Slayer - Christ Illusion
Slayer - Christ Illusion Warner Bros. - 2006 Ever since the return of founding drummer Dave Lombardo (also of Testament, Grip Inc., and Fantomas) to Slayer during their God Hates Us All touring cycle, traditionalist fans of the band (and there are many) had been hotly anticipating the return to form that Slayer were promising for their first album with the legendary drummer in 16 years. It has been hard to not get caught up in the hype (Slllllayyerrrrrr!!!!!!!!!) during recent years. While the hype has been due partly to the bandâ€™s success with the primarily Kerry King penned album God Hates Us All released on September 11th, 2001, the Slayer brand has begun being marketed like only a major label like Warner Bros. can do. I wonder who came up with National Day Of Slayer this year, an annual phenomenon sure to keep the bands album sales high on that date every year, and then some. People here in North America love to celebrate days so this should definitely be a marketing concept that just keeps on giving. Of course, most wonâ€™t even question who is behind the idea. And soon after that, AOL Radio launched an â€œAll Slayerâ€ station to drive the bandâ€™s stake even further through the metal-hungry suburbs containing Americaâ€™s disaffected youth. Can we forget what new mega-corporation was formed in recent years? AOL Time Warner. So with all this money behind them, as authentic as the band may still be at first listen, a deeper look will reveal that they have in fact become TOO authentic. What do I mean by that? Slayer have been pushing the envelope and themselves since their early days when they ripped off Judas Priest like nobodyâ€™s business on Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits, although those still remain two of my favorite albums by the band. Then, inspired by Dark Angel, they incorporated speed as their new and now time-tested ingredient. They very publicly broke new ground with every album, until they bravely decided to finally get out of their late-eighties zenith and start developing some more interesting ideas; which they did, in the form of the excellent Divine Intervention and my all-time favorite, Diabolus In Musica. Even though God Hates Us All had some nu-metal moments and Kerry King (the albumâ€™s primary composer) admitted he was influenced by Slipknot at the time, it still had some measure of relevance and quality. The same canâ€™t be said so quickly about their new album, Christ Illusion. It tries to sound too authentic for its own good. No more experimentation like we saw in the nineties and no more relentless speeds like we saw in the late eighties. With certain exceptions like opener Flesh Storm, Catalyst, Skeleton Christ, and Black Serenade (arguably the albumâ€™s best track, written unsurprisingly by Hanneman) which also happen to be the better songs on the album, the album is far too simple an album for the band to release in 2006. If their 40 ages is the excuse for the albumâ€™s predominantly mid-paced tempo, then pay a quick listen to recent albums by Destruction, Kreator, Celtic Frost, Sodom, Deicide, and Malevolent Creation, all of whom are led by musicians nearing or surpassing Slayerâ€™s ages. The answer is simple: Theyâ€™ve been living the good life since the success of God Hates Us All, and we all know what that includes; money and substances. Yes, every band does substances to varying degrees, and Slayer has been a touring machine in recent years so they certainly merit what they earn, but I feel Christ Illusion was written in a derivative vein of their late eighties material in order to satisfy growing nostalgia and also simply to release an album that is easier to for younger fans to enjoy than their more challenging nineties material. When bands are making money, you can often hear it in the music as the band sounds more laid back, as Slayer does on Christ Illusion. When bands are struggling to get noticed, they put their heart and minds to the task of creating a memorable album, which even in spite of their success over the years, Slayer had been doing. The redeeming aspects of the album are Hannemanâ€™s solos, which he is credited for twice as often as actual songs written, unfortunately. It is well known that he is the stronger songwriter than King and the composer of nearly all Slayerâ€™s classic songs. But fans want the dumbed-down version of Slayer like they responded so well to when God Hates Us All hit the streets, and boy did they get it with Christ Illusion. The Hatebreed-type breakdown on Catatonia pretty much sums up where Slayer are right now, to their benefit or not, so long as Kerry King keeps writing the majority of their songs: Out of ideas.