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Slayer - World Painted Blood
Review: For any artist, finding a voice may be the hardest task. Trying to unite what needs to be expressed with a form, and the conventions that will cushion specific artistic statements in the familiar, defines how that artist is known to fans. Early Slayer had mythological Satanism and a hatred of a world that used God as an excuse to check out and ignore reality; starting with Divine Intervention, the band launched into a more literal direction and have been struggling to find their artistic voice ever since. With World Painted Blood, Slayer find a voice in this new style, and while this is their best album since Seasons in the Abyss, it shies away from the prog-influenced complex song structures of early Slayer and sticks with the verse/chorus construction of Divine Intervention and beyond. However, it also loses the nu-metal bounce, ranting Pantera-style choruses, and other conventions Slayer have tried out and kicked to the curb in the past.
It's like a slimmed-down, simplified Seasons in the Abyss made to compete with the later albums from Metallica and Megadeth, using the speed metal pace, the distinctive Slayer style of riffing (indeed, you can hear quotes from Hell Awaits, Reign in Blood and South of Heaven in the new songs) and the infallable pop song structure of verse/chorus/bridge, where in this case the bridge is an interlude defined by rhythmic and dynamic contrast. This new album is important because it's Slayer finding a style they can work with, and conveniently, this style is closest to their most vibrant works of anything they've done since 1992.
Even for those who do not like this particular record, it's important to support their return to a voice they can expand upon, and celebrate the end of their wilderness wandering through voices (Pantera on Divine Intervention, nu-metal on Diabolus in Musica) that do not fit their psychology and artistic aims.