Sound — 2
Let me start off by saying I did my best to walk into this album objectively, as if it were the first time I've heard Slayer. Granted, everyone has probably heard at least one Slayer song in their lifetime if they listen to the metal genre. I haven't listened to every Slayer album, but I thought I'd give this one a shot, since 2005/2006 has been a great period so far for bands to release new works. I listened to this album on myspace when it started streaming. I also borrowed it from a friend, and I'm listening to it while I'm writing the review, so I won't miss anything. The quality of the album is no better than on myspace, which bothered me a little. But I digress (oh, I'm not going to bother reviewing the bass, since overall, it is unimpressive. Granted I'm sure that's because Araya is singing something). 01. Flesh Storm - a very nice intro for the album, fast, full guitars and some decent drum-work. Then suddenly, we reach 0:35 and Tom Araya steps in and does his best to ruin everything. I'll discuss more about his lyrics in the lyric section, but needless to say, you need to be a die-hard fan of his voice. Honestly, his sudden appearance into the music just killed the song. The section about "iconic devotion" is less than amazing. The little solo at 1:25 is decent, albeit short. He tries to make up for it at 2:39, and he does manage to redeem himself, so kudos. But after this, the song really should have just ended. It's ridiculously repetative, and I was thankful to get a break by 4:14. 02. Catalyst - the song wastes no time here. You're thrown right into Catalyst. I liked the guitar solo at 1:36, it's decent. Guitar work here is really nothing special. The drums do not seem to shine. Araya again murders the song as best as he can vocally. 03. Eyes Of The Insane - actually heard this song before the album came out on a local radio station, and didn't know it was Slayer. My reaction then was the same as now: "What is this garbage?" The guitars in the intro are less than impressive (personally I hate them). The drums are very good however. Araya again destroys any chance this song had lyrically. By 1:25, this song has gone on too long. At 1:51, the guitar soloing returns, with as much suckitude as possible. What was that supposed to be? He has to be kidding. Too long, too boring, too uninspired. Next. 04. Jihad - holy shit! The guitars are doing something different? I actually hate the intro to this song, but it's the only thing that isn't the constant tremelo picking of the top string. Kinda thought this song was going somewhere, but aound 0:40 it disappoints. By 0:52, we're back to the mindlessness featured in the 3 previous tracks. Quite a buzz about this song before the album came out. Everyone figuring it would be controversial, and practically salivating over the idea. Well, Araya is in rare form here. And I'll comment on it here as well as in lyrics. His lyrics are more than inflammatory. Not the just the whole "this is God's war" part, but Aray accuses God of "raping" believers. I'll get into this more in lyrics. The guitar solo is crap again. Sorry, but we've heard the same thing in previous songs. Do something else, or at least let us forget you're there. 2:51 to the very end is just plain lame. But I'll tell you, I'm kinda glad that Araya stopped singing. Easily one of the worst songs on the album- and so far, that's been hard to do. 05. Skeleton Christ - oh boy. Gotta love the "anti-God, hail Satan" themes here. The guitars are boring and repetative. Solo before 1:08 sucks. And the guitar solo at 2:56 sucks even worse. Listen, we've heard that in the two previous songs. Do something else. Around 3:30 the song takes a turn. And not for the better. The guitars remind us at 3:42 that it is possible to solo over crap, but the solo will also sound equal. A step up from Jihad, but that's not saying much. 06. Consfearacy - very clever play on words. You can tell Slayer is just oozing with wit at this point. More capitalizing on politics as we've seen by so many bands whose careers are in the toilet. The intro is the same thing we've heard in just about every single song, with just a minor variation of what notes between open and the 6th fret (Let's face it, he's not going any higher than that) are being played. This song is nothing special until about 0:26 where the solo guitar returns, again. The same type of soloing as we've heard in the 5 previous tracks prevails. Thrilling. It returns again throughout the song, and to be honest, it actually improves the musical quality slightly. I'll even give him that the little guitar effect at 1:37 is awesome. But his droning soloing that continues, is nothing impressive. 07. Catatonic - a step in the right direction. You know towards melody. This song is really good until 0:38. If Araya wasn't singing, I'd like it a whole lot more. 1:05 (which I guess is the chorus-type riff) sucks. The soloing at 1:43 just shouldn't have happened. 2:32 takes a better turn. The drums pick up substantially, and the guitar riffs are much better. The solo is better after this point. Too bad we've heard it so many times. Can someone buy him a new effect or something? And someone needs to show him when the solos need to end, because they go on too long and then just sorta fizzle out, like a sparkler. 4:54 is far too long for this song. 08. Black Serenade - the transition from Catatonic to Black Serenade just does not jive. The guitars feel half-assed. You can tell there's a lot of potential here, but they just go nowhere and side in favor of repetition. 1:10's sudden burst of energy makes no sense. It feels like they just spliced two songs together. After this point, the song just sorta goes to hell. Although, it's Slayer, so maybe that was the intent. The atonal quality of this song is really, really overdone. Too much of the music does not jive, even by Slayer standards. I would have favored guitars more like the beginnig. 09. Cult - starts off with a much needed quiet riff. The tempo change is welcomed at this point. The guitars are decent again. The drums at 1:11 are awesome. Then enter the same garbage we've heard before. Guitar solos appear periodically to distract from Araya's completely ridiculous yelling. 2:49 the song just starts to go into overdrive in the suck department. 3:16 marks the return of the ever-so-boring guitar solos. Nice try guys. Take a breather and try not to suck on the last one. 10. I was so happy when I reached this track. It felt like there was a lot more then 10 tracks. If that were the case, I'm not so sure I would have continued past here. I'd reached my limit by song 4. I like this guitars here. They give up the overly loud quality for sound. Araya comes back here in his most prevalent hate speech ever. The guitars become disguisting. I'm not sure what happened to the energy in the intro, but it is completely lost until 1:36. Then the energy returns, but not in a good way. The solo at 1:50 sucks. The change in tempo at 2:00 sounds like everything else on this album. 2:28 marks a return to the slow, painful guitar riffs. The soloing in the background is useless. Araya takes center stage here, and overpowers everything until 3:16. The song finally dies at 3:17. But then persisits with annoying little noises until 3:50. Slayer certainly leaves us with something to think about on this last track. Why did you waste your money on this album? With every track reviewed, my overall review of their sound should make a little more sense. When I started off, I wondered how I could describe the sound of Slayer's new album. In one sense, they remind me of those kids in high school who had that metal band, and all the songs sounded exactly the same. In another sense, I remember those kids having a little more talent. And I remember they all ended up pumping gas. If only that were the case with Slayer. Slayer is a testament to the idea of "too much of anything is bad for you." Too many unnecessary tempo changes. Too many "insane" beats and breakneck tempo. Too many poorly thought out lyrics. Too much yelling by Araya. Too many awful guitar solos that sound exactly the same. It's a problem when one song really can't be distinguished from another because they are all played the same way. Too little of everything also hurts them: Too little direction. Too little variation. Too little thought put into the songs. You can argue, but the guitars are completely half-assed and identical for the most part. The drums could be swaped in and out of any song and traded for a different drum track from another song and I wouldn't bat an eye. I can't imagine Slayer spent much time in the recording studio. And I can't imagine the guy at the sound board cared too much. This album sounds like it was mixed in someone's basement. In terms of sound, Slayer should just throw in the towel. I'm deducting 1 point overall from the total score for it's really shitty quality.
Lyrics — 1
There are some things you need to know when listening to Slayer so that you can understand the lyrics: expect nothing special; frontman Tom Araya thinks you are an idiot. His lyrics are written for the unintelligent (which I guess works, since so many people love it), and the only time he uses a word longer than four letters is when a bunch of little words wouldn't fit; Tom Araya's writing is about as inspired as Swiss cheese. There is an utter lack of imagery and a lack of substance. He also recycles the same themes again and again and again, without even bothering to change the way he says it (for example: how many times can you possibly talk about blood raining down); Araya's lyrics are contradictory. God doesn't exist. Oh, and God hates you. Religion is powerless. But it starts wars; Araya goes for shock value, because he sucks at writing and he wants people to pay attention to him; Araya is also completely egocentric- He demands you see things his way. Otherwise, he'd gladly see you dead. I need to look this up one day, or maybe someone else knows. Was Tom Araya enrolled in Catholic school? Did he get knocked out by a nun? Or did he have a dog that died when he was four and he's mad at God for it? Seriously, at this point, his vendetta against God and religion is old-hat and it's a little more than an obsession. He sounds more like a child angry at a parent. He should probably get some sort of counciling. How many albums of anti-religion hate can he churn out? Personally, I thought this whole anti-religion, anti-God thing was wearing itself out. Slayer's really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Not only is the subject old, it's uninspired and his presentation is garbage. There isn't one intelligent thought going on. It's more like Araya just spitting everything he says is true out of his mouth totally stream of consciousness. In addition, those with a careful ear will hear Araya being guilty of reverse bigotry. Araya's hate speech has never been more prevalent, claiming in songs that he wants to see religious people crucified and wants to see them burning. Araya lumps everyone together in one big pot, in quite possibly the worst form of stereotyping ever. What's worse is, his listeners allow him to get away with it, and never call him on it. People even support the sort of hate preaching he allows to spew from his mouth, and he revels in that support and all the money it rakes in. Araya's lyrics are also confusing. He denies God's existence. Then says he is fighting God, and claims he's made his choice to side with the devil. Granted, he's probably just talking about the "symbol" of God and Satan, that he's fighting those ideas. But sometimes, it's hard to tell if he actually believes he is fighting God- actually leading a war against a diety. He also falls back and forth between blaming God and rebuking God. There's no real rhyme or reason here. I took a look at four which really stood out as just nonsensical. Eyes Of The Insane: let's capitalize on the idea of soldiers and warfare. Everyone else is doing it. Come on, look at Green Day. Yeah, we can pretty much start lumping Slayer in with those who ride the band-wagon (no pun intended) when their career is dead. But, for what it's worth, this is Araya's only half decent attempt at anything to be considered imagery. And it's a sorry excuse at that. Jihad - oh the things that could be said about this song. Honestly, this should be offensive to everyone, religious and non-religious. This guy gets up and throws every obscenity into the face of people who are religious. Even if you don't agree with the ideas of Holy Wars (and practically no one except those in the middle east do), you can't possibly believe that his hate speech here is founded. Cult - this song is offensive, and Araya knew it when he wrote it. I know that's what Slayer is about, but at this point, he is seriously writing simply to hurt people. It's not like he's offering an alternative. Just shooting down Christian beliefs. There never was a sacrifice, No man who hung the crucifix; Beware the call for purity, Infections their facility; I've made my choice, 666!. Ultimate-Guitar loved this line apparently. But when you look at that, he's asking for people to get mad. Maybe it's just a cry for attention. Supremist - wow. That's all I could think of. This is just dripping with anti-everything sentiment. Araya is practically seething in his statement that he doesn't even want to breathe the same air as other human beings who have differing beliefs. He wants to see them crucified, suffering and in pain. Worst of all, this is not just a figure of speech, he means it. How he gets away with saying these things is amazing. Again, this should offend everyone- this is just preaching utter hate. The same thing he accuses religion of doing. Hypocrisy reigns in Slayer.
Overall Impression — 1
Here's where I'll stop being objective, because I've made up my mind now. Slayer had their day, and it is over. In fact, even then, their day didn't amount to much. Anyone could do what they have done, in fact, others have. Shock bands aren't drumming up the sort of response they used to, especially not after 20 years. And without the muscial prowess to back themselves up they are just making fools of themselves. Ultimately, Christ Illusion is garbage. Pure, unadulterated garbage. There is nothing special in terms of the band's sound, nothing new, nothing innovative, and in fact, they've lost the sound they previously had (which wasn't really much to begin with). Not only did they not "invent" their genre like everyone seems to believe, they are atrocious at it. They are certainly a "god" of rock we could do without.