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SLAYER - Christ Illusion


There’s no denying SLAYER’s influence on heavy music since their inception over a quarter of a century ago, as genres as varied as thrash, hardcore, black metal, death, grind, and even crust punk owe much to the titans of speed. Every year there seems to be an almost unending supply of bands striving to capture SLAYER’s intensity and sound yet try as they might, these imitators always fall short. On Christ Illusion (SLAYER’s ninth album), the band succeeds in putting critics and naysayers in their place as well as showing posers how it’s done, with searing openers, “Fleshstorm” and “Catalyst,” both setting the stage for the barrage to come. Although “Jihad” may cause controversy with it’s “from a terrorist’s perspective standpoint,” it’s also one of Christ Illusion’s most adventurous tracks, with the band weaving a variety of syncopated time, riff, and tempo changes throughout the course of a three-minute song. “Skeleton Christ” also incorporates a varying range of peaks and valleys within its confined space, easily dispelling the myth that all SLAYER songs sound the same. On “Catatonic” one of the band’s slowest songs to date, the band’s sludgy, monolithic riffs still deliver ample amounts of heaviness despite its pace before bringing it home with a breakdown section that’s sure to turn the pit in to a battleground. Speed fanatics need not worry though, as Christ Illusion is packed with tons of chaotic urgency throughout the album, but mostly notably on album closer, “Supremist,” which has human drum tornado Dave Lombardo delivering albeit sparingly, the first blast beats in SLAYER history. Lombardo’s performance goes without saying as he pulls out all the stops, performing a virtual drum clinic and pushing the album into overdrive throughout the album’s ten tracks. Shredders Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are also in fine form holding nothing back, as the duo rip, slash and dive bomb the listener with a flurry of fret burning, throw caution into the wind guitar solos before returning quickly to precise, razor sharp riffing. Araya’s vocals weave tales of death, violence, and aggression that quickly silence any notion that he or the band have gone soft. All in all, a fine return to form a band that never really left like a volcano that lay dormant before finally unleashing an eruption of fire and rage. “Hail Satan!” (Warner Bros. Records)