SLAYER – Christ Illusion

SLAYER - Christ Illusion
  • 8/10
    SLAYER - Christ Illusion - 8/10


American / Warner
Release date: August 8, 2006


User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

What have you all been waiting for? Weary of all the talk that the next album will be like old times, and it will be like Seasons In The Abyss, and everything in between will be forgotten, bla bla bla. So, to put the suspense to an end: This IS the best Slayer album since Seasons, and it is a bit like Seasons, and a bit like South Of Heaven too. Or to put it in a simple, short sentence: The Gods of Thrash are back!

It seems even great drummers like Paul Bostaph (Forbidden), Jon Dette (Testament), or Tony Scaglione (Whiplash) could not add to the band what original member Dave Lombardo contributed. The three albums without him steered them more into a Hardcore and mid-tempo direction, and the albums mostly contained not more than one great song (God Hates Us All: “Bloodline,” Diabolus In Musica: “Bitter Peace,” Divine Intervention: uh … none really). A bad yield for a band that founded Thrash.

Now with Dave back in the drummer’s seat, Slayer starts off where they ended in 1988. The general pace is accelerated again, guitars shred like they used to, and Tom’s vocals have returned from the monotonous Hardcore shouting he preferred for over 10 years. This is especially remarkable as Christ Illusion consists for two thirds out of Kerry King songs – much like God Hates Us All and Divine Intervention. Most of the landmarks in their career relied on Hannemann’s songwriting abilities, and one would not think such a remarkable change in style possible judged by the song credits.

Already the opening track “Flesh Storm” hits you directly in the face: old school Slayer riffing, high speed drumming, and a vocal line that derives directly from Reign In Blood launch the track, before a chorus straight from South Of Heaven makes this easily the greatest Slayer song over the last one and a half decades … and the best thing is, it is not the highlight of the album!

That kind of songwriting dominates Christ Illusion: Kerry King returns to uncompromising speed, often with inserted mid-tempo parts for a chorus or a solo, but his compositions regularly return to breakneck speed, which will be immensely satisfying to the old Slayer fans. Apart from “Flesh Storm,“ these also follow this path: “Catalyst,” “Consfearacy,” “Supremist,” and the best track of the album, “Cult.” You do not have to be a prophet to expect this to become a Slayer classic and stand next to “Angel of Death,” “Hell Awaits,” and “War Ensemble” in their live setlist.

But, the album is not a faster than light speed attack. Slayer did not turn full circle and try to make another Reign In Blood. Out of the ten songs on the album, King wrote another two which differ from the recipe used for the above ones. “Skeleton Christ” is a stomping heavy piece of Thrash, which culminates in a fast chorus with a great melody, if one dares to combine the words Tom Araya and melody in one sentence. The other one, “Catatonic,” is close to a Hardcore version of Doom and sounds even more baleful. It never explodes into the speed frenzy some other tracks exhibit, but has parts with a fine double bass background that more than makes up for missing speed.

What about Jeff Hannemann, who wrote most of the famous old Slayer tracks? He is still there, but Christ Illusion contains only three of his compositions. Those three are the ones which stand out considerably from the rest. “Eyes Of The Insane” is written in the tradition of South Of Heaven. Maybe they had a leftover composition from that time? “Jihad” has the most peculiar riffing, and is a nice change among the traditionally heavily guitar-oriented style of the band, and it was strategically placed in the middle of the album. Still, with the rather monotonous vocals, it seems to be the weakest song on the album, and could have been written in the era where Lombardo was absent –- although then there would have been another great song to be mentioned above.

Last, “Black Serenade” clearly shows the difference in songwriting between the two guitarists. While Kerry’s is straight, brutal, and old school, Jeff’s work is more emotional, moody, and even experimental — at least as far as that goes for a band like Slayer.

The Artwork is disappointing, though. The cover is done by Larry Carroll again, but this piece is so obviously provocative, and bluntly trying to evoke reactions from Christian groups, that it is only a bad picture. A similar thing can be said about the lyrics, which lack any subtlety, but are straightforward anti-Christian. In times when all of that has been said several times -– last but not least by Slayer themselves –- this seems a calculated affront and unworthy, unnecessary, and unsatisfying. Some lyrics, like “Eyes Of The Insane” or “Jihad,” show that they can do better than that, although “Jihad” will provoke its share of reactions.

Still, this is a must buy for Thrash fans after a very long dry spell of longing for the real Slayer to reappear. They did now, and if you still need to be convinced, check out Slayer’s Web site where they stream the track “Cult”.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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