Ah, a new Slayer album. Who knows what we might get? Their 2001 release, God Hates Us All, was a solid album, while their last album, Christ Illusion, was fairly mediocre. Ever since what many consider to be their last great album—1990’s Seasons in the—each new release by the metal masters has threatened to be (like Metallica) a return to their roots. While that’s a bit much to be expected, World Painted Blood (like Metallica’s most recent release Death Magnetic) is a pretty good album and does reveal the band to be implementing aspects from their heyday while following along a natural progression from where they have been most recently. There is a healthy mix of guitar work from Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, with both men displaying some vicious shredding while Dave Lombardo’s drumming further proves that he is by far the best thrash drummer ever and Tom Araya’s vocals sound just as solid as on any other release. The album starts out with the almost six minute title track and, instead of drawing things out, the song works; sounding very reminiscent of something off of Seasonsin the Abyss or South of Heaven. And, really, the influence of those two albums is a pattern seen throughout the eleven tracks that comprise the approximately forty-minute record. The songs are intense and there is a decent mix of fast, punk-influenced tunes written by Hanneman and brutal, crushing songs written by King. Hanneman’s material is first-rate and almost catchy in that same way that, say, “Skeletons of Society” sticks in your brain. King’s songs are harsh and definitely have more muscle, but along with that is the fact that King writes the lyrics for his songs and it seems as though he’s writing the same lyrics I would’ve written as an eighteen-year-old. King’s lyrics on God Hates Us All were blunt, but they were also occasionally witty and creative. Here, they are just blunt without hiding anything. None of this is to say that Slayer has ever been a fount of intelligent beauty in their lyrical content, but I do expect a little better than some of the mediocrity I hear on World Painted Blood. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hide the fact that the intensity is there, the musicianship is tight, and, overall, this album finds Slayer returning to a territory I think most fans will appreciate. No, this isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a must for any fans of the band as well as those of you who may have written the almighty Slayer off some time ago.