Slayer - World Painted Blood
American Recordings
Thrash Metal
11 songs (39:49)
Release year: 2009
Slayer, American Recordings
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Since Slayer's last album, we've not only seen a Thrash 'revival' which means that Metal labels have signed any bunch of idiots with ripped jeans and a demo full of Exodus riffs, but there have been increasingly heavy hints from the band that they're approaching retirement age - at the time of writing, a tour's been postponed so that Tom Araya can have back surgery. I've been wondering when something like this would happen for a while, a sure-fire future editorial candidate - when metal bands get old! This is a relatively young genre, after all, and in a world where a band formed in the late eighties are elder statesmen, the likes of Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and even (whisper it) Motörhead are not going to be around forever. We'll be lucky to get many more albums from any of them, and attitudes are sure to change subtly as the years go inexorably by, fans increasing their praise for Bruce Dickinson's air-raid siren as the half-century mark becomes a ever-distant memory for the much-loved Iron Maiden singer. Will they cling to their posts, these legends, or will they choose retirement over possible embarrassment?

Judging from attitudes exposed in interviews thus far, the latter seems most likely, meaning that we should soon start to treat each album coming from these bands as their last. This seems even more likely for Slayer, not the oldest of their peers but surely amongst the most worn, and so the fact that Tom Araya looks more like my Dad each time I see him makes his performance on album number eleven even more impressive. Even bearing the fact in mind that this will probably become a frequent occurrence in reviews as time goes on, I can't help but mention it; his voice is extraordinary for someone his age, weathered by the years yet as intense and violent as ever. The sheer relish as he yelps the lyrics to the opening title track is amazing - he's the foremost element of the album, without a doubt, driving the music and pulling the other instruments along behind him, the rest of the band struggling to catch up. Of course, Dave Lombardo is the closest, his precision sometimes lost in the Thrash mix but more than obviously there if you care to focus on the battery of the most technically talented member of Slayer. It's the guitarists that will cause the biggest complaints; to the usual moans that they recycle riffs you can add accusations of being too groove-oriented, and even though Slayer have barely changed their guitar sound since Reign In Blood the complaints will come.

You know what? Let them. Slayer are no Voivod or Atheist, let's face it, and World Painted Blood may not be the melodic Thrash perfection that was Megadeth's Endgame, but as a Slayer album it's more than solid, easily beating the prone-to-filler Christ Illusion. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it's a step forward from its predecessor album with a bit of Seasons In The Abyss; comfortable in its sound with very slight hints of experimentation here and there. The band get the lengthiest track out of the way as the title track kicks things off and runs little short of six minutes, moving between mid-paced build-up and speedy forward charge with room for a hysterical speech from Araya and some intriguingly leftfield riffing that's simultaneously groovy and a world away from music o'diabolus. Unit 731 follows, the kind of instantly enjoyable Slayer thrasher that's filled albums for years, before Snuff kicks in, solos duelling from the start as the song blazes a path straight for whichever part of your brain controls your neck muscles. Beauty Through Order slows the pace a little, Hate Worldwide is a true highlight, as good as the first time you heard it, whilst Human Strain mixes styles wonderfully without once losing intensity. It's all fairly typical stuff from the band, as you might expect, with the exception of Americon, which is oddly Soulfly-ish to the extent that I'll be surprised if Max Cavalera isn't playing guest guitar on it.

As the album closes with the sure-to-be-hated Playing With Dolls and the sure-to-be-loved Not Of This God, it's hard not to feel a little disappointed, especially if you're on one of your first listens. Expecting something original from Slayer at this stage of their career is little short of nonsensical, really, and no-one really expects a killer album from them between now and retirement. The best that we can hope for is the likes of World Painted Blood - a solid album that doesn't make any moves too far in the groove department but doesn't do anything really exciting, an album sure to be acclaimed by the mainstream Metal world as amazing and equally sure to be despised by the underground as inferior to the 80s material. As ever, the truth lies somewhere between; this is no masterpiece, but neither is it dreadful; it's a reasonably enjoyable Slayer album that'll get a few plays before you go back to the classics.

Killing Songs :
World Painted Blood, Snuff, Hate Worldwide, Human Strain, Americon
Goat quoted 76 / 100
Kyle quoted 71 / 100
Other albums by Slayer that we have reviewed:
Slayer - Repentless reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Slayer - Haunting the Chapel reviewed by Tony and quoted no quote
Slayer - Divine Intervention reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Slayer - Undisputed Attitude reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Slayer - Diabolus In Musica reviewed by Goat and quoted 64 / 100
To see all 14 reviews click here
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