From Hell I Rise

Reigning Phoenix
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Diablo
02. Where I Reign
03. Residue
04. Idle Hands
05. Trophies of the Tyrant
06. Crucifixation
07. Tension
08. Everything I Hate About You
09. Toxic
10. Two Fists
11. Rage
12. Shrapnel
13. From Hell I Rise

SLAYER called it a day five years ago. Kerry King made it clear that he wasn't hanging up his axe permanently, though, and his long-awaited solo release, "From Hell I Rise", is finally here. The thirteen songs on hand shouldn't surprise anyone. He was clear about the fact that his new music was going to be in the same vein of SLAYER's swan song, 2015's "Repentless". The album is a true representation of where King has traveled musically, mirroring recent SLAYER while occasionally nodding and winking back toward his roots.

There are no left turns. The blistering thrash of modern SLAYER is ever-present. Fanatics clamoring for the core tenets of classic, early or mid-era SLAYER are bound to bemoan everything that "From Hell I Rise" is. That said, there are many subtle dips into the well of early SLAYER, most certainly when the manic solos rage forth, but with the new cast of characters, at the end of the day, it isn't SLAYER.

Paul Bostaph is obviously a familiar face. His rabid percussive abilities don't wander. DEATH ANGEL's Mark Osegueda provides top tier vocals throughout. It's unfortunate, however, that he too often employs a delivery and cadence excessively informed by Tom Araya. He does it well. Sometimes better than Tom. It seems contrived and forced at times, though; most notably on the fiery thrash beast "Where I Reign", a track that subtly, at points, embraces King's earliest of days. The album would have been better served if he was allowed the freedom to let his natural voice and pacing roam.

Beyond that, lesser known Kyle Sanders (HELLYEAH) handles bass, and King's wingman on guitars is Phil Demmel (VIO-LENCE, MACHINE HEAD). The duo's chemistry is strong. Demmel can't be faulted for not striking the magic that Kerry had with Jeff Hanneman, a dynamic duo that was as awesome as JUDAS PRIEST's Downing and Tipton. But their dueling solos and layered riffs — the latter of which are evident on "Trophies of the Tyrant", and powerfully so on the album closing title track — shine brighter than 99 percent of anything else in metal these days. The familiar and desirable ghost of Hanneman surfaces on the somewhat punk number "Two Fists", another reference toward SLAYER's past. "Crucifixation", meanwhile, has the incessant and bombarding quality that defined most of "God Hates Us All".

Production-wise, "From Hell I Rise" is incredibly sharp. That's a part of the problem. The inherent, primal bite of heavy metal is defanged in the process. "Shrapnel" is potent and aggressive in a way that is likely to appeal to SLAYER fans of any era, yet it loses the frantic madness that a more organic production could have captured.

Kerry King's legacy is well established. He has nothing to prove. To that end, it's admirable that his fire still burns. It's unfortunate that his new release is lackluster, generally speaking. There's no doubt that his project is capable of so much more. "From Hell I Rise" is a solid album. Considering King's stature, the high expectations haven't been met just yet.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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