Slayer Christ Illusion
Grade
B+
 
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Slayer fans have been waiting for years for an album like Christ Illusion to come around, if only for the reason that it was to feature the original line up for the first time since drummer Dave Lombardo left the band after Seasons in the Abyss. This is also significant as most feel Slayer hasn't been the same since then. Just about every fan will point to the period where Reign In Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss were released as the strongest point in the band's existence and quite possibly one of the more important moments in metal history.

In Christ Illusion, though, Slayer fans finally get what feels like a true follow up to Seasons in the Abyss. It's obvious from the inception of the opening track, Flesh Storm, that Dave is back in the drum kit. His beats are intense, high-speed and brutally unforgiving. Kerry and Jeff's guitars have a familiar feel to them - rigidly aggressive, pounding a slaughter of tone at the listener. Tom's bass is back where it's always been, well hidden behind the drums and guitars, allowing him far more time to yell and scream the openly hostile lyrics at the listener.

As stated before, the album opens in a blistering rage with Flesh Storm. It's a high speed romp that eventually slows down enough for Tom to wail "It's all just psychotic devotion...." Catalyst throws in right afterward, feeling like a new take on the Reign in Blood era Slayer - heavy in punk attitude and unforgiving in it's approach. This is followed by Skeleton Christ, a slower paced thrash fest that has a great tone.

The fourth track, Eyes of the Insane is a bit contentious among people I spoke with. Most couldn't stand it, but I rather enjoyed the slower, more dull-toned piece. If there's any problem it's that the song feels a little out of place on this album. Jihad opens in a high pitch that evolves into traditional Slayer maniacal metal. Consfearacy has a great Seasons in the Abyss feel to it. Catatonic opens slowly and seems to be taking it's time, but builds into a rage, with Tom screaming the song title as violently as he can.

Black Serenade opens with an awesome groove that grows fast and intense with little build up. Cult begins with a South of Heaven like intro, toying with slower, lower tones, but snaps into a more intense pace that fits the album well. The last track, Supremist ends the album on a good note, fast, intense and dark.

Lyrically, there are times where the songs are inspired, and other times where it just seems like they're using satanic Mad Libs. And some of the lyrics are so uninspired that I'm beginning to think the well is running dry. Really, do we need to hear Tom yelling "666"? It's clichéd and I would think that Slayer could certainly write something better.

While there are some rough spots here, Christ Illusion is the best thing the band has put out since Seasons in the Abyss. Having the original lineup back is promising and I hope that future albums put the band right back on track.

- - Kinderfeld

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