HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Slayer - Christ Illusion

Interviewed two of the guys at length, seen all the fan reaction and drunk in the thoughts of my fellow journos, and I'm getting the same vibe from band, fan and fan-who-writes: this is merely another damn good Slayer record. That's what I thought all along. Like Maiden and Motorhead (and to a lesser extent the slightly more wandering Priest), you've got old guys who've found their sound and it's a good one. What ticks me off is that folks are now crawling from the wormwork and saying God Hates Us All was a dud, or Diabolus... no, they're all bloody good and bloody the same, although I'll still lean to God Hates Us All as sorta the best of the set. And what makes Christ Illusion useful and worthy of repeated plays, is that the trademarks are there. Lyrically, Slayer are on torrid target, telling us plainly and harshly about how bummed out they are about the world, America in the sewer, religion partly to blame, and if you don't like that, killing is our game. Production-wise, everything is carnal and clear and uncluttered - Lombardo knows a blast doesn't pummel, it merely "floats," as Ihsahn is wont to point out. Lombardo pummels and punks and makes collisions and then moves on. The songs he's driving are truly fast, not merely in half time like a blaster. Tom sings like the one and only Tom - he's got the anger and the hurt down cold, and then you're mind can wander and pontificate over how this Catholic can sing these lyrics (answer is charmingly Slayer-eque: aw shucks, it's only a song/it's the role I play in Slayer/geez guys, lighten up). Again, railing like he does sounds angrier than a Florida death growl, which doesn't even take any energy. And the riffs... they are prime steamrolling Slayer, rendered with frequencies and deft distortions that cut through like a drill, even if drill is a better description of Kerry's wacky coil-sprung solos. And so yes, it works because there are like a half dozen things only Slayer seems to do on a record, evidenced by all the fan discussion o'er whether they are a death metal band or a thrash band - I'd go with speed metal doom band, or that dull epithet you'll hear from the guys, "It's just Slayer music."
Rating 8.5

Audioslave - Revelations
(Epic/Sony BMG)

It's hard to shake the bummer of a shark frenzy of a deathwatch when listening to Audioslave. And it's quite an interesting collective ether-floating thing people are picking up on (pricking their ears to, wrinkling their noses at) when they ponder Audioslave. It's like they were doomed by their dumb name, double doomed by the corporate vibe around the band, triple doomed by the merger aspect... it was almost too good to be true and to work and so it doesn't, whatever that means. It's hard to filter all that out, but then again, it might be why there seems to be this separation between the guys, some strange lack of chemistry even casual observers pick up on. And Rick Rubin doesn't help things - he's starting to be into these records as a liability somehow. Having said that, Revelations is getting some good reviews, critics noticing its funk more than anything. Tom Morello keeps amusing with his quack guitar, Cornell's voice is smooth and silky, and then, well, the rhythm section sounds like they're in another room. It's like the production is just too clean and expensive or something. And it's not like Revelations screams a purpose or direction - it's like the other ones, an interesting idea, but soul-less, and definitely not rocking out, like some of the early warnings would have had us believe. I dunno, you don't feel like you're hearing this in a roomful of ardent rock fans, more like a boardroom, which defies logic, given who the goddamn band are.
Rating 4

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