Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

An Unsung Classic, and the Last Good Slayer LP - 85%

corviderrant, January 25th, 2005

After the colossal mindfuck that was "Reign In Blood", Slayer shocked us by declaring that they were--gasp!--SLOWING IT DOWN for the next album! Say it ain't so! But they did, and the Gods of Heavy Metal looked and they saw that it was Good. No, in fact, they saw it was GREAT.

But all is not well with this album. For one thing, Rick Rubin still needs to be hung by his back hair and beaten with a baseball bat for the beyond weak and tinny "production". "Yer kidding me, right? This sounds like shit!" was my initial reaction to this when I plopped it down on my turntable back in 1989 after months of excited waiting. The guitar tone is the worst they've ever had, second only to "God Hates Us All", thin and powerless--may as well be no distortion at all on them at all. The drums sound like milk cartons, for fuck's sake! The bass was never a major part of Slayer's sound, but even on "Hell Awaits" you could hear it better then here--it may as well just say "Araya: Vocals and Maybe Bass" on the sleeve. I digress.

The tunes are what matter here, and Slayer served them up with a heaping portion of that inimitable "Fuck you, DIE!" attitude they used to have back in the day. The title track opens the proceeedings with a mournful and dissonant dual-guitar harmony that is beautifully twisted and when the riffs come crashing in for the buildup to "Before you see the light, you must DIE!!", giving way to a propulsive verse riff that drives the song along relentlessly and some of the best lyrics from Araya's poison pen.

The ending wail of chilling feedback segues right into "Silent Scream" (if you listen closely you can hear where the loop overlaps!), a skull-battering thrashfest featuring Dave's lightning-fast by any era's standards double bass work. Problem is, the production is so weak it renders the opening single note riff salvo powerless due to the lack of bottom end. That is the only thing not worthy about this track.

Another issue I had with this album is Araya getting it into his head that he could sing, with mixed results--when he tries to be purely melodic he suffers from lack of conviction (see the otherwise-decent "Behind The Crooked Cross", which *does* have a good chorus), but when he gets more bollocks into it he sounds better. It doesn't hurt that he lets out one of his trademark "lost soul in hell" shrieks in "Live Undead" too.

Other tunes I really like on this platter are: "Mandatory Suicide" with its repetitive riffs on the chorus (eerie spoken word part at the end too), "Ghosts of War" with its connection to "Chemical Warfare" in the intro, and "Spill The Blood" with its haunting (and unheard-of at the time) clean guitar intro and swift riffing over midtempo drumming.

Overall, this for me was the last really good Slayer album, as after this they began slowly and painfully slipping into the abyss of mediocrity. Everything they released after this LP was just not the same.