is definitely a notch higher then that of anything since Seasons in the Abyss. It contains Kerry and Jeff’s random, rusty razor soloing that plays as it’s described as well as the aforementioned violent thrash riffs that made them icons of the 80s. It also sees some of the more diverse work such as some use of the Wah pedal and the finger plucked style like on Playing with Dolls.
One of the higher points on this album was Dave Lombardo’s use of blast beats. Now, he is no stranger to the use of blast beats, but in my opinion he never used them with the right riffs. This time he did. On the track, Playing with Dolls, it gives a particularly head smashing effect to the other wise, slow riffs and, as I mentioned before, the blast beats stick out particularly on the track Public Display, as the track has a sort of black metal vibe to it. Other then that, Lombardo sticks within his usual comfort zone when it comes to his drumming: fast snare bashes and whirlwind smashing. To asses Tom Araya’s division, the bass guitar doesn’t really make much of an appearance on this album, but when it does stick out it very much adds to the smashing sound of the drums and while the vocals are nothing new for Slayer, Tom still sounds somewhat reminiscent of the 90s, but not bad enough to do any damage to the record.
The lyrics on this album are not very new for Slayer. Dwelling more on a sort of genocidal or anarchy theme for a lot of the songs, it’s still Slayer’s dark, evil lyricism that makes them who they are. The mood hangs around a sort of feeling of chaos and violence, a sort of anechoic future where there is only war. The minor clashing of instrumental dominance in the production also adds to this atmosphere, which I think was intelligent of them as all the golden Slayer records had some sort of chaos about them via the production. Whether it was the lack of production on Hell Awaits or the muddled production of Show no Mercy. The only problem I could find with the structure would be in the placement of the slower tracks. You go from straight thrashing to some groove/alt stuff which somewhat kills the vibe until the next thrasher. I think they could have just left those tracks out to be honest, because excluding Playing with dolls; none of them are anything special.
I think that based on the amount of time it took to make this, Slayer deserve a pat on the back for what they’ve put out. Tom Araya himself has stated he’s considering calling it quits soon, and to be honest, if this is Slayer’s last record, it would definitely be one hell of a final record and well worth being the final chapter in the book that is Slayer.
In my personal experience, it seems acceptable in the metal community to completely dismiss Slayer after "Seasons In The Abyss" in 1990. And for a while, I'd have agreed. Some fans say they haven't been good since South of Heaven, some say they haven't released a good album since "Divine Intervention". Whichever you may think, Slayer definitely has altered their music since the 90's, and the wariness that Slayer fans felt then has carried over into the 2000's. "God Hates Us All" was down-tuned and appealing to the "nu-metal" crowd, whereas "Christ Illusion" in 2006 only partly made amends for the 16 years prior to it, but ultimately failed. As we almost close out the first decade of 2000, Slayer returns once again with their tenth studio album. And Slayer fans should rejoice: they're back. Kind of.
First things first: There are some songs on this album that sound like they come right out of their '80s period. The beginning of "Snuff" sounds right at home on "South of Heaven" and "Public Display Of Dismemberment" could be mistaken as an unused track from the "Reign In Blood" sessions. Of course, Slayer still has some faults. There are still unconventional "Slayer songs" which do nothing but harm the band at this stage. "Human Strain" is definitely an odd-sounding song and ultimately sounds like something off of "God Hates Us All". I understand why Slayer wouldn't want to make a straight-up, balls-out thrash record at all times, but they've been like that for the better part of 20 years now. Had they taken the Slayer formula of war and satanic lyrics with speed and solos, this could've easily been album of the year. Another fault that should be mentioned (as I'm sure it's been mentioned about Slayer since 1994): Tom needs to stop yelling. It's sounding too forced these days. "Playing With Dolls" has a creepy vibe throughout and it features Tom actually singing through parts of the song which make it a very interesting song, albeit lacking in the end.
Also: "Americon" might just be the stupidest Slayer song ever released, lyrics-wise. Without even looking, I bet that Kerry King penned the lyrics. "It's all about the motherfuckin' oil/Regardless of the flag upon its soil". COME ON.
But I digress. "World Painted Blood" injects new life into the worn down thrash machine that is Slayer. "Unit 731" and "Snuff" have enough breakneck speed to satisfy old-school thrash fans, and "Psycopathy Red" might just be the best Slayer song written since 1990. The band still has its chops. The songs are still unmistakably Slayer, but they must have been listening to the myriad of forum posts on the internet about the guitar solos sounding the same. Lots of varied stuff here, but not enough to forget that it's Mr. King and Mr. Hanneman on the axes. The bass break (first ever for Slayer?!) in "Psycopathy Red" shows Mr. Araya has still got it, even if he needs to stop screaming all the time. Trust us, Tom. You sound a lot better when you let the lyrics come naturally. I've always been a huge fan of Mr. Lombardo's skill on the skins, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it really shines through on this album. Not to say that it's bad, just nothing too special.
The mix is not good on this album. It's not "Death Magnetic" bad, but it's still not that great. You have to really listen to pick up the drumming and the guitars are pretty "tinny" at times as well. It shouldn't make too much of a difference to die-hard Slayer fans, though.
At the end of the day, Slayer released a record. As the most consistent of the Big 4 of thrash metal, that should be more than enough reason to pick it up. But if you need more convincing, just know that "World Painted Blood" has Slayer back to being the thrash monster terrorizer that we all know and love. It's not perfect, but as long as you don't compare this album to any of their other albums (which you shouldn't do anyway), you'll find that Slayer is faster, hungrier, and a hell of a lot more evil than they have been in a while. SLAYER!!!
Stand-out tracks: Unit 731, Snuff, Psycopathy Red