You’re Damn Right I’m Reviewing the New Slayer CD

This is the regular edition. There's a special one too, but I like this better.After the stink I made when my first copy of Slayer?s World Painted Blood was stolen out of my mail, a review of the album seems the least I can do since Columbia was kind enough to send over another watermarked copy. Even if the review is about a month late. To whatever bastard took that original, first off, thanks for not ripping it and spreading it online, second, screw you anyway and third, I hope you got as much of a kick as I did out of the medical waste bag the disc came in.

World Painted Blood is Slayer?s 11th full-length studio album, and finds the original Bay Area thrashers working well within their element while adding just enough of the (relatively) unexpected to keep things interesting for themselves and anyone in their fanbase who might want to see them step outside their prescribed formula. The opening title track, for instance, shows some signs that the songwriting might be trying to reach beyond the fast-as-hell riffing and soloing. There?s a surprising amount of melody and the general feel more of a Slayer closing track, especially since at 5:53 it?s the longest song the band has put on a record since the title cut of Seasons in the Abyss in 1990.

If there?s one thing Slayer are at this point, though, it?s aware of what?s expected of them. They are workman metallers in the sense that they deliver what the fans want and offer their progressions almost on the sly. While ?World Painted Blood? is surprising in how up-front it is ideologically and in its actual placement, ?Unit 731? is not much more than an affirmation of Slayer?s influential and long-established methodology. This is the case for several of the cuts throughout, where it?s ?Slayer being Slayer.? ?Snuff,? the catchier, faster third track, does little to innovate, but satisfies on the grounds that it?s got Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King solos, psychotic Dave Lombardo drumming and Tom Araya?s vocals. It?s cookie cutter, but nearly 30 years later, it?s also still pretty badass.

Hey Tom, you forgot your sunglasses! Oh well, guess we'll have to take the picture without.Even ?Beauty through Order,? with its slow-fast tempo change and varied Araya shouting makes use of the chugging-riff-ride-cymbal-into-lead-guitar tactic that has served the band so well over the years. They balance their will for expression with the acknowledgement that music is a commercial art better than anyone in metal, and have for some time. The single, ?Hate Worldwide,? has a Christ Illusion-esque feel, and despite that album?s lackluster reception, does its job well, Lombardo in particular shining with the Greg Fidelman (Metallica, Neil Diamond, Life of Agony) production. The end of the song takes off ? la ?Disciple? from 2001?s God Hates Us All, which, since I count myself on the pro side of that debate, is not a bad thing at all.

If nothing else, it sets up the blasting ?Public Display of Dismemberment? at the start of what mathematically works out to be a somewhat of a buzzkill in side B. I say mathematically because that track, the next two in ?Human Strain? and ?Americon? and closer ?Not of this God? are all pretty much passable. ?Americon? has the novelty of its political lyrics and its reminder that Slayer are basically a punk band at heart, but even that doesn?t really save it. ?Human Strain,? which like ?World Painted Blood? features a spoken part from Araya, seems to reach for similar progression and come up just short, and had ?Not of this God? been left off altogether, I doubt if anyone would have noticed.

Fortunately, ?Psychopathy Red? and ?Playing with Dolls? are there to hold listeners on. The latter should have closed out World Painted Blood, with its typically creepy lead opening into an angular riff, Lombardo fills and start-stop groove. It?s a last-minute album highlight snuck in after ?Psychopathy Red? pummels once again with an excellent application of the Slayer formula. That Araya gives his best vocal of the album is also a big help in the wakeup process following ?Public Display of Dismemberment,? ?Human Strain? and ?Americon,? and of all the songs on World Painted Blood, ?Psychopathy Red? seems the best placed where it is.

What it boils down to is that I?m going to buy this album. There are some ups, some downs, but Slayer meet every reasonable expectation that could be set for them. I don?t think anyone by now is expecting them to release another Reign in Blood, because in case you haven?t been counting 1986 was 23 years ago, but the band has yet to not deliver on their promises, sound-wise. Interesting that my favorite cuts on World Painted Blood are the songs where they change up the approach — ?World Painted Blood,? ?Beauty through Order? and ?Playing with Dolls? — but opinions on favorites, particularly as regards Slayer, are moot since with such a wide and multi-generational fanbase they?re bound to vary person to person, so it?s not really worth exploring. It may not be the biggest surprise in the world to find Slayer kicking ass, but they?re so damn good at it. Given the rate they?ve been releasing albums this decade, we?re not likely to hear from them again before the band turns 30, so if this is closing out their third decade together, it?s a fitting inclusion in the catalog and strong confirmation that the re-Lombardoed lineup is as charged as ever, even if there are some pitfalls along the way.

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