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KERRY KING: From Hell I Rise

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Reigning Phoenix Music (RPM)

17 May 2024

When Slayer played their last official show on November 30, 2019, many fans thought the music that had defined most of their existence would be lost forever, etched into the memories of a time gone by. While able to find solace in the fact they could revisit past glories at any time with the press of a button, the knowledge that there would be no new Slayer music to carry the next generation through was a heavy burden to bear.

But thankfully things were never as dire as they appeared. In fact, guitarist Kerry King was already starting to process the sonic structure of his new solo project, vowing internally to keep the flame of Slayer burning.

Gathering together bass player Kyle Sanders (HellYeah), drummer Paul Bostaph (Slayer) and vocalist Mark Osegueda (Death Angel), King assembled a battle guard of sorts that he was confident would reflect his future musical vision.

That all manifested into From Hell I Rise, 13 songs of pure adrenaline that are set to be unleashed on May 17. Is it any good? Let’s find out…

Before we get going, I will admit to cheating a little by listening to this a few times before reviewing it – but can you blame me? I will say here and now that the sonic extremities are noticeably similar most of the way through to Slayer, but I’m not going to mention that very often because what’s the point in repeatedly stating the obvious?

Exploding out of the gates with Diablo and a menacing repetitive chugging of guitar that is quickly kept in check by a sustained kick pattern, it is blatantly obvious from the outset where this album is headed. Straight to thrash town ladies and metalheads, and where else would you want to be?

And then it dawns on me that this is actually an instrumental piece of music! Exactly opposite to what you would expect, given that King has a new vocalist to show off in Mark Osegueda. Fuck knows the logic behind this decision, but it is a strangely effective kick to the bollocks.

Where I Reign is next (and yes, the spelling and innuendo of Reign isn’t lost on me), and what a massive smash to the senses it is! Frenetic guitars and pummeling drums take you firmly by the wrist and lead you into your first steps into oblivion courtesy of Kerry King’s sordid imagination.

Osegueda charges to the microphone, screaming and snarling with venomous intent that promises no mercy. His vocals are flawless and fit in beautifully with the savage musicianship beating around it. But this is King’s project and his guitar gets a solid workout throughout, wailing, screeching and commanding respect even before smashing into his first real solo around the two-minute mark.

This is fast and ferocious stuff, King’s trademark guitar sound taking you through a plethora of musical back adventures with ease while somehow managing to create a fresh, new mountain of chaos.

Another solo carries us to a foreboding conclusion that halts to a stop without warning, ushering in a solid and rhythmic drum pattern that suggests war is imminent. As the guitar gently builds in intensity Osegueda lets out an almighty scream that has the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, launching into Residue as if being burned at the gates of Hell for insolence.

Bostaph decimates his kit throughout, setting an unrelenting pace that entices the best out of his bandmates. This is a well-constructed track, finding moments of subdued ferocity amid the carnage swirling around it. More guitar solos punctuate at intervals but this is by no means a one-man show.

Each of the band members has ample time to shine and does so with devilish charm but I find myself drawn more to the vocals that are irresistible. This is possibly one of the first times I have been able to fully understand everything a thrash metal vocalist is singing – which means fuck all – but was worth a passing mention.

Idle Hands is next and while I am kind of hoping for a Stone Sour cover Kerry King style I also know it aint gonna happen. What does happen is a rapid descent into oblivion, carried to a dark place on the back of driving guitar and urgent composition.

Osegueda menaces from the outset with more of a rapid-fire delivery of his lines, creating an intensity and feeling of discontented destruction that soon has my neck snapping and head banging. Absolutely magnificent. Stone who?

It’s got me fucked how any of these guys keep up the full-on sonic assault delivered thus far and I would love to be a fly on the wall during rehearsals. King plunges into another tasty solo while Osegueda catches his breath before resuming hostilities with renewed anger. Early pick for best on ground for me.

Trophies Of The Tyrant arrives courtesy of a slick guitar riff awash with cymbal snaps and a solid underbelly of regulated distress. This isn’t as intense musically as most of what has come before, which doesn’t mean it isn’t still heavy as fuck. It’s just easier to move to without risk of permanent injury.

All four of these guys feel like they are having the time of their lives together, and even at this early stage of the album, I find myself thinking ahead and hoping this isn’t just a one-off.

Crucifixation jumps out of the blocks, reaching the 400-meter sprint mark within the opening 12 seconds. It’s another relentless barrage of ferocity, possibly the fastest thing yet on this album. Which doesn’t leave Osegueda floundering. If anything he ups the ante considerably to keep up with the marauding pack, losing nothing by way of delivery in the process.

This feels like being bitchslapped by a building site full of sledgehammers all at once such is the pure evil on offer. The track pulls back slightly for a bit, slowing the pace and tempo back to more human levels punctuated by a trip around the kit from Bostaph that sees him seemingly smash every one of the tools at his disposal.

A war of attrition between Bostaph and King ensues with neither giving quarter to the other, while Sanders sits to his own path intermittently, unsure of which side to take. Then King tires of the foreplay, blasting into a frenetic solo that soars and screams continually upwards, coaxing Osegueda back into the fray to act as judge, jury and executioner.

Tension eases up next with a much more subdued guitar riff that still holds menace despite the tempered delivery. Osegueda comes in with an almost incantation-style delivery, offering a dense fog of malevolence that is possibly even more fearsome because of its more deliberate standing.

The drums offer little respite, thundering in the foreground as a type of battle cry flying in the face of the relative calm. I guess this could be the album ballad of sorts and if it is I have finally found an album ballad I can get my teeth into.

As Osegueda’s voice trails off I find myself preparing for a final assault but the track snaps to a close and invites what could be a bastardised Ugly Kid Joe cover to the table.

Everything I Hate About You quickly veers far away from the UKJ track, diving into a cavalcade of sonic aggression that is as forceful as it is awesome. This will definitely be a crowd favourite should these guys hit the touring circuit, squeezing every drop of impurity out of itself in its short running time of 1 minute 21 seconds.

Toxic follows next, gradually working into a state of anarchy on the back of a more even-flowing intro that still reeks of atrocity.

One massive plus of this album so far is the disparity in speed and intensity on offer from track to track. While they all still undoubtedly fall under the same thrash metal umbrella they don’t all sound like they were borne from the same passage of Hell as each other, offering up enough by way of difference to keep things fun and interesting.

Which takes me off track a bit from the current song until King rips into another vicious solo that snaps me back to attention. It’s almost as if he could feel me spinning off into a tangent. Clever fucker.

Two Fists sprints out of the corner next, with Osegueda coming out swinging before a nice mini breakdown of sorts pulls things back slightly and does an about face into more of a hard (very hard) rock type of number. Swirling, menacing guitars provide the sonic backbone, giving the vocalist a strong platform from which to annihilate surroundings in his own special way. This is another that would go down a treat live – actually, there hasn’t been a song yet that wouldn’t.

I must confess to not having listened to Death Angel in the past but I’m loving the vocals that much I vow to check them out in the near future. But this review isn’t about them, as if the band gives any room to think otherwise.

Rage spews forth with commanding respect, a cavalcade of bass, drums and guitar setting the sonic barrier high for their singer who answers the challenge as though he was born to do so. He comes out breathing fire which only adds fuel to the instrumental fire burning around him.

King rises to the foreground first, delivering a chunky and threatening guitar solo that only spurs the rest of the band to greater heights of tenacious discontent and petulant disdain. Unlike most of the faster tracks on this album, Rage offers nothing in the way of respite, refusing to modify even momentarily, instead maintaining a striking pace that ends with a flash of intensity from all comers, leading into a more controlled guitar riff to introduce Shrapnel.

Bostaph soon signifies his intent with a deeply disturbing drum roll that sets the rest of the boys off and back onto a trail of measured destruction that can only have one outcome. This song is a perfect example of how you don’t have to be fast to be heavy, delivering a musical death knell of restrained heaviness that feels thicker than mud to get your bearings in.

Things ramp right the fuck up around the halfway mark as an intensifying drum roll sparks King into life with a screeching guitar solo that forces his bandmates to increase their output to match his elevated heights.

But that doesn’t mean Shrapnel continues unabated to the close of play. Instead, it pulls back once more to the almost subdued cries of anguish it started with, reverberating into the distance with an extended guitar note that fades into nothingness.

The title track closes out the album, but where many albums choose to go out with almost a whimper these days From Hell I Rise does just the opposite.

As if it ever wasn’t going to.

This is just as aggressive as anything else heard over the previous 12 tracks and gives the strongest indication yet that this band of miscreants has more unfinished business in the tank. Much more.

It is the perfect way to finish a metal record, awash with guitar solo’s, menacing drums and aggressive intent. Which is possibly why King leant its name to the album title…

All in all this is a sensational album from King and co and definitely not another cash grab from a band member who feels he is still owed something for his music. Instead, this has all the trademarks of unfinished business, with the emphasis on sonic destruction of the highest order.

Fuck to the yes.

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