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Release Date: November 3, 2009
Label: American, Sony Music
Producer: Rick Reuben, Greg Fidelman
Personnel: Tom Araya (lead vocals, bass guitar), Kerry King (lead guitar), Jeff Hanneman (lead guitar), Dave Lombardo (drums)
From start to finish, World Painted Blood is guaranteed to satisfy metal fans yearning for thrash from an old school band. Unlike Reign in Blood and South of Heaven, World Painted Blood has Slayer sounding a bit more modern but no less edgy.
The band gets back together again as Dave Lombardo reclaims his post as the drummer and replaces Paul Bostaph. The relationships among Lombardo, Araya, and King had been strained for some time, but thankfully they were able to put their differences aside and produce what I think is their best effort since Divine Intervention. I’ll not dwell anymore on this topic since that’s not the point of this review!
My first impression of this album was that it would be rather top heavy. The title track “World Painted Blood” was a thriller for sure, but I didn’t have a strong feeling about the album as a whole. As a result of writing this review, my estimation of the album grew, particularly in the song writing. Rarely does Slayer deviate from religious topics, so I was a bit surprised to learn they had gone with a different theme. Not that songs detailing the minds of psychopath killers are the best ever, it’s different, and I kind of like a change of pace every once in a while.
World Painted Blood:
Similar to the song “South of Heaven” lyrically but not musically, “World Painted Blood” warns of the end times and the Day of Judgment as described in the book of Revelation. The condensed meaning of the song is that man has become God and is ushering in his own demise. It’s a maddening reality when man happily and ignorantly fulfills prophecy that specifically describes how the world will end in flame.
The track starts slow but quickly picks up the pace as the verses kick in. It is this song that sets the tone for the album’s theme and gives notice to the newcomers in the metal scene that Slayer is still one of the best.
Is this a bonus track from Reign in Blood? Because it sounds like it. Nothing out of the ordinary here for Slayer – just a steady, fast pace, sprinkled in with erotic and frantic guitar work from Haneman and King.
“Snuff” is a song with a sweet musical intro but not with sweet lyrics. The song’s meaning has nothing to do with the nicotine-filled product sold by Copenhagen and Grizzly, but of the sickening entertainment portrayed in snuff films on the Internet.
Beauty Through Order:
A song that is written from a female, serial killer’s point of view. “Beauty Through Order” is about the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who reportedly killed over 600 young women between 1595-1609. She is credited by Guinness as the “most prolific female murderer.” Not only did she murder young women, but she bathed in their blood in hopes of retaining her youth. Holy crap.
Basically, religion is pointless, and has gotten us nothing but war and death.
Public Display of Dismemberment:
This song speaks of a place in a strong state of political unrest and feeds into the album’s theme. The group really flexes their thrash muscles here for a song that would fit beautifully in either Reign in Blood or South of Heaven, and that is a strong testament to the fact that Slayer still has “it” in the studio. Slayer simply isn’t screwing around here.
Describing the swine flu or perhaps another sickness, “Human Strain” gets into the gory details of the effects sicknesses have on the human body. Considering the fact that swine flu broke out in 2009, I’d say Slayer used current events as inspiration in the song’s writing.
Slayer being political? What in the world? I take the title to be a combination of either the words “America” and “icon” or simply suggesting that the American government is a large con operation toward other countries. I think that the former is correct since other countries view America as the “world’s police” and an icon of sorts, whether that be good or bad. The year was 2009, so the debate on whether or not America should be overthrowing foreign governments was a heated debate.
A cool song and a riff that is a tad slower than Slayer’s usual, but it works really well. Personally, I think this is them experimenting in the studio looking to change things up a bit.
Yet another song about a serial killer – this time about Andrei Chikatilo (“The Butcher of Rostov”) who killed over 50 people during his time on earth. The lyrics detail Chikatilo’s need for the kill or the release he found in killing, however temporary the release might be. The psychopath was unable to perform sexually during his marriage, so he would relieve himself on his victims after the kill. With the words “after death gratification!” comes an insane guitar solo by King that suggests the release that Chikatilo experienced in his warped mind was quite the thrill.
Playing With Dolls:
An interesting song name to say the least, and certainly not a song title you’d expect to see on a Slayer album, but after hearing the song I realized it fit right in with the rest of the tracks. The lyrics delve into the mind of (you guessed it) a serial killer. There’s speculation that the song’s subject is Jeff Dahmer, but King has stated the song is about a kid witnessing a murder and the toll that experience would take on a kid. Whatever the song is really about is inconsequential, because the guitar riffs and solos are superb.
Not of this God:
Anti-religious. Anti-Christian. Slayer.
- SOUND QUALITY – 8: Not much bass from Araya is present, but his voice is clear even on the faster tracks. The drums are easily discernable from Lombardo as are King’s and Hanneman’s guitars. The mixing seems sufficient so the sound quality doesn’t negatively impact Slayer’s abilities. Overall, solid sound.
- SONG SELECTION – 6.5: There’s plenty of fodder for Slayer fans both old and new, but the album as a whole isn’t up to snuff. “World Painted Blood”, “Beauty Through Order”, and “Playing With Dolls” are all solid, but I feel that there’s more filler than I would have liked. Unlike any prior album, Slayer went into the studio without their songs fully written, so perhaps that played a bit of a role into the overall strength of the track list.
- LYRICS – 7: A seven is actually higher than most Slayer records that come to mind. Other than South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss, I feel that a more diversity of thought was put into the song writing by Hanneman as he wrote the majority of the lyrics. Normally, religious themes seem overtly at play with Slayer, but not with World Painted Blood.
- SPEED/PRECISION – 10: This is Slayer.
- ALBUM ARTWORK – 8: Simplicity at its best. A map of the world painted in blood. Who would have guessed?
- THEME/NAME – 9: With the exception of a couple of tracks, the album is a deviation from religious themes, and it absolutely works for Slayer. They prove that they’re not afraid to experiment, and it pays off.
- VOCALS – 7: Not much has changed for Slayer over the last few decades, and Araya’s voice is no exception. Despite not having the greatest pipes, He still brings gripping passion to his performances and shows no signs of slowing down.
- GUITARS – 8: Hanneman’s writing influence on the album lends itself to a great deal of speed – something which Slayer fans have come to love and appreciate. Nothing much has changed on World Painted Blood which showcases King and Hanneman aplenty.
- BASS – 7: It’s hard to give a good grade considering Araya’s bass was difficult to pick up at times, but I’ve heard him play plenty of times, and he’s about par for the course here.
- DRUMS – 9: Welcome back to the studio (perhaps for the last time), Dave Lombardo. It’s hard to fathom why Lombardo never could seem to work things out with King and Araya, but man can he play. He literally doesn’t miss a beat on the album.
FOUR BIG TAKEAWAYS
- World Painted Blood
- Beauty Through Order
- Playing With Dolls
While old school, thrash metal had largely remained dormant since the early 90’s, Slayer delivered with a song writing effort akin to Seasons in the Abyss during the time of Metalcore in 2009. These guys pride themselves on uncompromising music, resisting to change with the landscape of metal and rock ‘n roll, but I think this album proves that they can change up their sound while maintaining their thrash status. Keep in mind that Slayer has been around since 1981 and has some fans that have stuck with them all of these years, but a newer generation of Slayer fans were introduced to the group through the efforts of God Hates Us All and Christ Illusion. This album I think successfully bridges the gap and satisfies Slayer fans, both old and new. There’s plenty of metal to go around here.