Thursday, March 13, 2014
Not red. The shade must be specific.
The first Slayer album to be written in the studio proved a successful experiment; Jeff Hanneman just ekes Kerry King with six song credits , but his punk-metal spirit permeates the project deeper than Kerry's metal-punk spirit. (That's the difference between screaming and yelling, if you need an example.)
"World Painted Blood"--The introduction takes the muttered voices of "Hell Awaits" and the brusque knocks of "Raining Blood" and slaps 'em with a new coat.
The sonic serration meshes unpleasantly with Tom Araya's vocals, but this is Slayer. Unpleasantness is expected and welcomed. How could I ever resist the delectably sinister temptations offered within? It's not about what's right, it's about what's left. If I want to shave my body hair with a machete, I'll do that.
"Unit 731"--A song about a World War II-era biological and chemical warfare research and development unit responsible for the deaths of thousands of Chinese people? Human experimentation, chemical exposure, "educational" amputations? Surgery with no anesthesia? Yessir--it's another Slayer gem from the wicked pen of Jeff Hanneman. More delirious verses for bastard behavior. (Those are the reasons behind all those seemingly inexplicable stink-eyes I level at my fellow public transport passengers.)
Guitar solos are to Slayer songs what Cappadonna verses are to Wu-Tang Clan songs.
"Snuff"--Seasons In the Abyss soloing over Reign In Blood guitars at the very beginning of the song. Well, I came.
A tune about being tortured to the point of madness really should never make me want to jump rope with two surgically-fused king cobras in place of the rope, but some things in this world we aren't meant to make heads nor tails of.
Tom sounds better on World Painted Blood than on any of Slayer's last four albums, realizing that his voice is a partner in crime and not a reluctant ally. Tom at his best can bark out the side-dish menu at a BBQ joint and mesmerize a crowd. "Barbecue baked beans! Cole fuckin' slaw! Mac and cheese, collard greens, death to you aaaaallll!"
"Beauty Through Order"--Huh. Now there's a word I never thought I'd see in a Slayer song title.
'Bout goddamn time the greatest metal band of ever wrote a song for the most evil woman in history, considering how often the Countess Elizabeth Bathory has been referenced in the genre (including a song on Venom's seminal Black Metal). The legend claims that this inbred woman of dark desires tortured and killed peasants and servants in Hungary over twenty years spanning the 16th and 17th centuries (totals ranging from 32 to 650 victims), often bathing in a tub full of their blood to stay young. Whether the Countess really was one of the most vile and prolific serial killers in history, or the victim of a royal conspiracy as some have alleged, will never truly be known. In the absence of definitive answers, the sensationally sanguine perception persists.
(Jeff struggled with writing from a woman's point of view until he embraced her evil. Then the words just flowed. "Eternity waits for you to drink." Piss off, eternity. I'm nursing this.)
"Hate Worldwide"--How about another song for the ladies? Let's send this one out to Polyurethane Pam.
My mom worked in a bakery for two and a half years. Near the conclusion of year number one, she had transformed from being an ardent fan of the sacred treat known as "the donut" to blanching at the mere thought of one. If my mom were a metal band, she would not be Slayer.
"Public Display of Dismemberment"--Do "Dittohead" again, but like Judas Priest! Gruesome and ghastly, this easily goes awry in the hands of lesser masters.
"Human Strain"--I care about this as much as the band did.
"Americon"--Everywhere around the world…"it's all about the motherfucking oil!" The dumb is powerful here. Reese's Pieces powerful. "Americon" barely qualifies as a one-dimensional experience. Everyone is holding back, including the producer and engineer.
"Psychopathy Red"--Two straight snoozers after a string of blazers, Slayer better recover quick. As "Psychopathy Red" was the album's first single, I knew ahead of time they would.
You don't see the world "psychopathy" slung around a great deal, so check in their column. Slayer deliver with an ape-shit intro--BAM BAM--assemble the pebbles, spray blood on them and slap people square in the puss if they dare rush over and exclaim "Ooh Skittles!"
Those guitars follow you around like a wizard's familiar. Uncontrollable note-relay races. Chorus that doubles as a cause of death. Audible bass! That part ruled.
"Psychopathy Red" is about the infamous "Red Ripper," Andrei Chikatilo. I would've loved to sit down and shoot shit with Jeff and Tom about true crime books. Not just the ones everyone knows (The Stranger Beside Me, In Cold Blood) but the lesser-celebrated tomes like Bestial and Buried Dreams. Why does no one want to give Earle Leonard Nelson his just due as a jaundiced dude?
"Playing With Dolls"--The relationship between tormentor and tormented is the definition of a "crush."
"Not of This God"--Thought they'd close the album out with a moody track, but nope. Instead we get li'l baby "Angel of Death," with a dry diaper and pinched, beet-colored face. The chorus has some "Fundamental Friend Dependability" thing happening. Definitely a ditty for the delinquent at heart.
The booklet of World Painted Blood has probably my favorite picture of my favorite Slayer member ever: Jeff Hanneman onstage, clad in his omnipresent Oakland Raiders jersey, left hand on the guitars neck and his right hand held triumphantly skyward. He stares out at the crowd, his mouth wide open, face twisted in an expression of devilish glee. And of course the pic is tinted blood red.
Looking inward instead of outward would serve a band like Megadeth well; Slayer have done this for the last three records and gone from strength to strength as a result. Their glory days are behind them, but the gory days go on and on.