Slayer - World Painted Blood
2009 Sony Music Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Few bands are bound to a standard as much as Slayer. There's a reason their bloodthirsty fans are more loyal to their cause than New England Patriots fans. Slayer has consistently delivered a familiar--and largely winning--product now over the course of 26 years.
Of Slayer's thrash and death metal contemporaries who can at least match their tenure in the business, none can stand toe-to-toe with this group in terms of prolonged intervals of speed. Is Slayer the fastest band on the planet? Well, they were years ago but even S.O.D. stepped on the gas just a tad more, albeit never matching the finesse nor claiming dibs for the greatest thrash album of all-time as Slayer did with Reign in Blood.
Over the course of metal's evolution, we've seen everyone from Napalm Death to Morbid Angel to Cannibal Corpse to XXX Maniak spin the genre to dramatic revolutions nobody foresaw in the mid-eighties. Nevertheless, there's something enigmatic about Slayer's unyielding violence and aggression which has not only built their legend, it's shackled the group to an anticipatory level of intensity.
Seldom is Slayer allotted the luxury of deviating from a demanded script featuring 10-12 songs of sitzkrieging velocity, blaring throat scrapes and ear-shredding guitar solos. Consider the hefty price they paid in 1998 for tinkering with the plot on Diabolus in Musica, an album which doesn't garnish as much praise as it deserves for having the stones to experiment and still retain a bloody crush. In the nu-metal explosion Diabolus was released, yes, Slayer took a shot at mingling with near-rap (much to many fans' dismay), yet it was still hands-down heavier than any band gaining the spotlight that year.
Then again, Slayer has weathered storms of criticism from differing sides of the fence in both support and condemnation of Seasons of the Abyss and South of Heaven, classics depending on who you ask.
Since 1998, Slayer has unapologetically embraced a wherewithal to challenge the scene for title as the most exteme metal band on the planet. Consider the length of their stay in the scene and you have to give Slayer props--whether you dig them or not--for writhing their bodies to near-exhaustion in their dominant continuance of celerity.
Now that Slayer has won a pair of consecutive Grammys (both in connection to their 2006 output Christ Illusion), the masters stomp their pedals ferociously and slop down the production a bit on their latest thrash-o-matic clouter, World Painted Blood.
Business as usual if you're a Slayer junkie, albeit they seize the luxury to tinker intermittently while throwing slight nods to the past on less-thunderous parts of the album. Not that World Painted Blood ever slackens; if anything, whenever Slayer molds and shapes a few mid-tempo and even slow grinding sections, they immediately kickstart the thrash as if in atonement.
"Americon" is one of the few songs on World Painted Blood which assumes a steady bob from start-to-finish without the need for jettisoning away from its hellacool pump. Fans are easily going to single "Americon" out for its sheer distinction, even if the meaty hook of the cut is something they're well-adjusted to as bridge parts in older songs. They'll accept it nicely since Slayer wastes nary a lick afterwards ushering out their reckless speed demon "Psychopathy Red." There's something a bit fiercer with "Psychopathy Red" isolating it from Slayer's other skullcrushing clips on this album; even Tom Araya seems to lose his freaking mind woofing out his final exhalations of the song with everything he has. Something deeper than the norm was at stake during this song's recording.
"Playing With Dolls" is going to remind most fans of the title song "Seasons in the Abyss" with its skulking intro and verses which ring highly reminisncent of their ancestor. "Dolls," however, goes for a more tactful acceleration on its bridges, all of which strive for a climax, but instead withhold themselves. This strategic dallying sets up the venomous thrashing finale "Not of This God."
As proud of the band's Grammys as Tom Araya has gone on record as stating, World Painted Blood is conceivably a thumb bite. It's hostile, anti-social, grimy, ugly, pick your superlative. This album bears nowhere the same amount of veneer and enamel as Slayer fans have come to expect, albeit the same level of professionalism applies as ever on World Painted Blood. Jeff Hannemann and Kerry King are still the most fearsome tag team shredders your speakers will strain to emit. Tom Araya might have gotten even faster on the bass while his rasps and roars are planted with their customary ease. Dave Lombardo's chops are still largely on the dime (with only a few scattershod burps), even as their sound capture is more hardcore-punk prodded than death metal slammed.
This is the decided essence of World Painted Blood. Instead of a glossy death album featuring four of the industry's best, Slayer opts for a more punk-edged sludginess on cuts such as "Snuff," "Unit 731," "Hate Worldwide," "Public Display of Dismemberment" and the title track. The fast-as-Earnhart "Unit 731" and "Snuff" could've been recorded in succession with early DRI and Crumbsuckers as easily as Dark Angel, Bathory and Exodus. It's impressive how Slayer can take every bit of their well-known components straight down to the wah-tugged solos on "Unit 731" and regurgitate it all with a dirtier and slightly fresher perspective.
World Painted Blood throws in a few contemporary breakdowns (while never surrendering to a cheapo stop-start chug schism) as well as random moments of melody, daring Slayer's fans to call them out. As relentlessly dungy and occassionally minimalist as World Painted Blood is, it's still Slayer sliced down to their meanest riffs and quickest tempos, both of which will stave off the anti-Diabolus in Musica wolves without concern...
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Slayer - World Painted Blood