In almost thirty-five years, Nunslaughter’s catalog has grown to astounding proportions, and yet, in that same time and nearly 200 releases, there are only four full-length albums prior to Red Is The Color Of Ripping Death. Having survived the tragic death of longtime drummer Jim “Sadist” Konya in 2015, this newest incarnation of Nunslaughter features only founder and mainstay “Don Of The Dead” Crotsley from any of those previous efforts (with next-tenured member, guitarist Tormentor, only overlapping with Sadist briefly). Overall, Red Is The Color is both business as usual for these old-school Ohioans and also a marked improvement.
The metric in which Nunslaughter hasn’t improved drastically is in their songwriting, but before anyone gets all a-twitter about that statement, let me qualify it by saying “that’s because they didn’t have to, and also because, for about half the album, they didn’t necessarily try.” For all of those three-plus decades, they’ve always been good at crafting catchy blasphemies — the historical likes of “I Hate Christians” and “Satanic Slut” aren’t subtle, but they are damned hooky. Half of Red Is The Color’s fourteen tracks have appeared elsewhere, across fifteen or so years, on various singles or splits or live albums (and of course, Nunslaughter has boatloads of all of those). So if you’re a dedicated Nunslaughter-er, then you’re doubtless familiar with the viciously memorable (if also lyrically questionable) “To A Whore,” or with the moody “Casket Lid Creaks,” or with the Satanic singalong of “The Devil Will Not Stray.” But even if you aren’t, rest assured that Red Is The Color is chock full of ripping death/thrash/devil metal, and each of those songs is a standout, alongside the title track and the blistering gate-blasting introduction of “Murmur.” Between the old material that began life with Sadist behind the kit and the new material with Wrath, Red Is The Color keeps one foot squarely in the band’s history while the other one stretches forward, and these new tunes show that there’s still plenty of fire left in these old devils, even as they leave a bit of their punkier parts in the past.
So yes, by most standards, Red Is The Color Of Ripping Death is Nunslaughter’s best full-length so far. Its songs are of equally strong caliber to previous outings; it’s better performed; it simply sounds better. There are those devil metal proponents who will likely find that those improvements might not be, that they might detract from the raucous spirit that has always been another of Nunslaughter’s hallmarks, but I’m not one of them. I think there’s more than enough of the band’s rollicking grin-inducing blasphemous-good-time feeling here, even with a decreased focus on the roughness of their hardcore influence, and also, all of it benefits because it doesn’t sound like they recorded it in a You-Store-It on a borrowed boombox.
All hail the new hell; same as the old hell, but better.