Slayer Releases "Diabolus in Musica"
Diabolus in Musica is the seventh studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer.
Released on June 9, 1998, it is the second studio album to feature drummer Paul Bostaph. Although receiving mixed critical reviews, the album sold 46,000 copies in its first week to peak at number 31 on the Billboard 200.
Guitarist Jeff Hanneman wrote most of the album's content which has been described as Slayer's most experimental album. The album's title is a Latin term for "The Devil In Music", a musical interval known for its dissonance. Lyrical themes explored on the album include religion, deviants, death, maniacs, war, and serial killers.
Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman described the writing process as, "When we were writing this album I was looking for something to beat; I wanted something to beat, but nothing impresses me right now. Nothing sounded really aggressive or heavy enough to inspire me to beat it, so I just had to come up with my own shit." The album was produced by Rick Rubin and was recorded at Oceanway Studios.
Adrien Begrand of PopMatters felt Slayer introduced characteristics to its music including tuned down guitars, murky chord structures, and churning beats. He believed these characteristics were adopted with the growth of the burgeoning nu metal scene. Drummer Paul Bostaph claims the album is his favorite as he thought the album was "as experimental as Slayer got".This included incorporating groove metal elements and strange vocal effects as said by an interview for High Times. Bostaph returned to Slayer after his short-lived side project The Truth About Seafood, and the band entered the recording studio four months later.
Diabolus in Musica is a Latin term for "The Devil in Music" or tritone. Medieval musical rules did not allow this particular dissonance. According to one mythology, the interval was considered sexual and would bring out the devil; Slayer vocalist and bassist Tom Araya jokingly said that people were executed for writing and using the interval. Araya held concern about the lyrics that King penned to "In the Name of God", voicing his opinion to guitarist Hanneman. King's viewpoint was; "It's like, 'C'mon, man, you're in Slayer. You're the antichrist — you said it yourself on the first album!' You can't draw the line like that. Whether he agrees with it or not, he didn't write it — I wrote it. So you have to say, 'Well, it's just a part of being in this band.' Now Jeff and I, we don't give a fuck. If Jeff wrote something I had a problem with, I would never even raise a fucking finger. I'd be like, 'Fuck yeah, let's do it! Gonna piss someone off? Alright!'" Jason Hundey of Allmusic observed; "Thankfully the lyrics have not traveled the route of "Ain't My Bitch"; instead they stick to familiar topics such as religion, death, war, and serial killers."
Diabolus in Musica was released on June 9, 1998 by American Recordings. In its first week of release, the album sold 46,000 copies in the United States and debuted at number 31 on the Billboard 200 Chart. As of August 16, 2006 the album has sold 290,000 copies in the United States. Reviewing 2003 Slayer box set Soundtrack to the Apocalypse, Adrien Begrand of PopMatters dubbed the album "a unique record, as Slayer adopts many of the characteristics of the burgeoning nu metal scene (tuned down guitars, murky chord structures, churning beats), and incorporating it with their trademark sound. It's as if they're stepping in to show the young bands how to do it right, as songs like 'Bitter Peace', 'Death's Head', and the terrific 'Stain of Mind' blow away anything that young pretenders have put out."
However, not all reviewers were so positive. Reviewing Slayer's 2001 album God Hates Us All, Blabbermouth.net reviewer Borijov Krgin described Diabolus in Musica as "a feeble attempt at incorporating updated elements into the group's sound, the presence of which elevated the band's efforts somewhat and offered hope that Slayer could refrain from endlessly rehashing their previous material for their future output." In a 1998 review, New York Times' Ben Ratliff complained: "Eight of the 11 songs on Diabolus in Musica, a few of which were played at the show, are in the same gray key, and the band's rhythmic ideas have a wearying sameness too." Songs from the album are rarely played live following the return of drummer Dave Lombardo in 2001.