Slayer – Undisputed Attitude

3 out of 5

Label: American

Produced by: Dave Sardy

I’d like to think of it as a testament to producer Dave Sardy – since I love him – that the best track on Slayer’s covers album, Undisputed Attitude, is the sole original track on the disc: closer Gemini.  This fulfills the promise of Sardy’s raw but clean production style synced to the band: we get some depth and layering that Rick Rubin wasn’t great at employing, and that wouldn’t be effectively employed again until World Painted Blood like a decade later; the dual soloing that was always mastered to the max on previous discs – and the guitar work in general – is both warm and crisp, notes flooding into one another while still clearly the work of precision masters; the drum kit sounds delightful – a rush of noise, a live sound, but also kept at an appropriate level in the mix so as not to overwhelm.  Gemini is an excellent track.

And the rest of the album bears out some of this as well, but the rest of the album isn’t Slayer: it’s covers, played fast.  It’s very punky.  And so opinions will (and did) vary: if you recognize the song, it’s fun to hear the group’s intense take on it; if you don’t recognize it, then most of it just sounds like a punk track, if one played by guys clearly good at what they do and, importantly, having a good time.  Which is one of the reasons I think Undisputed Attitude is still a quality listen: it’s great to hear vocalist Araya out from behind the hell-and-murder narratives that overtake any given Slayer disc; he sounds human, and he sounds like he’s having a good time, along with his bandmates, and – for the most part, if you know what you’re in for – along with the listeners.