Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Label: Reigning Phoenix Music

Date: May 17th, 2024

So, I’m supposed to be objective here? Professional? I shouldn’t mention the cover art controversy? Slayer reformation controversy? Focus on the album at hand, remove it from the context and evaluate Mr. King’s new work as it is? Can I, at least, point out that it is a spitting image of Slayer? It is, I swear to God! Or the other guy, whatever…

Basically, Mr. King collected a band of brothers which continued on the well-trodden path of King’s mothership. He kept the drummer, Mr. Paul Bostaph, added former Machine Head’s guitar player Mr. Phil Demmel, former Hellyeah bass player Mr. Kyle Sanders and Death Angel’s vocalist Mr. Mark Osegueda. A supergroup as it seems, but Mr. King kept the reins in his own hands. That’s how we got an album that is exactly what Slayer sounded like. Unfortunately, it also kept all the issues of Slayer after Jeff Hanneman. Even more unfortunately, this one also lacks the touch of Mr. Tom Araya. Most obviously in the lyrical department, since his voice is mimicked pretty accurately by Mr. Osegueda. The trouble is that there’s almost nothing that would carve the name of this record into the minds of fans. You get the correct feeling of having listened to a Slayer album, but none of the zest of actual Slayer albums.

Namely, “From Hell I Rise” lacks a hit track. That catchy song which will be pinned into the brain. Even at their worst, Slayer had two or three of those among the fillers. Kerry King has tried to emit that, but with lesser success. “Where I Reign” (in blood, perhaps?), “Idle Hands” and “Shrapnel” could be construed as such. Others are quickly forgettable. Displays of expectedly Slayer-esque thrash metal riffage, simplified rhyme and solid, dynamic drumming which usually saves the whole thing from being an exercise in boredom. After a while even the voice starts getting on my nerves. Mr. Osegueda’s tone was always a bit reminiscent to Araya, but it seems like he went the extra mile in order to cover this segment of sounding as close to King’s roots. On the other hand, the vocals do sound very convincing, which probably goes to show that the singer went into this with all his heart and the mentioned mimicry is likely unconscious.

Bottom line, “From Hell I Rise” is a decent attempt at being Slayer. It holds enough recognizable elements for the fans to rejoice. It doesn’t hold enough elements for the fans to find it an undeniable masterpiece. At least not the honest fans, since we all know Slayer fandom is not the most critical to their heroes. Kerry King has made an album that you will enjoy while it lasts. However, as soon as it stops spinning, you might find yourself opting for the proper thing, instead of “just as good as”. Even “Repentless” turns out a better choice.

Once you figure this out, you are much more likely to launch a crusade on the tickets for the Slayer reunion shows. By the way, let me end with another question. Could the way this album turned out be the reason why these shows were scheduled in the first place? Just speculating here…

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