Slayer are among the Godfathers of the American thrash metal scene. Their sound, style and conviction has never altered, never wavered, and never relented for over a quarter century. The band is brutally intense, dark, and for the faint of heart, overwhelming. Their lyrical themes have generated controversy and on occasion, outrage. Yet, their fanbase is steadfastly loyal, and ever growing. While the band’s career may be winding down, their music is picking up speed and savage energy.
This month marks the release of Slayer’s 10th studio album, the much anticipated follow-up to their 2006 masterpiece, Christ Illusion. The new CD, World Painted Blood is an early Christmas gift to the Slayer faithful, and the metal world at large. One again guitarists and songwriters Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman have brought the fury once again, with a catalog of tracks veined with an apolcalyptic theme.
Track by track, World Painted Blood bulges with rhythmic muscle, and heaviness. The twin guitars of King and Hanneman grapple with chaotic intensity. Vocalist and bassist Tom Araya’s voice sounds as powerful as ever, and drummer, Dave Lombardo’s legendary double-bass drumming terrorizes the listeners bones.
World Painted Blood brings back the band back to their roots, the sound more reminiscent of their early works, like the seminal Reign in Blood. This may have something to do with the approach the band took this time in the recording process. Rather than come into the studio with the songs already written, the band brought skeletons to the recording process, and the band collectively brought them to life. Lombardo says of the effort;
The rhythm riffs on this one make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It does it for me the same way [our] older records did. It’s a speed metal record with emotion.
Did this renewed enthusiasm brighten Slayer’s worldview? Not exactly. “We have a tendency to follow a theme, and I think on this record the theme is more apocalyptic than usual,” says Araya, pointing to songs like the title track, a meditation on what the year 2012 has in store for humanity, and “Public Display of Dismemberment,” which King says is about whether or not certain “vulgar but effective” law-enforcement measures might work as well in America as they have elsewhere. “That’s kind of the running concept here,” Araya adds, “but aside from that it’s the usual Slayer topics of death, murder and serial killers.”
The CD opens with the title track before moving into Hanneman’s “Unit 731.” “It’s about the Japanese holocaust,” reveals Hanneman. Says Araya, “This is a pretty crazy one. Jeff came in with the title, and he only had the first verse and the chorus. I looked it up and read about it, this Japanese military unit that documented everything they did, all these medical experiments on people. They were worse than the Nazis, and a lot of them were immune to prosecution because of all the information they had.”
Other topics covered on the CD include King’s views on organized religion (“Not of This God”), a look at “Snuff” films, and how other’s perceive Americans (“Americon”). Said one fan of the new CD,
I so love the new album, World Painted Blood. It is nasty, savage and creepy. It is? Slayer.
This week the band announced a new North American tour with their old pals in Megadeth and Testament. You can read and see more on that here: American Carnage Tour. A little known bit of Slayer trivia, Kerry King once left Slayer to perform in Megadeth. This lasted for only a handful of shows before King returned to the fold. However, it created a long running riftbetween the two bands.