The AMG Rodeö Goes to Hell: Kerry King – From Hell I Rise

“The Kerry King Rodeö is a time-honored tradition that Grier hopes will never occur again. Though King has reunited (again) with Slayer, he gathered some of the thrash metal elite to produce his first solo album, From Hell I Rise. Many will expect King to release his own Slayer album, while others look to see what he can do without the assistance of Araya and co. The Rodeö will be the final arbiter and Grand Leveller ”

Kerry King has become synonymous with thrash metal as a lifestyle choice. Since helping form Slayer in the early 80s, King played an outsized role in defining what thrash metal sounded like as he and his bandmates pushed extreme music to the next plateau. While Slayer’s latter era was less groundbreaking, those seminal early albums sound as good today as they did when they first burst out of Purgatory, and there’s a reason metal fans still scream SLAYER with so much unbridled bloodlust.

With his legendary band calling it a day, Mr. King decided it was time to try his hand as a solo artist, and that brings up to From Hell I Rise. With the enormous shadow of a reforming Slayer looming over the release, what can we expect from the mind of the Thrash King? We have several takes and all of them are hot. Buckle up, buttercups, here comes the Hell Rodeö (Helleö for short).

Kerry King // From Hell I Rise [May 17th, 2024]

Steel Druhm: I’ll cop to not feeling especially excited by the prospect of a Kerry King solo project. As much as I worshiped Slayer from 83 to 90, after that their sound aged badly and I was very okay with them calling it a day (though now it appears they’re back again). My jaded brain assumed a Kerry King solo outing would be like a return trip to the lesser Slayer albums so my enthusiasm was appropriately muted, especially when I saw that stock, unimaginative cover art. But with thrash luminaries Death Angel’s Mark Osegueda, Paul Bostaph (ex-Slayer, ex-Exodus, ex-Testament), and Phil Demmel (ex-Machine Head, ex-Vio-Lence) on board, the talent and thrash heritage is firmly in place. Is the material up to snuff though? If I had to deliver an elevator review, I’d say this sounds like off-brand Death Angel with side quests into Grip Inc. Proper lead track “Where I Reign” is pissed off enough to make an impression with Mark Osegueda delivering a very Araya-like performance backed by churning, groove-heavy riffs from King and Demmel. It won’t convert nonbelievers, but it’s solid enough. “Residue,” “Trophies of the Tyrant,” and “Toxic” bring enough testosterone and diversity of approach to gain traction and land on a gym playlist and the riffing is serviceable and beefy. Other than that, however, the album is stuffed with by-the-numbers generic groove-thrash. Cuts like “Crucifixation,” “Tension,” and “Rage” feel dull and bloodless, while punky number “Two Fists” is awkward and annoying despite a sort of Prong-esque weirdness I should like more than I do. Despite some very Slayer-esque moments, “Shrapnel” is too long and generic, making it a chore to stay engaged with. In the final analysis, Kerry hasn’t embarrassed himself here and at its best, From Hell I Rise is decent but non-essential. And like the last few Slayer albums, the songwriting isn’t all that sharp or memorable. That’s a shame considering the folks involved. 2.5/5.01

Dr. Grier: I was a wee lad when I first shook hands with Kerry King. I was in my twenties when I shared a beer with Paul Bostaph and Phil Demmel (on different occasions). I was in my thirties when I exchanged fist bumps with Mark Osegueda. And, I was thirteen when I lovingly embraced Kyle Sanders. Wait, no. That was some girl from junior high. I don’t know who this guy is. Anyway, Kerry King’s solo band has arrived, surrounded by these thrash metal legends to bring you his debut album, From Hell I Rise. Not surprisingly, this record is one of the more anticipated releases of 2024. And it’s been something King has been working on for some time. Not looking to create a copycat of his other band, the different staff members add a unique flavor to Kerry King, separating it from the Slayer dynasty. For better or worse. Of these thirteen tracks, only two have standout Slayer riffs. “Toxic” contains a lot of Reign in Blood-era character as it rips and roars for four straight minutes. It also sports one of the most vicious vocal performances I’ve ever heard from Osegueda. “Crucifixation” is another Slayer-esque banger that unfortunately transitions to what could potentially be a cool, dual-guitar harmonization. But it drags on for two minutes and goes fucking nowhere. The diversity comes out in tracks like “Trophies of the Tyrant,” “Residue,” and “Idle Hands.” The first song has a stomping groove that’s out of King’s wheelhouse but matches Osegueda’s gnarly vocals beautifully. “Residue” is an odd one because it’s total Pantera-core, even with a punchy vocal performance that reminds me of Phil Anselmo. And, hilariously enough, King wrote a fucking modern-day Metallica song with “Idle Hands.” In the end, I cannot support Kerry King. The best part of the album is Osegueda in his unhinged glory and Bostaph’s drum work. But without these two gents, this is not a good album, and most of the songwriting is just lazy. Also, calling it “thrash” is a stretch. This record is pretty much groove metal. No thanks. 2.0/5.0

Dolphin Whammy-er: Kerry King, the man himself, needs no intro. Neither does his body of work—or rather, Slayer’s body of work—which has laid the foundation for many a pull off-evil riff-whammy wailin’ thrash rager throughout the land. It should come as no surprise, then, that his debut solo effort, From Hell I Rise, contains enough riffs to fuel a fledgling act’s career and then some. Of course, there is an inherent problem that an overwhelming majority of these riffs—patterns that are the cornerstone of tracks like “Where I Reign,”2 “Residue”,3 “Toxic”—remind me of times when King and friends frenemies simply hit harder, faster, and with a touch more earnestness. Also, I don’t expect thrash lyrics to be dissertations or even low satire, but hearing men of this tenure talk about people spending “too much time forcing their opinion on other people’s lives” or how “hatred is [his] ammunition” encroaches on crotchety cloudfister rather than tongue-out punk. Speaking of punk, though, when Kerry King’s all-star troupe drop fast and furious against skank-led and d-beat rippers (“Two Fists,” “Rage”), mic abuser Mark Osegueda’s (Death Angel) vicious efforts land against a guitar attitude of equally fervent measure. Same too when King and Demmel drop a touch lower and groovier for the closing title track. It’s these kinds of flourishes that attempt to give this record its own feisty identity. However, while sticking to his own tested works ensures that nothing on From Hell I Rise lands as a dud—outside of that low-throttle intro track—it also ensures that most of it plays like a “less than” version of King’s career peaks. 2.0/5.0

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Maddog couldn’t submit his piece in time but would have scored it a 2.5.
  2. In Blood.
  3. You wanna diiiiie!
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