The last time speed-metallers Slayer released an album's worth of new material, it came in the form of God Hates Us All and arrived on shelves the morning of September 11, 2001.
So bass-wielding frontman Tom Araya understandably feels some apprehension about Slayer's forthcoming, still-untitled disc, which they're still working on in Los Angeles with producer Josh Abraham (Staind, Velvet Revolver). The finished product will be preceded by a digital release on June 6 (making Slayer one of several metal bands who just can't pass up the opportunity for a 6/6/06 release date).
"I'm hoping that whenever it comes out, nothing major happens," Araya said. "It's like, 'I wonder what's going to happen this time around?' "
The CD should surface in late July, he said, and feature the tracks "Cult," "Catalyst," "Catatonic" and "Jihad." At this stage, seven weeks into recording, five of the album's 11 tracks are finished and about to be put through the mixing process. Slayer still need to put the finishing touches on the remaining songs, but Araya expects the band will be finished with everything in the next week or so.
"This album is actually like a culmination of everything we've done," Araya said. "There's one song that I'm thinking will surprise everybody, because of the song itself. I'm not going to say why, because you have to keep that element of surprise, dude. Musically, it's going to blow everybody away. It's going to trip everyone out. It has all the elements of everything we've done. No one's going to be disappointed with this record. It's fast, heavy — maybe faster than anything we've done before. It's going to be brutal. It's what everyone expects from a Slayer record."
A track called "Eyes of the Insane," Araya said, is perhaps the most political song on the album. The song was inspired by an article he'd read in an issue of Texas Monthly magazine.
"The song's about the effects of war on some of these soldiers," he said. "This article — and it was a pretty trippy article — it really affected me. The entire magazine was devoted to soldiers of this new Iraq conflict that's going on. The effect that the war has had on some of these kids who're coming home and having a tough time dealing with what they've seen — I mean, some of these kids are traumatized and mentally destroyed by what they've seen. The magazine also ran an entire list of the soldiers from Texas who've died. It was several pages with pictures of these kids. It blew my mind."
The rest of the album's lyricism is standard Slayer fare: "Hate, religion — that kind of stuff," Araya said.
This summer, Slayer will preview new material on the road as part of their closing set on each night of the Unholy Alliance Tour (see "Dates Unveiled For Slayer's Unholy Alliance With Mastodon, Lamb Of God"). The run kicks off June 6 in San Diego and wraps up July 22 in Long Beach, California. Treks in Europe, Japan, Australia and South America will follow.
"For the heavier crowd, you're definitely going to get your money's worth [from this tour]," Araya said.