Slayer's back and the goats are nervous. Throughout the '80s these denizens of dark metal sang Satan's praises with piercing solos and mad-bunny drumbeats, inspiring myriad hairy followers and endless carbon copies. Unfortunately, like Jimmy Swaggart, even the highest priests fall. In the 1990s the band choked on the goat gore with a series of records that lacked innovation, and, more importantly, mind-numbing tempos -- the main reason to listen to Slayer.
Like Swaggart, Slayer's seeking redemption in 1998. If their latest single, "Stain of Mind," is any indication, damnation will be theirs. The song trims the fat gained in the '90s, leaving Slayer's sound lean and full of speed -- probably due to the return of producer Rick Rubin, who produced the band's key albums. Beginning with some of Dave Lombardo's most original drumming since Reign of Blood, "Stain of Mind" launches into an all-out assault of thickly layered riffs quickly kicked along by Tom Araya's surprising bass groove and familiar raspy shouts. Exercise your devil horns now, for Satan will surely be in attendance at the Warfield.