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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Slayer

God Hates Us All

Review by Mike Korn

The very essence of musical misanthropy, Slayer have tread their own blood-soaked path for close to two decades now. During that time, they've seen the rise of trends like grunge rock, death metal, black metal and rap metal but have allowed little of that to affect them. Few would deny that "Reign In Blood" was their defining moment. That was merciless Satanic thrash in its purest form, with no frills or apologies. They have yet to equal that classic, but "God Hates Us All" gives it a good run for its money. This is the fastest, heaviest and just plain nastiest Slayer in a while, making their previous record "Diabolus In Musica" sound fairly tepid.

Beneath the rather bland outer cover of this record lurks the second and darker bit of artwork that reflects where they are coming from. An ornate old Bible is splattered with blood and has the logo SLAYER burned deeply into it and the Good Book is also embedded with nails. It's rather similar to the cover of WASP's "Unholy Terror" but seems much more brutal. It's a good reflection of what lies within.

Here we get a meaty and heavy production the likes of which we haven't heard in a while. The lyrics are foul-mouthed and anti-Christian in the extreme, also returning to the style of "Reign In Blood". Araya jabbers away breathlessly over a combination of fast thrashy riffs and pounding grooves. Paul Bostaph comes into his own as a drummer here, but you will hear him nevermore on any Slayer record. Such was his exertion that he has chronically and permanently disabled his elbow, forcing his departure. There are some average moments here but anybody who likes music that is just raw, vicious and nasty will bow deeply to "God Hates Us All". Some would say Slayer are obsolete in this day of Slipknot but Slipknot could never focus their anger as coherently as this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Darkness of Christ
A pretty strange intro, this is actually a fast bit of thrash but the riffs and vocals are mechanically muted and buried beneath a mountain of samples. It fades out with Araya chanting the album's title.
Disciple
The first proper track, this one starts out with classic Slayer mid-paced riffs and then speeds up beautifully in the second half, showing that they aren't slowing down any time too soon.
God Send Death
This has a really familiar sound to it and could have come straight off of "South of Heaven" or "Seasons in the Abyss". That nervous "stalking" riff on the verse is a trademark Slayer sound. It is a pretty typical tune.
New Faith
"New Faith" is a real killer track, with plenty of catchy grooves to latch on to. You hate to say this has a nu-metal sound, but I could see a lot of nu-metal fans getting into this track, which features inspiring lyrics like "I keep my bible in a pool of blood so none of its lies can affect me".

Cast Down
This is not particularly fast, but it's heavier than a fleet of dump trucks carrying debris from the Trade Center. It's just a brutal, pounding heavy track.
Threshold
Real choppy Fear Factory like riffing typifies this song, which I found to be one of the more forgettable numbers on show.
Exile
One of the album's definitive thrashers, this cuts loose with a pretty full-blooded attack. This is the type of song that causes a lot of injuries in the pit.
Seven Faces
This one starts with the ominous ballad-like feel that was found on tracks like "Dead Skin Mask" before crushing heavy chords and a throat-ripping scream announce what the song is really like. It is one of Slayer's patented "stalking" tracks.
Bloodline
This number is a holdover from the "Dracula 2000" soundtrack. It's another forbidding slow-to-mid-paced piece. It's a dark and heavy song, but nothing especially outstanding.
Deviance
The album seriously loses momentum with this rather dull and average song. Again, they try for that ominous slow feel but it comes across real typical, and even the processed "scary" vocals from Araya don't make the cut. It should have been left off or replaced with a faster song.

War Zone
This one heats things up a bit more. They again go for a really choppy, industrial feel, but there's a lot of aggression and some heavy grooves here.
Here Comes the Pain
If this track sounds familiar to any wrestling fans, it's because it was the theme music for the old WCW "Thunder" TV show (RIP) minus Araya's vocals. Like "Cast Down", this is just an all-out assault of thick and heavy guitar riffs. It is one of my favorite tunes, and not just because of the wrestling connection. This cut is what heaviness is all about.
Payback
A fitting closer, this is the fastest thrasher Slayer have done since "Dittohead" back on "Divine Intervention". The riffs aren't particularly outstanding but there's such a feeling of all-out aggression that you can't help but be exhausted by it. I'm tired just listening to Bostaph's machine gun drumming. This is a good closer to the best Slayer album in a while.

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