Sunday, December 11, 2016

Slayer - Divine Intervention (1994)

Whenever a band lose a founding member, or a member that has been with the band for a long time, there is surely going to be changes not only in the line-up, but in the chemistry as well. While it seems like the separation between Dave Lombardo and the rest of Slayer went without any particular hick ups, the first album without him was a clear showing that Slayer had been shaken up to its core.

It is obvious from the beginning that "Divine Intervention" is not a future classic, because the production here is really gritty (and not the good kind). I guess the band and Rick Rubin wanted to create the same sound that they got from "Reign In Blood", but they over thought their design here, spending so much time to perfect it that it just becomes stale. There is no heart behind this production, and it hurts the album a lot.

Deep inside though, it is the classic Slayer that we get treated with. It is evil thrash with rabid riffs and demonic vocals. Still, there is something missing, something vital. I really cannot put my finger on it, but there is something (besides the sub par production) that just makes "Divine Intervention"... mediocre. The band tries their best, pummeling on and on with all their might, but they just cannot seem to get past the wall they try to break.

Some songs does punch a hole or two though, and it makes the album much more bearable than it would have otherwise been. "Dittohead" is one of the most aggressive pieces I have heard from the band, blazing through every part of their register in just over 2 and a half minutes. "SS-3" is a nice song about the German Schutzstaffel, and is also one of few songs where Tom Araya does not sound like he has a sandbox down his throat (he truly sounds hideous in several songs). Finally, the opener "Killing Fields" have some nice bite to it, while "Serenity In Murder" and the title track tries to recapture what the band did in "Seasons In The Abyss", and does so fairly successfully.

Other than those songs, "Divine Intervention" is just an album filled with bland songs that simply does not hold up. It is just one long shoulder shrug after another, and just like I said before, I cannot really put my finger on why it is so.The aggression is there, the fire too, and the lyrics are nice as well, depicting the evil that we see almost every day on the news. Could it really be that the production takes away so much? Nah, it might be more that it just does not match the quality that we are used to hear from the band, not in the musical structures or the memorability factor. It just does not stay put in your mind for any prolonged time.

"Divine Intervention" is a hard album to get your head around. It is still Slayer, and it is aggressive and all, but the  quality is just not there. There is very little in here that stands the test of time, and while it might be a decent album to just mindlessly listen to time and again, it is still far inferior to all of the other Slayer albums that I have covered thus far. Not a bad record per se, but very far from a brilliant one.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dittohead, Killing Fields, Serenity In Murder

Rating: 6/10 Mind Controls

More reviews of Slayer
Show No Mercy
Hell Awaits
Reign In Blood
South of Heaven
Seasons In The Abyss

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