Slayer My Name
Ani! Bernard! Yo!
The record is drenched in acoustic guitar and Fanning’s soothing voice. The arrangements come across as the performance of a technically sound studio musician who is hearing the song for the first time. With the exception of Fanning’s guitar parts, the instrumentation is formulaic and simple—in short, safe. Music has never been a safe industry.
One of the most important aspects of a singer/songwriter is his statement, and lyrically Fanning complicates the issue. While the occasional phrase jumps out, the majority of the record’s statements lament loss or herald gain or lament losing for the sake of gaining, or something like that.
Further, the musical tone of the record changes less than the tempos, which is almost never, lessening Fanning’s ability to divine an intense emotional response.
The middle ground, having been thoroughly explored, reveals nothing. Taking chances on arrangements and choosing to trim down the number of songs could tap into a well of talent for Fanning, but as it stands Tea and Sympathy needs more caffeine and stronger emotions.
It’s deceptively simple, but it’s exactly what needs to be said. I used to think that DiFranco was the coffeehouse poet, totally empty of meaning outside a sweet Latté buzz. Guess I’ve grown up.
But Slayer isn’t most rock musicians. Its 13th release, Christ Illusion , sounds fiercer than anything the band has done in years. And that’s saying plenty, given that its last release God Hates Us All (released 9/11/01, for real) was no birthday party either.
Like so many other rockers, the Cali four-piece seems to have found a new wellspring of inspiration in the War on Terror. But the inspiration isn’t expressed with Kum-ba-yahs or reflective lyrical tracts; Slayer mines the other side of musical dissent, giving vent to the blind bilious rage of angry men watching Nero fiddle and Rome burn, circa 2006. Guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman reaffirm their standing as the sharpest rhythm guitar duo in any subgenre of rock, and vocalist-bassist Tom Araya’s war cries are more galvanizing than ever, despite a quarter-century of live performance, smoke and hard liquor. The war on terror just drags along / My war with God is getting strong , Araya screams on “Cult,” one of several anti-religious screeds. After 25 years, Slayer is just getting started.
Yo La Tengo
After being caught Murdering the Classics earlier this year with an encyclopedic album of cover songs, Yo La Tengo goes back to their basics, with exotic progression and mindnumbing restraint.