From Reign In Blood onward Slayer had looked to be an unstoppable thrash metal juggernaut, even managing to maintain their high quality while negotiating such potential pitfalls as losing drummer Dave Lombardo and releasing an album of punk covers. Diabolus In Musica however, shows the first chinks in the bands armour, as for the first time in a long time the quality control slips and a Slayer album suffers from some filler tracks.
With the return of the one-man riff-machine Jeff Hanneman to writing dominance after his relative lack of input on the bands last album (with all but one song either written or co-written by Hanneman this is the complete mirror image of the Kerry King dominated Divine Intervention) one would expect this to be a return to the glories of old, but surprisingly after the 'War Ensemble'-esque opening track this album settles down into a glut of mid-tempo groove-based songs, with Tom Araya almost going into rap mode at times. Yes - Diabolus In Musica is the sound of Slayer discovering the foul horror that is nu-metal.
Despite the sheer awfulness of weak nu-metal bands influencing the mighty Slayer, most of these mid-tempo groovers are actually heavy as hell, and do at least see Slayer breaking new musical ground - the downside is there are simply far too many of them, with 'Perversions of Pain' being the only other up-tempo speed metal track on the first two thirds of the album.
The cracks really start to show during the albums latter half; 'Desire' is a rather bland dirge, while Kerry King's 'In The Name Of God' suffering from being yet another mid-tempo groover, and inferior to the several we've already had. Musically 'Scrum' is a welcome return to mayhemic speed-metal, but having Slayer write a song about something as mundane as rugby rather deflates the bands 'evil' image. 'Screaming From The Sky' and UK only bonus track 'Wicked' are another 2 forgettable filler tracks, leaving only the breakneck 'Point' to at least end the album on a high note.
Diabolus In Musica is by no means a bad album - the production is fantastic, and some of the tracks rank among the best Slayer have ever recorded. However, if Slayer want to produce an album that can stand alongside such all-time classics as Reign In Blood, South Of heaven and Seasons In The Abyss every song on the album has to be great - there simply isn't room for a few reasonable but forgettable filler tracks to pad out the running time, which is what ultimately drags this album down.
A good album by anybody else, but by far the least impressive Slayer album since Hell Awaits. Better than the average nu-metal - but Diabolus In Musica just doesn't quite cut the mustard.
on 29 May 2004
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.
on 25 January 2015
I am really happy to finally own this album on vinyl as there weren't many of the original pressings made during the late 1990's. This is the 180 gram Black single vinyl version of "Diabolus In Musica" and it is very well made. There is a sticker on the cover that informs you that you may or may not have received a limited blood red vinyl version as they mixed the coloured vinyl's in with the standard black pressings, making it a luck of the draw kind of situation. The date of manufacture on the cover is shown as 1998 but this is the 2013 re-issue as the original release was a double album. The cover and inner sleeve are of high grade card and paper respectively which makes for a better product. If like me you missed out on the original version of this album, you can buy this version with complete confidence. You will not be disappointed. The sound reproduction is flawless and very pleasing to listen to, the album is an all round winner in my humble opinion.
on 22 May 2001
Diabolus In Musica comes in two release formats. Stand alone and with an extra CD of live cuts. It's not a good thing, whent he extra CD is better than the release itself... Not that Diabolus is a bad CD, but the trademark speed of Slayer is not present. Yers it is a good thing when a band can progress musically, but why would Slayer want to progress towards a more pop-metal sound like Slipknot or Korn or something?
There are a few really fast tunes here, but for the most part it's rather cheesy 90's metal, heavy on the bass, but zero on complexity or guitar solos. Slayer used to do rip roaring fast guitar solo's, here it's just easy listening commercial trash. It sounds more studio produced rather than the raw live sound you'd expect. However, with this new approach Slayer have adopted, they have a gained a much more structured method in their riffs. So the fast complex tracks that do exist here, are much more full in their sounding. I guess at least you could say Slayer haven't become conventional in their approach to music, just conventional in the marketing of it.
If you want heavy Slayer get Reign In Blood, if you want something more easy listening, then this isn't a bad bet. It still retains some of the Slayer trademark sound, but it's buried under a lot of cheese factor. The live tracks on the bonus disc though, are excellent, far better than any previously released versions and represents far better valur better for money than some of the filler on the standard Diabolus disc.
on 9 November 2015
This album manages to be hard edged and dark and yet creative. I'm not sure about the 'nu-metal' accusations this album gets, to be honest I don't even know what nu-metal is, to me you can hear the punkier side of Slayer on here via the late Jeff Hanneman. There's a nice variety in the tempo and beats to the tracks, some nice offbeats and grooves. There are some blistering solos with one or two being suprisingly melodic and structured for Slayer. The Vinyl edition is of the same high quality as the others I have bought on the back in black Slayer series. You should know that the vinyl edition contains the track Wicked at the end of side 2, this is not mentioned on the cover or even the label. I had no idea this was an 'extra track' as it appears on my CD as the penultimate song so I presumed it was always just part of the album. It is an excellent track and unique sounding too so very glad it appears on the vinyl.
on 16 October 2000
Slayer are one of the hardest metal bands around and are up there with the likes of Pantera as the band holding the fort for the true metal fans, whilst so called heavy metal bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi release pop based albums. This album is another classic by the band, especially in that it was produced by rock super producer Rick Rubin. This is the bands eighth album and is really a true return to form for this thrash metal band. Although the base of the album is thrash metal the sound does vary from the grunge style of "In The Name Of God", to the hip hop beats (no doubt influenced by Rubin) of "Love To Hate", but generally the album is hard metal such as on the tracks "Point", "Stain Of Mind", "Desire" and "Pervasions Of Pain". Overall it's a great album and is among the band's best work.
on 2 February 2000
I must confess to being slightly disappointed with this album. There are signs of progression - particularly with guitar sound and vocals, but several songs on the album appear to chug along without a really good riff. A few more dynamic changes wouldn't go amiss either. Having said that, this album scores top marks on aggression, and Paul Bostaph's drumming is quite awesome. Slayer's musical direction appears to be towards a more hardcore style and, while I would hate them to play 'popular' music, too much of this causes the album to drag. Despite this, 'Bitter Peace', 'Stain of Mind' and 'Scrum' rank as thrash metal classics.
on 21 April 2000
This album is a 12 track opus of aggression and disgust. "Death's Head", "Desire" and "Wicked" are the high points in this album, but "Overt Enemy", "In the Name of God" and "Love to hate" come close to this brilliance. A true masterpiece of a thrash metal album, but you can't help still feeling that this is an album by a band who used to be much better.
on 9 April 2002
Although not Slayer's finest release this is certainly one to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The overall tone of this album is darker than usual and a little slower, without any real stand out track. However, it is a typical display of the ear-bleeding sound that Slayer have always produced. Not quite as good as the next album, God Hates Us All, but it beats most of the crap around at the moment. Buy now and give your hi-fi a hammering!
on 12 August 2010
This, and not their previous and excellent album Divine Intervention, is where the wheels started to come off of the Slayer train. The metal scene had taken a big hit, especially in the UK, as it was deemed seriously uncool by most and shunned by the charts. This was not to prove too much of a problem as society slowly got its sanity back and the awful nu-metal explosion quickly morphed into a re-appreciation of all things metal, so much so that even today most of the genre, and many of its sub-genres and off-shoots, enjoy relatively fair coverage, especially due to the more comprehensive access to media through digital and web-based avenues. But back in the late '90s, early noughties, it was grim. In fact most of the '90s was pretty poor. And this is evident on Diabolus in Musica. There are a few 'old skool' Slayer tracks but the majority is down-tuned, slow-paced dirgery featuring influences from upstarts like Slipknot (Slipknot are awesome, don't get me wrong, it's just that Slayer was their influence and it should never be transposed) and certain rap-metal abominations (Public Enemy and Anthrax cross over thingy aside, rap-metal is a beast that should be dead - and thankfully kind of is now).
'Bitter Peace' is excellent. The one consistent aspect about Slayer, the one thing you can rely on always without exception - and this even includes World Painted Blood - is their ability to sheer the flesh from your skull with a truly outstanding opening track. 'Evil Has No Boundaries', 'Hell Awaits', 'Angel of Death', 'South of Heaven', 'War Ensemble', 'Killing Fields' can now add 'Bitter Peace' to the list (well, and 'Disciple', 'Flesh Storm' and 'World Painted Blood' here in 2010). What follows is pretty good too, albeit a different, technical Slayer using brutality rather than finesse and speed with 'Death's Head's many time changes. But it actually all comes together very well and is one of my favourite Slayer tracks - a triumph of experimentation. 'Stain of Mind' is quite groovy but not particularly exciting. 'Overt Enemy' is one of those tracks that should have been like 'Serenity in Murder' from Divine... but instead it starts well and then plods with a boring chorus. 'Perversions of Pain' does much the same. 'Love to Hate you' is very slow and angry and never really goes anywhere and 'Desire' is a bit like 'Overt Enemy' only worse. 'In the Name of God' is similar to 'Love to Hate you' and picks things up a bit but is still no cigar. Only when you reach 'Scrum' does Slayer seem to reappear with the passion of old. Great track, however not anywhere near a classic. 'Screaming from the Sky' is excellent. It is slow paced but such a powerful song. The UK bomus track, 'Wicked', I really like. It is rather long but it is the kind of song that tracks like 'Overt Enemy' etc should have been. And 'Point' is the great old Slayer closer of old which finishes off a rather disappointing collection rather well.
Definitely worth it for the 5 great tracks (including the UK bonus) but it's inexcusable that there are no more of note on a Slayer album - you can usually count on these guys.