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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Album Review: Slayer - World Painted Blood

1. World Painted Blood
2. Unit 731
3. Snuff
4. Beauty Through Order
5. Hate Worldwide
6. Public Display Of Dismemberment
7. Human Strain
8. Americon
9. Psycopathy Red
10. Playing With Dolls
11. Not Of This God

In my personal experience, it seems acceptable in the metal community to completely dismiss Slayer after "Seasons In The Abyss" in 1990. And for a while, I'd have agreed. Some fans say they haven't been good since South of Heaven, some say they haven't released a good album since "Divine Intervention". Whichever you may think, Slayer definitely has altered their music since the 90's, and the wariness that Slayer fans felt then has carried over into the 2000's. "God Hates Us All" was down-tuned and appealing to the "nu-metal" crowd, whereas "Christ Illusion" in 2006 only partly made amends for the 16 years prior to it, but ultimately failed. As we almost close out the first decade of 2000, Slayer returns once again with their tenth studio album. And Slayer fans should rejoice: they're back. Kind of.

First things first: There are some songs on this album that sound like they come right out of their '80s period. The beginning of "Snuff" sounds right at home on "South of Heaven" and "Public Display Of Dismemberment" could be mistaken as an unused track from the "Reign In Blood" sessions. Of course, Slayer still has some faults. There are still unconventional "Slayer songs" which do nothing but harm the band at this stage. "Human Strain" is definitely an odd-sounding song and ultimately sounds like something off of "God Hates Us All". I understand why Slayer wouldn't want to make a straight-up, balls-out thrash record at all times, but they've been like that for the better part of 20 years now. Had they taken the Slayer formula of war and satanic lyrics with speed and solos, this could've easily been album of the year. Another fault that should be mentioned (as I'm sure it's been mentioned about Slayer since 1994): Tom needs to stop yelling. It's sounding too forced these days. "Playing With Dolls" has a creepy vibe throughout and it features Tom actually singing through parts of the song which make it a very interesting song, albeit lacking in the end.

Also: "Americon" might just be the stupidest Slayer song ever released, lyrics-wise. Without even looking, I bet that Kerry King penned the lyrics. "It's all about the motherfuckin' oil/Regardless of the flag upon its soil". COME ON.

But I digress. "World Painted Blood" injects new life into the worn down thrash machine that is Slayer. "Unit 731" and "Snuff" have enough breakneck speed to satisfy old-school thrash fans, and "Psycopathy Red" might just be the best Slayer song written since 1990. The band still has its chops. The songs are still unmistakably Slayer, but they must have been listening to the myriad of forum posts on the internet about the guitar solos sounding the same. Lots of varied stuff here, but not enough to forget that it's Mr. King and Mr. Hanneman on the axes. The bass break (first ever for Slayer?!) in "Psycopathy Red" shows Mr. Araya has still got it, even if he needs to stop screaming all the time. Trust us, Tom. You sound a lot better when you let the lyrics come naturally. I've always been a huge fan of Mr. Lombardo's skill on the skins, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it really shines through on this album. Not to say that it's bad, just nothing too special.

The mix is not good on this album. It's not "Death Magnetic" bad, but it's still not that great. You have to really listen to pick up the drumming and the guitars are pretty "tinny" at times as well. It shouldn't make too much of a difference to die-hard Slayer fans, though.

At the end of the day, Slayer released a record. As the most consistent of the Big 4 of thrash metal, that should be more than enough reason to pick it up. But if you need more convincing, just know that "World Painted Blood" has Slayer back to being the thrash monster terrorizer that we all know and love. It's not perfect, but as long as you don't compare this album to any of their other albums (which you shouldn't do anyway), you'll find that Slayer is faster, hungrier, and a hell of a lot more evil than they have been in a while. SLAYER!!!


Stand-out tracks: Unit 731, Snuff, Psycopathy Red

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