SLAYER and Bon Jovi both today released their new albums. Bon Jovi, on the evidence of the local HMV may well top next week’s charts.
Circle represents a return to top form for Jon and his amigos, but after their appearance on X-Factor we are not really sure that we can as yet comment…praising Simon Cowell means listening to the music with a certain amount of cynicism. No doubt the strength of the material means that favourable comments will be made by me and others in due course, but for now...
Instead it is time to turn to Slayer. When all else fails, and the world is crowding you, Slayer are the constant. Simon Cowell and his cronies are never going to invite Slayer on to X-Factor.
Not for Slayer the vagaries of fashion, nor the pleading to the critics nor the attention-deficit disorder phone polls of the weak minded.
And, with World Painted Blood Slayer have returned with a visceral vision of a dystopian 21st Century, dripping with newly spilled blood, senses curdled with the cries of the dying and the revelation of rotten cultures and serial killers…oh and they have the usual attacks on religion too.
Although their most recent releases, such as Christ Illusion, were good, World Painted Blood feels like the most coherent CD from the Californian thrashers for a long time.
Whether it stands the test of time remains to be seen, but track by track Slayer have laid down a sermon for the disaffected, disenfranchised: which by any definition is what the muse of metal should deliver each and every time.
Opening with the title track the quartet’s intention is clear: bludgeoning all in their path. At almost six minutes it verges towards classic metal while retaining Slayer’s edge of monster riffage and atonal soloing.
Hate Worldwide is an ominous ode to Slayer’s atheistic leanings – the lyric ‘I’m a godless heretic, not a god-fearing lunatic’ sets out their stall clearly and without the equivocation of some of their peers on religiosity.
There has been much comment about the ‘clean’ Araya vocals at the start of Playing with Dolls, but put simply it works: as does almost everything else on this album when seen in the context of the world of Slayer.
Araya, Lombardo, Hanneman and King have laid out 11 songs that paint a world smeared with the blood of illegal warlords, the victims of killers, and the slaughter of innocent and guilty alike. Take the time to read the world headlines and dare to disagree.
But at the same time there is a cathartic joy in exploring such dreadful depths of humanity with Slayer. Here there are no qualms about discussing Japanese death camp experimentation, nor America’s modern oil wars. Here there is pressing need to understand the motivation behind ‘Snuff’ movies. Here there is a challenge, here there is a cry of anger, and here is a band maturing to even blacker visions.
Slayer don’t ever veer too far off the path of a formula that has worked for decades. Slayer are Slayer. And as they emerge into venerable years as middle-aged thrashers they are not going to suddenly decide to suck up to the mainstream, or change their outlook.
Slayer, on World Painted Blood, are back to being awesomely dark. They are back to being fucking brutal. Brutal joy to all in the festive season to come!