Title: “Chris Illusion” (Limited Edition)
Label: American Recordings
Release Date: 7/24/2007
Genre: Thrash Metal
In 2006 Slayer gave us their first studio album in six years but the wait was worthwhile for it found them once again with drummer Dave Lombardo back in the fold. It also found them presenting music that was as potent in sound as it was in its commentary on the world at large. Now a little over a year since it’s initial release Slayer returns to show us why they are one of the most important Heavy Metal bands in the genres history by releasing a limited edition of the “Christ Illusion” CD that includes bonus tracks and a DVD that is loaded with goodies. Our original review is re-posted below to refresh your memory just a little and then we can talk a little bit about this new edition.
In 1982 Slayer formed and became one of the founders of the Thrash Metal movement. During this time bands like Metallica, and Anthrax were instrumental in taking music influenced by the NWOBHM that had begun across the pond to the next level. While the UK’s Venom is often cited as kicking off a particular Satanic style, it was not until Slayer arrived that this vibe for Metal achieved a true relentless and aggressive nature that was to be respected as well as feared. “Christ Illusion” is the first album by the band in five years and it continues to demonstrate the reason for Slayers dominance over the Metal legions. The album, produced by Rick Rubin would also see the reuniting of the group with original drummer Dave Lombardo who had not recorded with them in fifteen years. Lombardo “returned” several years ago to tour and lucky for Slayer fans everywhere he remained in place. As you listen to the new recordings it brings back a feeling of the Slayer of old. There are more similarities to their classic “Reign In Blood” than to “God Hates Us All” and while the record delivers on several fronts, the band is not breaking any new ground for the listener. I need to stress that for Slayer there is no longer any reason to do this after such a lengthy and prosperous Metal existence. Slayer does what Slayer does best and every track on the album is a skull-splitter. The subject matter and lyrical content of “Christ Illusion” are very incendiary, but that is what you can expect from Slayer when you choose to put them on. The band is not out to provoke you, yet instead aims to make you think about the way certain aspects of the belief structure are approached. Kerry King has long spoken of his distrust in organized Religion and with songs like “Cult” and “Skeleton Christ”, he lays down how he feels about this stuff in the strongest possible fashion. Lyrically, this is some pretty intense stuff and it might cause some fervor among the Religious Right if they get their hands on the booklet for the album.
There is also the song “Jihad” which while written from the mindset of a terrorist is by no means an admiration of this kind of life or a “Pro 9-11” belief. Hanneman and Araya did a solid job with it but of course there are always going to be people who don’t like finding the events of that tragic day put to any sort of music. It does fit in the framework of the album which focuses on a lot of religious dogma, and its effect on people’s way of thinking. Lyrics are included in the booklet as noted above and the cover depicts a Christ-like figure wallowing amidst waste and looking very defeated. The graphic imagery is only half as graphic as the lyrical content you will find within. The production of the record is strong and it is sure to remind many Metal fans of the reason Slayer has been around for so long. King, Hanneman, Araya and Lombardo are in great form throughout the release and are to be respected for holding strong to their style and never faltering. The band never opted to go to a more commercialized style or experimented with their sound to the point of losing fans. I also felt it was great to have Dave Lombardo back on the drums for he is a machine and belongs in no other band but Slayer. I am hoping he remains for more touring and albums. If there is any downside to the release it would have to be in the overall length of the album as it runs a mere 38 minutes and is over before you know it when you place it in the stereo.
Listening to the CD in full once again I was not at all surprised to find that it remained a throttling assault of social and religious commentary, as much as an intense blast of Thrash Metal power by some of the genres founders even a year later. It still held the same impact on me as it originally did and perhaps this is a testament to Slayer’s staying power to this very day as far as being a legend in Heavy Metal music. The new song “The Final Six” is a perfect fit and adds well onto the original track list we had when the album first was delivered. It begins slow but then assaults you in similar fashion to the rest of the record. While I am not sure why it was not present originally, its inclusion did quell the initial reservation I had about the album’s 38 minute length by upping that number just a tad. The other bonus about the Limited Edition would be the included DVD as it presents over 15 minutes of live and video footage. First up we get a view of Slayer on tour which is a collage of clips and images of the band and many hard core fans going crazy and screaming “Slayerrrrrrrrr!!!!” as we often find at such a performance. The video for “Eyes Of The Insane” is here as well and it comes on the heels of the band winning the Grammy for “Best Metal Performance” for it at the 49th Annual Ceremony of the awards show. Did you ever think we would live in a world where Slayer would win a Grammy Award? I surely didn’t, but glad it happened to shake things up a little bit. The last part of the DVD is a live recording clip of “South Of Heaven” which is to come from the forthcoming DVD for the Unholy Alliance Tour. This DVD should be exciting when it finally arrives as this tour put together not only Slayer and Lamb Of God, but also Mastodon, Children Of Bodom and Thine Eyes Bleed. Talk about a Metal concert that is not easy to forget. Overall I loved having the album be re-issued with some cool add-ons but with the amount of activity that Slayer has been involved in over the past couple of years I almost expected a little more from them as opposed to only twenty minutes of new stuff. It is wrapped in a foldout case that bears an animated cover of an opening and closing fist and the booklet offers extended liner notes and lyrical content. This is not just for Slayer diehards and now becomes the perfect reason for those who did not purchase it the first time to get themselves a copy.
All Hail Slayer for they still rule after twenty five years.
1. Flesh Storm
3. Skeleton Christ
4. Eyes Of The Insane
8. Black Serenade
11. The Final Six (bonus track)
Official Web site: www.slayer.net