World Painted Blood

Written by: EW on 18/11/2009 00:03:10

I think we've all agreed long ago that reviewing bands like Slayer and Metallica these days based purely on the merits of their newest material is an impossible task, but I will give it my best shot. When bands reach such a size cutting through the hype, the over-exposure and the fanboy idiots is as big a task as listening to the album objectively in itself. Given how long ago Metallica left the realms of 'metal' it has been down to Slayer for a considerable period of time now to manage the space that was vacated by their once thrash-brothers, which given this fact makes it all the more incredible how loved they still are.

"Christ Illusion" was no damp squib but it had been 16 long years since Slayer had released anything half-decent, going all the way back to "Seasons in the Abyss". I mean, that's nearly one whole "Chinese Democracy"! And so while Slayer's early back-catalogue is quite simply a hallowed and untouchable spectrum of work, the band have struggled to remain a force to be reckoned with since and it is through this length of time that unavoidable questions have arisen over the band's worth nearly 30 years after they formed. In this respect "World Painted Blood" closes as many questions as it leaves open as on occasion Slayer pull out a riff, or a tempo, that shows some life in the old dog yet but invariably they feel like the dad on a wedding party dance floor, trying to resurrect their moves from their 'prime' while of course being wholly incapable of doing so.

The production of "World Painted Blood" feels as much to do with Slayer's negatives on album number 11 as it does the album positives. On the plus side it accentuates the feel of old-school, as occurred too on "Christ Illusion" that I feel is absolutely essential to the making of any great Slayer record, yet in repeated listens I can't help comparing it to the production of "Reign In Blood" and safe to say the comparison is not favourable. Before you start screaming "you can't compare everything to the greatest metal record of all time!! lulz", think about this fact: for much of "World Painted Blood" the riffs and writing feel strongly reminiscent of that 1986 classic yet that songwriting is let down by a vastly inferior and blunter production. "Reign In Blood"'s production was light years ahead of it's time but 23 light years ahead? And it is with this comparison I realise in the 23 intervening years Slayer have lost much of their bite and edge that made them veritable gods of their time, as that realisation is frankly unacceptable if you come here looking for a modern day classic.

With Tom Araya's vocals you can always be sure of just whom you are listening to and for that we can be truly thankful. In the riffs too of "Public Display Of Dismemberment", "Psychopathy Red" and "Unit 731" you would accuse the band on your stereo of ripping off Slayer if it weren't for the fact it was Slayer themselves, and that's no bad thing. After all, Slayer fans don't wish for their heroes to transform into a freeform jazz quartet and if they wish to try and repeat what makes "Reign In Blood" the only 11/10 album of all-time that must be admired. But to hear a number of tracks fall short of this standard only confirms what we originally knew: that Slayer are a long, long way past their best. "Playing With Dolls" harks back to the kind of slow-song composition I've heard from bands of 16-year-olds who formed last week while "Americon" returns the kind of headaches I get when just thinking of 2001's "God Hates Us All". This is not to mention on top the number of songs that sit squarely in the middle territory of 'dull', thus making finding anything to say about them difficult - "Beauty Through Order", "Human Strain" and "World Painted Blood". So I’m not going to try.

Naturally we are expecting much but then this is SLAYER!, the band that people willingly carve the logo of into their arms. I'm sure you'll get many claiming a change of underwear was in order after their first listen to "World Painted Blood" but ignore them and listen to me instead: there are moments worth shouting about here but if you want to experience these legends at their best do yourself a favour and travel back two decades plus.

Download: Unit 731, Pscyhopathy Red, Public Display Of Dismemberment
For The Fans Of: Slayer!
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 02.11.2009
American Records

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