Diabolus in Musica

Last updated
Diabolus in Musica
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 9, 1998 (1998-06-09)
StudioOceanway Studio, Hollywood Sound, Los Angeles, California
Label American
Slayer chronology
Undisputed Attitude
Diabolus in Musica
God Hates Us All
Singles from Diabolus in Musica
  1. "Stain of Mind"
    Released: September 30, 1998

Diabolus in Musica is the eighth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer. The album was released on June 9, 1998. 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. It is the band's first studio album to be played mostly in C tuning. 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, sex, cultural deviance, death, insanity, war, and homicide.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Slayer American thrash metal band

Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and vocalist and bassist Tom Araya. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Slayer's current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and drummers Dave Lombardo and Jon Dette are former members of the band.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.


Writing, music, and recording

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." [1] The album was produced by Rick Rubin and was recorded at Oceanway Studios. [2]

Jeff Hanneman American guitarist

Jeffrey John Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Hanneman contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album up until his death in 2013 and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble," "South of Heaven," "Seasons in the Abyss," and "Angel of Death," all of which have been played at almost every live Slayer performance after their respective compositions. He had his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.

Rick Rubin American music producer

Frederick Jay Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.

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 in response to the then-burgeoning nu metal scene. [3] Drummer Paul Bostaph claims the album is his favorite as he thought the album was "as experimental as Slayer got". [4] As a result, Diabolus in Musica was described as nu metal. [3] [5] [6] The album is also has been described as groove metal and thrash metal. [7] [8] Bostaph returned to Slayer after his short-lived side project The Truth About Seafood, and the band entered the recording studio four months later. [4]

PopMatters is an international online magazine of cultural criticism that covers many aspects of popular culture. PopMatters publishes reviews, interviews, and detailed essays on most cultural products and expressions in areas such as music, television, films, books, video games, comics, sports, theater, visual arts, travel, and the Internet.

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string to highest-pitched.

Chord (music) harmonic set of three or more notes

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, arpeggios and broken chords, or sequences of chord tones, may also be considered as chords.

Album title and lyrical themes

Diabolus in Musica is a Latin term for "The Devil in Music" or tritone. Medieval musical rules did not allow this particular dissonance. [9] 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. [1]

In music theory, the tritone is defined as a musical interval composed of three adjacent whole tones. For instance, the interval from F up to the B above it is a tritone as it can be decomposed into the three adjacent whole tones F–G, G–A, and A–B. According to this definition, within a diatonic scale there is only one tritone for each octave. For instance, the above-mentioned interval F–B is the only tritone formed from the notes of the C major scale. A tritone is also commonly defined as an interval spanning six semitones. According to this definition, a diatonic scale contains two tritones for each octave. For instance, the above-mentioned C major scale contains the tritones F–B and B–F. In twelve-equal temperament, the tritone divides the octave exactly in half.

Tom Araya American singer and bassist

Tomás Enrique Araya Díaz is a Chilean-American musician, best known as the lead vocalist and bassist of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Araya is ranked fifty-eighth by Hit Parader on their list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time.

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!'" [10]

Touring and promotion

Following the release of the album the band commenced the Diabolus in Musica tour. From 1998 to 1999 Slayer toured with Sepultura, System of a Down, Fear Factory, Kilgore, Clutch, Meshuggah and Sick of It All. [11] Slayer released a promotional 3-track album called Diabolus in Musica Tour Sampler. The album features 3 tracks, one from Diabolus in Musica ("Stain of Mind"), "Ship of Gold" off tourmate Clutch's The Elephant Riders and "Suite-Pee" (Clean Version) from the debut album by System of a Down. It was released on CD and Cassette. [12]

Sepultura Brazilian metal band

Sepultura is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte. Formed in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, the band was a major force in the groove metal, thrash metal, and death metal genres during the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their later experiments drawing influence from alternative metal, world music, nu metal, hardcore punk, and industrial metal. Sepultura has also been credited as one of the second wave of thrash metal acts from the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s.

System of a Down Armenian American metal band

System of a Down is an Armenian-American heavy metal band from Glendale, California, formed in 1994. The band currently consists of Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, and John Dolmayan (drums).

Fear Factory American metal band

Fear Factory is an American heavy metal band that was formed in 1989. Throughout the band's career, they have released nine full-length albums and have evolved through a succession of styles, including nu metal, death metal, groove metal, and thrash metal. Fear Factory was enormously influential on the heavy metal scene in the mid-to-late 1990s.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [13]
Entertainment Weekly C+ [14]
Metal Forces 4/10 [15]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [17]
Rock Hard8.5/10 [18]

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 [19] and debuted at number 31 on the Billboard 200 Chart. [20] By August 2006, the album has sold 290,000 copies in the United States. [19] Reviewing 2003 Slayer box set Soundtrack to the Apocalypse , Adrien Begrand of PopMatters dubbed the album "a unique record [...] 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." [3] Writing in The Guardian , journalist Joel McIver said although the album was as musically heavy and lyrically dark as any of Slayer's previous releases, it exhibited the groove-based style of the then popular nu-metal sound. [21]

However, not all reviewers were so positive. Reviewing a Slayer concert at Irving Plaza during the Diabolus in Musica tour, The New York Times' Ben Ratliff panned the album for its murky production, [22] saying: "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." [23] Reviewing Slayer's 2001 album God Hates Us All , Blabbermouth.net reviewer Borivoj 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." [24]

Songs from the album are rarely played live following the return of drummer Dave Lombardo in 2002, with "Stain of Mind" being the only constant. [25]

Band members' views

In the "Nu Metal" episode of the 2011 VH1 documentary series Metal Evolution , Kerry King said the following in retrospect about the album:

Track listing

1."Bitter Peace" Jeff Hanneman Hanneman4:32
2."Death's Head"HannemanHanneman3:34
3."Stain of Mind" Kerry King Hanneman3:24
4."Overt Enemy"HannemanHanneman4:41
5."Perversions of Pain"KingHanneman3:33
6."Love to Hate"
  • Hanneman
  • King
7."Desire" Tom Araya Hanneman4:19
8."In the Name of God"KingKing3:40
10."Screaming from the Sky"
  • Hanneman
  • Araya
  • King


Chart positions

Chart (1998)Position
Australian Albums (ARIA) [27] 35
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria) [28] 40
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders) [29] 23
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) [30] 52
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista) [31] 18
French Albums (SNEP) [32] 23
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [33] 32
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) [34] 15
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan) [35] 29
US Billboard 200 [36] 31

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