God Hates Us All (American/Sony)
by Martin Popoff
Man oh man, nobody knows the razor’s edge of heaviness’ seven or eight tenets like Slayer. They amble up to all of them and spit over the edge at things deathier, blacker, faster, rougher, grindier, dressed sillier, faces paintier, cheeks piercier, tongues studdier. They know when the majestic black tidal wave of metal’s choice maneuvers becomes chaos, hysteria, fear, lack of confidence, a façade, a substitute. God Hates Us All takes you there, with Tom swearing and screaming his head off, pushed further by some well-placed distortion, with Bostaph pounding the mossy earth with a sub-sonic pummel, the guitars of King and Hanneman doing only Slayer things, seven of twenty of which have been tried by other bands, never impressively, thirteen of which, in certain arrangements, only belong here.
It’s endearing to hear the band really not changed much, still spewing moderately poetic yet simplistic shots at religion, yet getting a little more direct in terms of what really pisses them off (Hell is other people). Lots of bands know what sounds cool. Many forget. Slayer figured it out four or five seconds into Reign In Blood and then never forgot. Since then, it’s been slight variations in song quality, and this idea that a Hanneman album is a little moodier, about tones, and a King album is aggressive. This is a King album, but man, Kerry is big into the idea of song and the bloodbeat of groove. Toss track six in the crapper (“Threshold,” a crap-ass nü metal ploy), and what you’re left with is ten gorgeous skullcap-frying Slayer pig brain roasts, delivered (like good parasitic hosts) at each of the band’s mastered speeds, usually meaning dull and slow for intros only, and then everything from catchy headbang to insane speed energy, never flipped into the marching tic-toc of a double-time blast. Instant wire-fusers: “Disciple,” “God Sent Death,” and especially “New Faith,” “Here Comes the Pain” and “Bloodline,” which swings like Sinatra.
Kerry King said something pretty cool about this album, how the key to it was getting an intense, live performance out of Bostaph. How do you play “live” yet precise? You play with how hard or lightly you smack things; you push the beat or hang back of it. These are all subtleties, but Slayer searches them out and incorporates them. And really, it ends up sounding like an explosion at a Taiwanese fireworks factory. And once a couple hours of screeching rockets red glare sunburn your face zig-zagged, the band peel out with a smudge of hate called “Payback,” which drills holes in the old school, packs in a few sticks, and laughs as the bricks go flyin’. A metallic triumph sure to be unsurpassed in the next 18 months.