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Review of the Album "Diabolus in Musica" Perhaps the Most Controversial Album of the Band Slayer

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Perhaps the Band Slayer's Most Experimental Studio Album

Of all the albums in the long career of American thrash metal band Slayer, none may have come under as much dislike as the band’s 1998 studio album Diabolus in Musica. I had not even heard this album until 2021. The description of this album as nu-metal is certainly incorrect as the thrash metal elements and distinct melody that has defined the band is still there. Diabolus in Musica is the band’s first album to be played in C# tuning. The album’s title literally translates to “The Devil in Music.” Listening to the music of Slayer, they actually aren’t as one-dimensional as I had thought. The album is considered to be the band’s most experimental. Even the song “Bitter Peace” starts off in a rather slow fashion compared to Slayer standards. Then it has that distinct Slayer melody sound before Tom Araya’s usual vocal style commences in this song.

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The Kind of Album That Diabolus in Musica Really is

This is definitely not nu-metal music. It may not be the absolute best material that Slayer has written here but from a person that has listened to so much heavy metal for almost the last 30 years, I can see this album for what it is. Diabolus in Musica continues the transitional nature of the album Divine Intervention to a degree. We won’t really include the album Undisputed Attitude in this discussion because that album is mostly cover songs. This album is said to have received mixed reviews from critics but in spite of that, the album reached as high as #31 on the Billboard 200 musical charts. That result alone should be a clue for some listeners that this album isn’t as sub-par as it has been perceived.

Songwriting and Lyrical Themes of a Disliked Album Such as This

In songs such as “Love to Hate” there is a definite vocal approach by Tom Araya that has differed from the usual in some instances. It is a kind of hardcore shout if you know what I mean. “In the Name of God” features a rather interesting melodic part that we normally don’t hear from these guys. Such a part in this song gives further evidence of the experimental nature of the album.

Lyrically, Slayer hasn’t really deviated much from their past albums so they have been consistent on that quality even if it feels like they have re-hashed those lyrics.

The thing is that Slayer still shows off their thrash metal prowess even with an experimental album such as this one. “Bitter Peace” in terms of its style is similar to the song “Killing Fields” in the sense that it starts off slow and builds up into the thrash metal style that Slayer was known for. It is proper to ask the question why is there a need for some people to dislike this album as much as they do. It can only be surmised that perhaps some fans of the band expect a return to their glory days during the fast moments of Reign in Blood or perhaps South of Heaven. Every band evolves over time and Slayer was no exception. I say the word was because as of 2019 Slayer is not touring and as far as I know there are no plans to release another album. For what they wrote in the decade of the 1990s, Diabolus in Musica is still a pretty darn good album.

"Bitter Peace"

"Desire"

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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