Record review

Phases & Stages


Christ Illusion (American)

Timing is everything. Slayer's 11th studio release arrives in devastating sync with current events. Had the band packaged the 10-track, 38-minute disc in a human remains pouch tucked inside one of those ill-euphimized aluminum "transport tubes," they couldn't have increased the horror one iota. Not since the maniac thrash of 1986's genre-eclipsing Reign in Blood have these SoCal wastrels managed music that sounds so frighteningly out of control and yet wholly, idealistically pure of intent. Christ Illusion, bracketed by Tom Araya's meaty bellow, Kerry King's anxious riffs, Jeff Hanneman's turgid guitar squall, and Dave Lombardo's straight-out-of-Tora Bora percussive airstrikes, is Slayer's most thematically cohesive and emotionally charged release in two decades. One listen to the eerie, stop-start cadence of lunacy in "Jihad," with Araya essaying the role of a suicide bomber almost too convincingly, and you may never want to leave your home again. Religion and warfare, the band's twin obsessions, have finally come full circle, simultaneously on your stereo and on CNN/al Jazeera. Slayer, seething, forces you to acknowledge the futility of both. Headbanging? Turns out they were practicing dodging live rounds and IED shrapnel.


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