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Fragments of What Used to Be. - 22%

Cheeses_Priced, May 12th, 2007

Opinions vary on the subject, but if you ask me, this is when Slayer started to suck. The ferocious attack of their early material has been softened up and even their powers of heavy metal songwriting have failed them.

The best song on the album is in fact the worst one, and that would be “Dead Skin Mask”. Predictable, chorus-driven, and centered around a distinctive riff, it’s what gets played on the radio in Hell. If it’s a pop song by the standards Slayer set on earlier albums, give it credit for being a really good one.

Taking a close second is the title track. This is the only song on the album that actually has a tune, and then only during the chorus. Araya’s attempts at proper singing on South of Heaven are missed. This is Slayer-pop too, but it’s faster so people tend not to notice so much.

The other songs are terrible. Many of them are the most-liked, too – “War Ensemble” seems particularly popular – though I will not pretend to fathom why, other than their being more angry and “more thrash” (not exactly a demanding standard). Boring, monotonous, predictable… oh, I already used the word “predictable” once in this review. Perhaps I should consult a thesaurus. I guess the aim for most of this album is to memorable but aggressive songs, but this only translates into simplistic, lengthy, monotonous, lazy, and otherwise quite aggravating choruses in nearly every song. Slayer decided that melody’s for fags and complexity’s for nerds, and so delivered an album of paint-by-numbers sub-Pantera metal retardation.

Plus the production bites: the guitars have buzz but no edge and the vocals are much too loud, particularly given their strained, atonal delivery.

All in all: this album’s so bad it’s scarcely ten times better than Divine Intervention. As for the band’s subsequent catalog: don’t ask.