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The Devil In Music,
This review is from: Diabolus In Musica (Audio CD)
Slayer is one of those bands that you either love or hate, you can't take them or leave them. They're also one of those bands that are downright exhausting, and unless you have been 'Slatanic' for some time, it can be quite difficult to sit through one sitting, especially in recent years.
The more hardcore, shouting style that Tom Araya has established over the last few years has also been something of a sore point, some fans, less than others I must say, don't like it half as much as his growlings on the likes of the classics 'South Of Heaven' and the immortal 'Reign In Blood'. None of Slayer's modern recordings (with the exception of perhaps 'God Hates Us All') will ever be recognised as classics like Slayer's earlier efforts but that is in no way Araya's fault, that is due to those albums being revoultionaries. Slayer's modern day albums are completely different beasts, 'beast' probably being the best word for it.
Slayer in modern times are more groove driven than they ever have been, rather than the pure-thrash of their earlier outings, and yet they retained a sound that didn't in any way ''sell-out'' and one that was monumentally, Slayer. On 'Diabolus In Musica' (latin for 'The Devil In Music'), Slayer still refuse to embrace melody, but the pure groove of the album makes it a demanding and yet compelling listen. In fact, 'Diabolus In Musica' is Slayer's most groove driven outing, and is also one of their ahem, 'slowest'. By slow I mean, 200rpm rather than about 400...
With the exception of 'God Hates Us All', 'Diabolus In Musica' is Slayer's best modern day album to date. Each instrument is just as important as the other, both guitars being as monumental as the insane, bone-cracking drumming of Paul Bostaph, the fine bass work and Araya's insane screaming. What is also noticeable from the 10 intense tracks across 'Diabolus In Musica' is that the production of Rick Rubin seems to force the music above Tom Araya's voice. Some have quoted this as a bad thing, but pushing Araya's vocal back a stage adds a much darker atmosphere, much more turgid (in a good way), as it sounds like Araya is being swallowed by some dark force.
After all, this is Slayer's darkest album. The likes of the unbelieveable, 'Stain Of Mind' which sounds utterly and completely obliterating, sounding as Slayer always have and yet more groove driven, are very much darker than any of their former glories. This is music that is intense and loud, just what you'd expect from a Slayer album, but yet it does contain aspects of the 'slow'. The Araya-lyrically penned 'Desire' has very slow building verses that take their time to get to the insanely screamed chorus, showing, as with some other flourishes throughout the album, that Slayer perhaps decided to try a tad ammount of prog. Now don't let that put you off, they didn't go all acoustic on you, far from it, there is just more to the songs than there usually is, but very infrequently, after all this is a Slayer album, and they know what they, and more importantly their fans want; fantastically heavy, pure 100% metal.
Indeed, the opening to opener 'Bitter Piece' is an instrumental 'building' that goes on for about a minute and a half, but after this point you know it's business as usual. Speaking of points, for those who may have somehow lost faith in Slayer's slightly more hardcore driven sound, 'Point' may be a nice surprise...
So while not quite as good as the fantastic 'God Hates Us All', 'Diabolus In Musica' is a close second. It's not a classic Slayer album, no-one is going to put it up there with their ungodly best, but Slayer have once again proven that despite being around for 20 years now, that they're still better than their modern day contemporaries, that they still write better songs, and that they're still heavier than hell.