Eight in a series by my co-blogger (T) and myself (M)
Yes, it's 6/6/6. And National Day of Slayer! It’s a day to pretend you are some dark, evil person who wears a hooded robe and chants satanic verses in your bedroom while staring at the pentagram you drew on the mirror with eyeliner and waiting for Candyman to show up. It’s a day to look for the 666 carved on your child’s head, a day to read Good Omens, and a day accuse your boss of being the Anti Christ. And it’s a day to celebrate the wonders of Slayer.
Besides, I am a metalhead at heart. Yea, despite my playlist that seems to include nothing but Minor Threat and the like, I have a long, long history with metal. Heavy metal, speed metal, thrash metal, angry German metal, death metal, whatever there is. I've listened to it, banged my head to it, kicked a small child to it, and vomited up twenty shots of Goldschlager to it. And out of all my favorite metal bands – spanning from Motorhead to Meshuggah — none has won my heart, mind, and blackened soul like Slayer.
However, I am shunned by many a Slayer fan. Why? Because my choice of favorite album isn't the usual pick of Reign in Blood or the hardcore fan's pick of Hell Awaits. It's not even Season in the Abyss. No, it is 1998's Diabolus in Musica, the follow up to the much maligned Undisputed Attitude (see T's review of this album below).
For many Slayer fans, Attitude was a hard slap in the face. Punk songs? They are covering punk songs? They felt it was a departure as well as an insult. Of course, these were the people who remained ignorant of the fact that Slayer was actually influenced by hardcore punk bands like Minor Threat. But hey, why let a little history get in the way of your disdain? Anyhow, Slayer fans held their collective breath waiting for Diabolus to be released. Was Attitude a signal that the band had changed? Would this album be more punk than metal? Did we lose Slayer for good? I guess a two year wait in between albums will do that to a fan. Four years, if you are one of those who pretend Attitude doesn't exist.
I remember distinctly listening to this album for the first time. June, 1998. I slipped it into my car's CD player in the parking lot of the mall. I waited. Anxious. The slow bass of "Bitter Peace" kicked in. It was a trudging kind of metal, heavy in the pit of your stomach. So far, so good. I nodded my head a bit, the way people afraid to actually bang their head in public do. And then the short break in the song where it gets quiet, then you can feel the build up coming, the drums rolling, and…dude.
Holy shit. Speeeeeeed! Yes!! Oh yea, you can hear that hardcore influence loud and clear. And I knew that at that very minute, there were thousands of other Slayer fans listening to this album for the first time and feeling a little let down. Fuck them. If you can't appreciate "initiate blood purge, coalition in massacre" at full volume, at full speed, there's something wrong with you.
Ok, next song. Could they follow this up? Could this get better? I was still sitting in the parking lot. Savoring the moment when hardcore punk and thrash metal came together so perfectly, like peanut butter in chocolate. "Death's Head" played. Oh, yea. Oh fucking hell yea.
And then "Stain of Mind" kicked in. Fuck, yea. That's all I could say. Fuck, yea. I knew that within two hours, I would have the lyrics memorized, the song permanently embedded in that part of my brain that I reserve for songs that fall under "greatest fucking things ever recorded."
I knew after my first full listen that most Slayer fans I knew wouldn’t be digging this album at all. In fact, quite a few of them called it Slayer’s worst album ever (those are the people who like to pretend that Attitude doesn’t exist). I got into a few arguments over it then decided that fighting with people who get annoyed when a band strays even an inch from their original sound is like fighting with someone who gets pissed when the sunset is purple instead of pink.
Enjoy something different, dude. Think outside the lines. Yea, this isn’t Reign in Blood, but why would you want every album to be the same? It’s still got war and destruction and blood and Satan. The guts haven’t changed, just the structure. Hey, would it help if I told you that if you play "In the Name of God" backwards, it says “Kill everyone! Satan rules! Light churches on fire!”? Yea, really. You go do that. Go try it, hero. I’ll be over here enjoying this album for what it is while you listen for something you just aren’t going to get. (M)
Undisputed Attitude - You all knew I was gonna grab this one to review. That's what I do. The punk ones and the ones you guys hate.
This album turned me on to Slayer. I'm not gonna lie and say I was huge Slayer fan. They did what they did and that was cool. But after I heard this, I became a rabid fan. This is the one album I truly treasure. Sure, I like all of them now, but back when this came out, I hated them. Well, hate is a strong word. I never bothered with them. They weren't my style and I just didn't care. Speed metal was for burnouts in San Francisco. Back then I really didn't give a flying fuck if you wanted to see Satan or blood. That shit didn't impress me. I saw Satan every night. Hey dude, don't fool yourself. Satan was just a dude who changed his name to Satan. I think his name might have been Brian or Bob or Bill, but still, Slayer didn't really impress me.
Then it came on.
"Hey dude….that was TSOL, dude…" "No it wasn't. that was Slayer." What? Really? Fuck me. Really? It had been along time since I heard TSOL so I didn't really question it. I was still trying to peel an apple with my mind so I really didn't care if I was wrong or right on the song. I was focused on the apple.
"Hey dude, that's Dr Know…." "No dude, it isn't…it's Slayer, dude" The apple's skin was still on, so I really didn't pay much attention to it. That skin would come off, god dammit. But I think that was Dr. Know. hmmmmm.
"Oh, OK…Hey dude, that's fucking DI, god dammit, don't fucking tell me this is Slayer again god dammit or I am quitting drugs and becoming a hare krishna, god dammit!"
Apple was thrown out the door in anger and frustration. Poor apple never had a chance.
"Shave your head dude and put the pipe down cause this is Slayer."
I hate religion and I hate not having my apple. It was a green one too. Those are the best, god dammit.
If some of you don't know this was an album of Slayer's tributes and covers of punk bands. Pretty much all west coast punk rock with a few exceptions. They jammed as much in as they could even mixing a couple songs together from a band or two to get the most out of their time. Did it work? You be the judge. 33 minutes of not slowing down. They knew they only had a little time to pack as much punch as they could into this album and they did it. This fucker kicks you in the face.
All you have to know is that this album turned a bunch of punk rockers on to them. This was a band that I ignored until this record came out. When I heard this I kinda said to myself, "This band is pretty cool…." and went out to find the other records like a junkie on a dope hunt. "There must be more….there must be more…." I know people don't like this one but you have to realize what it did.
A lot, and I mean a lot, of people bagged this album and said it was un-Slayerish. Don't ask me what that means. A lot of people didn't understand what was going on. How did their Slayer turn punk? Well the simple fact is they never turned punk. These are all old songs. Guys. This isn't Slayer. Well, it's them playing, but these aren't their songs. One day when you are sitting at a friend's house listening to music and a song comes on and it sounds like a Slayer song? One that you know they did? Think about it.
These guys were paying tribute to their influences.
Or just bored in the studio one day.
You make the call cause this is one of my favorite Slayer albums.
And "Violent Pacification" is just fucking insane.
Happy National Day of Slayer everyone! -T