on 9 June 2004
By the time 1994 had come along, extreme metal had reached the pinnacle of extremity. Revolting lyrics, objectionable artwork and band behavior couldn't have conceivably and would not get any worse.
Slayer, one of the earliest and most influential pioneers of the genre were beginning to lose relative credibility, that is untill they released this album. In my opinion, the mood or tone of this album is dangerously subversive. While the music was not heavy by the standards of the day, there was an immense subliminal aggression hidden inside the music. Unlike any other band I have ever heard, this aggressive nihilistic tone had an unsettling reality to it. This illusion of reality was heigthened by the inlay card which demonstrated real life examples of fictional portrayals of violence becoming real actual physical violence.
Life was imitating art, Slayer knew it and most of them lived with that fact quite comfortably. This is all the more unsettling when one considers the prevailing subject matter here: murder (213, ..murder art, killing fields). Perhaps fortunately for society, Slayer wouldn't fuel the fire so vigourously in their later albums. Musically, this is top quality, heavy, fast slayer. In my opinion it is the last true descendant from 'Reign in Blood' and in many ways the quality here supercedes that found on that record. 'Dittohead' and 'Killing fields' are by far more heavy than anything the band had released before and, dare I say it, Dittohead is a more powerfull song than 'Angel of Death'. This is a much more real, disturbing and violent Slayer than on any of their previous records and from what I see this album is still underappreciated.
Following the indisputably all-time classic thrash albums of Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss, a lot of Slayer fans seem to write off Divine Intervention as a misfire, but in my opinion to do so would be a grave mistake. The most obvious difference this time around is in the line-up of the band, with original drummer Dave Lombardo having been sacked and replaced with Forbidden's Paul Bostaph. While at the time Lombardo was considered the most talented drummer around Bostaph completely technically outclasses him on this album, and by the end of the whirlwind drums on opener Killing Fields you'll be saying "Dave who"? In fact the biggest difference as far as the music goes is the division of writing credits - normally Jeff Hanneman is the driving force behind Slayer's music, but for some reason in the long gap between Seasons In The Abyss and Divine Intervention the balance of power has shifted, and now Kerry King has a writing or co-writing credit for all but one song on the album, which leads to a different feel, with the emphasis less on classic metal riffs now and more on weird time signatures and rhythms. The production is unquestionably the best of Slayers career thus far, with the crispness and clarity of the sound only increasing the heaviness. As on the last couple of albums the tracks range from the full-on speed attacks of Sex, Murder, Art and Dittohead to such slow moody songs as the title track (which features Tom Araya's best vocal performance ever as he really yells out the verses) and 213, an attempt to replicate the success of Season's Dead Skin Mask, this time writing about Jeffrey Dahmer rather than Ed Gein. Maybe track by track the album cant quite match the pedigree of the previous three releases, but with the best production, drumming and vocals Slayer have ever had coupled with the most technically proficient and complex music they've ever recorded Divine Intervention is a necessary updating of Slayers sound, and definitely not an album to be dismissed lightly.
on 3 March 2006
I honestly can't understand the problem some fans seem to have with this album! As far as Slayer albums go, the low point surely has to be the uninspired "Diabolus In Musica" album that came after this one.
"Divine Intervention" was the last thing that sounded like a proper Slayer album to my mind. "Killing Fields" is an excellent opening track, with its slippery drum patterns and screaming vocals, and the brutal "Sex Murder Art" is one of the best songs the band have (as far as I know anyway) never played live. Much is made by other reviewers of the speed of "Dittohead", but really this song was just the sound of a band trying a bit too hard to show how heavy they still were in the face of overwhelming competition. Far more interesting is the extremely disturbing "213", very nearly the equal of "Dead Skin Mask" in its uncomfortably well observed portrait of the mind of Jeffrey Dahmer (Tom Araya is just too good at this stuff, it's a shame he doesn't seem to write lyrics at all these days). Elsewhere we find some very tasty riffing going on in "Circle Of Beliefs" and "Fictional Reality"...I really can't think of a duff track anywhere on the album.
True enough, this isn't as good as any of the "classic three" albums (that's "Reign In Blood", "South Of Heaven" and "Seasons In The Abyss" for the uninitiated), but who honestly expects Slayer to ever reach those heights again? "Divine Intervention" is the next best thing, though, and surely something that anyone calling themselves a Slayer fan should own...
on 2 February 2000
This is my favourite Slayer album. The drum sound is a marked improvement from 'Seasons' and Paul Bostaph makes incredibly difficult drum parts sound effortless. The album seems to be based on the theme of serial killers ('213' is based on the story of Jeff Dahmer) but this doesn't detract from very fast, very chromatic riffs and virtuoso guitar solos from Jeff Hanneman & Kerry King. Tom Araya's vocals range from screamed imprecations to really attractive tunes (Serenity in Murder) and provides an ideal accompaniment to the underlying rhythm mazes. The album for me also scores highly on the use of unusual time signatures and angular key changes. For Slayer, true beauty lies in dissonance.
on 11 May 2014
Divine Intervention is a Slayer album that gets a lot of unwarranted hate in my opinion. The production wasn't as crisp as other recordings from this period and I think this contributes to people's dismissal of it, along with the fact that Lombardo was absent.
As Slayer's six album, Divine intervention returns to the aggressive thrash sound that was present on Reign in Blood with every track being a torrent of fast riffs and hideous imagery. I love the lyrical content of this album, Araya does sound incredibly cheesy at times but when he gets it right his lyrics and vocal style are the most unsettling combination metal has ever known. With themes such as serial killers, Nazi Germany and religious obsession, Araya explores some of the darkest aspects of humanity.
King and Hanneman are also on top form, playing a plethora of riffs on each song. I think they got the balance of slow, evil riffs (Divine intervention, 213) and fast, aggressive riffs (SS-3, mind control) perfect on this album. Paul Bostaph does a great job filling in for Dave, shining in his own right as a metal drummer.
Personally, I feel Divine Intervention was the last "amazing" album Slayer did and is my fourth favourite after Reign in Blood, Hell Awaits and Show No Mercy. If you really enjoyed Seasons in the Abyss and South of Heaven, you may not appreciate this return to speed and fury. Any fan of fast paced thrash metal, however, should certainly check this out.
on 8 March 2010
This was the point at which I became seriously disappointed with Slayer's musical output. Whilst they had to do something less aggressive than Reign in Blood in its wake at least South of Heaven was a highly imaginative and varied listening experience that to this day is a unique record and extremely satisfying with lasting classics. Seasons showed them settling down into a style that was pretty good and accomplished, perhaps a bit too comfortably resting on their laurels earned with the apocalyptic storm that was Reign in Blood. But Divine Intervention strikes me as a mess, with Araya's vocal delivery being uninspired and largely spoiling the show. It also doesn't help that Lombardo wasn't around at this point to contribute the best drumming in thrash and I feel this has a knock-on effect throughout the music, with rhythm generally not being as catchy as on previous albums. Musicianship is, however, pretty consistently adequate throughout the album.
For me Divine Intervention is/was Slayer's worst studio album and began a direction that made me lose interest in the band for years... until they released World Painted Blood, which is a huge improvement all round.
on 11 August 2010
A lot of people and fans will say that this is the point where Slayer dropped their game. I disagree. This is as good, both technically and artistically, as any of their previous 2 efforts. In fact it is probably the only album that it can be true to say has elements of both South of Heaven/Seasons in the Abyss and Reign in Blood (especially as every advertisement for everything they have done since God Hates Us All purports this to be true). It has the energy and passion of Reign ('Dittohead', 'Sex, Murder, Art') with the melody and thoughtfulness of South ('Fictional Reality', '213'). It's not all great. 'SS-3' treads water slightly and 'Mind Control' is more the closer you're likely to find on recent albums than say 'Raining Blood' or 'Seasons in the Abyss', but they both shred most of the 'good' tracks on recent albums into dust.
'Killing Fields' is such a change of tack for them. It almost takes your breath away. It's lumpen, raw, catchy as hell and actually quite scary, not to mention the excellent drumming and powerful lungs of Mr Araya. In my opinion as good as 'War Ensemble' and I'd happily argue the fact. Then 'Sex, Murder, Art' thumps in at breakneck speed. This is now the realisation that Slayer have refound their roots and are willing to thrash their fans to death! Then the catchy 'Fictional Reality' strums into view quite happily and, while it is not a classic as such, it is a welcome, almost upbeat reprieve after the aural assault of the first 2 tracks. This does not last long as 'Dittohead' thunders toward you like that rolling ball of stone after Indiana Jones, but with lots of snakes and Nazis and devil-worshippers following on behind it. Before you have time to sweat, 'Divine Intervention' squeezes it behemoth gigantism into preceedings and it feels like you've been summoned to the afterlife. A horrible track, but in a good way. Classic. I really like 'Circle of Beliefs'. It sounds quite ordinary to begin with but it takes a great little digressive turn half way through which is quite heavy. Great track. 'SS-3' is probably the poorest here but it still has a great consistent beat throughout and is very Hell Awaitsy (?). 'Serenity in Murder' is very catchy and a great little single about murder... And '213' is just dark but absolutely stunning. In my opinion it is one of Slayer's best tracks. It is slow but it packs a punch only Slayer can produce. 'Mind Control' is a worthy closer but not really up to the perfection or close-to-perfection that preceded it.
Not, as many here protest, their nadir. It could have been their saving grace. As with all albums around this era, heavy metal was slowly becoming the music to shun. When Slayer returned with Diabolus in Musica, the strains were apparent as I believe it was then where things began to take a nove dive in quality.
on 4 September 2013
I am no expert on Thrash Metal, and the only other Slayer record I have heard is Reign In Blood (which I thought was good) but I picked this up on Amazon recently and after a few playthroughs I have to say that this is a decent listen.
All of the songs are overtly aggressive that contain fast guitar riffs with a singer that shouts the lyrics. Again I am no Slayer fan so please forgive me for my lack of knowledge. They do seem to have a distinctive rhythmic sound in the background though so I looked it up on Wikipedia that sais "Slayer's musical style involves fast tremolo picking and double bass drumming". I am no musician just a listener but I sometimes like to look up technical details.
This listener really liked the creepy title track 'Divine Intervention' which sounds like a man waking up in hell or realising he is in an insane asylum (seemed to my ears) I suppose it could be open to interpretation. I also like the dig at religion in 'Circle of beliefs', the spine chilling song about the holocaust 'SS-3' and the Jeffrey Dahmer inspired '213' which I found to be especially chilling and creepy. I especially like the guitar sounds and solos provided by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (incidentaly Jeff Hanneman died this year on May 2nd of cirrhosis of the liver) and enjoyed listening to the distinctive sound provided by the 2 drums.
I hope I haven't upset any die hard Slayer fans but I gave it 3 stars only because I did find all of the songs a bit repetitive, and while I understand that this is part of the charm of Slayer there is no real distinction from one song to the next. But on a positive note I enjoyed listening to this album and anyone who loves fast aggressive metal will undoubtedly love it.
on 3 November 2002
This album is often seen as one of the band's worst studio outings (Undisputed Attitude getting the accolade of actually being the worst) but listen carefully and you'll find some excellent gems embedded.
Many people often say "Ditto Head is the only good track on it and the rest is crap" well, they are quite wrong really!
The albums opening track "Killing Fields" shows that this album is taking the band down a new path, walking away from their classic thrash metal which they are known mostly for. The track has some excellent riffs in it and is an easy standout.
Others that also stand out are the excellent "Sex.Murder.Art" along with "Serenity In Murder" and "Circle Of Beliefs" and yes, of course the absolute main stand out, the classic "Ditto Head" which has some amazing tremelo riffing and a brilliant solo.
One thing that does let this album down though, is the not very sharp production, sounding a tad muffled at times.
It's worth a try, even if just for "Ditto Head" and "Killing Fields".
on 31 October 2014
This is not a review of the album itself but the vinyl reissue. Pressed fairly lightweight vinyl, nice and flat. Artwork is crisp and clean, not like botched digital scans seen on other reissues.
No ticks or surface noise. Sonically, this pressing is dead on the money. They nailed it. Great soundstage, guitars cut through beautifully, kick drum thumps in your chest and Araya's vocals jump out at you like a crazed prophet bellowing in your ears at point blank range. This is what metal should sound like on vinyl. It's a no brainer for any vinyl metal fiend.