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Give it a chance. - 67%

immortalshadow666, April 10th, 2007

Well I’ve been to hell and back with this recording. Though it wasn’t the first true metal recording I ever bought, it was the first recording I ever bought by a true metal band, and at the time, I loved it, as it would do to wean me off the Coal Chamber and Skinlab that was making up the bulk of my CD collection. Then I went to the next stage of metal and attempted to hate it, to try and be true and grim and a sheep to be accepted by the metal community. But after taking what I feel is a maturer look at metal, I felt a need to review this because of some opinions that I see, which I feel are way too unkind to the album, because a prelude to St. Anger, this is not. Let’s also get out of the way, the fact that I won’t compare this to “Diabolus in Musica”, on account of not having actually listened to the album.

I believe that most of the loathing towards this album is because people can’t accept that Slayer changed on this album. In addition to this, the fact that Tom Araya is a Catholic seems to have only kicked up a fuss since an interview, we all know he said “God doesn’t hate, he loves all, but GHUA is a cool title” – let it go guys! The first sign of the band branching out from their tried and true style was what we heard on “Divine Intervention” seven years earlier, when the music was still thrashy as hell, but the lyrics were almost ripped straight out of a punk album. Yes, admittedly in spite of the positive change, there is some absolute equine faeces which should have never made it onto the album, such as “War Zone”, riddled with filler riffs, irritating vocals, and all the rest. Much anger and hatred is on the album, and it’s no secret that Kerry King, who wrote a fair proportion of the music and lyrics to “God Hates Us All”, was inspired by Slipknot and Chaimara at the time. But looking deeper, the lyrics in particular are, for the most part, a lot less juvenile than they are given credit for, and the riffs are much more technical and better thought out than the 1-finger chords, but I’ll get more into that later.

Another major difference is that gone are the days of “thrash from beginning to end”. Mid paced and slower parts are scattered throughout the CD. An example of this is “Seven Faces”, which kicks off with an intro reminiscent of the quite spooky verses from Divine Intervention’s “Serenity In Murder”. Said song has some quite well written lyrics too.

Tom’s vocals sound as good as ever. His tone is excellent, very high-pitched and as full sounding as they ever were, with no cracks or squeaks or anything close to signs of wear and tear on the old man. His lung capacity is also great, even more so for somebody of his age – have a listen to “Payback”, one of the faster efforts on the album. Although the lyrics themselves aren’t great, the vocal patterns are as complex as hell, and just you try singing along to it – see if you don’t skip lines to draw breath.

Drums also. Whatever you say about Paul Bostaph, the harsh reality is that he actually kicks Dave Lombardo’s arse in every aspect of technicality and competence. The difference is that he is sometimes too technical for his own good, and some of the fills and such, though extremely hard to pull off I imagine, just seem a little bit overdone for the music, when on occasions, something simpler would have sufficed. Still, it’s better to have too much than too little, and the occasions where Lombardo simply could not have been physically able to keep up and Bostaph pulls off with precision, outweights the bad.

“God Hates Us All” has a production job that’s extremely different to previous efforts. The treble is mixed very high on the album, which is a little odd considering the string section tuned down to lower notes than the traditional D# (including as low as A# on a couple of songs). Although the treble stands out most and thus, is what catches your ear, the bottom end is still fairly well done and provides enough heaviness to satisfy.

A sad downside to the recording is that there is a fairly tragic lack of guitar solos on the album. And when there are some, they are pretty much what we dislike about Kirk Hammett – just an excuse to noodle around on the wah pedal, wasting the evident shredding capacity of two great guitarists, even if they think by a “scale”, that means the thing you weigh yourself upon. The hatred of scales and arpeggios is how we always liked Slayer, and unlike something where a solo wouldn’t fit the style of music, I can imagine solos, or in some cases, much better solos, really suiting the music here.

So it’s a different Slayer, rather than a bad one, that churned out God Hates Us All. This is not for thrash purists, nor for somebody looking to get into the cream of the crop of what the group is famous for. This is for somebody that doesn’t mind trying different things, and can listen to music with an open mind. If you think you fall into either of the latter categories, give this a try and don’t expect some feeble attempt at dragging thrash into the 21st century. It’s the songs that branch out and stray far from the traditional ad well-known style of the band, like “Seven Faces” and “Bloodline”, that bring the album home.