Book Review – The Bloody Reign of Slayer

The heaviest band in the world deserved a better biography than this.

Rating5

the bloody reign of slayerNext week I’ll see one of my favorite bands of all time, Slayer, kickin’ ass again live here in Toronto, and in order to get ready to it how about reading their biography, called The Bloody Reign of Slayer? I have the Brazilian Portuguese version of it (“O Reino Sangrento do Slayer”), which has an “extra” introductory chapter from a guy called Tor Tauil (from the Brazilian horror punk band Zumbis do Espaço) who says something that cannot be more true: if you don’t have any of the Slayer albums, you don’t deserve to live. However, the book is not that good.

The English version of the book, published by Omnibus Press, has 320 pages and is basically divided by album: each chapter is dedicated to the years of the band following the release of their albums, for example, chapter SOUTH OF HEAVEN goes from 1988 to 1989 and chapter DIVINE INTERVENTION goes from 1995 to 1997. It goes like this until 2008 and makes some predictions about the future of the band; there’s nothing about World Painted Blood or the death of Jeff Hanneman, of course. Moreover, each chapter focus more on the songs or the meaning of the songs from each album, which is something we can get in any album review, instead of trying to show us a different angle of the band that no one knows about.

Bloody_Reign_Slayer_BackThe first chapter is about the beginnings of the band, explaining where each member was born, how their lives were before forming Slayer, their musical influences etc. It’s good information for any Heavy Metal fan, although nothing really special or unique is told unless you had no idea Tom Araya was born in Chile and Dave Lombardo in Cuba. By the way, that’s the main issue I found with the book, the fact that it has a lot of information and details about the albums and tours, but it lacks depth in terms of the “secrets” of the band.

Many other bands and musicians are mentioned by the author Joel McIver in different chapters, especially the guys from Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and all other Thrash Metal bands that started together with Slayer, as well as new band members like Paul Bostaph, but again, they’re just part of the whole story and there’s nothing that can be considered “above and beyond” regarding the details provided. Jeff Hanneman (RIP) was the most obscure member of Slayer, so why not dedicating an entire chapter to his unconventional life? Of course the author didn’t know Jeff was going to die in 2013, but everyone knew he was not a regular musician and his personal life could add a lot more value to the book.

Reino_Sangrento_Slayer_Brazil

O Reino Sangrento do Slayer (Brazilian Portuguese version)

There are also some interesting pictures in the middle of the book and some funny quotes from each band member, and maybe these are the best moments of it. I cannot say that I wouldn’t recommend The Bloody Reign of Slayer, it’s just that if you’re a long-time fan of the band there won’t be much that you don’t know already about Tom, Kerry, Jeff and Dave in the book.

Anyway, if you’re still interested in knowing a little more about Slayer, you can find the book at Amazon.ca, or at Chapters.Indigo.ca in a Trade Paperback version or the Kobo Edition (eBook). The price is not bad, between 10 and 15 Canadian dollars, so I would say it’s worth the investment if you have some extra money and especially if you already have all Slayer albums, because their music is definitely a billion times more exciting than anything in this  good but not marvellous biography.

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Album Review – Sepultura / The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (2013)

Another good album from the most important Brazilian Metal band of all time.

Rating5

Sepultura_-_The_Mediator_Between_Head_and_Hands_Must_Be_the_Heart_artworkIf there’s one thing that can be considered a true innovation in the new Sepultura album is its name: The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart is by far their most complex and longest album name ever. Take a look at their discography (if you’ve never seen it) and you’ll notice all albums have very short and direct names, such as Arise, Roots, Against, Nation, Roorback and Kairos. However, despite its creative name, the album doesn’t really bring anything new to the world of heavy music. It’s a good album with some interesting moments, but nothing that can be considered “above and beyond”.

I enjoyed a lot the opening track, Trauma of War. In my opinion, it has an excellent intro and reminds me of some insane 80’s Thrash Metal! The Vatican, the second track of the album, also has a cool intro, strong lyrics and sounds like classic Death Metal in most of its 6 minutes. Then that’s when the problems start with The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart: all the other songs sound very similar to each other. Impending Doom is one of the closest tracks to what Sepultura has been doing in the past few years, but it becomes quite boring after 2 minutes. Manipulation of Tragedy has the same problem as the previous track, while Tsunami might remind me a little of the old “Chaos A.D./Roots” days but this doesn’t make the song remarkable. The next track,The Bliss of Ignorants, has very “Roots” intro and riffs and this could have evolved to something more interesting. And Grief starts with a very clean guitar that goes on for about 2 minutes, then it becomes Doom Metal-like and that’s it, nothing special.

sepulturaThe last three songs raise the bar a little: The Age of the Atheist (the first single of the album) has awesome drums and it’s a perfect representation of Sepultura post-Roots; Obsessed has the best Metal drummer in the world, Mr. Dave Lombardo, as a special guest, and of course he adds a lot of feeling to the song with his unique technique; and the last track of the album, called Da Lama ao Caos, is a superb version for a song from a non-Metal Brazilian group called Chico Science & Nação Zumbi (it’s way better than the original song, by the way).

Regarding the job done by each band member, Derrick keeps singing like a caveman inside a cave fighting with a saber tooth (or vice-versa). Although his voice will never be as good as Max Cavalera’s, it works well for what the band needs nowadays. Eloy Casagrande is improving his drumming technique year after year, becoming faster and more violent, Paulo does a consistent job on bass, and Andreas shows why he’s the best Brazilian guitar player of all time.

The cover art matches perfectly with the album name, and maybe this is the best thing in its entirety. I’m not saying it’s a bad album, not at all. It’s pretty straight forward Heavy Metal material and I do love all music from Sepultura. It’s just that I know those guys can do better than this.

Best moments of the album: Trauma of War, The Vatican and Da Lama ao Caos.

Worst moments of the album: Impending Doom, Manipulation of Tragedy and Grief.

Released in 2013 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Trauma of War 3:45
2. The Vatican 6:33
3. Impending Doom 4:15
4. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:16
5. Tsunami 5:10
6. The Bliss of Ignorants 4:51
7. Grief 5:34
8. The Age of the Atheist 4:19
9. Obsessed (feat. Dave Lombardo) 3:53
10. Da Lama ao Caos (Chico Science & Nação Zumbi cover) 4:28

Band members
Derrick Green − lead vocals
Andreas Kisser − guitars, vocals on “Da Lama ao Caos”
Paulo Jr. − bass guitar
Eloy Casagrande – drums