By Bill Adams
Since forming twenty-eight years ago, Slayer has established itself as one of the most blistering and aggressive metal acts in North America – that’s on the books, it’s not news. The band has won a wildly dedicated following on the strength of their hard-and-fast-as-hell brand of thrash that could break (and probably has broken) land-speed records for depravity; the tales of other bands revered as heavy hitters in their respective genres that have quit tours with Slayer (Alice In Chains leaps to mind) because of the intensity of the shows (as well as the rain of saliva directed from the audience) are legendary – so that’s not news either. After over two decades of that reputation cultivated, all of a sudden Slayer’s new album trades the metal in their thrash for a heavy dose of hardcore, the infusion of which makes Slayer sound exactly like Black Flag did around 1985 when the band released its swan song, In My Head.
Wait – what? That’s news.
From the first salvo of the title track on World Painted Blood, fans will have difficulty even recognizing what they’re hearing as being Slayer because many of the keystone sounds that the band has made its name on are all-but-totally absent from this record. Far lighter (as in less thick) than most of the band’s recent work, songs like “Hate Worldwide,” “Public Display Of Dismemberment,” “Psychopathy Red” and “Not Of This God” run leaner and far more sinewy than before and with thinner production, present themselves in a surprising form that’s almost reminiscent of something like satanic skate-punk complete with solos that are obviously the work of guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, but they’re also cut to the bone and/or abbreviated dramatically to keep the punches hard, fast and sharp. That’s cool, but there will be more than a few fans that say it plays more like a Slayer sampler set than a full length album.
Such a dramatic shift in sound (and it is from the ground up – I almost wondered if there was an error in the mastering of my review copy) will certainly can fans to express their opinions in every available forum, but that’s not anywhere near so worrisome as what might happen in a live setting. As was stated before, fans at Slayer concerts can be brutal and, while some might dig the changes that the band has made on World Painted Blood (I did, but I also happen to enjoy sitting down to play State Of Die on Nintendo occasionally, instead of something new that plays and looks better), for every one of them there’s likely to be legions of customers dissatisfied by this record. What could that mean at a Slayer show? Fans may just skip spitting on the opener and save their saliva for when they hear these songs.
Album review courtesy of groundcontrolmag.com