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World Painted Blood Mark Eglinton , October 30th, 2009 11:42

If you’ll excuse the pun: ever since 1986’s Reign In Blood — a thrash album that defined not only them as a band, but an entire genre — Slayer have been painted into a corner. It was, quite simply, from start to finish, the most harrowing piece of thrash ever recorded and its running time of around half an hour passed in a white-knuckle blur that always seemed to satisfy the bloodlust. Anything that followed was always, always going to come up short; and like all the material in _RIB’s torrid slipstream, World Painted Blood inevitably faces that same jury.

Recorded almost exclusively in the studio - a first for Slayer - and preceded considerably by lead single ‘Psycopathy Red’, its eleven tracks encompass much of what we’ve heard from the band in the past with a few new twists thrown in too. Slayer albums have a history of beginning with utter monsters — tracks such as ‘Fleshstorm’, ‘War Ensemble’ and the obligatory ‘Angel of Death’ stand out not only on their respective albums but are also cornerstones of the live set — so you’d hope that the title track here might pack the same kind of wallop. It doesn’t. Instead it arrives muttering (literally) amid a portentous tritone clang which gathers speed into a jungle hunt-down riff that you might have heard on Death Magnetic. Not bad as such, but hardly sounds that’ll get you hiring a blacked-out transit van to patrol the neighbourhood with a box of hammers [Oh, my giddy aunt, Ed] — an act that trackthree, ‘Snuff’, might well encourage. It’s fast, nasty and as good a track as Slayer have recorded in 25 years. Likewise ‘Psycopathy Red’: rabid riff — bass interlude — then more rabid riffs. ‘Beauty Through Order’ is lumbering nastiness and a chilling mid-track breakdown of epic proportions; ‘Not Of This God’ is fabulous before and after the nu-metal mid-section.

The remainder is standard ‘recent’ Slayer with the exception of ‘Playing With Dolls’, which, even aside from sounding initially like AC/DC, is a track which loyal fans may well disown — this despite it being quite melodically sinister in a way that Slayer have never approached before. “You’ll wish you were in hell,” Araya screams.

The high points on World Painted Blood are undoubtedly very high, but as a whole it suffers from that same lack of end-to-end consistency that has niggled every album since Reign in Blood.