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THE METAL OBSERVER - Review - SLAYER - Diabolus In Musica

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Slayer - Diabolus In Musica (7,5/10) - USA - 1998

Genre: Thrash Metal
Label: American Recordings
Playing time: 40:19
Band homepage: Slayer


  1. Bitter Peace
  2. Death's Head
  3. Stain Of Mind
  4. Overt Enemy
  5. Perversions Of Pain
  6. Love To Hate
  7. Desire
  8. In The Name Of God
  9. Scrum
  10. Screaming From The Sky
  11. Point
Slayer - Diabolus In Musica

Up to now this has to be the review with the least need for a presentation of the band in question. If you haven’t heard a word about SLAYER before you are either on the wrong site or 7 years old. I’m trying to dictate your tastes or anything, if you hate the band, fine with me, but if you haven’t heard of them you are actually worthless when it comes to knowledge about Metal. You would be the weakest link if there was a Metal version of that game show, The Weakest Link that is. I saw one episode of it while I was in London, not smashing TV but quite entertaining. There was a Norwegian version of it as well but it went down the drain rather quickly. If you want to know more about Norwegian television I recommend a visit to either NRK or TV2. We have a channel called TVNorge as well but that channel is mostly for members of the female population.


If you want to know more about “Diabolus In Musica” you can read on. I don’t think there are many fans of SLAYER that regard this album as one of SLAYER’s better albums, I do. It wipes the floor with everything up to “Reign In Blood” in my ears. “God Hates Us All” can’t hold a blowtorch against it either. That goes for both music and lyrics. If SLAYER played music which equalled the quality of the lyrics on their most recent albums it would be truly horrifying stuff. I’ll use “Payback” as an example. The lyrics on this song are without doubt one of the lamest SLAYER ever penned. Coupled with the force approach of Tom Araya this is, with no hesitation whatsoever, the worst song on “God Hates Us All”. In fact it is one of their worst ever. So why do I talk about “God Hates Us All” in a review that’s supposed to be about “Diabolus In Musica”. Well, at least it is far more related to the subject than talking about the different TV channels in Norway. Retracing, lyrics was the subject. On “Diabolus In Musica” I think SLAYER have some of the best lyrics they ever penned. I don’t know about our readers but I think SLAYER had very good lyrics for being a Metal band. I know that not too many people care about lyrics so please bare with me when I decided to elaborate my point.


This is some lines from “Screaming From The Sky”, Tom Araya does a better performance here than what is the case with most songs found on “God Hates Us All”


I walk step by step with death
Where all bludgeoned bodies lie
You will see my face of rage
Cut your heart out of your chest
Leave impaled the consummation of mankind


Now let me show you some great piece of art as found on “God Hates Us All”, coupled with a seriously forced appearance from Tom Araya this has to be one of the worst songs SLAYER have made so far.


I will never become your fucking scapegoat
I don't know how it feels to come up short
I only want vengeance
To come shining down on me
I don't want you to die
Before I get the chance to kill you myself


By now, or perhaps a while ago, you probably got sick and tired of reading about lyrics, let me tell you something about the actual music instead. SLAYER has never sounded, not before and not after, as much as a Death Metal band as they do on “Diabolus In Musica”. They are indeed very heavy on “God Hates Us All” as well but that album bares as many resemblances to Nu-Metal as to Death Metal. By now you probably think I hate “God Hates Us All”. I don’t, I tolerate it without any trouble. “Diabolus In Musica”, on the other hand, is an album I listen to rather frequently for being of such an age. I don’t have anything against old music but as a reviewer I’m obliged to be updated on what’s happening these days as well. But once in a while it’s nice to pick up some of your old CD’s to see if age has treated it well. That’s what happened to “Diabolus In Musica”.


My judgement is clear; “Diabolus In Musica” is as (almost) good as ever. I won’t rank it among SLAYER classics like “Reign In Blood”, “South Of Heaven” or “Seasons In The Abyss”. Though I have listened more to “Diabolus In Musica” than “Reign In Blood” I would be stupid to rank “Diabolus In Musica” higher, simply because “Reign In Blood” had, and still has, an humongous impact on the Metal scene, I don’t think “Diabolus In Musica” had anywhere near the same effect. Before “Reign In Blood” SLAYER was influenced rather than influencing others. In my eyes they didn’t become an important band fore that release.


In my opinion there are no horrible songs on “Diabolus In Musica” but there are some great ones. The one who shine the brightest is “In The Name Of God”. The riffs in this songs makes you think about Death Metal and not Thrash. Hadn’t it been for the vocals of Tom Araya, which are very good in this song by the way, it could have been a full fledged Death Metal song. To elaborate how much I like this song I will use the opportunity to name it as one of my absolute favourite SLAYER songs. “Love To Hate” is another song I like very much, it contains some classic SLAYER guitar solos plus a Tom Araya not far away from the top of his game. In my opinion “Diabolus In Musica” is the last album where good ole’ Tom makes a decent performance. Keep in mind that I haven’t heard “Christ Illusions yet. I have a hard time believing that he is up to his best again, though. On “Diabolus In Musica” he still sounded like a guy who believed in what he was singing as opposed to his later work where he sounds like a man forcing himself to perform.  


If “Reign In Blood” saw SLAYER at its fastest then “Diabolus In Musica” can be seen as their most heavy and pummelling. Paul Bostaph is one of the main reasons for that with his heavy drum style, meaning that whatever part of the set he is hitting it sounds powerful. Every hit on the drum kit is executed with force. It would please me if this guy ended up in a Death Metal band instead of the seafood band project thing he plays in.


At the end of the review I would like to talk about the start of the album. “Bitter Peace” gives the album a rusty start. This is one of the fastest songs on the album and it doesn’t sound too good. Neither the production nor Paul Bostaph is a fan of high speed velocity. Both prefers, and excels, when the tempo is slower, as on the following song, “Death’s Head”. Not the albums strongest moment but a song that makes this album into an enjoyable effort. The most nagging part of the song is in fact Tom Araya’s vocals. Please remember that I wrote that “Diabolus In Musica” was the last album where Tom did a decent performance. All in all I think that he adds to the music on this album but he showed tendencies of his new found style already here. Forced screaming is the name of the game. Take a listen to the start of “Scrum” to learn what I mean.


All in all “Diabolus In Musica” can be counted as one of the slower albums SLAYER has released thus far, without doubt one of their heaviest. When you think of what METALLICA released one year prior to "Diabolus In Music", that being “Re-Load”, this becomes a respectable release indeed. (Online October 5, 2006)

Arve Henriksen

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