Sunday, January 10, 2010

What a Sad State of Affairs

Last post, February 26th, 2009? Tsk, tsk you guys. Tsk, tsk.

The now Army personnel is back to flex newly acquired and still growing journalist skills.

It's Wild Card Sunday. The Patriots and Ravens do battle in half an hour and I'm amped. Chili's in front of me. Slayer's on standby in case my roommate decides to do what he usually does in blasting his television at a ridiculous volume level. I intend to fight fire with fire.

Speaking of Slayer.


A Fan’s Perspective on the Greatest Speed Metal Band a Month before Seeing Them Live

Taboo: that’s what the name ‘Slayer’ has become. Then again, that would imply that they’re big enough to be recognized in society. It may have taken over 20-years, but they’ve finally made it. If making it to the point that when your band’s name is mentioned it brings chills down people’s spines or ghastly opinions of their “satanic lyrics” and “horribly loud and aggressive” style are quickly dispersed, maybe Araya and company are happy with that.

Comparing what they’re known for to that of the other Big Four members and now Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Metallica, it’s a bit more respectable around the metal scene. I’d rather be known as the meanest bunch of derelicts on the block that consistently unleash the most anti-societal and diabolical filth out there… instead of Napster, sweating bullets, or bringing the noise.
A few Grammy’s for songs off 2006’s Christ Illusion and a growing fan base has helped put their name out there more and more, along with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Henry Rollins show pitched in as well.

This year’s World Painted Blood peaked at number-two on the Billboard Hard Rock albums chart.

It’s January 2010 now. And I’m only a month out from my first Slayer concert. It’s for the American Carnage tour and the leg of it I’ll be attending is in Houston. They’ll have one of the other Big Four representatives in Megadeth tagging along, with Testament, another thrash semi-giant over the past three-decades.

This is going to be epic. Not nearly as epic as the now confirmed Sonisphere Festival dates that will feature all of the Big Four together, but huge nonetheless.

And due to how cataclysmic it will end up being, I need to establish some things for myself.
For one, what am I going to do when Slayer hits the stage? I’ve made a habit of camping at the barricade and head banging relentlessly at other concerts. That’s fun and all… but this is Slayer. This is something different. This requires measures never taken before.
To start though, I’ll at least establish some things.


11. Undisputed Attitude

I’ve never liked punk. Even Slayer can’t make me like it.

10. World Painted Blood

It’s like a half-witted, gassed attempt at modeling Death Magnetic. It’s funny how the guys were on an equally lame ‘That Metal Show’ a while back and during a segment dubbed DM as “A nice attempt.” Sadly this is just that but slightly more painful. The drums don’t have the same thunder as they used to have. The guitar tunings are dreadful and so are the lack of killer riffs/shredding that we’re so accustomed to with Slayer. Lyrically it’s not as kick ass as in years past and Araya sounds fabricated. Definitely a lack-luster follow-up to Christ Illusion.

9. Hell Awaits

It sounds like this was recorded in a tunnel or cave. Fun record that shows splices of greatness.

8. Divine Intervention

There just doesn’t seem to be much direction here. It’s like a painting you see on TVor in movies, that appears to be where someone tossed paint in all sorts of directions with only a partial sense of purpose. Slayer knew what sound they wanted, but from that no attainable or real idea of how to express themselves. The group seemed lost from 1994 through 1998, and finally found a path to take in 2001.

7. Diabolus in Musica

Diabolus seemed to take the same fire they were seeking in ’94 and charge its battery. More sophisticated, more driven, more purposeful, Diabolus sparks the flame but still fails to revitalize the band. It continues the tradition of heavy, deadly riffs and subject matter Slayer’s known for, though… but that’s about it.

6. God Hates Us All

That path was found in 2001. The first of the threesome in the 2000s, God Hates Us All takes no prisoners. The first half is relentless both in its power and quality. The last half nose dives considerably. On another day it might fall ahead of the next album or two simply because of ‘Disciple’, ‘Threshold’, and ‘Bloodline’; some of Slayer’s coolest – and most brutal – songs. Slayer found a new flag to bear here and have carried it ever since.

5. Show No Mercy

Slayer’s first disc release not named Haunting the Chapel delivered extremely addicting speed metal. It foreshadowed what they were capable of and would contribute to the music scene from then on. It’s such a fun listen.

4. Reign in Blood

This is more about an entire compilation and its meaning to the genre than anything else. That or it’s just the fact that ‘Angel of Death’ and ‘Raining Blood’ lie within. It’s hailed as a defining record. I just call it an erratic epic with two of metal’s greatest songs as headliners.

3. Christ Illusion

Intense Slayer fans would scoff at this, I know. (Okay, maybe a little more than scoff) Christ Illusion has catapulted itself up my list of favorite Slayer works very quickly. Its pedal-to-the-metal attitude is never ending from ‘Flesh Storm’ all the way to one of their greatest achievements, ‘Final Six’. ‘Cult’, ‘Jihad’, and ‘Eyes of the Insane’ are other personal favorites. This is where finally what they had been striving for blindly since 1994 comes together and shows its face. It’s ugly… but I love it.

2. Seasons in the Abyss

There are moments on this one where songs become meaningless, skip able, or just sound like the one before it… then there are times when your mind is blown: ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Spirit in Black’, ‘Dead Skin Mask’, and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. It’s more polished than anything before it; and anything that would follow it, for that matter. To me, Reign, Christ and this album are interchangeable.

South of Heaven

This is where Slayer peaked. Reign displayed their abilities in speed. South showcased the band’s ability to mature and use what they’ve done to create something far more dangerous. From the incredible two-song opener, ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘Silent Scream’, to ‘Mandatory Suicide’ and ‘Read Between the Lies’, to the closer ‘Spill the Blood’, it’s flawless. Musically it transcends its predecessors and never was matched again in their careers.


20. Hell Awaits

The creepy words spoken at the beginning are both unintelligible and odd. It’s like being at a cult meeting and hearing the weird stuff they’d say before stabbing someone in the heart. The song explodes afterwards and eradicates the initial feelings. The deep, Satanic sounding bellow of “Hell awaits!” is classic.

19. Evil Has No Boundaries

I think it’s the poor production qualities of their earliest records that suck the fun out of them for me. I guess if they were played live I’d get the better end of the deal, as in most cases anything live is far better. Still, though, this one shines brightly.

18. World Painted Blood

It’s the only song I can consistently listen to presently off the same-titled album from ’09. Even ‘Psychopathy Red’ irks me.

17. Bitter Peace

Such a studly beginning, it makes me want to pound my chest.

16. Jesus Saves

‘Jesus saves no one!’

15. Spill the Blood

I can’t be the only one swept into nightmares while listening to this.

14. Jihad

The groove that Araya approaches this song with is fantastic. It proves just how innovative he can be. King never has failed to come up with something that Tom can run with. ‘Final Six’ and ‘Jihad’ are two of the best speed songs, musically and vocally, that Slayer have nailed this decade. The high pitched riffs that play sporadically are almost angelic, and the screaming of “Fuck your God!” seem more heartfelt than a Christmas card from grandma.

13. Spirit in Black

One of the best intros they’ve ever forged. The opening drum section by Lombardo is empowering.

12. Read Between the Lies

Lyrically invigorating. Like vinegar to a cup of coffee.

11. Cult

If there was a song I wanted to blast while driving by a church, this could very well be it.

10. Seasons in the Abyss

It feels like you’re lost in a dream during the introduction to this one. King and Hanneman’s step-by-step riffs are spell binding and everything else that makes up this classic begs for listen after listen.

9. Eyes of the Insane

This bar none features some of the best vocal execution of Araya’s career. He hits it every second of the way. You taste the grit and age of his voice during verses and the sting of his piercing screams during the chorus. This is just a fucking cool song.

8. War Ensemble

I still think Slayer and Metallica are the two greatest bands when coming up with spectacular intros for songs. This one is an example.

7. South of Heaven

I’ll elaborate more on the importance of this song later, but for now I’ll just leave you with how I love the entirety of this track.

6. Raining Blood

I still get a kick out of how South Park used this in one of their episodes. It’s probably one of the coolest moments in the series’ history. The entire introduction is epic.

5. Threshold

One of Slayer’s most brutal tracks, ‘Threshold’ sits right in the meat of 2001’s God Hates Us All, acting as an anchor to an otherwise lifeless back-end of the album.

4. Final Six

I wonder why this wasn’t included on the original release for 2006’s Christ Illusion. I’ve come to adore that album with or without this one. But once it was included… it took to a whole other level. Like from four immediately to five stars.

3. Disciple

Then again, this may be the song I’d play while going by a church. The opening explosion and the riffs that follow are invigorating like you wouldn’t believe. The only thing that can possibly top the aggression and the feelings one gets from it is sex. This is what may be their opener at the concert and if it is, I’ll go insane; as in bat shit; berserker…fucking ape shit.

2. Angel of Death

Can the lyrics of a song ever be so genuinely vile? ‘Angel of Death’ is proof that one’s own sick mind can be put down on paper and into song. There is never a dull moment at all here. This has to be one of the most fun songs to ever sing along to.

1. Silent Scream

The flow between ‘South of Heaven’, the opening track to the same-named 1988 classic and my favorite record by Slayer, is perfectly executed to this dazzling piece of wickedry. I love the subject matter and the lyrics that King came up for this one. It’s one of Slayer’s most sonically sound and pristinely crafted musical works. And for whatever reason no Slayer fan I know agrees with me.
'Disciple' and the remainder of my Slayerized playlist in iTunes is prime and ready. I'll bring the pain if need be. Time for football.

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