Slayer, World Painted Blood
You know it’s a good day to be a metalhead when there’s a new Slayer CD out. World Painted Blood is the latest offering from the “troo” kings of metal; Slayer’s a band that has managed to stay true to what they’ve done since day one, a point that is more impressive considering that that day one was over two decades ago. There are no Loads or Turbos or Risks in this band’s discography.
World Painted Blood starts off with the title track, and guitarist Jeff Hanneman’s riffing lets you know right off the bat that this is a Slayer album. Hanneman is key to this album, since he took a much greater songwriting effort than he has in the past. Plus, his playing style has always come from a more punk or hardcore style than Kerry King’s, and at times the sound does harken back to Hell Awaits or Haunting the Chapel. Do not be mistaken, however, in thinking that Slayer is just hopping on the neo-thrash bandwagon — it’d be ironic, since the band helped invent the genre, but nonetheless…
Naturally, as with all Slayer albums, this one is filled with songs about love, politics, and the Dalai Lama living in exile. I’m just kidding; it’s filled with songs on the self-destruction of mankind, murder, and other fare that could only come out of the demented mind of Kerry King. You have “Snuff,” a lovely ditty about a snuff filmmaker that features some of Slayer’s trademark back-and-forth soloing. “Beauty Through Order” is a song about the incredibly insane Countess Bathory. The band channels its inner U2 with “Americon” and its opinion on the war in the Middle East. When you hear the line, “It’s all about the motherfucking oil,” you can figure out where the band’s coming from. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Slayer album without a shot at religion, and “Not of this God” is a hell of a shot.
There are some drawbacks, though. World Painted Blood is produced by Greg Fidelman with an executive producer credit to Rick Rubin. Rubin has been producing the band for a long time and is the reason that Dave Lombardo’s drums have always sounded so much better than anyone in their genre. Plus, I doubt that Rick spent much time in the studio; his credit is more of a result of him owning the label.
Mr. Fidelman was the one behind the knobs, so all praise/fault falls on his shoulders. The drums sound great, as do Tom Araya’s vocals. You could nitpick about the guitars a tad, but whatever. The big problem, really, is that this sounds remarkably like Death Magnetic, the album that Fidelman worked on before this. It’s not that it sounds bad; it’s just not as good as it should be.
World Painted Blood is a shot across the bow to all those that thought Slayer has gone the way of AC/DC and just recorded a typical album. Slayer has made an album that, while not as good as South of Heaven or Reign on Blood, is still better than 90% of what’s out there. This is a band that’s reclaiming its throne from all of the up-and-comers that have laid siege to it.