August 9, 2006

CD Review: Slayer's Christ Illusion

I have been a fan of Slayer since the groundbreaking 1986 release of Reign in Blood. The are one of the only thrash bands from this era who 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, and 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. The 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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