The New Classics: Vehemence – ‘God Was Created’


So here is the first of our new classics feature that is likely to ruffle a few feathers, just as the album’s initial release did back in 2002. The second album from Arizona’s Vehemence, God Was Created. Released in a bit of a dead era for death metal, the album was released on Metal Blade and was one of Metal Blade’s real gambles, being a new, young death metal band amid the label’s roster that included Vader, Amon Amarth, Vomitory, Bolt Thrower and such, and in a time where US death metal was in a bit of a lull. The band had a self-released album, The Thoughts From Which I Hide under their belt, and followed up God Was Created with 2004’s Helping the World to See, but it was the infamous middle album that divided metal fans and critics.

by E. Thomas

When I reviewed the album here in 2002, I gushed over it, even calling it a classic then, and that it would elbow its way onto my list of favorite death metal albums of all time (which I still feel)  something a post 2000 album was yet to do at the time (and still hasn’t done), and comparing it to Entombed’s Left Hand Path. And you know what? I stand by all of it. Twelve years later, the album holds up extremely well and though it seemed to divide critics and fans alike back then, I think, without a doubt, now, it holds up as a new classic, and no classic goes without controversy.

A number of issues seemed to set off death metal pundits at the time; the rather cheap artwork, the production, keyboards, and the accusation’s that vocalist Nathan Gearhart was over dubbed, which Gearhart defends;”No effects for the vox, with a couple small exceptions (slight distortion on the line “his dick only went in her mouth and her ass”) The album does have quite a bit of vocal layering that makes it sound like an effect, but its just creative layering…”. What didn’t divide fans was the albums conceptual theme that intelligently crafted religion and sexual abuse into one potent and then relevant mix.

The sign of a classic album is its standout, memorable songs, and God Was Created had a number of tracks that truly defined its mix of brutal american death metal and more melodic European death metal, a scene that had overtaken ‘real’ death metal at the time. Throw in the often disturbing lyrics rape, abuse and religion and the album has it all.

But the band weren’t really setting out to make a ‘classic’, if divisive album. ” I would like to think that we just made a difference for a metalhead, just like our favorite bands made a difference to us (and continue to…).” state vocalist Nathan Gearheart, “We just thought we were changing the face of extreme music at the time”.

But one just need to hear a couple of the album’s standout track, and it becomes apparent that the band were doing something special.  Right from opening acoustics and rumbling growls of “Made For her Jesus”,  you could tell Vehemence were adding a little something different to brutal american death metal.

And two songs in you get “She Never Noticed Me”, one of , if not the album’s stand out . And personally one of my favorite death metal songs ever, so much so I compared it to the title track from Entombed’s “Left Hand Path”. With a mid section for the ages, the track truly mixed beauty and brutality, it would be the bands signature song along with  the anthemic “Christ, I Fucking Hate You”, a song which Gearhart states is his favorite from the album; “due to the hit of the guitars and how raw the end is…you can really hear the anger in the performances on that one!”. But every song on the album was a perfect melding of more brutal US death metal and European melodic death metal.

But as great as the album’s songs were, it didn’t come without some issues. “We could have spent our budget more wisely. We wanted the badass studio, and sacrificed recording and production time”. And that production was a point of contention for some as it seemed to lack the power and heft to match the music and as above, some accused Gearhart of having processed or vocoded vocals.  Also, the artwork garnered some attention “I know it was banned in Germany, so that’s some street cred, right?” states guitarist Bjorn Dannov, but Gearhart stands by the chosen artwork, “The artwork was a contention point for a few. Evil Dave Slaydon is a close friend, and I really believe in his art. It rules”.

What isn’t a point of contention is that the band never quite matched God Was Created. Though follow up ‘Helping the World to See, fixed production and artwork issues (Wes Besncoter was brought in for the artwork this time), it lacked the classic feel of its predecessor which was a perfect storm coming together; “Youthful exuberance and the right blend of people. Each member was crucial to the outcome of God Was Created” says Gearheart in why the album was so perfect. “God Was Created is the one album that Vehemence fans agree upon. It was our best work until the new album comes.”.

That’s right. After splitting up in 2005, Vehemence is back together and writing a new album. Gearhart elaborates “The new album is entitled “Forward Without Motion“. We have finally achieved what we set out to do with Vehemence. Our recording was helmed by Kyle Moeller with Bjorn Dannov working closely to achieve our most balanced, technical, well written, and produced documents of our long history. We are putting this out ourselves for the love of it. The people who know will find it. We want this to get into the hands of all of our great friends around the world.  I can compare it to God Was Created in quite a bit of the material, and there are elements of Helping the World to See as well. It all blends into our most mature effort.”

So? What do you readers think? Is God Was Created a ‘New Classic’? Just a good album? Or just another album? Or even a terrible album and I am waaaaaay off? Let us know where you stand in the comments section.

 

 

Comments

  1. Commented by: kuntaughter

    Couldnt have said it better myself. This album is timeless


  2. Commented by: ov3rm4n

    I was introduced to Helping the World to See first and then to this. Since their catalog was limited I would say both are classics since they are both well over ten years old with such an excellent collection of written songs, including lyrical prowess and live shows. Definately a classic album if in my opinion you include HTWTS. Great article, keep the classics coming!


  3. Commented by: Jerry

    I had no idea this album was polarizing. I loved it and thought it was universally praised when it came out. I felt they would get a little “core” after this one and I didn’t care for the follow up or Abigail Williams but I’m excited to know they are back with a new record soon. I’d like to see one of these with a truly polarizing album like Mayhem’s GDoW.


  4. Commented by: Krazykin

    Great article,great album!


  5. Commented by: Bruno Santos

    Classic Death metal..
    AMAZING!


  6. Commented by: Alex

    Totally agree. I have loved this album ever since it came out and I still do as well. I have always told people that this band is a classic and have gotten a few people to enjoy it just as much as I do. I got to see these guys live at Southwest Terror Fest and holy hell it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I really wish these guys got a lot more credit for writing such intense and beautiful music.


  7. Commented by: Alex

    Totally agree. I have loved this album ever since it came out and I still do as well. I have always told people that this band is a classic and have gotten a few people to enjoy it just as much as I do. I got to see these guys live at Southwest Terror Fest and holy hell it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I really wish these guys got a lot more credit for writing such intense and beautiful music.


  8. Commented by: Fellis

    The title track is one of my favourite metal songs of all time. Totally underrated band, can’t wait to hear the new stuff!


  9. Commented by: wes

    absolutely correct.


  10. Commented by: Alexander Peterson

    I bought this when it came out. Epic and classic then, still a masterpiece now.


  11. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Great discourse guys. Was a pleasure doing this with Nathan et al. So i the only one remembering some division over this release?


  12. Commented by: Jerry

    The saddest part about revisiting this record is realizing how long of a slump melodic death metal has been in probably since it was recorded.


  13. Commented by: Lawrence Muchemi

    “She never noticed me” is also my favorite from the album.


  14. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I don’t remember much controversy either – maybe some purists didn’t like it, but I found it fresh at the time and am overdue for another listen.


  15. Commented by: timmy

    great write up, Erik…and I love the idea of “the new classics.”


  16. Commented by: Luke_22

    Cool choice Erik. It’s been a long time since I’ve given this a spin, so this is a great reminder to get it back into the rotation. I’ll join the camp in not recalling many negative opinions of the album on release, though I think the production copped some flak. Regardless this remains a classic and I’m very intrigued by the idea of new material.


  17. Commented by: Timothy D White

    I’m a fan. A lot of cool things came together to make GWC what it was.

    A phenomenal production; slick as shit, which is something I usually hate. But it worked well here.

    An interesting storyline; I’ve been a sucker for concept albums since first hearing albums like “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” and “2112” as a kid.

    Some of the best melodies in a death metal album, ever. You mentioned “Left Hand Path”; which is one of my go-to albums when I try to explain “good” melody in death metal, verses “bad” melody in death metal (most of the gothenberg bands). Another I’d compare melodically to GWC would be Cenotaph’s “Riding Our Black Oceans”.

    And Nathan Gearhart’s deep, natural timbre is pretty much the perfect death metal pitch. And he knows how to use his gifts well; he emotes and enunciates pretty much flawlessly.


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