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Slayer 

God Hates Us All (American)

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From the beginning, Slayer has looked into the darkest crevasses of the human psyche. To this day, 1986's Reign in Blood stands as one of the best speed-metal records of all time: Using strong language, repulsive imagery, and block-heavy riffs, it put the casual listener into an appropriately uncomfortable position. Truly countercultural, the band elevates its punk aesthetic above anything else, and God Hates Us All carries on this rebellion in fine tradition. Delayed two months after the band took a liking to two Rick Rubin-remixed tracks, God Hates Us All is Slayer's eighth studio release. Rubin ended up mixing most of the 13 tracks that make up the unflinchingly dark and depressing album. Its sound is natural, unforced, heavy, and mean, like a beast set loose to attack everything.

Lyrically, the album covers a macabre gamut, from strung-out junkies ("Cast Down") to irrepressible greed ("Seven Faces"). The band, which includes singer-bassist Tom Araya, guitarist Jeff Hanneman, drummer Paul Bostaph, and guitarist Kerry King, illuminates its lyrics with heavy, steady, raw grooves that preface off-timed thrash jams. Araya brings the whole nasty brew to a boil with his insistent rants -- at times he sounds as if he's frothing at the mouth. From beginning to end, the record is saturated with something completely lacking in today's metal scene: sincere outrage. Slayer provides a raw indictment of, well, just about everything, and this album, stylistically unique and abrasive, is an artistically important one from a band whose influence is virtually impossible to calculate.

More by Jarrod Zickefoose

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