At the risk of starting off on the wrong foot here, I’d like to get something off my chest: I’ve been a Slayer freak ever since the “Hell Awaits” era, and the fact of the matter is, I don’t feel that this band has delivered an album that approaches anything close to their potential since the “Hell/Reign/South” days of the ’80’s. And I mean that as a compliment. The greatest praise that I feel any fan can give a band is to criticize them when they are underachieving. My rundown of the last 12 years:”SEASONS”: Great album, but padded with filler and occasional awkward, out-of-place vocals (“Expendable Youth” in particular is just plain embarrassing).”DIVINE”: Great album, but too conservative in it’s approach (tries too hard to be “old school” and often ends up sounding old hat)…been there, done that. The lousy snare sound doesn’t help.”DIABOLUS”: Great album, but too liberal in it’s approach (too much flavor-of-the-month recording ethic here) and loaded with filler in it’s second half (the first five songs rule).BUT…I would rather listen to ANY of these albums that almost anything that’s come out since. And let’s face it, the year 2001 was pretty disappointing. A crappy, so-called “comeback” from Megadeth that couldn’t get aroused if Jenna Jameson bent over in front of it, a totally irrelevant Judas Priest album four years in the making that’s completely out of touch with reality, a parasitic infestation of nu-metal bands that each look, talk, act and sound as stupid as the one next to it, further ideological degeneration and rock star tragimentality from the once-admirable Metallica…are you beginning to get the picture?You know what we need to jump start the heavy metal economy? A Slayer album. And not just any Slayer album. A Slayer album to make everyone’s blood boil over and curdle; to make Tipper Gore and Jerry Falwell come out of hiding and declare that this band is out to undermine everyone’s peace, love, and understanding; to make everyone sit up and realize just how screwed up and complacent modern music has made us today……and I’ll be damned if we don’t have just that album.Let me cut through the bovine scatology here and get right to the point: THIS IS SLAYER’S BEST ALBUM SINCE ‘SOUTH OF HEAVEN’. Okay, that’s telling you something. Now, let me tell you why: for the first time in the thirteen years since that disc blessed our pathetic existence, we finally have another album that successfully taps the same raw visceral nerve and channels it’s sheer hateful energy into our psyche…Slayer seem to have a real bone to pick with the whole world and have seen fit to deliver thirteen beautifully misanthropic rants with merciless precision and almost pornographic intensity.Well, actually, make that eleven rants, because “Darkness of Christ” is really just an intro (it sounds kinda like the one on “Ghosts of War”) and, well, “Threshold” is a disgrace and has no place on ANY Slayer album. Uh, guys, I know you said you were influenced by Slipknot, but come on…what were you thinking here?! I’m gonna give ‘em the benefit of the doubt that this was intended as a send-up, but it’s gonna be one forever destined to taste the “track skip” button.But the rest of the disc much more than makes up for it. Tracks like “Disciple”, “Exile”, and “Warzone” are straight to the head old-school Slaytanic thrash delivered with some of the most over-the-top hateful sounding vocals Tom has EVER delivered…like “Undisputed Attiude” on PCP. And the lyrics? Sheesh. Tom spews out more venom here (enhanced by a newfound love for excessive use of the F-word) than Sam Kinison at a gay pride march. Check out some of these lines:”You make me wanna slit my own (BLEEP)ing throat/just to be rid of you!!!!” -”Exile”"I reject this (BLEEP)ing race!!!!!!/I despise this (BLEEP)ing place!!!!!!” -”Disciple”"I’m gonna rip your (BLEEP)ing eyes out/tear your (BLEEP)ing flesh off/beat you ’til you’re just a (BLEEP)ing lifeless carcass!!!” – “Payback”Oh, did I not mention “Payback”, which happens to be one of the fastest Slayer songs ever made? It’s right up there with “Dittohead” and “Necrophobic”…only angrier!!! I’m not even gonna try to describe it, you just gotta hear it for yourself…Elsewhere, there’s the excellent “God Send Death’, which sounds like one of the faster numbers from ‘South of Heaven’, “New Faith” which is a groove-oriented mid pacer that represents the best of the ‘Diabolus’ concept (“I stick the bible in a pool of blood/so that none of it’s lies can infect me!!!!”), the filthy heroin-addicted street scum of “Cast Down”…dudes, I could go on and on about every song here, but suffice to say, this is just, as a whole, simply incredible.By the way, one more thing before I close: Tom has finally got it through his thick head that he can’t sing, and on this album he attempts to do so exactly ZERO times. Tom, we love ya, man, but we also love Ozzy and Brian Johnson, and they can’t sing either! Keep stickin’ to yelling, screaming, and cursing like you did here, and you’ll do just fine in my book…:)Absolutely, positively the biggest “up yours” that any band has ever proclaimed in the form of a major metal release. Buy it for that reason alone.