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.