Saturday, February 27, 2010

Music Review: Slayer - World Painted Blood

When a band have been around for nearly 30 years, and have virtually defined a genre, how much can one really expect from a new record? In the case of Slayer, the answer is simple. Everything.

With their latest release, World Painted Blood, Slayer are back with a vengeance. Gone are the ridiculous nu-metal affectations of Diabolus in Musica (1998), and Hot Topic exclusives. Their latest, World Painted Blood is arguably their best since Seasons In The Abyss (1990).

Following the exhilarating speed of Reign In Blood (1986), Slayer figured the only possible next move would be to slow things down. But just a bit. With South Of Heaven (1988), they managed to bridge the gap between many of the various factions in metal, and enjoyed their biggest success to date.

South Of Heaven is where I came in, after hearing so many raves about Reign. And I thoroughly enjoyed Seasons In The Abyss. World Painted Blood seems like the next chapter in that story, more than anything that came in between.

It is there in the opening martial beats of the title track. This is classic mid-period Slayer, with brutally propulsive drums, a monster double guitar attack, and a killer riff to hold the whole thing together. The great thing is that the pace never lets up. “Unit 731” follows, and immediately reaffirms Slayer’s place as the inventors of thrash. The fact that they actually have something meaningful to say in the midst of the tornado is just a bonus.

There really isn’t a bad track among the 11 here, but for mad guitar solos check out “Snuff,” “Hate Worldwide,” and “Public Display Of Dismemberment.” The latter song is a prime example of the incredible amount of controversy Slayer inspires. Songs about Nazis, Satanism, and serial killers are guaranteed to push buttons. They also tend to sell millions of records.

Kerry King brought the guitar that Dimebag Darrell gave him into the studio while recording World Painted Blood. He never used it. But it served a purpose as a tribute to his fallen friend. It also indirectly contributed to the overall excellence of the record. “I paid more attention to my leads while recording this album. I wanted to make them more memorable, in memory of Dime,” says King.

Although World Painted Blood came out at the tail end of 2009, many in the online metal community called it album of the year. I’m not sure if I am prepared to go that far, but it is one hell of a record. Definitely Slayer’s best in a very long time.

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