World Painted Blood
posted on 11/2009 By:
Slayer. There is likely a very special place in your heart for that name and the music it represents. Whether it was Tom Araya’s banshee wail kicking off “Angel of Death,” the damning intro of “Hell Awaits,” or a live show, odds are they were one of the first bands to make you feel totally METAL all through your bones. Because of this, the band was granted a fair amount of patience as they descended into relative mediocrity. Sure, we liked a few songs on those recent albums, but we mostly allowed them the slack because they’re SLAYER!
It is from this perspective that you should approach World Painted Blood. If your patience departed at Christ Illusion (or before), this is only going to further the boil of your blood. If you still reserve room in your heart for a little more post-1995 Slayer, there are a few tunes here to add to the permanent playlist. But know that most of it fails to demand repeated listens. It’s tired, lazy, and uninspired, not to mention poorly produced.
On the surface, Slayer attempt to make World Painted Blood seem like a career summation: it has a shitload of speed, anti-music solos, god-bashing lyrics, and the groove of recent years. But one question guys: where are the goddamn riffs?! Dave Lombardo, as usual, puts on a masterful drum performance, but Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King completely phoned this one in. Most of the album is either mid-tempo chord hits (damn-near strums), such as “The Human Strain” and god-awful “Americon,” or all speed with no substance, like “Unit 731.” Remember when slower Slayer songs had that great horror movie creepiness in the harmonies, or when the blindingly fast songs were technical and intertwining? Now those sections are just chords, played fast or slow, take your pick. There are also the “woulda-coulda-shoulda” half-successful songs, like “Beauty Through Order,” which hits the gas at the midpoint if you can stomach two minutes of the aforementioned strum-snooze. Or the riffy and melodic title track, which is nearly derailed by an ill-advised spoken word breakdown and a too-schizophrenic-even-for-Slayer guitar solo. Album closer “Not of This God,” despite being an intense and entertaining thrasher, quickly reveals itself as a lesser version of God Hates Us All’s “Payback.” Granted, most of the album will entertain if you’re not really paying attention, but why not just blast Show No Mercy and really have fun?
As for the quality songs, two really stand out, and a few more merely satisfy. In the satisfactory column are songs such as “Snuff” and “Public Display of Dismemberment,” which come across as a mix between Seasons In The Abyss and the faster parts of God Hates. The real quality comes with “Hate Worldwide” and “Psychopathy Red.” Both are ideal Slayer singles: catchy, slightly campy (especially “Hate”), and utterly thrashable, with perfectly placed hooks and solos. The latter is easily the highpoint of World Painted Blood, and one of the few songs they’ve written in the last decade that would have seemed at home in their glory days.
Another shortcoming is the production job by the continuingly notorious Greg Fidelman, Rick Rubin’s protégé of sorts. The muddy guitars render the open-string speed-picking nearly unlistenable, while the drums are half muffled, despite being too high in the mix. “Psychopathy Red,” recorded earlier than the rest, has a clearer, late 80's-style sound, which was well-received when the song debuted long before the album. Why Slayer would choose not to stay with this sound is an absolute mystery, and a major fault of the record.
Bottom line: Word Painted Blood is a modern Slayer album. It has scattered quality that conjures up the days of yore, but overall it is a tired and uninspired listen. Despite the enjoyable songs, I honestly can’t say I’ll ever listen to it straight through again. I’ll stick with the third I really like, but 33% quality does not a great album make. Hell, it’s barely enough to spice up the live set.
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