October 22, 2009

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Slayer, World Painted Blood
Sony Records, Nov. 3

My pat answer to people who’ve asked what I thought of Slayer’s latest is what struck me after my second encounter with the title track: what kind of bummer would it be, being a dude in some Metal Blade band cruising the crowd after an opening slot for Slayer, thinking you’d just done something heroic, and then this thing comes out and makes the crowd forget you like you were the guy selling hotdogs. To those in the back row, yes, Slayer still makes albums, having quietly put out some evilly ferocious metalpunk in the most literal sense over the last few years. Now that they’re old, they’ve really only gotten better, especially if you think thrash metal peaked during the late ’80s, which, as a whole, the entire genre seems to believe, going by the sea change toward oldschool stuff. But you already know that, so onward. Araya’s jock-itch Danzig bellow is in finest form on the title track and even more so on “Snuff” with its anger-mismanagement coda. Lots of good stuff, heavy on the politico-socio-psycho outrage — I hate to posit that this is their Animal Boy, but age does bring with it a more unguarded, hence easily articulated, intolerance for stupidity, and they are definitely, you know, old. All fastballs save for the Samhain-inspired boil-and-bubble of “Human Strain.” AEWS