It couldn't be done. No matter what else they put out, they could never top those three masterpieces. Their blood, sweat, and hard work were always to be irrelevant. "Divine Intervention
" was almost there, "Diabolus in Musica
" fell about a mile short of what they hoped to accomplish, and "God Hates Us All
" only reminded us of what Slayer
used to be. It was a dark time indeed, for nothing that they had done surpassed "Reign in Blood
", "South of Heaven
", and "Seasons in the Abyss
". All three of those are not only the bands best work, but considered essential Metal classics, ones that have stood the test of time, with "Reign in Blood
" still being hailed as the most non-stop brutal 30 minute assault you would ever hear in your life. It was during these times that people like me could only look back and lose ourselves in those three records, while turning away from the last ones they had released.
After taking a long look at they had done, Slayer
looked back and realized that, well, everything was not
right. They had messed up down the line of trying to cut the flab that had weighed them down and try out something new. After finally getting Dave Lombardo back on drums, Tom, Kerry, and Jeff all went straight to the drawing board. But what would work? Certainly not just another "God Hates Us All
", whose aggression seemed to date back to their early days but fell flat in the actual song category. And they already knew another "Diabolus in Musica
" wasn't the best route to take. But as much as we fans wanted another "Reign in Blood
", they had already told us before when they changed their tempo on "South of Heaven
" that they couldn't outdo it. So what were they to do? Make another "Seasons in the Abyss
" like they tried to do with "Divine Intervention
Or what if...?
What if they went back to their promise of mixing "Seasons in the Abyss
" with their newer sound? Well, I for one saw the pros to that situation, but I also knew how hard that would be to pull off. I mean, look at Metallica
. They said "St. Anger
" was going to be an old-school feel for them, but instead, it turned out to be the biggest piece of crap the Metal community had ever seen. So I had my doubts. I waited it out. Then I heard their single "Cult
" and I knew all was more than well. It perfectly blended the new aggression and anger with their old unmatchable speed. It was like Heaven (er..Hell) to my ears. Then the amazing "Jihad
" was released, and the sub par "Eyes of the Insane
". Now right there, that's 2/3. That's almost good, but it's not what I had hoped. I wanted perfection, and one sub par track was enough to piss me off.
Thank God that's all I got.
" is one of the most fist pumping, pissed off, and downright shredding albums you'll ever come across. In its vile mere 38 minutes, "Christ Illusion
" not only blows the past three albums out of the water, it proves to the rest of us that Slayer
can still fuc
t up, big time. The opener, "Flesh Storm
", is easily one of the best Slayer
songs ever written. Its noiseless intro slowly builds up until your hit with a wall thrashing guitars and Dave pounding away with such furiousity that was found on "War Ensemble
". Actually, the riffing is quite similar to an extent, as there's no fancy fills or anything, it's just straight up palm muting power that grinds its way straight into your head. The chorus however, is slightly different, as then some classic Slayer
riffs fly all over. It's an amazing album opener, and easily the best on this album. The brutal onslaught continues with "Catalyst
". Now before I heard this track, I was skeptic about it. I had read that it was kind of left over from "God Hates Us All
". Meh. However, "Catalyst
" has almost nothing to do with that album, which was probably why it was cut. It's a shredding song from start to finish, with thick riffs and a wicked chorus that features some Eastern style fills. It's a great follow up to the jaw-dropping "Flesh Storm
". "Skeleton Christ
" continues on the hostility with some at first seemly repetitive chugging and blasting bass drums, but there are some quick variations here and there, before it moves onto a more straight forward in-your-face ripping chorus. The bridge is quite interesting, with a slower, yet more creepy atmosphere. The song ends on more of a ‘Metalcore' breakdown feel. Quite intriguing. It's unfortunate that the next song would have to bring the level of intensity down a good few notches. "Eyes of the Insane
" is a good song in its own right, but it doesn't come close to the rest of the songs here. It's slow and chugging for one, and while the frantic machine gun type riffing is cool during the pre-chorus/bridge, it's not enough to keep this album up to par with the rest of the tracks. It's short, but it seems to drag on too long. However, with that aside, "Jihad
" will rip your mind out of your head and rape it. Not only does it match "Flesh Storm
" in quality, it's very artistic if you take a chance to listen to it. While it starts off completely un-Slayer
like, with a weird effected guitar that flows into a riff that seems like it could've been on the song "Seasons in the Abyss
" then begins to pound away with lighting fast blazing guitars the speed up and then slow down for a mere second before they continue their onslaught. The chorus is a bit of a climber, as it seems to get higher and higher. But it's what happens after the chorus that's amazing. Middle-Eastern type fills. It's incredibly cool, as they throw out chugging riffs, wait a second, and then throw out fills that completely correspond with the song title. The outro is also incredible, as it features a slower classic Slayer
riff with Dave's snare drum in dominance from his drum rolls.
" comes in right off the gate with one guitar slowly climbing up while the other throws out split second notes, with Dave blasting away. It quickly moves into a straightforward typical Thrash song, but that doesn't mean it's bad. The riffing is more simplistic than anything so far, and serves its purpose as a headbanger. The chorus is quite cool, with machine gun like guitars and Dave beating his snare drum like there's no tomorrow. "Catatonic
" comes in very slowly, and stays that way for the whole time. The opening riffs are quite cool, as both guitars throw out some imaginative riffs, pause, then one and only one of the guitars repeats it very softly. The riffs that appear later seem to connect those found in the beginning, with slow palm mutes with a brief, almost unaudible fill. The song is quite cool, with the chorus speeding up and some huge thumps from Dave's bass drum. By the end, it has speed it greatly and continues on a slow thrash fest. Neat stuff, but a slower song like "Spill the Blood
" would've been better in it's place. Upping the tempo only very slightly, "Black Serenade
" comes in slower than the past two tracks, but that's not a bad thing at all. The intro/main riff is mainly built on a few palm mutes, followed by a climbing fill that's repeated throughout the whole song. The splits into the verses is another straight forward Punk type riff. The chorus is some seriously distorted guitars chugging along with Dave's bass drum playing a major role in pushing them along. The second to last song is one that everyone that listens to Slayer
should be familiar with now; "Cult
" is like a blender, which I have stated before in my earlier review for "Eternal Pyre
". It's slow, tension build-up single guitar intro leads into a slow, plodding riff that soon transforms, thanks to some buzzsaw sounding guitars and some incredible drumming. The song is built on speed, and while it isn't as fast as say, "Flesh Storm
", it still gets the job done. The song itself is quite powerful, exhibiting some of their finest qualities. The verses and choruses are both jampacked filled with palm muted riffs and the bridge seemed to take a page from a ‘Metalcore' breakdown (I gave in and will call it that now...) and ups the intensity greatly. Now, just like their openers, Slayer
has had some sick album closers, such as "Raining Blood
" and "Seasons in the Abyss
". While "Supremist
" doesn't come close to one of those, it's still more than a solid song in its own right. Coming straight off the bat with some "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" sped up riffs that were seen on "Show No Mercy
", it quickly transforms into one of the faster songs on the album with thick palm mutes. The chorus features some slower, flowing guitars but Dave keeps up his speed with some amazing drum work. The bridge is quite different, as it features some weird chugging patterns before it flows back into its straightforward riffing. Near the end, it slows down completely to add an eerie atmosphere. It then finishes off like "Raining Blood
", with the guitars just mindlessly throwing out random effects.
"...It's fast, heavy, and maybe faster than anything we've done before.
" - Tom Araya.
Well, Tom was right. This is
fast. And it does match up there at points with the speed of "Reign in Blood
". Tracks like "Flesh Storm
", and "Supremist
" all feature that lighting quick tempo that made them so famous. Now, they're not exactly, lets say, as fast as "Raining Blood
" (once it gets going...seriously, look up the tabs for that. It's insane), but each of their tempos could've been put to use on another song on that album and you wouldn't notice the difference.
Now, I won't lie when I say that Kerry King isn't that amazing of a soloist, and while Jeff Hanneman is better, it's not by much. These guys are strictly admired for their riffs. Their usual solo pattern is as follows: whammy-bar dive bomb + mindless shredding + whammy-bar outro = solo. And while they aren't the best, those types of solos fit the band perfectly. On albums like "Show No Mercy
" where the chaotic feel wasn't quite there, the solos felt out of place. But here, with all of the insanity, they feel more than right at home. And actually, this album features some of their best work, mainly from Jeff. Now, when I say that, I've come to realize that some of the most hated solos Slayer
have put out are those crappy-wah effects solos. And then I came to learn that it just Kerry King who did that. Damn you, Kerry! And fortunetly for us, those only appear once or twice here or there, like on tracks like "Consfearacy
" and "Skeleton Christ
". While their old technique of soloing I mentioned here earlier is still dominant here, it's done with more technicality and effiency than previously shown. Tracks like "Flesh Storm
" and "Black Serenade
" actually have solos that seem to have been thought out than just made on the spot. But it gets better. Jeff is known to be the more melodic of the two, so I don't feel out of place to say his stuff is a lot better than King's here. On tracks like "Jihad
" and especially "Eyes of the Insane
", his melodic soloing approach is far superior than anything that will be seen on this album, and they're purely awesome. And on another positive note, each song has a solo, which is sweet for guys like me. And tracks like "Flesh Storm
" and "Cult
" even have two! Good stuff here, good stuff.
Tom Araya isn't the most appreciated vocalist out there, and I don't blame people for not liking him. On past albums, his voice was gruff and deep, and he mainly relied on speed talking to get him through his vocal duty. On later releases, and even somewhat on "Divine Intervention
", Tom took a more yelling approach. Now, on some tracks like "Disciple
" off "God Hates Us All
", it was awesome. On others, it sounded horrible. Prompting even more people to dislike his vocals. Here however, like the riffs, he has perfectly blended his past and former voice to something like "...James-Hetfield-wishes-he-sounded-like-this type of singing
". His voice flicks out words a mile a second like he used to, but this time, he is yelling them with unimaginable ferocity. When he spews out lines like "Violence is our way of life!
", you can't help but believe him. He has certainly stepped it up. Sometimes, however, he attempts to sound more sinister, like on "Eyes of the Insane
", and creates a whole new atmosphere for the song. On "Jihad
", he puts his voice through something similar to walkie-talkie at the end and delivers one of the most blood-curdling speeches I have ever heard in my life (I'll get more into that in a bit), only to slowly release the effect so that you know it's him when he wails out the last note. Simply astounding. His bass, however, is still nonexistent, but you will be too preoccupied with thrashing about to even notice that. It's not even that big of a deal.
As for the lyrics...well...its still Slayer
. Don't expect some long, thought out poetry. It's all straightforward big "Fuc
k You!" type lyrics, mainly directed at the government, war, and of course religion. Honestly, what would a Slayer
album be if Tom didn't spit out lines like "Oppression is the holy law, in God I distrust!
". Or how about some off of "Skeleton Christ
" when Tom sneers out "Escape mortality, they say your life can change if you take God's hand.
", only to be followed at the end of the following chorus with a quick chant of "Hail Satan!
". How about some about war? Then "Flesh Storm
" is your new best friend, though it does contain some awesome lines like " Take a deep breath 'Cause it all starts now when you pull the fuckin' pin! The shrapnel burns as it tears into the skin. Ever wonder what it takes to be questioning your faith? This is what it's like when it happens every Godda*n day!
", and my personal favorite "There's no future, the world is dead, so save that last bullet for your head!
". "Eyes of the Insane
" was based off of soldiers in Iraq that have come home only to go crazy. And Slayer
are no strangers here about their hatred to the government, and probably more so to the Bush administration on tracks like "Consfearacy
" and "Supremist
", with "Consfearacy
" being blunt enough to say " No one's in control, When the government's the enemy!
". The lyrics are back in full force, and with many expletives I might add.
I feel I must address the controversial song "Jihad
" at this point. The song...well, it's about 9/11. Just not the way we're used to seeing it. It is actually told from the terrorist's perspective, and while the lyrics aren't nearly as controversial as, lets say, "Angel of Death
", they're still gonna piss a lot of people off. With lines like "I'll take his towers from the world!
" and the constant scream of "This is God's war!
", it's not one to want to be shy to controversy. But the thing here is its Slayer
. I mean, Tom is a Catholic. He's said time after time that what Slayer
does doesn't reflect the individual members. What he has stated, and I agree, is that Slayer
exists to show us that there is another way you can look at things. That's all. They're not serious. Except Kerry King, cause he's a pissed off bald atheist. But I think what might really get to people is the speech at the end of the song. It's blood-curdling and sinister. It goes, "Be optimistic, happy, and calm. Show no fear or anxiety. Smile at the face of God, and your reward will be eternity. Holy warriors, your patience will be justified. Everything is for him. You must not comfort the animal before you kill him. Strike as champions at the heart of the non-believers, strike above the neck, and at all extremities. For it is a point of no return for all-mighty God! God will give victory to his faithful servant. When you reach ground zero, you will have killed the enemy...the Great Satan!
" It's gonna boil some blood, I can tell you that right now. But just remember its Slayer
. They're out to just piss someone off.
But none of this wouldn't have been possible without the return of the almighty Dave Lombardo. Not only is Dave one of the best drummers I have ever heard, he is very well respected in the music community. Not only for making insane fills and playing at lighting speed, but for being able to also do them live. Now that's a feat. Now the last we heard from Dave, it was on "Seasons in the Abyss
", and that was his pinnacle. He was superb on that album. He was unmatchable on tracks like "War Ensemble
" and the title track. But when Paul Bostaph showed up, as good as he was, his drumming seemed to be too sloppy at points. But not here. Not Dave. His drumming on tracks like "Cult
" and "Black Serenade
" plays second to none. At points, like on "Jihad
", he becomes the highlight, either from his popping snare drum or his ominous bass drum. Somebody once described him as an octopus, due to the fact that he must have extra arms to do what he does. And right they are. This is easily Dave's finest work.
However, I do have a few gripes about this album. As much as I want to view this as perfect, it's not. Tom's voice, while it's a lot better than on "God Hates Us All
", he's still a little too loud at points. On "Catalyst
", hes too overbearing, and makes the song not quite as good as it could've been. And there's no sinister slow song or anything like "Seasons in the Abyss
" or "Spill the Blood
", and those are some of my favorite types of Slayer
Words cannot express my overall happiness with this album. They came through on all of their promises. It is like a mix of "Seasons in the Abyss
" and "God Hates Us All
", and the return of the drum master Dave Lombardo only makes it better. Kerry and Jeff shred all over this album; it's a riff lovers dream. And Tom goes balls-to-the-wall when it comes time to let rip some vocals. And unfortunetly, it has become appearent to me that not everyone on this site actually likes this album that is a Slayer
fan. Well, I have a few words for you: Get over it. A wise man once said "...Slayer could write another ‘South of Heaven' or ‘Reign in Blood' and people would still b*tch about it. They don't know what they want!
". And how right he is.
You need this. This is Slayer
Individual Track Ratings:
Flesh Storm - 5/5
Catalyst - 4.25/5
Skeleton Christ - 5/5
Eyes of the Insane - 3.5/5
Jihad - 5/5
Consfearacy - 5/5
Catatonic - 4/5
Black Serenade - 4.5/5
Cult - 5/5
Supremist - 5/5
Songs That Will Be Considered New Slayer Classics