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When Slayer goes grunge... - 90%

Slater922, May 9th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings

The 90s was kinda an odd time for Slayer. The band had released "Seasons in the Abyss" back in 1990, and it was a good release, but for many fans it kinda felt off. Yes, it still had some great thrashy riffs, but this was the start of a time where Slayer begun to experiment with different sounds. It would start back in 1988 with "South of Heaven" going for a slower tempo, but would go into full force two years later with SITA, and would come to a crashing halt in 2001 with "God Hates Us All" incorporating some nu metal parts. "Divine Intervention" did felt more like the black sheep out of this era, however, with it coming out in between SITA and Undisputed Attitude's crossover thrash style. While it may not be Slayer's greatest album, it still is a great album.

One thing that makes "Divine Intervention" different from other albums would be the instruments. DI still has plenty of thrash elements, but since this album came out in the wake of Kurt Cobain's death and the death of grunge in general, the band decided to add in some grunge elements. To see what I mean, take the first track "Killing Fields" for example. This album goes for a slower tempo similar to SOH, but it also has some of the dirty production of grunge. The guitars in particular play some diverse riffs ranging from thrash metal-like riffs to some more sloppier grunge-like riffs. The drums also follow along the guitars very well, as it not only sets the standard for the tempo, but it also beats in some technical patterns that enforce the tone well. The album does go for some other styles, like the pure thrash sound of "Sex. Murder. Art." or the Nirvana-inspired intro of "213". While most of the instrumentals are great, I do like the tracks that mix in thrash and grunge the most, since it does show that these two genres can mix well if given the right execution.

Another drastic change from the previous albums is the vocals. Tom Araya's vocals are famous for the screaming and the utter mad personality of them, but Tom takes a different approach in them for "Divine Intervention". For a lot of tracks, he drags his vocals a bit and goes for a lot more chants. A great example of this would be in the track "Serenity in Murder". There, Araya sings half of the track and screams in the other half. The singing flows well to the more technical riffs and the screams execute the more insane atmosphere well. In some tracks like "Fictional Reality" and "Divine Intervention", Tom takes some more inspiration from grunge artists and slurs his vocals a bit. While it may sound unfitting on paper, the slower tempo and melodic-sounding guitars fit well to these vocals. They do have some weak moments, but overall, Tom's vocals are unique and stand out from their more abrasive releases.

One area that does need a bit of work though would be in the lyrical department. Slayer is known for having some dark and scary lyrics, but the lyrics here feel a bit neutered. For example, in the track "Dittohead", this verse quotes:

This fucking country's lost its grip
Subconscious hold begins to slip
The scales of justice tend to tip

Tom screams about the country going downhill in the justice department. The track goes for an aggressive thrash style, and the screaming vocals should enhance the lyrics, but they don't. The lyrics aren't bad, but they feel a bit broad and don't exactly reflect the violence in the instruments. While the themes of the lyrics and instruments feel out of place, there are times where they do work with each other. Going back to "Serenity in Murder", the lyrics of murder reflect well with Tom's singing and screams and gives the context of the murder a more sinister tone. While the lyrics don't always work well with the instruments, they are still written good and can sometimes work with the instruments.

So with that said, "Divine Intervention" is one of the stronger records during Slayer's experimental period. The grunge influence on many of the tracks mix well with the thrash elements, and Tom's versatile vocals sound great and mirror the instruments a lot. This album may be one of the weaker ones in Slayer's discography, but for what it is, it's a really good album. I recommend it if you're looking for some thrash metal with some grunge influence.

Over-mixed and overlooked, but brilliant - 90%

MercianMan, October 10th, 2020

After five superb albums in reasonably quick succession we’d then have to wait the better part of four years to see whether Slayer could match their pioneering delivery that helped drive metal from 1983 to 1990 – and I want to show why it’s really important to see this album with some context. Clearly there had been a peak in the U.S. thrash metal genre in 1990 with releases like “Rust in Peace,” “Persistence of Time” and Slayer’s very own “Seasons in the Abyss” but new dynamics were also coming into play. Death metal was exploding into the scene and thrash was all of a sudden not sounding necessarily as heavy as it had been in the mid-to-late 80s, and other young entrants to rock music in general were subjected to grunge and alternative rock bands. By the time we got to 1994 it was clear that Metallica had moved from the heavier and faster side of metal to their highly accessible form of hard rock, Megadeth were never going to make another proper thrash metal album, Anthrax just weren’t Anthrax anymore, the formidable Pantera were strikingly powerful but just weren’t dark enough to take Slayer’s place, and Sepultura had clearly had their proper thrash peak by 1991. Given Slayer’s position (at least in part) as godfathers of death metal, with the other key thrashers dwindling, and newbies to the scene drawn into trendier teenage sounds from Seattle you might have thought that Slayer would have had a clear run. For battery there'd been a worrying personnel change but new recruit Paul Bostaph had shown himself as Lombardo’s great replacement at the Donington Monsters of Rock in ’92 – he was the man among many to take Slayer forward.

So why does “Divine Intervention” not stand as proud as its predecessors? It’d be an easy answer if there were one or more unmistakably inferior tracks on the album, if the whole release was slower than “Seasons” or “South of Heaven,” or if the lyrical themes showed the betrayal of a band who had gone mainstream – but none of these things are true. Simply put the problems with this album are in the mixing and production. The band had more time to plan and produce this record and somewhere along the line some spontaneity and decisiveness seems to have dropped off. For me this was the first Slayer album that I just cannot play quietly and still enjoy. The superb introductory drum fill that throws ‘Killing Fields’ at us – and this is one of Slayer’s best songs – sadly says it all about how this album was made. And it matters because if this release had the engineering of the previous three albums we would have seen another Slayer high point. Bar the occasional unintended slowing down of the drums, mildly evident on ‘Circle of Beliefs for example,’ Bostaph’s performance on the album is superb. He knew he had boots to fill and his efforts shine through on every song, it’s just such a shame that his craft is blurred by the mix. The guitars and bass suffer the same fate. Instead of the crisp and crushing crunches and chugs we love so much it all feels just a little liquidy, and a tad cloudy, almost as though the album was recorded in multiple layers (and it certainly was). This is why this sterling effort in song-writing and musicianship still yields a record that doesn’t quite make the grade. Araya himself said he thought it was one of their very best releases but it was recorded in more than one studio and the final output shows us that too many cooks do indeed spoil the broth.

Looking at how the tracks came together in 1994 all of a sudden we see that Hanneman and King for the first time weren’t writing as much together. For me whilst both Hanneman and King are both fantastic writers it’s the popular belief that Hanneman had been the lead songwriter until this point. On “Divine Intervention” the music for the first half is entirely a King affair and for the whole release it is Araya’s lyrical input making up for Hanneman’s lesser contributions. Despite this the song-writing is still very much there and each track has its own individual character. The heaviest and most archetypal Slayer songs are ‘Killing Fields’ with its changing tempos (even 5/4 for a while?) and warlike aggression, and ‘Sex, Murder, Art’ with its ice cold and murderous freneticism. The climactic mid-song instrumental break in ‘Fictional Reality’ features tones to chill the spine before unleashing triumphant blows – relentlessly heavy, and though it’s the one of the slower tracks on the album speed lovers will note that Slayer’s “Seasons” from 1990 is, in all, actually a slower affair. If there’s a filler or obvious hit-single for the record then ‘Serenity in Murder’ fits the bill but that’s not to say it’s in any way such a disappointing compromise to let the release down – all the songs are quality Slayer. You’ll just need to turn “Divine Intervention” up to 11 to give it what it deserves, and following the demise of Slayer if any of their records needed re-engineering it’s this one. A superb effort but with too much interference. Re-master please.

What modern thrash should be - 90%

blacksabbath1968, August 26th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings (Slipcase, Limited edition)

To get it out of the way, 'Divine Intervention' for me is tied with 'Hell Awaits' as their best album. This album has a pretty divided opinion, and while I understand it's different than their previous work in tone and (somewhat in) style, I believe those changes were necessary.

I brought up 'Hell Awaits' because it has the most in common with 'Divine Intervention'. Aside from sounding like Slayer, they don't really sound alike, but they have significantly more complicated song structures than their albums they're most known for (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss). Maybe that's a contributing factor as to why this album is seen as their first 'mediocre' album or a 'beginning of the end' of sorts. I can agree with the latter.

With the added technicality in the songwriting, Slayer also brought contemporary influences from the period. Some of the riffing points to their later groove-era which would be expanded upon on the following album. That album in particular was essentially the end of Slayer for me, 'Christ Illusion' was a return to form of sorts and their only album to date post '94 I can enjoy, so that's up to personal opinion. There also seems to be a very slight death metal influence on their sound here, which arguably began with 'Reign in Blood', but moreso contemporary death metal here.

It's also relevant to mention that 'Divine Intervention' has more variety of song lengths than the previous album, and yet the album is very cohesive in style. This was my biggest problem with 'Seasons in the Abyss'; it sounded like they just wanted to rehash 'Reign in Blood' and 'South of Heaven' rather than do something new. There were developments that carried over to Divine Intervention, however. Those developments were expanded on greatly here and that's honestly one of my favorite parts of the album.

The only other things I can touch on is the lyrics, they seem to be more offensive and influenced by contemporary metal. Themes of more transgressive topics such as sadism and rape are touched upon (as far as I know, this was a new development). To my understanding, this album took roughly 4 years to produce, and I'd guess that this kind of lyrics were influenced by Cannibal Corpse among other death metal bands. The song 'Serenity in Murder' also marked the first time Tom has used clean vocals. This might seem like an incredibly bad thing for Slayer, but the song is in the more 'creepy' style such as 'South of Heaven' and 'Spill the Blood'. Very nice touch.

Now for the negatives. The production is very strange and thin. Were they going for a more raw, underproduced sound? It's hard to say. Slayer's guitar tone choices from here on were always odd to me, it almost seemed like they were afraid to use heavier-sounding tones because it was their thrash-era trademark? The drums are also very raw sounding, but also very pronounced. It sounds as if the drums were heavily mic'd but in a way that makes them sound more natural, which was an odd choice for the time. Very little noticeable bass guitar as usual aside from a bass fill were the track was made audible briefly. Another reason I love Hell Awaits was the pronounced bass. Also, Paul is unfortunately not Dave Lombardo and despite his very solid effort, Dave's presence is noticeably absent.

To sum it up, times were changing and Slayer were at a crossroads in sound. Despite that, they made an incredibly solid effort to keep playing thrash in a way that didn't sound completely out of place in 1994. It's possibly underrated for a reason, but I love it anyway. From the 2000s on, thrash has had a revival, but instead of trying to do anything new with the genre, most bands are just stuck in the 80s and refuse to do anything new or interesting with it. This isn't always the case, but I don't personally find retro-jerking interesting. Slayer unfortunately gave into the times after this album to mixed results. They at least hung in there better than the rest of the big four, so I can give them that.

Underwhelming Statement - 62%

Paragon_Pariah, February 27th, 2020

It has been said before that the 90s were not particularly kind to the previous generation of metal bands. Many fell off the radar or emerged completely remodeled. One would think that if any band would stick their finger to the soulless trends happening at that time, it would be good ol' Slayer. From reading the lore on this album, I thought that's exactly what they did.

The previous album, Seasons in the Abyss, got me so excited for this album. Slayer had mastered the art of mixing thrash with a sinister, creepy atmosphere. This album took everything they mastered and threw it away.

Upon starting this album, we are warmly greeted with a glorious drum fill from Paul Bostaph as a statement that he has now joined the band he is not going to disappoint. Things sort of go pear-shaped afterwards as the song, Killing Fields, loses any sense of direction. At times it feels like every band member is playing the bare minimum of a Slayer song with Tom Araya sometimes talking and sometimes moaning over the music. All this is also heavily buried beneath extremely dull production.

This is basically the trend for the rest of the album. Almost none of the tracks stand out, most of the riffs sound the same and the drumming is very mid-paced throughout the album. The atmosphere that made Seasons in the Abyss so good is almost no longer present and the speed of the previous albums has been replaced by generic groove metal riffs which unfortunately, Slayer do not do well.

The album isn't all bad all the time, however. 213 is a dark, unsettling gem about Jeffrey Dahmer. Mind Control and Circle of Beliefs are half decent, showing us the good parts of this album but would be basic filler on any other decent Slayer album.

The real highlight of this album is Dittohead which is exactly what I go looking for on a Slayer album. It's true to their sound yet more developed than many of their early works. It shows real evolution of the band and most importantly it doesn't sound unnatural or like they're trying to bend to the trends.

All in all, It think this album could have been so much better and a beacon of light in the dark decade of the 90s but ended up being another lazy, confused album by a legendary band similar to Dio's Angry Machines. With this album, I see the trend that eventually lead them to Diabolus in Musica which is an even lower point.

Highlights on the album: Dittohead, 213, Circle of Beliefs

A Dinner of Bread Rolls - 40%

doomknocker, January 5th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings

The 90s were an odd time for "mainstream" heavy music here in the States, that much is for sure. I don't need to provide you with the how and why, but needless to say the climate had changed to the point where personal evolution had to be jump started lest one were to be left behind to starve, and no one exemplified this notion quite like our favorite ghouls in Slayer. Although everyone in the Big 4 of thrash morphed into something that only required half of their creative fuel supply (and personally, Megadeth did the best job riding out the storm of the lot), Araya and co. had a bit more piss than vinegar in their personal formula, a slower burning devolution that at least warranted halfway decent listens. At best, and at most, though it was never a perfect situation. Case in point...

Say what you will about post-"Seasons..." Slayer, a few of those outputs had an identity, no matter how much one would detest it ("Diabolus", for all its greyscale music and downshifted energy, actually felt like an album that had an idea behind it). The same can't be said with this, though...I would have never put the word "dull" to describe Slayer or any of their works, but dammit if this isn't one of the dullest thrash albums I'd ever heard. One feels so very little with this...the level of angst, abhorrence and/or disgust accounts to little more than loud apathy, much like the tone of the album in question; just rage for the sake of being loud as opposed to being truly against their intended targets. With all the strength and lasting power of a single, harsh gust of wind, "Divine Intervention" flits by the listener like a sloppy hit-and-run, where at its best the tracks provided mainly sound like stale B-sides from the "Seasons..." sessions (Killing Fields, Serenity of Murder) and at its worst do their damnedest to get by on extremity alone but are more tunnel-visioned than I'm sure the auteurs intended them to be (Dittohead, Mind Control). Add to that a dry and cardboardy production approach (which gets uglier the more you slog through the album), a by-the-numbers sense of performance and a definitive lack of character, essentially the same tone and bite, track-by-track, and it makes you ponder why the 4 years between "Seasons..." and this didn't show much creative growth.

Putting all the blame on Mr. King being the weaker songwriter of the main creative team would be quite mean-spirited (...OK, that's not fair...let's say 80% of it), yet him handling so much of the album's composition leaves the entirety of the work cut from the same set of cloth each and every time as opposed to one track featuring a differing emotional connection and experience; far more "I'M PISSED OFF!!" instead of "I'M PISSED OFF, AND HERE'S WHY!" But therein also lies one of the few better aspects "Divine..." contains; every once and again, when cooks with more elements to their recipe enter the fold and add to the creative broth, you get songs like the diabolical title track and the absolutely haunting "213", thereby showing 90s Slayer at their most dark and soul-devouring. This in itself ensures the album isn't as complete a misfire as the more lackluster tracks almost pushes it to be, brief glimpses of proof that the evil and visionary spirit the group once had in the 80s was still in there somewhere amidst the feast of bland white bread that is the rest of the album. In fact, this reviewer found them to be the longest lasting and most important tracks out of the lot; the ones that actually evoke a reaction in the listener versus fly-by-wire slaps to the face with nothing else beyond that point, and if everything else was just as impactful and, dare I say, important, then we wouldn't be so dulled by a lack of stylistic identity. But alas, that was not to be.

In the end, "Divine Intervention" showcases a band running out of steam while attempting to conform to an era that didn't want them (I would honestly consider this their lowest point until the drivel that was "Repentless" came at us), yet with enough in them to craft at least a few pieces that made us believe the Slayer of old was still in there, someplace.

Lurking in the dismal fog... - 78%

Napalm_Satan, August 26th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, 12" vinyl, Universal Music (Reissue, EU)

...Slayer are hungry for your blood. As the title may suggest, this release was put out during thrash's dark days, waiting for an unsuspecting fan of groove or alternative metal to listen to it. That alone makes this release admirable, though it can't excuse some glaring flaws with this album. Essentially, this release can best be summed up as 'Slayer being Slayer', a trend which has continued from Christ Illusion.

Don't worry, for the good far outweighs the bad, but coming off from the likes of South of Heaven and Season in the Abyss, it comes across as a tad weak. The sound on display is quite an odd one - a mix of usual Slayer thrash, hardcore in the shorter tracks, and some more modern groove metal that was typical of the era. I can't really call this a sellout though, because the groove had been present in Slayer's sound since 1988 ('Behind the Crooked Cross'), and isn't any more potent than what was heard on the preceding album.

One of the album's main flaws is the production. Though the guitars are a considerable step up from the 'fluffy' sound on Seasons in the Abyss, the overall sound of the album is flat. The guitars are thin and sterile, and the drums, especially the bass drums, click as though they are made of plastic. It isn't quite ...And Justice for All levels of sterility, but it does come quite close at times. The mix is completely off, too. The drums and vocals are too loud, there is no bass or low end to speak of, and the guitars take a back seat as a result.

The performances from the band aren't quite at the same level as before, but they aren't phoning in their efforts either. King and Hannemann mix up the more modern grooves with their usual set of simple and aggressive thrash riffs, and there are several examples of this on faster and mid tempo tracks, like 'Killing Fields', 'Circle of Beliefs' and 'Dittohead'. Newly recruited drummer Paul Bostaph doesn't show much promise for the future here, as he delivers one of his least consistent performances here. His fills and change-ups are executed well, but he constantly falls off time when it comes to extended double bass passages, which is very noticeable due to the loud drums. When it comes to the vocals, Araya gives his first 'maximum shout' performance, which just sound very loud and angry. They lack the dynamics or atmospheric qualities of his previous performances, but still come out better than what Phil Anselmo or Robb Flynn were shouting about at the time.

Though some perceive this to be an attempt at a commercial Reign in Blood, this isn't quite the case. There are some shorter, crossover styled thrashers that bring back memories of that album, but the general sound is a similar mid tempo one to that seen on the previous 2 albums. There is a greater focus on atmosphere through the vocals on slower tracks, with the title track succeeding thanks to a particularly tortured sounding set of shouts used by Araya. On the contrary, both '213' and 'Serenity in Murder' fail due to the ludicrous 'I need a friend!' nonsense of the former, or the tired, flat vocal performance of the latter. While both of these feature some of the best riffs and drumwork of the album, the vocals kill it somewhat. These are his worst moments here, and really Tom's vocals are better for the faster tracks, which convey the aggression of the songs perfectly.

At this point, it sounds as though I am ragging on this album a lot, and that it is bad. But it isn't, at all. Despite its flaws, it works. The slow tracks are some of the gloomier things Slayer have written, managing some considerable level of atmosphere even when the vocals and production let it down. The slow double bass forever simmers, like a form of restrained rage that kicks off into high speed destruction at points. Faster sections and tracks on here are merciless, this is a far more pugilistic and violent album compared to the preceding two slower albums. Though it isn't quite as good at atmosphere, the rage at higher tempos is only matched by the aforementioned Reign in Blood and the punk covers album that would follow. This album is also a riff happy one, expect many change-ups in even the shorter songs. This is a solid thrash release alright, it just has several fundamental flaws that the album can sometimes overcome. I can't recommend this to all fans of Slayer, only those that like what they did from 1988 to 1996 inclusive, and their modern, post 2006 material. A second rate Slayer album, but a good one.

consistent in its inconsistency - 50%

LeastWorstOption, October 28th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings

Somewhere in the four years in between “Seasons In the Abyss” and “Divine Intervention” something was lost within Slayer. For the first time the band had spent actual time on pre-production. Where Slayer once sounded irrevocably evil here they sound… mundane and ordinary. It is an unexpected and jarring change that left fans confused. The most evil thrash/speed metal band in the world had apparently lost its way, and much of its identity. This change becomes more apparent by the band’s change in wardrobe. Instead of wearing leather, inverted crosses, spikes and denim Slayer now wore hockey jerseys, sunglasses and tennis shoes as they opted for a more urban look. Kerry King shaved his head bald, and Slayer were desperately looking to hang with the kids that loved Pantera, Machine Head and the very divisive “Chaos AD” by once-relevant Brazilian combo Sepultura. Not even a divine intervention could save this “Divine Intervention”.

This album is the recording debut for drummer Paul Bostaph, who cut his teeth with fellow thrash metal pioneers Forbidden, and it is as smooth as one can reasonably imagine given the unfortunate circumstances of how he came into the band. In fact Bostaph’s take-no-prisoners attitude behind the kit is exactly what gives much of these fairly dull cuts their edge. The drum intro to ‘Killing Fields’ or ‘Serenity In Murder’ is equal to original drummer Dave Lombardo in terms of intensity and power. It is obvious that Paul Bostaph has a different style, and although he uses similar techniques as Lombardo this is a different Slayer. As the second longest-serving Slayer drummer the cards were stacked against Bostaph, but he didn’t let the animosity get to him. The band was grasping at straws to hang on to the sound they worked so hard on to perfect. In the face of a changing taste in the mainstream metal scene, and the apparent need to appeal to a different demographic in terms of audience, compromises were made – and not all for the best. Slayer was a full of itself, and over-confident that anything would work.

The album starts off strong with the rolling drumbeat and kickdrum action of ‘Killing Fields’. The track slows down soon, and Araya’s vocals are far more controlled than ever before. The riffing is kind of there, and it isn’t. These mostly are characterless groove riffs and stolen metallic hardcore riffs. Araya’s bass playing is more interesting than the riffs it supports, thankfully the killer acceleration redeems a lot. As always, the solo’ing is the highlight of the track, and it is no different here. ‘Sex. Murder. Art.’ sounds like a surprise ending to the opening track, but is actually a song on its own despite being barely over 2 minutes long. ‘Fictional Reality’ passes by without a highlight to speak of, and ‘Dittohead’ is another explosive short song that is so energetic that it is hard to miss. The ‘Dittohead’ music video has Slayer playing in a crowded basement, and it is filled with news footage. ‘Serenity In Murder’ is much more colorful on all fronts, and has some minor production values worth mentioning. The band appears to be playing in a deeply red colored stripper booth, of all things. Bostaph’s drumming matches Lombardo’s rhythmic density, but doesn’t possess the same creativity in terms of fills. The title track is a dull groove number that starts with the most enunthusiastic opening riff imagineable. Was this the same Slayer that penned “Reign In Blood”? You wouldn’t say so from hearing this slugfest of two-note groove riffs and directionless plodding.

‘Circle Of Beliefs’ is a good track ruined by processed vocals, which thankfully are abandoned after the first verse but return later on. As always the solo’ing is superb. ‘SS-3’ is, like the title track, inspired in equal amounts by the rising groove metal – and Seattle grunge sound, and it is none the better for it. Bostaph’s spirited drumming is a plus, but it does little to elevate a track hampered by subpar riffing. The studio experiments with the vocals don’t help matters in the slightest. ‘Serenity In Murder’ is another short blaster that gets by on the grace of its abundant energy in the opening section, and the fact that it was a video track. The clean vocals in the beginning are nothing short of embarrassing, and if it weren’t for the great solo’ing this would be another throwaway track on an album that wasn’t strong to begin with. ‘213’ has a clean guitar introduction, and has the construction and feel of a power-ballad initially. There are more semi-clean and spoken vocals towards the latter half of the track. Closing track ‘Mind Control’ is pretty similar to ‘Killing Fields’ but it passes by without any real highlight to speak of. The drumming and solo’ing are great, but that’s about it. As a closing track it is anticlimactic and uneventful compared to earlier Slayer records.

Instead of churning evil thrash/speed metal riffs there are a lot of meandering groove metal riffs that borrow from the metallic hardcore sound that was all the rage at the time. The overall tempo is lower, but there are a good variety of slow and fast songs. Tom Araya’s vocals are toned down, and there’s a greater reliance on softer vocal cadences to fit the lower tempo. Araya doesn’t sound as out-of-control as on prior records. “Divine Intervention” follows the architectural template of “Seasons Of the Abyss” but misses the vital songwriting components to make it match its illustrious predecessor. The band has grown into a comfortable state of familiarity with its style. As a result of this, they have become complacent and content with itself. “Divine Intervention” shows no progress in terms of songwriting or instrumental skill from prior records, but seems to tread water in a confusing spot that isn’t here nor there. It does what it is supposed to do, but its goals aren’t set exactly high in the first place.

As per usual the album was steeped in controversy with ‘213’ referring to the apartment number where notorious cannibal/serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer tortured his victims, ‘SS-3’ concerned SS-hangman Reinhard Heydrich and ‘Dittohead’ formed a partial tribute to Republican fearmonger Rush Limbaugh. In 1998 the album was banned in Germany due to the lyrics of ‘SS-3’, ‘Circle of Beliefs’, ‘Serenity in Murder’, ‘213’ and ‘Mind Control’. The fascination with World War II and Nazi Germany previously got the band steeped in controversy with ‘Angel Of Death’ off of “Reign In Blood”, yet here the band unphased continue to draw from that black page in history. This is unsurprising as lead guitarist Jeff Hanneman is a collector Nazi war medals and memorabilia. Further media attention came from the Sepultura-Slayer feud after Max Cavalera accused Slayer of attracting neo-Nazis and skinheads. Slayer replied by calling Sepultura “low life cocksuckers”. At least the record was partly redeemed by the amazing artwork of Wes Benscoter and the inlay that featured the bloody, logo carved arm of a particular obsessed fan of the band.

Infamous for its troublesome production that saw the band switch studios and producers multiple times during the sessions, it is the recording debut for long suffering San Francisco drummer Paul Bostaph. The sessions were tracked at Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, California and Sound City Studio in Van Nuys, California. It is a mixed bag of a number of truly good songs, two all too short singles and a bunch of songs that appear to be written to cater to a certain crowd rather than what the band wanted to write. It is a haphazard and confused record that can’t decide what it wants to be. Written equally between King and Hanneman, it is King’s material that defines this record. King’s confused writing and desperate appeasing to the groove - and grunge crowds is a signpost for the band’s future decline into mallcore wiggerdom and irrelevance. Slayer did not escape the fate that swallowed Metallica whole. “Divine Intervention” saw Slayer coping with the 90s, and undecided whether to stay loyal to their original sound/concept, or molding it to fit the then-current popular taste. As it turns out the album does a bit of both, but it is mostly remembered as the death certificate for the once unchampioned masters of extreme thrash – and speed metal.

Review originally written for Least Worst Option -

Endeavoured - 79%

Felix 1666, October 5th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, American Recordings (Slipcase, Limited edition)

"Divine Intervention" was the sixth full-length of Slayer and at the same time the last album that could be easily associated with their fantastic early works. The band had not moved into modern times yet. Quite the contrary, it almost appeared as a return to the roots. The musical approach was closer to "Reign in Blood" than to the successors of this unique masterpiece. For example, the short outburst "Sex. Murder. Art." was an indication for this thesis, not only because of its brevity. The riffing and the songwriting pattern were well comparable with their classics such as "Piece by Piece" or "Necrophobic". Kerry King had been the main songwriter on the here presented album and he had not forgotten the success formula of "Reign in Blood". To mention an other example, the rapid "Dittohead" also referred to their legendary third album. In contrast, the title track went into the somewhat more leisurely direction of "Seasons in the Abyss", at least the guitar licks at the beginning.

However, Slayer offered one more time a musical assault that took no prisoners, although the magic of their early outputs remained unrivaled. Maybe this was just because of this special moment of surprise that was missing. As written above, you could more or less easily define the predecessors of most of the here presented tracks. The same went for the lyrics. For example, “SS-3” dealt once again with a historical person (Reinhard Heydrich) of the Nazi regime. These repetitions had not occurred during their first three albums. This made a small but fine difference. I do not want to be malicious, but "Reign in Blood" was the original and "Divine Intervention" marked its afterburner. One could therefore confidently notice that the latter fought a losing battle. This applied even in view of the circumstance, that the production team, consisting of Slayer, Rick Rubin and Toby Wright, had done a good job. But they had not worked flawlessly. The guitars should have been a tiny bit more powerful. The solos do not lack of intensity, but the guitar lines do not sound voluminous. Some might say that they have to be described as inoffensive, but I would not take it quite that far. From my point of view, the guitar sound was good, but not outstanding.

It was quite certain that all band members were fully engaged. The vocal performance of Tom Araya was well without achieving the brilliance of the early records, in particular that of “Hell Awaits.” Paul Bostaph was a suitable substitute for Dave Lombardo, but it goes without saying that we would have preferred the incredible drumming of Dave. Once again, it was the question of original and (good) copy. However, the band was still capable of performing stirring thrash metal. My personal favourite was the furious "Circle of Beliefs" because of its unbridled power. Due to its forceful beginning, it drew me under its spell from the first moment onwards. The second crusher was called "Mind Control". While being straightforward as a torpedo, it finished the album ruthlessly.

It would be an exaggeration to say that a stale aftertaste remained after listening to this record. Due to their previous outputs, the bar was just set too high. I am convinced that the band had used its best endeavours in order to fulfill the request of their fans. But it was just impossible for the group to achieve a better result. From this perspective, "Divine Intervention" made my day.

Divine...failure - 50%

frankwells, March 25th, 2013

After 4 classic albums, each one being a cornerstone in defining what now we call thrash, speed, and death metal, according to a lot of fans, Slayer reached their peak with the fifth album, "Seasons in the Abyss", which is without a doubt a nearly flawless record where even the "fillers" ("Skeletons of Society", "Temptation", and "Expendable Youth") were almost at the same level of the "classics" ("Dead Skin Mask", "War Ensemble" and the title track). Also, that album probably draws an accurate picture of their most cohesive effort as a band, with Hanneman, King, and Araya all contributing ideas almost equally and Lombardo achieving his most amazing performance.

"Divine Intervention", on the other hand, was written, recorded, and released when the band started being dysfunctional. The album took 4 long years to be released, a time span when they lost the services of Dave Lombardo, changing recording methods with only one guitarist (King) actually recording all rhythms.

Well, that's not unusual; if you're familiar with Metallica you should know that Hammett only recorded his solos on "...And Justice For All" (with Hetfield taking care of all remaining guitars), but Jeff Hanneman (the key songwriter on all past albums) being absent from most of the writing credits along with his minimal contributions in the studio were clear signs of something going terribly wrong within Slayer's camp at that point.

Talking about the songs, well, there's not a single track standing out as an "instant classic". Maybe some riffing on "SSIII", "Mind Control", and "213" may grasp your attention, but most of the sick melodies, astounding riffs, and chilling guitar harmonies of the previous albums have been replaced by chugging on the bottom string and extreme, yet really schematic drumming as you can hear on the opener "Killing Fields".

To add insult to injury, the production does nothing to revive the uninspired songwriting; guitars are thin and buried under deflagrating drums, showing at least the excellent talents of Paul Bostaph, who tries his best to save whatever possible. Bass, as always, is completely inaudible.

Araya's performance on vocals is barely sufficient. He's really high in the mix and often uses a yelled singing style, especially on "Dittohead", which sounds like a D.R.I. or Nuclear Assault leftover and is likely the most well-known track of the album.

In conclusion, I think that "Divine Intervention" is somewhat comparable to Maiden's "No Prayer for the Dying" - a disappointing record after the last real masterpiece of a great band.

The fact that they didn't give up to grunge and kept on thrashing in those dark times will always be a merit and a monument to Slayer's integrity, but can't be a redeeming feature for a release that, by Slayer standards, is quite mediocre.

Not giving in to the Grunge craze - 100%

The_Slayer666, July 7th, 2011

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.

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’.

Slayer gets technical - 89%

Dimebagisgod, November 27th, 2009

Slayer is one of those bands you either love or hate. I happen to be someone who loves Slayer, I honestly can't say anything bad about them, even their album Undisputed Attitude is actually one I sometimes just jam out to. This is no exception. The main point around this album though is Slayer with a new drummer, Paul Bostaph, who honestly is much like the new drummer for Decapitated, but I'll get into that in a moment.

From a critical stand point, Slayer has always been considered the fastest in their field (at least of the Big 4 [Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer]). They still hold that honour in this album, but everything has become more extreme with riffing. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman really out do themselves with their dual soloing and complex riffing. Tom Araya is still top notch with his bass work and vocals, though the constant screaming (particularly from Angel of Death) while on tour is just starting to show as he just seems more into barking than screaming. And Paul Bostaph, while a good drummer, he's nothing like Dave Lombardo. Paul Bostaph is like Krimh of Decapitated, where Vitek had style and could actually control a great beat, Krimh just shoves all that aside and blast beats. Same can be said for Paul, he tries to pull off Dave’s style but just can't seem to keep himself from just playing fast and not actually try to be good.

The songs on the album itself vary in style. A majority are thrash oriented, like Fictional Reality and Serenity in Murder. Some are a throw back to the old school punk that influenced Slayer like Circle of Beliefs and Sex. Murder. Art. And you can also feel a bit of groove in there as well, 213 and Divine Intervention being the two main ones that stick out here. Kerry King was good friends with Dimebag Darrell by this point, so it doesn't surprise me.

As said before, the guitar seems more technical now. Songs like Fictional Reality, Serenity in Murder and Mind Control just seem to be trying Kerry and Jeff's endurance a little too much, but it still pays off beautifully.

And as much as I rag on Paul Bostaph, he actually has a good piece of drumming going for him on Killing Fields, which actually has a good technical feel to it, kind of like Richard Christy.

And back to Tom. As said before, Tom's vocals still tear up ear drums with hate filled lyrics and he all around does a great job here. He also goes for easy going vocals in some songs, like Serenity in Murder, where he has a very foreboding sound to himself, sounding down right creepy and deranged. But in the end, it just starts to feel like he's straining a bit too hard on his voice.

All around, Divine Intervention still holds up strong and is absolutely awesome. I honestly can say that it's one of my top albums, right after Seasons in the Abyss, but that's another album. If you're a big fan of Slayer and don't own this album, well, then you are a complete idiot. Now go get it!

Still Thrashing while the Thrash was Dying - 89%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, August 16th, 2008

Slayer are unquestionably my favourite band ever and as a great fan I must admit that this album is the last good one in their discography before the last Christ Illusion. I’m not one of those who are completely narrow-minded towards their favourite band, insisting on the fact that they never released bad efforts. Diabolous In Musica was mallcorish and quite bad for the songs and God Hates Us All was a bit better for the songs but it had a horrible, artificial production.

Anyway, there had a lot of expectations for this album, the very first one after the band’s split with Lombardo. The replacement was Paul Bostaph and despite all the criticisms, he’s a really good drummer. The main point is to erase the memory of Lombardo and conquer a small slice of the fan’s heart. At the beginning he was a bit criticised and that’s normal when you must replace a monster like Lombardo and take his burning seat behind the drums but at the end everybody understood and praised his style, brutality, passion and heaviness. Tom Araya once said that he is like a machine: you charge it and it goes until the end with no hesitations and I believe that it’s true also in the live gigs. He has always been a professional guy.

Talking about this album, the thrash metal period was definitely in crises and almost every band started to play groove thrash, at least the ones that survived but Slayer kept up the thrash metal massacre and released this Divine Intervention that could be easily considered a return to extreme after a more dry (for ideas) and less angry Season In The Abyss that was not the example of a band in perfect form. Maybe the four years were good for the band to get well again. Anyway, I really admire Slayer in this case because here we can see the right attitude of a band that never left the thrash path even during the grunge or alternative metal period.

I think that I admire more this album than Reign In Blood because here Slayer really demonstrated the balls even if the album is not perfect, but the will is what matters. The band itself has grown a lot since the early days and now the members reached a good level of technique. The tracks sound more or less a way between South Of Heaven and Reign In Blood, so we can meet hyper fast ones and darker, slower others. The massacre starts with the drums intro to “Killing Field” and the guitars soon enter the sound to create a massive wall of heaviness. No modernism, no melody but pure violence. Here Slayer are very clear in their message to the fans: we are back and fuck the trends. We still thrash hard.

The power of the new drummer is clear to anyone and with the following “Sex, Murder, Art” we go back to the 80s for speed and nastiness. Here Bostaph is inhuman while “Fictional Reality” is more mid paced but without the tired mood of the past released. The band is again vicious and some darker passages of the guitars are really good and well exalted by a truly pounding and clear production that puts in evidence all the instruments and give a vigorous sound to the axes. After, it’s time for “Dittohead” to break in with its massive burden of hardcore influences and neverending up tempo sections. The solo by King is, as always, devastating and truly thrash.

Also Tom’s vocals seem to be more pissed off and they re-conquered a lost brutality. His work on this album is very good but the bass is unfortunately not so audible. We go on with the title track that is a natural continuation of tracks like “Spill The Blood” and “Season In The Abyss” but this time with a more angry approach. The following “Circle of Beliefs” features four brutal, amazing, tremolo picking solos in four minutes of blasting power demonstration. The band is compact and seems a bulldozer that no one is able to stop. The fast sections of “SS-3” are amazing and the solos are just the pure inserts of insanity to an already excellent song, also during the first part that features galloping riffs and semi mid paced tempo.

“Serenity In Murder” is total mosh for the up tempo parts while it’s also able to be intense during the “calmer” parts. Surely the vocals’ artificial parts could be avoided because they are a bit annoying and naff. “213” is again a good break to the continue violence, showing good arpeggios and great dark atmospheres. Here they pointed more on the mid paced patterns and the last “Mind Control” is remarkable also for the catchy parts and the guitars duets that go along with the fury of a band that has found again the strength to put out really brutal stuff. Unfortunately, this album is just an isolated case in this sense and I wished that the following Diabolous In Musica could have sounded like this.

Coming to the end, I just want to recommend this album to those who were let down by Season In The Abyss because here the band is far more compact and brutal.

“Still kicking ass during the grunge years!” - 72%

Metdude, April 8th, 2007

This is the first Slayer album I ever heard and I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Divine Intervention is the first of three studio albums which do not feature Dave Lombardo on drums. Paul Bostaph steps in instead and proves to be a worthy replacement. The intro to Killing Fields is proof of that. However, Lombardo is a legend for a reason and his presence here is sorely missed.

The best song on here is Killing Fields which gets the album off to a great start. The lyrics are easily the best on the album and the song does a great job of beating the listener over the head with riffs. Dittohead is close behind with it's neck-breaking intensity. Definitely their fastest song since the Reign In Blood days.

Those are the two really memorable songs from the album. The rest are good songs for the most part but don't rank among the band's finest moments. Serenity In Murder is probably my favourite of these songs. It's actually a bit different from other Slayer songs up to this point with it's use of distortion effects on Tom's voice. This would become more evident on the next few albums and become ever more annoying but that's another story.

213 and Divine Intervention are solid mid-paced songs particularly the former with it's macabre lyrics about Jeffrey Dahmer. As other reviewers have mentioned, the "I need a friend....please be my companion" bit is rather silly but it's not enough to totaly ruin the song. The only other song worth mentioning is Sex, Murder, Art. This is the most brutal song on the album after Dittohead and while it is a nice little number, it's too short! Just as you're getting into it, it ends abruptly. It could have been at least a minute longer! The remaining songs are nothing horrible but they're all pretty forgettable. Fictional Reality is a bit more memorable than some of the others but even that song is kinda generic.

This album was pretty underrated for some years after it’s release until God Hates Us All came out and it started to look like Reign In Blood in comparison. Although it's not one of Slayer's best albums, it's still a fun listen and it's far better than the two albums that followed it. If you have Slayer's first five albums, I'd recommend getting this.

I'm a little confused. - 75%

hells_unicorn, April 8th, 2007

For the longest time I’ve struggled to make sense out of this release, as it would seem to be either a reactionary piece of raw aggression to a changing world or a rather inconsistent attempt at turning back the clock. The album art would suggest a typical fit of pure evil similar to what was heard on “Hell Awaits”, but when you look at the various new clippings and the picture of a dead man with blood pouring out of his head (some suggest it’s a picture of Kurt Cobain) that populates the inner part of the foldout, the suggestion that some sand is being thrown in the gears becomes a distinct possibility, and does in fact occur in several areas on here.

The musical contents found on here are a somewhat bizarre mish-mash of speed/thrash, punk and modern groove influences. “SS-3”, “213” and “Divine Intervention” have the most groove influences injected into them, flirting with sounding like something off of Vulgar Display of Power from time to time. “Sex, Murder, Art” and “Circle of Beliefs” are the most overtly punk inspired both in terms of structural simplicity and vocal delivery. The rest of the songs are straight up thrash with plenty of signature riffs, fast as hell drumming, and plenty of guitar solo interchanges, although it seems that Kerry King is taking a dominant role in the shredding department.

Although I can’t really complain about the songwriting, even in the case of the groove inspired songs, the production on here is quite sloppy even when compared to the oldest albums in the genre. The drums have no depth to them at all, the snare is tuned way to high, and the high-hat symbol is way too loud. Paul Bostaph’s double bass kick work is hit or miss, he usually tends to suffer during the longer stretches of consistent blast beats (Killing Fields and Fictional Reality in particular), while during switch ups he tends to hit the mark accurately. Araya’s vocal mix is utterly atrocious; to speak nothing for the new style he is exhibiting. He avoids the cliché of worshipping James Hetfield that some other thrash acts had fallen into at this point, but the lower end shouts that he does end up utilizing are almost comparable to the crap that John Bush spewed out with Anthrax at around this time.

If I had to pick the best songs on this album, they would be the ones that tend more towards the Slayer that everyone loved in the 80s. “Divine Intervention” has a drawn out intro with some gloomy clean guitar sounds, before settling into some decent mid-tempo thrash, by far the most epic sounding thing on here. “Mind Control” and “Dittohead” are the best fast paced tracks out of the bunch, featuring wicked riffs, riveting solos, and the most consistent drum performances of the thrashers in the mix. “Serenity in Murder” is also loaded with quality riffing and listens well throughout, despite having a few groove moments and a somewhat flat vocal performance.

Slayer fans will no doubt have mixed feelings about this album, as I myself can’t condemn it as a failure or praise it as a masterpiece. It has its moments but it is consistently mired by an extremely poor drum mix and a lot of hints at the metal-core direction that they would later take in the vocals. Look for it at under $10 and be prepared to either skip around depending on your preferences in metal.

No, Sorry, I Don't Buy It - 55%

corviderrant, March 20th, 2007

Oh, please...this is weak by classic Slayer standards. Paul Bostaph is not even a pimple on Lombardo's butt in this album! More on that later, but the opening statement sums it up pretty well, I think.

This was a stab at Slayer reclaiming past glories, an attempt to show they still had it and it only half succeeds, like its predecessor, "Seasons in the Abyss". The guitar sound is still respectably evil and dark, and the drums actually sound pretty good, but the playing is not there much of the time. The songwriting is not up to par and is uneven to say the least; "SS-3", "213", anybody? "Serenity in Murder" is actually pretty creepy on the verses with Araya's droning vocals, but the choruses get boring and played out in short order.

"Dittohead" is the only song on the album that really brings the dynamite in terms of them trying to show they were still valid, and the soloing even approaches their past manic intensity, or at least Kerry King's leads do; Hannemann totally phoned it in on this album. That one song on this album is the only one that comes close to getting my pulse pounding like, say, "Raining Blood". And then there is the joker with the sticks in his hands, he gets a paragraph all to his self.

Paul Bostaph? Paul BOSTAPH? Who the hell was he? Oh yeah, that joker who was in Forbidden and thought he could hang in Slayer. And they showed a lamentable lack of judgment in thinking he could fill Lombardo's huge shoes. For crying out loud, the opening of "Killing Fields" shows it plain as the nose on my face; his double kick technique is sloppy as hell! He falters messily and it's only when the riff comes in that he finally gets it together. You hear that in "Dittohead" as well, the little bit before the slower middle part where he tries to rev it up and is all over the place trying to do it. Now if they'd gotten somebody like Pete Sandoval on this record, that would've elevated it to the next level, but as it stands the drumming on this album sucks out loud and proves he was emininently unworthy to be in Slayer. You need a certain level of precision and tightness to hang in a band like this, and it was just not there on Bostaph's part.

In the long run, this album stands as a dividing line between Classic Slayer (everything up until and including "South of Heaven") and Shit Slayer (everything else released after that album). Disregard this unless you are a completist and absolutely have to have everything Slayer had ever recorded. Otherwise, save your money and download "Dittohead" and enjoy that as their last gasp at greatness. It falls short, but at least on that one tune they tried, anyway.

One of the best 90's thrash albums - 92%

sepultribe, April 19th, 2005

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.

Thrash, Speed, Art - 90%

skolnick, January 23rd, 2003

This was Slayer´s mid 90's attack. Many people see this as the new "Reign in Blood" that appeared in the middle of the last decade...Well, i personally think this has gone beyond "Reign in Blood", because in the 80's we had a brutal band with speed and in the 90's we had a brutal band with speed...and technique...
"Divine Intervention" is without a doubt one of their best releases, a really angerful album, filled with some good riffs and an impressive sense of speed...
Slayer here remembered a little bit of the speed metal roots they had and that have been forgotten in the last few years before the edition of this album.
This was also an important album for another reason, being it the first time another drummer recorded something with the guys. Great transition made at the time, after all we are talking about Dave Lombardo being replaced for Paul Bostaph, and it came to be a replacement of a god for another...

Bostaph is even the one who kicks the action on, making the ferocious drum solo of "Killing Fields" intro, a great song, really heavy going from a progressive slow part to a more paced up one, managing to create a great vibe. "Sex, Murder, Art" is next and it has one of the most amazing riffage of this album, being followed by Kerry King´s "Fictional Reality" and the probably fastest song on this album, "Dittohead", in which every sound of that drum pounding is like a heavy thunder crack, hitting you really hard with that speed. This song has also some of the fast riffing of the album...

Next comes up " Divine Intervention", one of the greatest tunes on this album, with both Jeff and Kerry showing the highlights of their presence in this record. The intro is very good, being followed by a calm guitar interlude that antecipates the total devastation of the song´s rhythms.
"SS-3" has some good riffs but it could be better in those parts before the higher pace breaks in, "Serenity in Murder" is another of Hanneman and King´s odes to speed, really another highlight on this album...

The last two songs are the doom-melancholic sounding "213", something really original, something i´ve never heard Slayer playing before, being really a high quality tune and the total thrash finisher "Mind Control" with some amazing blast beats.

The boys really got themselves together again, having recorded one of the 90's best metal albuns, and kept a little hope for their fans to see Slayer return to their speed/thrash roots, hope that that beginned to disappear years later with the edition of "Diabolus in Musica".
This is a must have for any thrash maniac. If you don´t have this album (or Reign in Blood) then you´ll not deserve to be called like that...

And what if it WERE another Reign in Blood? - 75%

UltraBoris, August 13th, 2002

It would still not be as good as The Highlight Years of Slayer. There are still half-a-songs to be found here (Sex Murder Art) and a few really shitty "Mr Gein?" moments. That said, some points of this album really fucking thrash like only Slayer can thrash.

This is pretty much the logical successor to Seasons in the Abyss, with both that and this being a response to the people that didn't like South of Heaven because it was too slow and variant - here, the slow is constrained into just a few songs, and for the most part the songs are fucking fast.

The real lowlight is Araya's vocals - while not nearly as distortion-irritating as on the next few albums, it is already a far cry from the clean shrieks of Classic Slayer. But the riffage, oh man the riffage... when this album gets going, it is EXCELLENT. Highlights include the opening sequence of Killing Fields, all of Circle of Beliefs, including the two different approaches to "can't you see... there's no validity", and of course the neck-violating crush of "Dittohead". "Fictional Reality" and "Serenity in Murder" are more midpaced vocals-driven songs that still fucking work.

The rest ranges from "effective, but unspectacular" (Sex Murder Art) to "kinda goofy" (SS-3), to an attempted rehash of previous title-track greatness (Divine Intervention) to utter fucking swill... I'm sorry but 213 is shit. Actually, it would be pretty good if it weren't for that fucking "I need a friend" cockswillfecalshit, which is a harbringer of the mallcore-related dimwitted stupidity that Slayer would descend into. That right there probably knocks the album out of the 80s... no one gets away with that sort of foul stupidity.

But hey, not bad. Even though it's sort of a retread of previous stuff, this is unmistakeably Slayer, and in this case that is a Good Thing. Also, the cover art is fucking awesome.