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KERRY KING From Hell I Rise

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, May 17, 2024 @ 7:38 AM


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KERRY KING
From Hell I Rise

Reigning Phoenix Music




SLAYER guitarist Kerry King got quite a bit of his thunder stolen, in a manner of speaking, when the band announced a handful of comeback gigs just weeks after he finally revealed details of his long-awaited first solo album and the lineup of his eponymous new band. And, of course, SLAYER's "resurrection" five years after concluding its "final tour" immediately cast doubt as to King's commitment to his "post-SLAYER" efforts, which were already being viewed with some skepticism by the haters that have been a halo of flies around King for many a moon.

Nevertheless, here we are. From Hell I Rise is set to be unleashed upon the masses. And the all-star band King assembled - DEATH ANGEL vocalist Mark Osegueda, ex-VIO-LENCE/MACHINEHEAD guitarist Phil Demmel, HELLYEAH bassist Kyle Sanders and SLAYER drummer Paul Bostaph - has already played its inaugural shows and will hit the road in earnest next month with a slew of dates in Europe followed by an opening slot on MASTODON/LAMB OF GOD's co-headlining U.S. tour in July/August.

The SLAYER festival dates in the States, and all the hoo-ha and speculation surrounding them, loom in September. So, whether that will help or hurt any momentum From Hell or King's band may have generated remains to be seen.

For now, there's the matter of the album itself. Written entirely by King, it is a bit of a mixed bag: better than those who continue to fly the "Jeff Hanneman wrote all the classic SLAYER songs" flag might have expected - but will never admit - though certainly not a revelation or some bold artistic statement. But King has been advertising the music as SLAYER-ish tunes played by a band that isn't SLAYER since the project came to light, so you can't say he hasn't been true to his word.

The album's biggest strength comes from the determined, purposeful performance from King and his (mostly) new cohorts. They all live up to their all-star bona fides - especially Osegueda. The bombastic production from Josh Wilbur (KORN, LAMBOFGOD, GOJIRA) certainly makes an impact as well. His knob-twiddling accents the "bigness" of the backbone riffs and hooks in a way that the arid Rubin-esque production of any number of SLAYER albums never could and gives the project that much more oomph. Indeed, the cacophonous mix makes From Hell a late entrant in the "loudness wars" - listening with headphones is an invitation to the pain threshold.

There are a few surprises here. "Residue" is redolent with surging grooves, not to mention a rousing chorus and ample melody, and may be the catchiest tune King has ever written, and when placed between "Where I Reign" and "Idle Hands" makes for a resounding start to the album. The muscular punk ditty "Two Fists", on the other hand, kinda comes out of left field - especially since Hanneman was supposed to be the hardcore guy in SLAYER - and is the album's lone odd duck.

And perhaps because of the largely Bay Area-based cast of characters that King recruited, some of the material actually ends up more closely resembling EXODUS than SLAYER. The most notable examples are the faster tracks, with "Where I Reign", "Crucifixation" and "Rage" delivering the sort of fusillade of sawing riffs, careening tempos and mad-dog barking that EXODUS perfected. All that's missing are the "Do the Toxic Waltz!"-like shout-alongs.

That said, the equally furious "Idle Hands" would feel right at home on SLAYER's last album Repentless, while the closing title track delivers the same sort of final statement as "Payback" from God Hates Us All or "Not Of This God" from World Painted Blood. More latter-day SLAYER motifs can be heard in the "Dittohead"-like 80-second blitzkrieg of "Everything I Hate About You" or amid the trudge and chug of "Trophies Of The Tyrant", "Tension", "Shrapnel" and especially "Toxic" with the finger-walky guitar flourishes popularized on Reign In Blood.

King's lyrical conceits have not changed one iota either, remaining equal parts defiance and disdain, alpha-male chest-pounding and anti-religious screed. Osegueda hollers for all he's worth here, a la HATEBREED's Jamey Jasta, and delivers lines like "I know why God has never won / Because I'm the fuckin smoking gun" or "Hatred is my ammunition / Amplified by my ambition" with conviction and vehemence. It's a shame King doesn't take advantage of Osegueda's melodic strengths, but the singer's tenacious performance is impressive, regardless.

King does not make the same mistake with Demmel, whose flowing, comparatively melodic lead work makes for a nice contrast to King's trademark wah-wah and whammy bar drenched caterwaul - the bluesy flourishes on "Residue" are certainly a welcome twist. And while there are few opportunities here for the dogfight tradeoffs that made King and Hanneman such a formidable tandem, Demmel and King make a fine compliment to one another.

In the end, From Hell I Rise is reasonably solid, at times pretty good, but doesn't make for much of a stretch and in essence allows King to hold serve as he gets back into action. Could he have pushed the envelope further here - indeed at all, for that matter? Absolutely. But as noted above, the guitarist set expectations early and, for better or worse, has met them.

If the band can hang together, and if there is an opportunity to create a second album, perhaps more of a distinctive personality will emerge - especially if the other members have a hand in crafting the material. But those are pretty big "ifs" given that DEATH ANGEL keeps Osegueda quite busy and then there is the matter of what the future may hold for SLAYER, whose return has already proven a distraction before KERRY KING, the band, has even gotten off the ground. So we shall see.

3.5 Out Of 5.0


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