Vehemence
God Was Created

God Was Created is the second album from Arizona’s Vehemence, and upon looking upon the typical death metal cover and spiky logo, I was bracing for another assault of U.S.-styled Immolation copycat blasting or Suffocation worship. Man, was I fucking wrong! Instead I was graced with quite possibly one of the best U.S. death metal releases since the Florida explosion of yore. Yes, high praise indeed, and no, am not in Vehemence, nor do I know anyone in the band; this is just a simply a killer record that justifies the glowing words I am about to write.

Vehemence has recreated the same kind of sensation when I listened to Left Hand Path for the first time 11 years ago. That is to say, for me, God Was Created has simply perfected everything I personally enjoy about death metal with uncanny precision. Vehemence has taken pretty much a chunk from every spectrum of death metal: the brutality of the East Coast, the melody of Northern Europe and the songwriting ability of Florida, and simply blended the sounds together to create a special album that should appease almost every fan of classic or modern death metal.

To give you an idea of the resulting stunning cacophony, take the Christ-hating ideals and blastbeats of Immolation, throw in the atmospherics and subtle haunting melodies of Garden Of Shadows, the layered, harmonized guitars of Rapture and then the gargantuan sense of doom and ambience of Morgion, and you have a description that might give you some idea of Vehemence’s sound. To be fair, a more brutal Garden Of Shadows is pretty good comparison, but this outfit’s not nearly as “romantically” inclined.

Vocalist Nathan Gearhart has a cavernous bellow that’s both frightening and understandable, without being too hokey or cookie monsterish; granted there are a lot of effects used to layer the vocals, but the end result is perfect. Guitar wise, the suitably American sounding tone (provided by Bjorn Dannov and John Chavez) is clean and heavy, if not a little bit flat, but the monstrous heavy sections still drip with oppressive menace and the melodic licks are crisp, but not too overly clean. Now onto the songs, starting with a surprising acoustic intro (remember what I was expecting upon seeing the cover), that lead of with a lumbering hulk of a song, “Made For Her Jesus”, that sets the mood early. It starts slow, haunting and has a controlled crawl that builds and you know instantly that Vehemence can sure as hell write memorable brutality without blastbeat overkill.

Then the real gem and my new favorite song ever. “She Never Noticed Me.” This tune pounds along with somber melody, all with the underlying hum of some ever-so-low-in-mix synths that subtlety add to the depressive mood of the song. Then it happens, one of those moments; you know what I mean. The incredible genre changing closing of “Left Hand Path”, the opening of “Override of the Overture”, the glorious mid-section of Disincarnate’s “Monarch of the Sleeping Marches.” It’s that special moment in death metal where a band pens that riff or breakdown that just brings you to your knees. It starts innocently enough with an acoustic spoken word interlude at 4:03, and continues to build with instrumental beauty – you can feel it building. At 5:12, Vehemence unleash a emotional roar-laden riff and melody that summons up those special death metal demons inside that make you clench up, and scream inside; it takes every ounce of will power not to roar along to the breathtaking riff. Do not listen to this song on headphones on public transportation, an involuntary release of emotion in response to the melodic hate on display will get you thrown off.

From this point, Vehemence not only has me hooked but also don’t let up, or disappoint from the musical pinnacle of the second song. They follow up with the much faster “Fantasy from Pain,” as if on purpose showing the opposite nature of the prior majestics; they rip out some shredding yet memorable speed and good old fashioned classic death metal chuggery. “Christ, I Fucking Hate You” follows with a schizoid NWSDM harmonies, lurching Floridian disharmony, and an anthemic hate-filled chorus that’s sure to become a sing along favorite at shows. And so it continues until the final breathtaking note fades. Every song is a exceptional piece of songwriting that breaks the mould for what death metal should be; not in the sense of originality (death metal lost that long ago) but more in the sense of blending numerous dynamics that sound unique despite the obvious influences. From the drum-heavy Suffocation breakdowns in “Lusting for her Affection” to the 8 minute epic “I Didn’t Kill Her”, and the memorable, chorus-heavy title track, Vehemence simply roll death metal perfection into every song with ease, including intricate yet brutal harmonies with powerful grooves and emotional intensity. Add to all this, a slightly unusual, even sexual lyrical slant on the anti-Christian ideal, and Vehemence could possibly stand shoulder to shoulder with Nile at the top of the U.S. death metal hierarchy.

If you look up the word Vehemence in the dictionary, it means intensity, passion, violence, fervor and strength – it couldn’t be truer. I keep a mental note of my Top 10 death metal albums of all time, now I have to decide who to kick off to make room. No mean feat, as the list has stayed the same for few years. Until now.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 2nd, 2002

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