SLAYER — Divine Intervention (review)

SLAYER — Divine Intervention album cover Album · 1994 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Divine Intervention has remained not only my favorite slayer album, but my favorite album of all time since I heard it in my freshman year of high school, 2010. Not that it immediately became my favorite album upon first listen – no, this is a slow grower, but a very easy album to come back to. And come back to it I did, many times; I’m sure this is in my top 10 most listened albums of all time, and a certain contender for the #1 spot.

But, why Divine Intervention?

Why the album AFTER Slayer stopped being the greatest Thrash band in the world? After the lineup change and the death of metal in the 90’s? The album with troubled production and almost no live representation?

Quite frankly, because I don’t give a damn about any of that stuff.

I speak with utmost sincerity when I say I think this album is absolutely as great in every department as the 5 preceding it. The only exception being that the production is lower quality, but you know what? That higher class sheen on Seasons in the Abyss never did it for me as much as the raw, honest sound that we get here. The complaints about the production quality are completely unfounded if one enjoys Show No Mercy, or Kill ‘Em All, or basically any Black Metal.

With sufficient clarity on why none of this album’s “weaknesses” bother me, let me now express why I love it so much.

The mood. The atmosphere. The writing. Slayer were always that too evil band that were somehow mainstream. From day one they were writing about Satan, demons and infernal hellfire, and they remained consistent in that approach throughout the 80’s, with growing themes of real horrors as well, including war and mental illness. However, on Divine Intervention, hell froze over. The hell fire faded and the demons gave way to a much more terrifying being – humanity. Strongly influenced by literature about serial killers as well as newspaper articles, Tom Araya took a stronger writing role here and focused almost exclusively on real world evil and suffering. Songs took a deeper look into the psych of serial killers, criminals, and even drug abuse on the closing “Mind Control.” The riffs followed suit, and as such, this album isn’t as flashy as their previous material, and I think that gets lost on a lot of people. The riffs here are cold and calculated, evoking sincere darkness and an unrelenting bleakness that remains consistent throughout the entire album.

Which leads to an immense strength of this album; the songwriting. Hints of Tech Thrash break through in many of the tracks here, with less conventional rhythms courtesy of Paul Bostaph taking the songs into twisting territory that deviates far from their simpler punk roots. The guitar solos on this album are actually good, and more often than not add to the song with more thoughtful melodies as opposed to pure chaos. The title track and closing track both have perhaps the best solos by the band, and truly these songs felt like they had gained a level of maturity and depth in their structure. Tom’s vocals are also the most aggressive, manic and eclectic he has ever laid to record; in title track “Divine Intervention” he pushes his yelling to its limit, and haunting “Serenity in Murder” allows his lower registry to croon wickedly between more thrash roars. Divine Intervention could easily be argued to be Slayer’s heaviest album, which cannot be said for most metal releases from bands that were “declining” in the 90’s.

At the risk of sounding crazy, I’ll also confess that the insanely dark lyricism and mood on this album, particularly on tracks like “Killing Fields,” were immensely helpful for me emotionally. Since I discovered it, Metal has always been an extremely cathartic way for me to deal with negative emotions. Divine Intervention did that better than any other album I’d heard, and still remains one of my weapons of choice when I need it. People don’t usually label Slayer as being emotional music, but they probably forget that anger is an emotion. Some people have their OK Computers, some people have their Dark Side of the Moons, and I’ve got my Divine Intervention.
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Vim Fuego wrote:
12 months ago
I wasn't keen on it to start with when it was released, but I love it now.
UMUR wrote:
12 months ago
I was disappointed upon release back in 1994. It was definitely not what I expected, but I´ve learned to love it over the years, although I do have some issues with the sound production and Bostaph´s drumming style, which I´ve never learned to appreciate as much as Lombardo´s ditto. I prefer the three preceding albums, which to my ears are Slayer´s prime, but this one is definitely great too. I look forward to writing a review
siLLy puPPy wrote:
12 months ago
I did a Slayer marathon not too overly long ago. I love this album. Not sure why many gave up on em at this point.


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