To be honest, I pretty much gave up on Slayer after 1990’s Seasons In The Abyss; After that I dipped in and out of the band’s career, generally only to satisfy myself that I wasn’t missing out on anything earth shaking. I was almost always correct in that assumption.

But the announcement that Slayer alumnus Kerry King was going to release a solo album strangely enough stirred something in the back of my brain that resembled excitement… And I even had a touch of nervousness when I pressed play for my first listen of From Hell I Rise. Would it be as bad as the naysayers were predicting? Or a no-holds barred celebration of the Slaytanic Wehrmacht in all it’s glory (as my young cohort Chris Arrowsmith was loudly proclaiming to anybody who was listening recently at a party we both found ourselves attending).

As ever the truth rests somewhere between these two extremes, but the first thing to note is that From Hell I Rise definitely doesn’t suck; After a false start with instrumental intro Diablo, the album kicks in in fine style with Where I Reign, smashing in your speakers by way of introduction with what van only be properly described as ‘a proper Slayer riff’. The second thing to note is the absolutely off the chain performance by vocalist Mark Osegueda, erstwhile vocalist of countless Death Angel albums but for whom From Hell I Rise might well come to be seen as a career-defining exposition of thrash metal bellowing. His vocal on the vicious Idle Hands is absolutely stunning; sure, it dredges up images in the brain of a young Tom in full-force fucking freakzone mode, but – and this is a really big but if you were expecting this album to be a damp squib – he goes way beyond that to deliver a completely brutal, speaker-wrecking performance that really has to be heard and lived with for a while to be fully appreciated.

Elsewhere guitarist Phil Demmel and drummer Paul Bostaph acquit themselves heroically on churning highlights like Crucifixation – but you already knew they would, right? Demmel single-handedly kept Machine Head alive for years so there’s no way he was letting the side down here – whilst Hellyeah‘s Kyle Sanders holds down the bottom end without drawing much attention his way.

Tension is a surprising mid-album bonus, lasting less than three minutes but perfectly formed in it’s own way, condensing the pure spirit of 1986-1990 in one hundred and sixty seven blackened seconds of pure metal majesty. At this point, I’m actually thinking ‘album of the year’ thoughts…

They are chased away by the cartoonish Everything I Hate About You and the fact that overall the album is probably a couple of songs overweight, but given how bad many people were predicting this album was going to be, that’s small beer when you are busy banging your head to little nuggets of rage like Two Fists. Kerry King is back, and I for one am pretty pleased with the result…


From Hell I Rise is out on May 17th.