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Uncle Slam > When God Dies > Reviews > IJzerklompje
Uncle Slam - When God Dies

A fair farewell of the spiteful thrash rebels - 73%

IJzerklompje, February 11th, 2024

Uncle Slam can hardly be named an unorthodox or groundbreaking band, but its music efforts struck a nerve with certain fans they have been gathering for a decade harder than some world famous thrash grands could. And that's a feat already. Although the previous album received a very favorable reception, the third work, released in 1995 on Medusa Records, became the very last for the band, which disbanded the same year. "When God Dies" turned out to be longer than the previous LPs, offering almost 50 minutes of thrash, immersing the listener into the remnants of the young Americans' ideas they haven't yet materialized. How did this band from Beverly Hills packed their final package and did they use the allotted timeframe to the fullest? Let's find out.

"When God Dies" lyrically sets the course for more intellectual, philosophical themes, though it seems that if your mascot is Uncle Sam, the current day lyrics are a burdening must-be condition for you (the political theme is explicitly exploited only in the very last song, that's also marked by a pretty solo). You can hardly think of the metaphors used in the lyrics here unprecedented, but they avoid most of the pretentiousness and "cheese", everything feels moderately abstruse, without the desire to banish the vocalist off the entire master. And the singer's voice is quite specific - even a ESL beginner won't have much trouble understanding Todd Moyer's singing, he, by most part, recites lyrics in a very calm manner (by thrash standarts, of course). His "medium-high" tone of voice adds a smallest hint of sarcastic sourness. Various techniques and combinations used in his guitar playing feel natural, but in the mix, the rhythm guitar sounds a bit stale. That greatly reduces the album's power. It all results in unexpected early speed-metal atmosphere created in the final product. Perhaps the harsher and dirtier production is lacking here. Because of this, it also seems that the drum parts of a rookie RJ Herrera are rather dull and lack the necessary liveliness and vivid aggression. The bass, played by Simon Oliver, on the other hand, is high in the final mix, and the overall sound levelled by Michael Vail Blum, suits my needs just fine, even though my view is far too subjective - mind it.

As for the riffs, basically every composition is held strictly within the thrash metal style. A pinch of good Motorhead-esque mood and a backbone inspired by Testament and Forbidden - the band uses them skillfully, and there's no secondary flavour one could feel so much it becomes too much to bear. The main flaw one may notice as they proceed with the album - it lacks one-shot-one-kill hits, furthermore, the catchiness reduces on a side B even further. The most interesting tracks are, probably, the first four, with highlights in the form of the slightly "Megadeth-y" and just a little bit disturbing-sounding song "My Mother's Son", and most dynamic piece of them all - "Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em". On contrary, the thrash ballad "An Offering to a Deity" feels like it was made rather to satisfy the compulsory call of duty you serve to "the beautiful", rather than a genuine heartwork impulse. It feels just too fake and too annoying. The unusual (for thrash it is) vocal pattern in "End of the Line" is also worth a quick mention.

All in all we got a good album, closing a pretty modest discography of Uncle Slam. Although this disc is slightly more boring than the well-known "Will Work for Food", in case you liked other Uncle Slam records and if you would not be really disappointed by the band's desire to develop and evolve, you have no reason not to listen to this particular album, as well as you may have no reason to dislike it.

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