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CD Review: Slayer – Christ Illusion

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I have been a fan of Slayer since the groundbreaking 1986 release of Reign in Blood. They are one of the only thrash bands from this era that has remained true to the style of music they helped to create. I have every album they've released from Show No Mercy to the brand new Christ Illusion; I listen to them all regularly.

Many of the songs on Christ Illusion would have been right at home on their last album, God Hates Us All. Examples include "Catalyst," "Skeleton Christ," "Cult," and "Supremist." The tone is angry, the subject matter is often anti-Christian, and the tempo is fast. Other tracks remind me of Divine Intervention ("Black Serenade"), South of Heaven ("Catatonic"), and Seasons in the Abyss ("Eyes of the Insane"). Fans of the more overtly Satanic imagery from Slayer's early albums will not find much of that here, other than "Black Serenade". However, Slayer continues their attack on religion from God Hates Us All into Christ Illusion.

To make sense of Slayer's lyrics, one must remember that Slayer was one of the first influential bands to blend punk and metal in a unique style of thrash metal. Some would call them a thrash band, others would call them a death metal band, and both would be right. Their dark lyrics (especially on the earlier albums) are filled with typical death metal imagery inspired by a love of horror films and military history. Slayer writes from the point of view of the killer, and many people mistake this for an endorsement of what the killer is doing. They were wrongly criticized for being Nazis after Reign in Blood's "Angel of Death." Songs like "Jihad" will be misinterpreted as suggesting that Slayer is pro-terrorist, but this only reflects the ignorance of the listener.

So, how does this album compare to the rest? If I had to rate Slayer's full-length studio albums from favorite to least favorite, my list would look something like this:

1. Reign in Blood
2. Seasons in the Abyss
3. South of Heaven
4. God Hates Us All

5. Christ Illusion
6. Live Undead
7. Hell Awaits
8. Show No Mercy
9. Diabolus in Musica
10. Divine Intervention
11. Undisputed Attitude

Putting these in order is quite difficult, but at least you can see where I believe Christ Illusion fits relative to other albums. This is a good one that will not disappoint Slayer fans.

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About vjack

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    I’ve been something of a casual fan for years. I LOVE Seasons in the Abyss and think it is their best. This one is an excellent comeback, I didn’t care for the past couple all that much. My review went up last week.

    And Welcome to BC!

  • Elder Kryst

    Slayer was the first band that I ever truely considered an all time favorite. I was very disappointed in Diabolus and God Hates Us All and had pretty much written them off. Christ Illusion has rejuvinated my faith in Slayer. Remindes me of their shit from Haunting the Chapel up to Seasons in the Abyss.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Nice Review…
    “They are one of the only thrash bands from this era that has remained true to the style…”

    Well, I feel that’s because alot of the killer thrash bands didn’t make it out of the 80’s(Atrophy,Defiance,Devastation,Dark Angel)
    Severe line-up changes, band break-ups…

    Kreator released an album(Enemy of God) that sounded more like a parody of this genre than anything but had killer tunes.

    I would have to disagree about Slayer fitting anywhere in the Death-Metal genre. Most of your well-known Death Metal bands spoke of Brutal Disfigurement,the losing of sanity and Death,which Slayer may have touched upon but they are missing the drudging guitars and gut-spewed growls. The latter being probably the most important aspect and a huge reason as to why people either like it or not.

    I do think it’s funny that they have taken on this anti-God/anti-Christian sentiment in their music. Maybe it’s for shock value which is a money maker but I know Tom Araya is a Christian himself. Oh well… All for the Show, kinda like how they got started.

    Again, Nice Review…

  • WTF

    Eh. Nothing outstanding. It is #2 worst of all Slayer albums behind Divine Intervention. Slayer is still the best, but I disagree with the blogs above about the quality of these songs.

    The songs sound thrown together. They don’t flow like the old Dave stuff did and the lyrics sound forced. I think Slayer found a great new style with Diabolous & Hates, with the drop tune and beefy bottom sound, but this album sounds weak. It might take a few times to re-evaluate, but as of now… it’s boring.

    I’ve been a 20 year loyal fan and will continue to be.. but overall, disappointed with the original line up. Sorry guys! You could have done better!

    PS.. hey Vjack, Hell Awaits is #7????? C’mon man!? I can never agree with the South of Heaven & Seasons in the Abyss fans! These are the albums where Tom started “singing” and the speed disappeared.

  • matt fitzgerald

    slayer is by far one of my favorite bands and I think that they definetly recovered from there last albums flaws. it is ill to see that lombardo is back and it completes the picture of them being the best thrash metal band of all time

    by the way they are not death metal

  • SLAYERRULEZ

    Wouldnt it be nice if Slayer could release an album to satisfy every freakin’ opinion like those I read over here?(after all opinions are like assholes, everybody has one).
    Cant you realize that the guys are doin it the only way they know and can and MUST? Their own, honest, brutal, in-your-face, METAL way? Everything else is pointless. If you clowns want “more sophisticated lyrics” go listen to Jethro Tull for heavens sake. If you want more “nu-metal” style pick something like Slipknot and leave it alone please. In general, if you want SLAYER to act like YOU would expect to be satisfied, you got it wrong somewhere…
    SLAYER RULEZ 666

  • duane

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a band who promotes some sort of nihilistic theme in their lyrics and images, and who plays bone crushing music to set the tone, to at least have the brains to do it intelligently. Otherwise, they may as well write love songs.

    What is this 666 crap?

    Tom Araya is a Christian himself…

    Oh hahahahahaha …….. Jesus.

  • will

    as with many fans, i was not optimistic for the release of christ illusion, but upon hearing it, i was shocked and impressed that they seem to have broken away from the mould of post-seasons albums and released an album with some great tracks on and one track i believe to be a new classic, flesh storm.
    they have also got at least one solo on every song, a hugely welcome change from god hates us all – and these solos are GOOD too!
    in my opinion, the new album really shows how much dave brings to the band…

    i am a very different kind of slayer fan: having listened to them constantly for the last 7 years (not quite 20 as some of you have, but im only 17), i can say that i think that while it is a fantastic album, reign in blood is overrated, at least compared with other albums of theirs. i would be surprised if anyone agreed, but i now rarely listen to it, simply because there are more tracks on other albums that our favourites of mine. i love really early slayer and i will give an alternative list of favourite albums (including the 1984 ep, haunting the chapel):

    1 hell awaits
    2 show no mercy
    3 haunting the chapel (ep, also on the end of live undead)
    4 reign in blood
    5 seasons in the abyss
    6 south of heaven
    7 christ illusion
    8 divine intervention
    9 diabolus in musica
    10 god hates us all
    11 undisputed attitude

    although i only rate christ illusion as their 7th best, i feel that those top 6 are pretty close and that christ illusion falls short, but not by a million miles, while i feel there is a huge gap between those 7 and divine intervention.

    christ illusion is for die hard slayer fans, not because it lacks in quality but because i feel that there are 6 even better albums (7 including decade of agression, the live album released shortly after seasons). however, for anyone with those albums, christ illusion is a must!

  • Arren

    Avid slayer fan fucking love slayer bt christ illusion is kind of weak but hey they have been doing it for over twenty years So don’t talk shit you couldn’t do what they have done

  • Nate

    Wow, less than perfect reviews of Christ Illusion, even after taking into consideration the lame music scene nowadays? This album has totally renewed my faith in a band that went through the motions for the sake of going through the motions (on the last couple albums anyway). Once again, Slayer is at the helm of the start of another wave of aggresive, almost unnecessarily brutal kick to the teeth of metal. Christ Illusion is a very close 3rd next to SOH and RIB. By the way, doesn’t anyone remember Live Undead? …Beware the cult of purity, infectious imbecility-I’ve made my choice…

  • Sunny

    Christ Illusion is an excellet offering from these pioneers of speedy thrash. They can never ever be categorized as death metal..plz. Jihad, Eyes Of The Insane and Fleshstorm are enough to put this album in the ‘Good’ category. I’m not a die-hard Slayer fan, but I do enjoy the moments when Slayer are at their best, viz Seasons In The Abyss. Reign In Blood, as pointed out by someone else too, is one of the most over rated albums in metal history. It’s excellent, true, but not the greatest, a masterpiece, the inimitable as it’s made out to be.

  • mike

    these songs are satans lyrics people no one should not have to hear such vialness in there ear the guy is a moron an one day he is going to have to answer to the all powerful god and whats he gonna say then that i just made songs slagging u off cause it made me money because theres people out there stupid enough to buy the crappy blasphemous tune i remember the day i saw his album advotised i thought how can something called the christ illusion be advotised on tv if you ask me its wrong i canot wait till slayer has to answer god himself for them evil songs he has no power hes not god nor i he worthy of god i dont think he will ever be worthy of god the moron

  • Amir Palma

    Slayer is my fav band of all time. Christ illusion is not a good as Reign in Blood or seasons in the Abyss, and it never will be but its still a very good album none the less, I’d rather hear it more than Divine intervension and Undisputed attitude. With songs like Catatonic there should be no reason to hate this album. Its at my number three spot behind Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss and in front of South of Heaven.

  • john

    christ illusion was awesome!

  • royston hurley

    Hi,
    Great review: I’d have said the same myself; man, this album kicks ass. I love Slayer, for a whole bunch of reasons: as you said in your review: they have remained true to their roots. The wife loves Metallica, and I have to snigger, sell outs, yeah. This album is a monster,and belongs with the heyday of metal in the late 80’s early 90’s when we had (Priest, Maiden, Ac/Dc, Overkill, Metallica(early) Death Angel, and the Seps from Brazil.

  • stanto

    this is the best album of the decade