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Slayer - Christ Illusion

Slayer, Christ Illusion

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

WITH song titles such as Eyes of the Insane, Jihad and Skeleton Christ, you pretty much know that the ninth studio album from metal gods Slayer isn’t going to be easy on the ears or the mind.

And from the opening moments of Flesh Storm through to the closing fury of Supremist, the album is a no-holds barred concoction of crunching guitar riffs, shouted vocals, painful imagery and thundering drums – all delivered at pretty breakneck speed with barely a pause for breath.

Metal fans (those that like to salute the form with the traditional two-fingered devil horns) are sure to revel in the opportunity it provides to swing their heads back and forth in manic fashion, while revelling in the extremities that the band gush forward.

Needless to say, the state of the world is ripe for commentary, especially during tracks like Jihad, but while words and phrases such as “anxiety”, “death” “pain and suffering”, “demons ripping through my soul” and “mutilation” stand out, they’re delivered in such frenetic, shouted fashion that most become lost amid the noise.

Since debuting with 1983’s Show No Mercy Slayer have proved to be one of the metal world’s most consistently potent forces. Reign In Blood (1986) and Seasons In The Abyss (1990) are widely acknowledged by metallers to be among the genre’s key releases, while Slayer have continued to build on their reputation for unflinching music by releasing Diabolus in Musica (1998) and God Hates Us All (2001).

Christ Illusion is produced by Josh Abraham (Velvet Revolver) with Rick Rubin acting as executive producer. It is notable for marking the return of original drummer Dave Lombardo, who recently returned to the band having departed after 1991’s Decade of Aggression live album.

Renowned as one of the world’s greatest drummers, Lombardo’s activities since leaving have included five albums with the Mike Patton-led experimentalists Fantomas, forming the progressive thrash band Grip Inc and collaborating with an eclectic range of artists including John Zorn, DJ Spooky and Apocalyptica.

Here, he’s back to banging those drums in hellbent fashion, as though they were his worst enemy. But then there’s nothing restrained about the album – every track screams out from the speaker at full pelt and the effect is quite frequently headache inducing. Even “slower” numbers such as Black Serenade cry out about the “religion of torture”, while raining down the power chords and drum beats like exploding bombs.

Metal fans are already hailing it as a return to the form of their earliest work, having benefited from the return of Lombardo, but anyone other than die-hard metal fans is urged to steer well clear.

This pretty much illustrates all that’s excessive about the medium and no amount of documentaries, such as Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, will ever convince us that it aspires to anything else other than creating as much noise as possible.

This blurs into a head fuck whole come the end of proceedings.

Track listing:

  1. Flesh Storm
  2. Catalyst
  3. Eyes Of The Insane
  4. Jihad
  5. Skeleton Christ
  6. Consfearacy
  7. Black Serenade
  8. Catatonic
  9. Cult
  10. Supremist