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Slayer – World Painted Blood

Slayer - World Painted Blood CD cover

For thirty years the name Slayer has been synonymous with brutal, violent, in your face thrash metal. The years have seen them experiment with and tweak their sound with various levels of success and their latest, World Painted Blood is no different – borrowing inspiration from most of its predecessors, while continuing to add to the Slayer sound and legacy.

The intro to the title track harkens back to “Dead Skin Mask” before launching into a barrage of punk riffs – at Slayer’s patented high speed pace, of course. “Hate Worldwide” is much more stripped-down, but tracks like it and “Unit 731” still show that same speed punk vibe that is unmistakably Slayer. These are the songs that Slayer was built to play and while they may not make for great promo material when trying to recruit new fans, tracks like the ultra-fast “Public Display of Dismemberment” and “Psycopathy Red” are sure as all Hell Slayer. Even “Snuff”, which may be a bit more technical than your average Slayer track, has a mood and vocals that can trace their roots all the way back to the Reign in Blood days, if not earlier and “Beauty Through Order”, though a bit updated, has the same gloomy feel as Christ Illusion-era Slayer.

The one possible throwaway track is “Americon”, which shows that characteristic Slayer hatred of the political system, but that’s about it. The distortion on the guitar is too heavy and the rest of the instrumentation sounds like it was cobbled together – this is the one track that sounds like they sat down and tried to write a Slayer song because they needed one more song or had a cool lyrical riff that hadn’t found a home.

That’s not to say that World Painted Blood is a rehash of their previous albums, though. “Playing with Dolls” may be some of the best songwriting to date for Slayer for its organic feel and ability to move from one emotional extreme to another mid-track. “Human Strain” is definitely not something you’d expect from the Slayer catalog – it’s slower and more deliberate, and I defy any listener to listen NOT to get creeped out midway through this track with Dave Lombardo’s paramilitary drumming poured over dissonant guitar and Tom Araya’s spoken word. “Not of This” God also shows a lot of experimentation and does a better job of mixing in some standard Slayer-esque fare and may be the one go-to track for someone looking for a quick taste of what World Painted Blood is really all about.

There has been talk that World Painted Blood may mark the end of the Slayer era. Tom Araya, at least, has been quoted as saying the album could prove to be their last. If so, it marks a fitting send-off, chronicling everything that Slayer has been and done over the years both musically and lyrically. Hopefully, though, it simply marks the next step in Slayer’s continuing campaign to paint the world in blood.

-Late

World Painted Blood

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

At No End – Urban Holocaust

At No End - Urban Holocaust CD cover

With a booming swell, “United We Fight” starts off the disc with the sledgehammer to the skull brutality that has made At No End a staple of the Cleveland hardcore scene for half a decade. “Scumbag” may be a bit more measured, with its staccato chorus, and tracks like “Bring the Beast” and “Destroyer” may feature a somewhat heavier bottom end, but tracks like “Strength is Pain”, “unleashed” and “The Hard Life” make it clear that this is straight-up no frills hardcore. Tracks like “Rise” and “Let it Burn” show that same love of grand, anthemic choruses that just beg for you to scream along with.

That’s not to say that all of the songs sound the same. Tracks like “Outta My Way” feature a thrashier sound, with some guttural backing vocals. Plus, while the guys in At No End certainly haven’t mellowed, their songwriting has matured over the years – as we all do. Their music is a living, breathing evolving thing, which keeps it that much fresher and more relevant than a lot of what’s out there. Tracks like “Bullet” and the title track veer away from the standard lyrical fare of the hardcore scene in favor of focusing on the bigger, more important questions and the uglier side of all that unfixed rage.

At No End continue their rise from the ashes of the Cleveland hardcore scene. This is just the latest in their string of efforts to breathe, stuff, kick and slap life back into the urban holocaust that is Cleveland’s dying scene.

-Late

Urban Holocaust

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Festinate – self-titled

Festinate CD cover

Festinate blast their way through the door with “The Humanix”, setting the stage for what is to follow throughout the rest of their self-titled disc. What is to follow is a scathing mix of power metal chords delivered with the rapidfire staccato of the thrash scene. The mix may seem an odd one at first. Many of the chords throughout the disc are definitely from the power metal school but they steer clear of the power metal progressions and opt for blunt, thrashy riffs instead.

While the disc may open with a crisp mix of clean and harsh vocals that immediately makes the listener think “power metal”, “Lies in Weight” immediately follows that with smashing breakdowns taken straight from the likes of Exodus and Nuclear Assault. Similarly, “Megabomb” is a thrashing beast of a track that is as simple as it is brutal. “No Light” is a bit more textured, though, steering closer to the European thrash sound of acts like Helloween.

“Thrymheim” may be the best way to examine the disc as a whole. The track harkens back to that same European thrash sound, with thickly layered guitars practically oozing over top of machine gun drumming, disappearing in to a haunting instrumental trek into a second onslaught, which features vocalist Ryan Boehm moving back and forth between the guttural and sublime extremes of his range.

Overall, Festinate plumb the depths of the metal scene and offer up a taste of an awful lot of what it has to offer and they do it in pretty short order, with five blistering tracks that showcase a lot more depth than others have shown with more prolific efforts.

-Late

Festinate

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.5 stars
****1/2

Upon A Burning Body- The World Is Ours

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!!!! With these four words, Upon A Burning Body greets you and welcomes you to a journey of brutality at its finest. If you are at all a fan of the whole metalcore genre, The World Is Ours is going to be an album that’s right up your alley.

Right out of the gate, you will notice the raw energy that UABB brings on The World Is Ours. HAving got the priviledge of being able to see them live, I can honestly say that what they bring in a live show is dead on with the album, and vice-versa. Musically, it’s pretty amazing how talented UABB is as a whole. The amazing riffs, the machine gun precision of the drums, the deep bass sounds, this band has everything you could ask for.

Lyrically, vocalist Danny Leal nails it. As A band, the whole Al Pacino character theme of the album is a huge risk. But UABB makes it work great. If you think about it, how many of Pacino’s characters in his movies are good guys? Exactly. And that’s the point of view that Leal writes from, and it works beautifully.

This is a great album put out by an honest, hard-working band. It’s not completely original in terms of sound, but that said, these guys know how to just rock out. If you like your music loud, abrasive, and over the top, you have it here. Fans of Unearth, August Burns Red, and The Black Dahlia Murder will find this an enjoyable listen. Check it out and get ready to pound your chest and bang your head, because Upon A Burning Body are gonna make sure that happens

Deftones- Diamond Eyes

It’s been awhile since we have heard anything new from the Deftones. 2006 to be exact. In fact, since their first album, Adrenaline, rolled out in 1995, we have only got 5 other albums, something somewhat rare in today’s music scene where some bands put out something new seemingly just to put it out.

Deftones new album, Diamond Eyes, follows closer in the footsteps of the band’s 2003 self titled release. The band’s 2006 Saturday Night Wrist album was well documented as nearly being the downfall of the entire band. It didn’t come out to the great reviews the bands previous recordings did. Not that Saturday Night Wristwas horrible by any means; it was just a totally different sound. But that’s one great thing about the Deftones. You can’t pigeonhole them. You can’t say they’re metal, nu-metal, experimental, etc. They just roll a lot of things together. One second, you may have guitars chugging along and singer Chino Moreno screaming his head off, and the next thing you know, you have an almost quiet feel to everything, an almost ambient sound going on. That’s one thing I have always respected about this band. They do what they want, on their terms.

Diamond Eyes sees the Deftones for the first time without bassist Chi Cheng, who was seriously injured in an auto accident in November 2008. Former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega jumped on board as the band’s bassist, and does a great job smoothing the transition.

Diamond Eyes starts out with the title track, and if you know the band at all, it kinda takes you back to some of their earlier days. Musically and vocally, you get that old feel, kind of like something off of Around The Fur. “Royal”, “Cmnd/Ctrl”, and “Rocket Skates” also give you that huge, wave of sound feeling. “Prince”, “Sextape”, and “This Place Is Death” seem to follow on the more ambient trail that some of the recent Deftones records have seen.

The Deftones, in my opinion, are one of those bands that you either like or you hate. You either get the sound, or you just think that it’s dumb and it sucks. I, for one, tend to be in the group that considers the band quite good. I don’t think that you can have the longevity that the Deftones have had as a band, still going strong after 15 plus years, and not be doing something right. And these guys have a rabid fan base, as I still probably have dents in my head from shows over the years to prove.

Diamond Eyes falls somewhere nicely in the top three Deftones albums made. Is it the best? I don’t think so. Is it the worst? Certainly not. If you are a fan of the Deftones, you’ll like this one a lot.

Matt White

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