3 out of 5
Produced by: Matt Hyde
Thrash metal, as an “extreme” variant of the genre, has some comparable traits to an “extreme” with which I’m a bit more familiar: the ultra-gore corner of the horror-verse. Although I’m far from fully schooled, I’ve done my tour of the classics and have dabbled in the more renowned fringes, enough to recognize that if you’re claiming to be a fan of the scene, then it suggests a willingness or desire to wallow in the amped-up-to-11 nature of it. For the occasional viewer such as m’self, you tire of the tirade after a certain point (especially in examples where there’s nothing much on display except for gore), and that initial interest can easily jump the shark to a state of being inured to all sorts of visceral nonsense. (Counterpoint: there are still some things, like American Guinea Pig, that I hesitate ever watching.)
I’m just testing the Slayer waters; God Hates Us All is only my third album of theirs to which I’ve listened, and I’m also only sporadically interested in thrash, generally preferring the speedier minute-long-songs variant of it than the forty minutes, thirteen tracks of God Hates Us All. So following the threads of what I’m saying here, there came a point where this album sort of just turned in to noise for me, because god damn is it pretty consistently loud otherwise. Combine the defining – and ne’er ceasing – pummeling of the Slayer sound (to which, admittedly, many of my favorite bands are indebted) with the powerhouse, beat-emphasizing production of Matt Hyde, and you have a disc that serves every second of double-bass drumming, meteoric riffing, and Tom Araya’s always-on snarl.
But despite this stuff just sort of washing over me after a bit, there’s definitely quite a few tracks here that poke their head above the wall of noise to merit relistens. And, postscript: once I knew what to expect of the album, those tracks became more than just standout moments, emerging as the louder-ass sum of their loud-ass parts.
Following Diabolus in Musica, an apparently divisive album for somewhat catering to the nu-metal trends of the day, God Hates Us All rightfully won back some acclaim by going back to the raw basics. …But there’s still some nu-metal hanging around, and I frankly don’t think it’s a bad thing: while the album seems to open with the group feeling out what this combination of down-tuned groove and speed metal sounds like, the latter half of the disc really starts to rank up some effing epics. Taken in one sitting, though, your ears might be desensitized to it by the time you get there. Taken in several sittings – or listened to often enough where you hear more than just noise – God Hates Us All is a solid and consistent dose of power and fury from a landmark band that’s managed to sound just as furious as when they’d started on this gig like twenty years prior.