No band does thrash quite like Slayer. Without doubt the most consistent of the so called ‘big four’ of thrash, they’ve never gone out of fashion despite the fickle nature of the average rock critic, and they’ve yet to make a bad album. However, if there is one criticism that can be levelled at the band it is that some of their albums (notably ‘Diabolous…’ and ‘God hates us all’) are just a touch too much to take in one sitting and would have benefitted from a more deft hand during the editing process. There is no such feeling here, however, on latest effort ‘World painted blood’ which is easily their most concise album since the brutal twenty-eight minutes of ‘Reign in blood’.
Opening with the title track, a frothing, visceral attack on the senses that rages through a variety of tempos and moods before crashing to a halt after six short minutes that leave the listener exhilarated and thirsting for more. If the first track veered into lengthier Slayer territory, ‘Unit 731’ reverses this trend by burning itself out before it even clocks in at three minutes. Featuring a genuinely deranged solo that skips form one speaker tot the other it’s desperately fast and liable to slay in the live environment. ‘Snuff’ ups the ante in speed stakes, kicking straight off into a solo and Dave Lombardo’s instantly recognisable drumming style. Indeed from solos to the insanely heavy double bass drumming of Dave, the whole band seem more fired up and aggressive than they have for some time and while that’s not a suggestion that the other albums have been in any sense weak, this record goes above and beyond what we’ve come to expect from latter day Slayer, while still employing the mid-tempo groove that has become synonymous with their more recent material. ‘Beauty through order’ calms the pace down a touch after the breathless opening attack, before lurching into a brutally palm-muted, chugging riff that is pounded home by the exceptional drumming.
‘Hate worldwide’ is every bit as obnoxious as its title suggests, with every raging riff confirming the fevered notion that Tom is screaming the lyrics directly into your face in a spittle-drenched attack on the soul. ‘Public display of dismemberment’ goes still further into the abyss with full-throttle drums chasing a simplistic, yet effective riff which wins the prize for fastest riff on the album. ‘Human strain’ taps into a deadly groove while discussing the nature of infection and features a perverse mid-section that haunts the memory long after the albums thrash and grind has come to an end. ‘Americon’ is a snarling comment from Kerry King on the world’s perceptions of America, a swirling, hate-filled rant that seems to be propelled by bile alone. ‘Psycopathy red’ has a spidery guitar riff that crawls over the rhythm sections inhumanly fast pummelling and then ‘playing with dolls’ repeats the trick of ‘dead skin mask’ by managing to be both insanely heavy and disconcertingly creepy at the same time. Final track ‘not of this god’ ends the album on a furious high, a pure thrash track that sees the band racing furiously towards the end without a duff moment in sight.
Overall ‘World painted blood’ looks set to maintain Slayer’s ludicrously high reputation. A vicious, snarling thrash masterpiece that easily outstrips their recent (admittedly fine) albums and recalls their so-called golden era that ran from ‘Hall awaits’ to ‘South of heaven’. With the production perfectly capturing every raging riff and Dave Lombardo’s cacophonous drums and Kerry and Tom’s lyrics as incisive as ever, it is no surprise that since its arrival we’ve had this album on almost permanently, revelling in the sheer adrenalin rush of these eleven blistering tracks. In a year where we’ve seen thundering releases from Megadeth and behemoth this may well take the crown as extreme metal album of the year. Astonishing.
Special Edition supplementary notes.
Happily Slayer have released a special edition from the off (in the past they’ve had a nasty habit of holding back, causing much dismay amongst fans of the band who tend to buy every new Slayer album on day of release) which comes in a smart digi-pack featuring expanded artwork and a bizarre bonus DVD entitled ‘playing with dolls’. Essentially a graphic novel based about the content of the songs, ‘Playing with dolls’ follows a twisted psychopath as he struggles to rebuild his brutally murdered mother. I won’t go into details for fear of spoiling it, suffice it to say that it is every bit as gruesome and twisted as one would expect, yet put together with a panache that one rarely sees in bonus features of this kind. If, for some strange reason, that doesn’t entice you, then the normal edition comes with a choice of four different covers (all of which are featured in the digi-pack edition) which form a cheerily blood-coated map when placed together. There’s also a limited 180g vinyl version which is well worth picking up although you miss out on the DVD in exchange for the superior sound and super-sized artwork.