Q #1,886: What Slayer studio album turns 15 this year?
Slayer’s ninth studio album ‘God Hates Us All’ is going to be fifteen years old this September. September 11th, to be exact.
This record, along with Dream Theater’s ‘Live Scenes from New York,’ were both released on one of the most notorious days of modern history, and both had their album covers changed as a result. Slayer gets a bit more of the expected censorship nod, as major retailers (ha! remember those?) weren’t keen on a blood soaked bible with a pentagram of nails (above) getting placed on their end caps in stores. The cover was probably going to get that treatment regardless, and the album’s original title would’ve probably had the same impact based on the release date. ‘Soundtrack to the Apocalypse’ ended up being the title of the Slayer boxed set encompassing their entire career, but it was initially suggested to be the title of the group’s ninth album. See what I mean about how it’s far less “controversial” and more about it being Slayer? Dream Theater’s album cover was far more artistic, and featured a barbed wire apple ablaze, illuminating the NYC skyline behind it, featuring the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. That album cover doesn’t even likely get a second glance as being inappropriate, without being a massively horrible victim of circumstance.
But all visual elements aside, Slayer really came out swinging on this one. At the time, the dropped tune guitars and subsequent material of their previous release ‘Diabolus in Musica’ hadn’t really sat too well across the board with the band’s intense fan base. The band was even split on the release, with drummer Paul Bostaph feeling it was as “experimental” as Slayer could get, while Kerry King admittedly stated that he took a major back seat on the writing process because he was so against the nu-metal movement at the time and its massive popularity. For those that remember my Judas Priest email (#818, right here), Kerry King referred to ‘Diabolus’ as Slayer’s ‘Turbo.’ I can only imagine how much King enjoyed the band being on late 90’s Ozzfests and Tattoo the Earth tours. Then again, he didn’t seem to enjoy this final Mayhem Fest tour, either.
‘God Hates Us All’ continued down the path of the down tuned guitars, and dropped even lower with the use of seven string guitars on some tracks. ‘God’ also sees more Kerry King material, which could account for such a return to form in this later chapter of Slayer history. But one of the most major adjustments was the band not having famed producer Rick Rubin at the helm. Rubin was said to have been out of the loop on all things modern and heavy, and burnt out on making heavy albums. One of the album’s singles that appeared on the Dracula 2000 soundtrack, ‘Bloodline,’ was a test track for American producer Matt Hyde (notable UK producer Matt Hyde worked with Machine Head, Trivium, Slipknot, and 4Arm to name a few.) The band was into the work done by Hyde, and brought him on to produce the new album. Hyde changed the location of the album tracking, taking the band out of Los Angeles, CA and put them into Bryan Adams studio in Vancouver, Canada.
‘God Hates Us All’ would be the final album with drummer Paul Bostaph until his return on 2015’s ‘Repentless’. Upon Paul’s exit, the band recruited original drummer Dave Lombardo to complete their tour schedule. Afterwards, the band opened auditions for the vacant drum throne, to which they auditioned a select few drummers compared to the high volume of applicants. Dave Lombardo even made a pick for the band out to the drummers that participated, but his accessibility to Slayer ultimately ended up being his ticket back into the band. Having just played with Dave, and having him involved with the selection process made it impossible for the band to choose any other candidate. There is still some footage floating around YouTube of my drummer colleague Kevin Talley jamming with Slayer at their rehearsal spot. I might be biased, but I think at least one album with Talley behind the kit would’ve been a pretty insane Slayer record. But alas, Lombardo had to return. This would begin the next chapter of Slayer, and lead to some of the more TMZ-styled controversy that we have become accustomed to over recent years.
Now as the more things change, we have seen Lombardo’s departure and Bostaph’s return. ‘God Hates Us All’ would be the last album to feature Paul Bostaph along with Jeff Hanneman who passed away in 2013.