Review by Rick Ossian
Upon first hearing of this latest, I was duly impressed. In particular, the introductory salvo, Delusions of Savior. It is a metal instrumental, and from the sounds of it, hopefully a musical image of what is to come for these fellows from California. This is their first album from Nuclear Blast, after being a part of the stables at Metal Blade, Geffen and Def Jam/American. These blokes have been around for over 30 years, and unfortunately recently lost one of their long-time cohorts, one Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.), due to liver failure. At one point the future of the band was apparently in doubt, as leader Tom Araya likened any continuation to be “just like starting over, especially after 30 years with Jeff”. Exodus guitar-slinger Gary Holt has climbed aboard and things seem to be moving along just fine. Of course, those of you who know will note that Paul Bostaph is the skin-pounder, and who could forget Kerry King — the ‘other’ guitar player! Anybody who misses Dave Lombardo on the drums (still) will just have to get over it.
The title track is up next, and one gets the feeling that there are going to be no holds barred here. This is HEAVY duty stuff here. They are not screwing around, and they have hit on a mix of hardcore punk and metal. There is a double-edged sword of a guitar solo about a minute-and-a-half in, one that needs to be heard to be believed. It is part thrash, part riff, part shred. Very good work. “What you get is what you see!”, bellows Araya, and from the sounds of things, this is very exciting stuff indeed. Anybody who is not enjoying themselves at this point best check their pulse!
Take Control is another forceful number, ready to blow your head off at the slightest impulse. When listening to Slayer, one must remember that they are faced with one of the ‘Big 4′. The world of metal has been an exciting place of late, what with the new Maiden release and all, but how often do you get a release from one of the Big 4 nowadays? The last was Anthrax, I believe (Worship Music). Can’t offhand recall the most recent Metallica or Megadeth CD’s. I know that they are in the collection, but something tells me that this is the most strident of the recent crop when it comes to thrash metal. We get more shredding herein, by the way. Guitar solos seem to be the order of the day, at least for the present, and this one (1:40 is just loaded with FX – some serious shred, infused with wah) is just one of several.
Vices is up next, and offers up some excellent riffing at the outset. “A little violence is the ultimate drug/Let’s get high!”screams Araya, then another solo is cut loose. This one sounds like it features both six-string wizards (Holt and King). I find it interesting when the solo section is obviously shared by both guitarists. “So fuckin high!” Awesome stuff.
Cast the First Stone is the next track on this platter, and the intro is a bit doom-and-gloom, but do not worry, dear readers – the speed resumes shortly after proceedings begin. Paul (drummer) is very busy, as well – he can deploy the double-bass attack as well as the next! More guitar heroics ensue at the two-minute mark, and there is some shred as well as some psychedelic-sounding blues.
When the Stillness Comes features a simple enough beginning to start, but one gets the feeling that the boys are just getting warmed up. This is an evil blues intro, but as one might imagine, they get riff-happy pretty quick. There are some positively powerful drums on this track, and the guitar is not far behind. If there is such a thing as metal blues, then this is it. Positively evil-sounding vocals, speaking of ‘visceral hate‘ and the ‘last thing you see are my eyes’. I like the imagery of ‘blood falling from the sky like rain’. Not sure why, but ‘blood from above‘ seems unduly apocalyptic, for some reason. Of course, when Tom is vocalizing it, it sounds even more horrible!
Chasing Death finds its way to the fore next, and is another slamming, pounding assault to the senses. Vocally, instrumentally, as a whole, everything is here! Anybody who is snoring now is simply missing out, and how could you, I would ask? Sometimes rock/metal is maudlin’, we’ve all heard when a band is obviously just treading the veritable hamster wheel – I submit to you that Slayer do NOT do that! Those of you who are still mourning the loss of Mr. Hanneman need to just celebrate his life instead, and move on with the rest of the band. Just listen to that guitar, and those drums! What more do you need? Obviously, there is a time for mourning – if you have seen him live, you know even more what he was capable of. However, I would submit (again) that Mr. Holt is a worthy substitute, if that is even possible.
Implode is next, which was evidently debuted at 2014’s Revolver’s Golden God Awards. It starts out life with another slamming guitar-and-drum salvo, musically preparing us for the impending doom of Araya’s vocals. ‘I can’t wait to see it all go down!‘, he screams. Sometimes a song is not just a song – sometimes it is a testimony. There is also much more shredding and thrashing about, which is what we’ve come to expect from this lot, so no surprises there.
Piano Wire begins with a nice chugging riff, right on the edge of your seat you should be by this point. Everything about this band just brims with excitement and metal fury. I absolutely defy anyone to be yawning or waffling at this point. If you don’t like this latest collection of tracks from the thrash kings of old, then there is something seriously wrong with your taste buds – musically speaking, that is.
Atrocity Vendor starts out with another heavy-as-hell, in your face riff. Paul lets everyone know that the drums want to be a BIG part of the tune straight off, and I say more power to him. One thing I noticed about this track was that I had a picture of an AV in my head from the very start. More wah/crybaby infused soloing, more hammering drums, more evil vocals, and unfortunately a very short track. If I do have one complaint, it is the same old whiny, bitching Fish-Man complaint – the tracks are too short. Almost Ramones-style short, in fact! I guess that comes from listening to all of the prog stuff, right?
You Against You is, mercifully, a bit longer. The opening/main riff could be straight out of old school metal, but once the drums and the vocal ferocity kick in, we are reminded that we are, indeed, listening to Slayer. Lest one forget, there is going to be incredibly savage vocals, HAMMERING drums, and guitar-from-hell. Did I mention the bass? Tom seems to mirror Paul when they are in the engine room, and it didn’t really even occur to me until now that they are one of the most wicked rhythm sections I’ve heard in some time. Apparently, metal DOES need to have a bit of rhythm…although I cannot recall the last time I’ve seen folks actually DANCING to metal, I can recall a mosh pit or two from my younger days. This track is designed for that! More serious widdling at the 2:30 mark, and both guitarists are at it again. This hell is just for you!‘ Tom intones – perhaps it is a warning for us to sit up and take notice -as if we weren’t already! Another shredding lead occupies the closing, which is just fine with me!
Pride in Prejudice, speaking of closing, is our last track. Paul starts this one out with an absolutely pounding intro, and then the others boys join in in short order. Tom positively assaults us with his vocals AND lyrics, which by now should be obvious! ‘Don’t give me that power bullshit!’, he virtually screams at us. ‘One gunshot sets the precedence‘. When one contemplates the severity of Slayer lyrics, there isn’t really much that we NEED to understand. We just NEED to listen. Listen to that guitar! Holy crap! I absolutely need to listen to this again! Top marks!