'We're changing our sound into something new.' That phrase has almost struck more fear into fans of a band than anything else. And not only is it usually dismissed by critics, but also by fans. Such is the case for Slayer's CD, Diabolus in Musica. But don't get me wrong, there's some stuff on here definitely worth checking out.
Slayer has taken a new approach to writing music on this record. They've thrown out the old 'Seasons in the Abyss' sound that was present on 'Divine Intervention' and reworked a more 'groove' sound and in some cases, even a little 'nu-metal' into it.
What's Good About this Album -
- The sound quality. This is such a HUGE improvement over 'Divine Intervention'. The guitars no longer sound thin and whiney as they did on the previous record, the bass is audible, and the drum level isn't that high, so you don't just hear Paul pounding away all day.
- There are a few standout tracks here. The opener, 'Bitter Peace', pretty much mixes their new sound with their old perfectly. It has a long intro, about 1:10 minutes, and near the end it has a bassline that almost sounds like something Slipknot has done, somewhat. Then it builds up and blasts out some riffs that sound similar to 'Seasons in the Abyss', but packing more of a 'groovish' sound to it. A solo comes in around 3:00, and then is followed directly by another solo. The song ends with Tom shouting chopped words and everyone else following him accordingly. The next standout track would be 'Stain of Mind.' Just from the intro, you can hear where the 'nu-metal' sound has been incorporated. It just thumps around for a bit, especially the drums, before coming to a heavy-riff verse, then some whispering, then into the chorus. A solo comes in around 2:05, but it's mainly an effects solo, but its still good. Then back to a verse, a slow break with just the bass and Tom yelling, then chorus, and then the intro again and the song is done. Finally, the very last track, 'Point' is the highlight of the album. It's a lot faster than 'Stain of Mind' once it gets going, and it's just a bit faster than 'Bitter Peace'. This is their most 'thrash' sounding song on the album no doubt, and the lyrics remind of 'War Ensemble' almost. But don't think the two sound alike, because they defiantly do not. This is, once again, infused with a 'groove' sound, but the riffs are what sell this one. Jeff and Kerry weren't messing around when they wrote this. The solo that comes in near the beginning is nice, as well, as it mixes in some effects too. Also, there are two other solos, more reminiscent to Slayer's old style, basically one after another, right before the end.
What's not so Good -
- The new sound. It's not so much that they have moved so far away from their roots that their bad, but the way they infuse some of their new sound doesn't produce very good results. For instance, on 'Death's Hand', they come in with drums and bass that sounds like its from American Head Charge, and then later on in the song, everyone but Tom stops playing, and Tom starts playing a bassline that sounds like something off an old Slipknot CD, and then everyone else joins him. And the new 'infusion' of sounds won't save 'Screaming from the Sky' from being one of the most repetitive songs ever written. The main riff consists of 'chug-chugga'-esque playing that never variates at all, and is basically the only riff throughout the entire song. And if the disease of chugging riffs couldn't be more apparent on that track, then 'In the Name of God' will dismiss it completely. It just chugs along throughout the entire song, although slightly slower than 'Screaming from the Sky'. 'Desire' feels like rip-off of the track 'Divine Intervention', and is just horribly and blandly written.
- Tom's vocals. It seems he prefers to yell very loudly on this CD, as he does on 'God Hates Us All'. He has replaced his almost gruff-like talking into a yell, and it can get very annoying and repetitive at times. A prime example of this is 'Scrum'. There is no sign of him even trying to sound like his old-self, he just gets in front of the microphone and yells as loud as he can. Also, the lyrics on this album are just cheesy. 'You better learn my name, Cause I'm the one insane' come off the track 'Perversions of Pain'. These new lyrics try and outdo the previous ones from their past records, but they come nowhere near them.
This is nowhere near Slayer's best. If you're just now trying to get into Slayer, you better go pick Seasons in the Abyss, as it is their most accessible album they have released. If you're an old Slayer fan and you don't own this, give it a shot. Some people actually find this CD to be flat-out amazing. It's not bad at all, just not up to the standards they have set with previous albums.
OVERALL RATING: 3/5
Also, this is only my 2nd review. Feedback is much appreciated, just don't bash me if you really dont like it. Thanks!