Slayer - World Painted Blood Review
Posted by Michael Melchor on 11.04.2009
The monster is still alive and, by the sounds of it, awake and hungry for more.
Breaking down the intricacies, different styles, varieties, and technical aspects of a Slayer album is like discussing the statements about human nature and artistic oeuvre found in Will Ferrell’s movie output. What they both do, they do well. They rarely venture outside of their zone because, in all honesty, they don’t have to.
The biggest complaint out of fans and critics alike concerning most musical acts is whether or not the band can “grow” by changing up what they do. You know, because it worked so well for Metallica. Yet, in seeing the failures of some bands to venture outside of what they do best (or their “comfort zones”, as some smugly refer to it to justify their reasoning), these audiences will lambaste others for not doing the same themselves. I’ve certainly been guilty of it – I’ve accused AC/DC of re-recording and re-releasing different versions of the same song for almost 20 years now. And let’s not discuss Godsmack, shall we? Are they even still around?
Strangely enough, though, no one ever gets on Slayer’s case. For one, any one of them looks like they’ll rip your head off for even suggesting they do a ballad. Especially Kerry King. More than that, though, in never venturing too far away from the style of thrash they helped pioneer (along with the other three Horsemen – Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax), Slayer have emerged to become, after all these years, the old friend we can count on to yell in our faces and kick us right in the nuts when we need it. They’re also as intense, powerful, and violent as they started out being – a feat not only unheard of nowadays, but they’re respected for like few others.
So, how does one go about discussing a Slayer album? Well, there are slight changes in their style. Although they stick to the same attack, they at least vary it some – otherwise, a wall of noise this sadistic would be as boring to play as it is to listen to. Slayer slowed down slightly in the ‘90s, doing a lot of mid-tempo songs and foregoing the speed somewhat to concentrate on feeling and sounding darker than they had before (if such a thing was possible). Beginning with 2006’s Christ Illusion, Slayer started picking up the pace a little bit to bring back the ferocity that they’re associated with.
Fast forward to now. Songs like the opening title track and “Unit 731” come roaring out of the gate. Velocity and viciousness are the name of the game here. Not only that, but the riffs laid out by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, along with the rigid backing by Tom Araya and Dave Lombardo, almost sound like the old days.
Notice how similar World Painted Blood and Reign In Blood sound in title? It may not be just a coincidence. Slayer sounds here like they’re looking for some kind of return to those days. Even slower (mid-tempo) songs like “Beauty Through Order” speed up just a bit. That track, in particular, breaks back down to hammer a riff into your head that both scares and excites – a lot like “Angel Of Death” off of Reign.
This isn’t to say that World Painted Blood was conceived as – or even sounds like – a sequel to Reign. It’s merely to say that World Painted Blood is another step forward – albeit backward at the same time – for Slayer. The album is a reminder of where the band came from while they carry on the progressions that they’ve made in the past decade. The result is, for Slayer fans, a near-perfect album the band can be more than proud of. For the rest, it’s either an invitation to get caught up in the tidal wave of vengeance or a warning to stay away because you might get hurt.
The 411: By the sounds of World Painted Blood, Slayer hasn’t lost a step in over twenty years of speed and thrash. Many of the melodies recap the days when Slayer stomped on the scene like a monster, eating everything in its path. The monster is still alive and, by the sounds of it, awake and hungry for more.