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Diabolus in Musica

Diabolus in Musica
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 9, 1998 (1998-06-09)
StudioOceanway Studio, Hollywood Sound, Los Angeles, California
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. Released on June 9, 1998, it is the third 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. 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.

Writing 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."[4] The album was produced by Rick Rubin and was recorded at Oceanway Studios.[5]

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.[1] Drummer Paul Bostaph claims the album is his favorite as he thought the album was "as experimental as Slayer got".[6] This included incorporating groove metal elements and strange vocal effects as said by an interview for High Times.[7] Bostaph returned to Slayer after his short-lived side project The Truth About Seafood, and the band entered the recording studio four months later.[6]

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.[8] 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.[4]

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!'"[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[12]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[13]
Metal Forces4/10[14]
Q3/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[16]
Rock Hard8.5/10[17]

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[18] and debuted at number 31 on the Billboard 200 Chart.[19] By August 2006, the album has sold 290,000 copies in the United States.[18] 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."[1] 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.[20]

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,[21] 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."[22] Reviewing Slayer's 2001 album God Hates Us All, 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."[23]

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.[24]

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 HannemanHanneman4:32
2."Death's Head"HannemanHanneman3:34
3."Stain of Mind"Kerry KingHanneman3:24
4."Overt Enemy"HannemanHanneman4:41
5."Perversions of Pain"KingHanneman3:33
6."Love to Hate"
  • Hanneman
  • King
7."Desire"Tom ArayaHanneman4:19
8."In the Name of God"KingKing3:40
10."Screaming from the Sky"
  • Hanneman
  • Araya
  • King


Chart positions

Chart (1998) Position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[26] 35
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[27] 40
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[28] 23
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[29] 52
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[30] 18
French Albums (SNEP)[31] 23
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[32] 32
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[33] 15
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[34] 29
US Billboard 200[35] 31


  1. ^ a b c Begrand, Adrien (January 23, 2004). "Slayer: Soundtrack to the Apocalpyse". PopMatters. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Joel McIver (2013-05-03). "Jeff Hanneman obituary | Music |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  3. ^ Eakin, Marah (2013-05-02). "R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman of Slayer | Music | Newswire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  4. ^ a b Chirazi, Steffan (1998-08-06). "Back And Black". Yahoo music. Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  5. ^ Diabolus in Musica album notes, June 9, 1998. American Recordings.
  6. ^ a b "Paul Bostaph of Exodus, ex-Slayer". 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
  7. ^ "Diabolus Indica Slayer Interview (October 1998)". High Times. 1998-10-21. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  8. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (2006-04-28). "The Devil's Music". BBC. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  9. ^ Bienstock, Richard (2006-07-01). "Slayer's King says Rick Rubin's collaboration with Metallica was a 'slap in the face'". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  10. ^ "Slayer History". Slayerized. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  11. ^ "The Diabolus In Musica Tour Sampler". Discogs. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  12. ^ Huey, Steve. "Diabolus in Musica - Slayer". AllMusic. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Snierson, Dan (1998-06-12). "Diabolus in Musica Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  14. ^ Arnold, Neil (1998-06-09). "Slayer - Diabolus In Musica (1998)". Metal Forces. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  15. ^ "Slayer - Diabolus in Musica CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  16. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 741–742. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Kupfer, Thomas (July 1998). "Diabolus in Musica". Rock Hard (in German). No. 134. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Slayer: Christ Illusion lands at No. 5 on Billboard chart!". 2006-08-16. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  19. ^ "Slayer's album chart history". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  20. ^ Joel McIver (2013-05-03). "Jeff Hanneman obituary | Music |". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  21. ^ Eakin, Marah (2013-05-02). "R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman of Slayer | Music | Newswire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  22. ^ Ratliff, Ben (1998-06-22). "It's a Major Metal Band, and Even the Furniture Isn't Safe". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Krgin, Borivoj. "Slayer God Hates Us All". Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  24. ^ "Slayer's Kerry King: 'We've never tried to be anything we weren't'". Ultimate Guitar. 2007-08-15. Archived from the original on 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  25. ^ Dunn, Sam (2011). "Metal Evolution - Nu Metal". YouTube. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  26. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica". Hung Medien.
  27. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica" (in German). Hung Medien.
  28. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  29. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  30. ^ "Slayer: Diabolus in Musica" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  31. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica". Hung Medien.
  32. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH.
  33. ^ " – Slayer – Christ Illusion". Hung Medien.
  34. ^ " – Slayer – Diabolus in Musica". Hung Medien.
  35. ^ "Slayer Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.