It is almost undeniable that in their time, Slayer were the gods of thrash metal. At the same time, it’s hard to argue that they’ve been releasing quality material over the last 20 years. Sure, there have been a few gems here and there, and their previous album, Christ Illusion, showed some promise of them returning to their roots, but as a whole, their catalog has been fairly lackluster since Seasons In The Abyss in 1990. While World Painted Blood isn’t the be-all end-all of Slayer albums, it shows another good stride towards true thrash metal, and proves that the 4 piece thrash machine from Huntington Park, CA is still a relevant force.
The titular song opens the album, and while it’s not the fastest song in this year’s arsenal, it shows the tried and true formula that fans have come to know and love. “World Painted Blood” effectively ensnares the listener with the hope that Slayer has returned to greatness, and there’s no denying that this album had my undivided attention after hearing this song. I would have to say that the biggest selling point of World Painted Blood is that it has some of the best stand-out tracks since Seasons… “Snuff” was the first song to really jump out and grab me by the balls. Its opening uses the kick-down-the-door-and-run-in-with-both-guns-blazing approach, starting off with an atonal solo, transitioning into a smooth run and gun thrash riff, and capping it off with a machine gun beat chorus that ends with a punchy breakdown. Basically, this track doesn’t sound like new Slayer, but rather something that was taken from b-sides of Reign In Blood. “Public Display Of Dismemberment” is also an in your face, take no prisoners song that is very traditional for the band, and it has a short-lived but much needed breakdown in the midst of the chaos. There’s also one particular moment where a solo ends, the song pauses, and reopens with a fury of double bass and aural destruction. There are not enough good things to be said about “Psychopathy Red”, which is by far my favorite track on this album. Why Slayer has been holding out on us for so long when they are capable of writing songs like this one is beyond me. Lastly, it’s not exactly your run of the mill Slayer song, but “Playing With Dolls” was deviously captivating and satiated the need for some variance without dragging the album into mediocrity.
Unfortunately, World Painted Blood is not without a couple of undesirable nadirs. “Hate Worldwide” has its interesting and enjoyable moments, but the chorus grated on me, and while Slayer hasn’t exactly been known for profound lyrics, these ones were a little sophomoric. “Human Strain” is downright boring, save for a slower experimental part in the middle that is very un-Slayer but is notable for some redeeming Lombardo drumming (check out 2:19 into this song, you’ll see what I mean). “Americon” is a political song with lyrics by Kerry King, which was probably his attempt to do what Arraya had done with “Eyes Of The Insane” on Christ Illusion. Sadly, it doesn’t work, and not only is the music unimpressive, the message follows suit with some rather uninspired and half-assed lyrics.
Overall, the writing on World Painted Blood is pretty good. There’s a healthy dose of breakneck thrash riff-age, which is a little more so than the last few albums. It’s good to see that Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are still very much in the game. My favorite aspect of it all is the strong return of Dave Lombardo to the beat machine. He certainly held his ground in 2006’s Christ Illusion, but his performance on this newest venture is excellent. His whiplash inducing pace and tempo changes are some of the best in the industry. Tom Arraya’s vocals and bass remain unchanged, and this is also a welcome feature – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
In the end, World Painted Blood is a good Slayer release. It’s certainly not their magnum opus, but it’s a great revival release. If you’re a fan of Slayer, I would highly recommend checking out a few of the tracks on the band’s MySpace or Last.fm profile to see if it’s worth your money. If, by chance, there are still people out there who haven’t listened to Slayer before, this wouldn’t be the album I recommend to them.
01. World Painted Blood
02. Unit 731
04. Beauty Through Order
05. Hate Worldwide
06. Public Display Of Dismemberment
07. Human Strain
09. Psychopathy Red
10. Playing With Dolls
11. Not Of This God