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3.53 | 63 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Killing Fields (3:57)
2. Sex. Murder. Art. (1:50)
3. Fictional Reality (3:37)
4. Dittohead (2:30)
5. Divine Intervention (5:33)
6. Circle of Beliefs (4:29)
7. SS-3 (4:06)
8. Serenity in Murder (2:36)
9. 213 (4:51)
10. Mind Control (3:05)

Total Time: 36:40


- Tom Araya / vocals, bass
- Kerry King / guitar
- Jeff Hanneman / guitar
- Paul Bostaph / drums

About this release

Label: American Recordings

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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.
Slayer - Divine Intervention

'Divine Intervention' is the sixth studio album from thrash metal band Slayer. By 1994, Grunge had taken over and Korn was releasing their debut album and both would leave an impact on the metal scene. As far as the thrash world goes, many thrash bands were switching to a groove sound like Anthrax, Overkill, Voivod, Forbidden, among others. However, among all this going on, Slayer continued on with their own sound with what I believe to be a highly underrated album in their discography.

Instead of making a drastic change, Slayer made what feels like a natural progression from 'Seasons of the Abyss'. The album opens up with the chaotic 'Killing Fields', with the combination of Paul Bostaph's barrage of double-bass drumming and the dark descending guitar that sound like it's announcing the coming of an apocalypse. The song shows a nice speed progression, beginning with a slower paced start before gradually getting much faster. After that, rolling drums and dark dwindling guitar immediately open up 'Sex. Murder. Art.', which is very short yet packing as much punch as the very short songs on 'Reign in Blood'. The third song, 'Fictional Reality' is probably my favorite from the album, and I find it impossible to not headbang and follow along to the lyrics of "Treachery, misery, violence, insanity. Scavengers closing in, Covering the truth again. Castrate society, Fictional reality". It's simply an incredibly addicting song.

While the aforementioned songs may sound like standard Slayer fare, they do mix some new additions into the sound. One of the songs that stands out the most is 'Serenity in Murder' which has Araya singing melodically at times, and actually somewhat reminds me of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden.

The main criticism about the album seems to be with the production, which I've honestly never had a problem with. It's a very organic yet raw sounding production, and I actually really like the sort of muffled tone. I think it really increases the effect.

Overall, I honestly find this album to be on par with Slayer's masterpiece trilogy 'Reign in Blood', 'South of Heaven', and 'Seasons in the Abyss'. In a year where many bands were changing their sound to fit the era, Slayer stayed true to their own sound while adding a bit of variation. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
The Angry Scotsman
Slayer being Slayer

Is the best way to sum up this album. After 2 intriguing releases, Slayer backslides with this one. Back to no frills, straightforward thrash. This is great for most fans, but not so much myself. It is, however, a wise and probably conscious move. By this point thrash was extinct, replaced by the alt metal scene. Slayer responds by going back to the glory days, giving a finger to the new wave instead of embracing it like Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax.

This is not a bad album at all, it is competent and solid thrash metal. Indeed, most fans of Slayer enjoy it and I understand why. Personally, it's just a little bland and uninspired. My biggest beef with it though is the production. Ironic since usually production doesn't mean much to me, but this album is one where the production kills. The guitars are very thin, they lack any punch. The drums have no power, (and the bass drums are weak thuds) and the vocals are just painful. They just sound bad, no other way to put it, bad.

This issue is not mine alone, as Kerry King, Tom Araya and Paul Bostaph have all voiced displeasure with the production with this album.

Very poor production, and the lackluster songwriting couldn't be helped by the entrance of Bostaph. His work with the more melodic and progressive thrash metal band Forbidden meant nothing here. In fact he worked on speed and endurance to sounds more like Dave Lombardo. The drumming is not very exciting but still a bit more than Dave's style.

It's not completely hopeless, I do like the song "Killing Fields" which is probably the best on the album. More rhythm then the rest of the album is just really awesome. I can even tolerate the trash sounding solos and horrid vocals. Some other good songs are "Sex. Murder. Art.", "Circle of Beliefs", "SS-3" and "213". The last song being Slayer's first love song, but not exactly as expected... its told from the eyes of murderer/necrophiliac/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

A solid, straightforward thrash album that should please most fans of Slayer. I'm a bit underwhelmed by it's uninspired formula and really turned off by the terrible production. It's weak, and when's painful. If this album was remastered I would enjoy it more.

Two Stars

The gap between Seasons In The Abyss and Divine Intervention was the longest the band had gone in between trips to the recording studio at this stage of their career. Such a gap often results in a band retooling or changing their sound, but once Slayer found their sound in the mid 80’s they stuck with it.

There’s something about the production of the album that makes me think this one is worse than it really is. The guitars sound rather muddy, and the drums don’t sound nearly as sharp as they should be. Overall, it’s bad for their standards, but still listenable for the most part.

Dave Lombardo left Slayer a few years earlier, but replacement drummer Paul Bostaph shows he’s up to the task with his playing on “Killing Fields” and “Dittohead”. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman continue writing riffs in the same successful mould, and their squealing solos are just as effective. They’ve written some slower material before, but songs such as the album’s title track and “213” have a different vibe that what was on South of Heaven. I think the production actually makes them sound darker.

There are no songs I’d call a Slayer classic, but Divine Intervention is a pretty consistent album with nothing that stands out as filler. I’ll classify this one as a good but not essential release.

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