Reviews

God's Hate, God's Hate (Closed Casket Activities , 2021)

This is not the record that I was expecting from San Fernando Valley brawlers God’s Hate. It’s also not not the album I was expecting either.

Frankly, it’s the album that I could have anticipated had I given God’s Hate 2014 album, Mass Murder, the space it deserved to marinade and fester in my brain.

What struck me about God’s Hate’s debut album was just how hard the band leaned into the aesthetics and presentation of metallic hardcore and power violence. Just about every track on Mass Murder was bookended by sound bites of either a cold-hearted villain reciting their motivations, or a beaten-down hero attempting to make sense of a villainous world, with some of the hardest, most skull-caving hardcore to ever be captured in a recording studio slotted in between.

A tapestry of mayhem, conjured by of vocalist Brody King’s bear-like growl, Colin Young’s relentless blast beats and skin-loosening rhythms, and a phalanx of godless, guitar and bass-wielding demons, that presently includes, Taylor Young, Anthonie Gonzalez, Martin Stewart, and Alec Faber.

Mass Murder really got a hold on the lobes of my brain and it will always be a touchstone in my mind as far as relatively recent examples of abhorrently heavy hardcore go. Siting cozy next to albums like Downpresser’s Don’t Need a Reason and Ringworm’s Hammer of the Witch in my mental catalog of sound.

As many times as I listened to and enjoyed Mass Murder though, it never occurred to me how much fun the record was, or how much fun the band must have had making it. This is what I meant when I said that I didn’t see God’s Hate’s self-titled coming. I hadn’t realized that the record could be as much fun to make as it was to listen to. Woe to he (as in me) who misses the obvious.  

My first clue that God’s Hate is, and probably always has been, more or less light-hearted in their approach to music-making is the album art for this latest album. It literally looks like it was rejected as concept art for the original Shadow Warrior for being too ridiculous. Then there is the actual music itself, particularly on “Six Feet Deep.”

There, a reasonable soundtrack for an extreme, backyard wrestling match, involving belt sanders and cheese-graters, veers without warning, into a swords and sorcery-styled power metal ballad, that changes the location of the wrestling match to the deep woods, and opponents to a man and an overly large wild boar, and finds that man facing the beast down with his bare hands while bare-assed nude. It’s extremely absurd, but it’s a hell of a good time.

But you don’t even need to listen as far as the mid-point of the album to get a sense for the band’s humor, especially when the opening track pops the lid on the whole barrel of nuts by announcing, “We’re number one… in violence” over the national anthem. Cliché maybe, but it hits right and that’s what counts.

Though, this isn’t to say that God’s Hate’s self-titled record is all fun and games. This is still an unapologetically brutal record. You are going to need to take a minute to recover after receiving the steel-towed groove of the album’s title-track directly to your chest and your head is likely to be cleaved clean off by the Merauder-esque karate chop of “Eternity of Hate.”

But there is a clear interest in rounding out the band’s sound and image on this album as well. A fact that becomes apparent on “Eternity of Hate” as the points where it is shot through with impressively clean vocal segments.

Then there is the dark country passage on the forlorn outro to “War Man” which adds some sand-choked texture to the album as well. From these tracks, and the generally superior recording quality of the album, it’s clear that God’s Hate has ambitions beyond simply conveying the full extent of their ire.

Even though it doesn’t include any of the laudable, and somewhat transgressive, experiments previously mentioned, I hazard to say that the focal point of God’s Hate’s self-titled album is probably “Be Harder.”

It covers a familiar subject matter within metallic hardcore, going all the way back to Hatebreed’s Perseverance. This being the fact that life is going to shred you, emotionally and physically, and you’re going to have to constantly fight against a current of bullshit and entropy if your life is going to be worth living- in some, “Life is hard, be harder.”

The message of “Be Harder” is delivered with a back-lacerating groove, which bites like a rope of leather scourging your skin while landing like a hammer, wearing you down until you're beleaguered enough to be dragged into a meat-grinder of toothy, thrash guitars during the bridge.

It’s a song that is emblematic of God’s Hate’s style and talent, juxtaposed with a morose line from Rorschach, excerpted from the Watchmen film, where he despairs over the lack of friends he and the other “heroes” of the film have made, and how short and pointless their lives appear.

More than just a bad-ass way of introducing the song, the clip augments the proceedings, rendering them darkly absurd, where every word that follows about life’s potential to rob you of your dignity and the perpetual struggle to maintain your sanity in a world that has none to offer you, become not only the evidence of a cosmic crime, but also the comedic beats of an endless jest.

As Rorschach notes, the people who will probably remember you the best when you die are going to be the people who probably hated you the most, and when you think about it, that’s kind of hilarious. It means you get the last laugh, even if no one can remember your name except those who are happiest that you are dead.

Photo: Kylla Barsell

While it is true that life has probably wronged you in some big ways and will likely continue to treat you like a shopping bag full of ground beef to practice its left hook on, being paralyzed by the true horror of this fact is a mistake.

As much as we all have a right to dwell on negative thoughts and emotions, doing so isn’t exactly motivating to do the things you have to in order to survive. You’re going to have to step outside your pain at some point, and when you do, you may find that you are most powerful when you do so with a smile, knowing that life is a sick joke and you’re its worst punchline.

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