KERRY KING – From Hell I Rise (Album Review)

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A Slayer, by any other name…

All good things may come to an end, but the seeming end of Slayer’s 38-year crusade of sonic darkness came way too soon for everyone. The legions of committed fans attached to said thrash metal institution were in it for more, and it seems that unholy axe-slinger Kerry King held the same viewpoint.

The unenviable task of carrying on the banner without bandmate and fellow songwriter Jeff Hanneman seemed to weigh on him a bit at first given the underwhelming results that were 2015’s “Repentless”, but seems to have since lit a massive pyre of hellfire under King’s backside as he would waste little time assembling a solo project that could be likened to a supergroup and combining some leftover ideas for the next Slayer album that never materialized alongside newer ones to keep the mayhem going.

The eventual culmination of this chain of events immediately following Slayer’s supposed demise (more like a 5-year hiatus) stands in “From Hell I Rise,” a manifesto of old-school, diabolical thrash metal with a few modern twists.

The parts that make up this impressive whole come with a level of experience and gravitas that would be the envy of any Bay Area supergroup. Alongside King’s signature frenzied riffing and chaotic, noise-driven soloing approach is the steady hand and technical flair of Phil Demmel, fresh off his recent stint with Vio-Lence and striking an even greater contrast than either Hanneman or Gary Holt; resulting in a dueling guitar assault that still largely resembles classic Slayer, but occasionally also some of the latter day entries of the San Francisco thrash scene of yesteryear.

Longtime Slayer drummer and former Forbidden kit man Paul Bostaph wields his sticks like a raging beast while being a marvel of precision, while Hellyeah bassist and brother of Mastodon’s famed bassist/frontman Troy Sanders, namely Kyle Sanders; functions well in an old-school thrash disposition despite his obvious modern metal proclivities, which do show at times. Death Angel vocalist and fury machine Mark Osegueda is arguably the most abrasive aspect of this album, as his signature snarl has taken on more of a Tom Araya meets Phil Anselmo demeanor, likely at King’s direction given his initial wish to have the latter at the microphone for this project.

True to his nature as a bringer of sonic carnage with a discontented flair, King offers up a smorgasbord of old and new here that consistently has the aggression pedal to the metal. The flames of perdition roar at full force right from this album’s inception, as an instantly familiar riff set for any with even a casual familiarity of Slayer‘s 80s material dubbed “Diablo” functions as an abridged prelude at a moderate, looming pace for the eventual explosion of speed and fury in “Where I Reign”; a blistering anthem that brings the frenzied feel of “Reign In Blood” into a towering, 2024 production context with a brutally raw vocal performance to boot.

“From Hell I Rise” Album Artwork

Arguably the most intricate element at play is the solo interplay, which tamps down on the noise and constant dive-bombs for something more akin to the coherent shred work adorning “Show No Mercy.” Cut from the same stylistic grain, punchy speed anthems like “Idle Hands” and “Rage” follow a nearly identical modus operandi of blurring speed and methodical craftsmanship that keeps the aggression factor to a maximum, while the crossover-infused “Everything I Hate About You” accomplishes the same in about half the time and the chunky closer of a title anthem “From Hell I Rise” goes deeper and heavier while still keeping the afterburners roaring.

For the most part, the songs on here are kept on the simple side and favor the faster end of the spectrum, but it proves far from being one-dimensional. Immediately from the tribal-like drum intro of “Residue” it becomes clear that King isn’t shying away from the groovier side of Slayer‘s past, and the upper mid-paced stomp is accompanied by the haunting melodic guitar work reminiscent of the most memorable parts of “South Of Heaven” and “Seasons In The Abyss.” Both “Trophies Of The Tyrant” and “Shrapnel” could all but be holdovers from the former aforementioned album and 1988 classic, trading occasional bursts of aggression for moments of atmospheric horror, often giving way to some truly brilliant and expressive lead guitar workout of Demmel.

The creepy shorter entry “Tension” lays into the dreary side of “Seasons In The Abyss” while remaining exclusively at a slow crawl. At the same time, the rapid-fire “Toxic” meshes the lyrical rant and overall feel along the lines of “Dittohead” (off of “Divine Intervention”) with a riff set that sounds like a paraphrase of “At Dawn They Sleep”. But things jump clear out of the box and land along the lines of a punk-infused nod to Slayer‘s “Undisputed Attitude” album with “Two Fists”, arguably the most atypical off an album that largely follows the Slayer‘s playbook, but also one that plays the best of Mark’s ultra-aggressive shouts.

It usually goes without saying that when one member of a classic outfit strikes out alone and creates something similar to the original, it pales in comparison to the heights that were originally achieved. That being considered, “From Hell I Rise” marks the most potent and riveting thrash metal manifesto to be put forth in Slayer‘s stead since “God Hates Us All”. It essentially appropriates all of the best elements of Kerry King’s past contributions to the Slayer‘s classic 1983-1990 catalog, as well as some of the bright spots off of some of the subsequent material in the 90s, and injects them with all the modern bells and whistles that a 2024 recording studio can offer.

Longtime fans of Slayer that been there since the beginning will note a heightened degree of groove metal elements between Osegueda’s vocal approach and some of the material on here, but everyone can rest assured that this is the closest to classic Slayer that has been achieved in the past 30 years, both in terms of style and quality.

With Slayer now reformed for at least 3 festival appearances, we hope King’s newly minted solo project will remain the primary outlet for his songwriting, as this is a band with a lot more to say.

Released By: Reigning Phoenix Music
Release Date: May 17th, 2024
Genre: Thrash Metal

Musicians:

  • Kerry King / Guitars
  • Mark Osegueda / Vocals
  • Phil Demmel / Guitars
  • Kyle Sanders / Bass
  • Paul Bostaph / Drums

From Hell I Rise” Track List:

1. Diablo
2. Where I Reign
3. Residue
4. Idle Hands
5. Trophies Of The Tyrant
6. Crucifixation
7. Tension
8. Everything I Hate About You
9. Toxic
10. Two Fists
11. Rage
12. Shrapnel
13. From Hell I Rise

Order From Hell I RiseHERE

8.4 Great

Co-founding Slayer guitarist and master of all things rage and darkness Kerry King assembles a flock of fellow thrash titans to unleash an intense offering in the signature Slayer mold

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8
  • Production 8.5
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