Slayer Christ Illusion

Visually, Christ Illusion is definitely a Slayer record: classic logo and classic artwork by long-time Slayer artist Larry Carroll (Reign in Blood through Seasons) that’s already prompted alternate packaging. Musically, it has a lot to prove as the first studio album with the original line-up since 1990’s Seasons in the Abyss. Unlike Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, Slayer are the only founding members of America’s Big Four thrash bands that have kept their output consistently brutal, still plying their primary trade with greying temples. Christ Illusion keeps up with the current metal brat pack, but much like the group’s catalogue from the ’90s, only half the tracks are truly memorable. Like their classic hit "Postmortem,” opener "Flesh Storm” and swift follow-up "Catalyst” go straight for the jugular with a mix of urgent Reign in Blood-esque verses and mammoth Seasons-styled choruses. "Skeleton Christ” reinstates the throbbing thrash of Slayer circa the mid-’90s, and venerable shredders Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman provide mind-bending solos for one of the album’s more accessible tracks. "Consfearacy” also contains amazingly unique King/Hanneman fret board action, and the mid-paced "Black Serenade” scorches with double-timed choruses. Like most thrash albums, however, the repetition tends to overwhelm the record’s potential: as incredible as it is having founding drummer Dave Lombardo back in the fold, his hurricane-like blast beats get a bit tedious alongside King’s uncompromising riffage. The Pantera chug of "Catatonic” tends to drag along, while "Eyes of the Insane” and "Jihad” readily bleed into each other. The radio single "Cult” is interchangeable with "Flesh Storm,” but album closer "Supremist” combines all said elements for a brawny finish. Christ Illusion will certainly satisfy most fans, though true Slayer disciples may be left panting for more. (American)