• Axl Rosenberg


The metal community has been using the phrase “It’s their best album since…” a lot as of late. As though spurred on by the nineteen year old kids who now play the music they created better than they do, the Elder Statesmen of Thrash – or EST – have been enjoying a renaissance.

But here’s what sets Slayer apart from the pack: while you could certainly say that “World Painted Blood is Slayer’s best album since Season in the Abyss” and be telling truth, you could have said “It’s their best album since Seasons in the Abyss” about any album since Diabolus in Musica and been telling the truth. Slayer didn’t only just recently get awesome again – they really never stopped being awesome, despite what the scene snobs might have you believe.

But World Painted Blood finds Slayer sounding even more like the band that created the Holy Trinity than Christ Illusion did, so people are even more excited about than they were about that last offering. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

‘Cause when you get right down to it, Diabolus and God Hates Us All (the latter being the high point of the Lombardoless years) are only missing a few key elements from the Reign South of the Abyss era – namely, production that was little lighter on the reverb than most metal records, and Dave Lombardo, who is only, y’know, possibly the greatest drummer in the history of metal.

Obviously these are not insignificant details, though.  It’s not like King and Hanneman ever forgot how to compose Slayer songs – they’re not that other famous songwriting duo from the EST – but Lombardo’s drumming always feels so feral and alive, he makes Slayer sound as though they might completely fly off the rails at any moment. He’s what gives them that primal sense of punk. That’s why – and I say this will all due respect to Paul Bostaph – songs like “Disiciple” sound even better when played by Lombardo.

So, at its best – which is usually at its fastest – World Painted Blood really does sound like it was recorded by a Kerry King with hair. There are a lot of traditionalist old school scorchers (“Unit 731,” “Snuff,” “Public Display of Dismemberment,” “Not of This God,” and “Psychopathy Red,” which is probably still the best song on the album) and some moodier, more Hellish tracks (“Beauty Through Order,” “Human Strain,” “Playing with Dolls”), something that’s kinda in-between like on Seasons (the title track), and even one flat-out hard rock anthem that I’d argue actually breaks the mold just a little bit without turning into “Fuel” (the catchier than swine flu “Americon”). And it’s all a shit load of fun to listen to.

That’s not to say that World Painted Blood is perfect. It took me a few listens to get used to Tom Araya’s near-rapping on “Dolls,” for example, and the lyrics are occasionally a little too self-conscious in their effort to prove that Slayer are still a rebellious band. But that’s a problem that’s been plaguing the group for awhile, and I’m not even sure that “plaguing” is the right word – I mean, these guys were never exactly delicate lyricists, and I imagine nine out of ten people don’t see anything even mildly funny about Araya yelling “Hail Satan!” on Christ Illusion. So Blood‘s imperfections seem pretty forgivable, especially if we grade the band on a curve with their peers.

So, no, this band has not really changed all that much, and, yes, we are basically praising Slayer for being Slayer. But that’s because, as I said before, Slayer really never ever sucked. Like AC/DC, it’s totally cool for Slayer to just do the same thing over and over, because they’re really, really good at it, and never let their audience down. And World Painted Blood should make that audience happier than ever.


(four outta five Kerry Kings with Hair)


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