Slayer - Christ Illusion 08.11.06 (American Recordings) Keith Boyd
In a perfect world, the band Slayer wouldn't exist. Thankfully, this isn't a perfect world, and we've had years of their unique brand of their aural carnage to enjoy. There is something undeniably ugly and wrong with Slayer. Since the early 80's, they have been mining the depths for inspiration and coming up with some sticky black mess. Their sound is a condensed and leering amalgam of thrash, punk, and heavy metal. They play with a ferocious intensity that, while sounding explosive and blasting, is underpinned by technical virtuosity. Lyrically, we're usually served up a smattering of dark images and musings from the twisted minds of Tom Araya and Kerry King. While often the lyrics and themes are cartoonish and immature, their delivery is stone-cold scary.
I suppose that Slayer is a love-them or hate-them type of proposition. Perhaps, however, they are more of an acquired taste. If that's so, I guess you could say I've acquired it. While breaking no new ground, their latest release, Christ Illusion, manages to tighten up their attack and keep it relevant in the constantly mutating world of rock music.
On this album, we have Slayer back with their original lineup for the first time in many years. The tightness of the songs is a thing to behold. It's a blackened straightjacket of sound that binds you at the first note and never really lets go. Songs like "Flesh Storm" exude a powerful and savage grace that repulse as they attract. The monstrous and sawing guitar runs of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King simply defy explanation. The whole thing is a long and pummeling ride.
Some may question the need for yet another Slayer album, the thought being that by now we've heard all they have to say, and any further utterance would tend towards self parody. I think that misses the point though. As vulgar and crude as they may come across, Slayer are still charging on as standard-bearers in the ongoing struggle we all face with authority and conformity. Their lyrics and music are bristling burrs in the side of everything most "decent" people hold dear. They take shots at the government ("Consfearacy"), the horrid war in Iraq ("Eyes of the Insane"), and the corrosive hand of authority ("Cult"). So instead of questioning the need for or value of yet another album from Slayer, it ought to be cause for celebration. On the one hand, it's a wonder, given their hard-partying ways, that the band members are all still alive and on top of their musical game. On the other, it's great that they're still out there, calling a spade a spade and screaming at the masses.