God Forbid

Earthsblood

Written by: PP on 05/03/2009 19:01:29

It's been a good couple of years since we've heard something to God Forbid, more specifically four long years, as it was 2005 that the band put out an excellent and wholly underrated metal album in "IV: Constitution Of Treason". But they're back now with "Earthsblood", their fifth, and definitely their most ambitious full length album, which sees the band take on the 'epic metal' genre with the in-your-face fierceness of your typical underground hardcore band.

First off, lets dig into how the band has changed over the years. "IV.." saw the band evolve into an 'epic metal' mould with focus on huge atmospheric soundscapes while still keeping both the destructively heavy guitars and the breakdown-infested sound, and this approach has been magnified by a few hundred degrees this time around. This is already evident in the introductory track "The Discovery", which begins with dramatic classical pianos and strings backing behemothic open ended chords, before the band explodes into a full-blast thrash anthem "The Rain". The songs are much heavier and much longer than what we've heard before, and vocalist Byron Davis' familiar bark has become even more ferocious as the years have passed by. "Empire Of The Gun" brings forth some of the melody we heard on "Treason" combined with the metalcore-esque tight riffing and an overall gritty sound. But it's not before "War Of Attrition" that the band properly indulges into the 'epic metal' thing I was talking about before; the soundscape is mammoth-like as the riffs echo around Davis' bark, and there are even some melancholic clean vocals in the mix reminding me of some Killswitch Engage and even Disturbed work. "The New Clear" is easily the catchiest song on the album, and it's quiet/loud instrumental & vocal dynamic works wonders here. Similarly, "Walk Alone" throws all its trust on groovy melody and catchy clean vocals in the chorus to contrast the aggressive verse growling and thrashy riffs leading up to the chorus. Following track "Bat The Angels" feels a little bit like filler between the aforementioned and "Earthsblood", which should've really been placed differently on the album. It's clear that the title track is the centerpiece of this album, because it contains both the strangling atmosphere of the band's thrashier and heavier tracks as well as the majestic soundscapes and solos that we'll find elsewhere on the record. As the acoustic guitars kick in on the background the atmosphere sounds very much like the bleakness of "Blackwater Park" or "Ghost Reveries"-era Opeth, and that's a credential no band should be ashamed of, quite the contrary.

Still, I'm not sure if I'm entirely convinced that the songs are fully worthy of my attention. Almost every song on "Earthsblood" sounds like everyone in the band has a serious case of superiority complex, with stupendous soundscapes, back-chilling solos, and echoing growls and screams helped by pitch perfect production. While I'm sure this is precisely what God Forbid's ambition was all along, all too often do I find myself a little bit lost in the vastness of their sound. After all, All That Remains showed on "The Fall Of Ideals" that metalcore can sound grand without having to resort into unnecessary spaceyness in sound. Need a better example? Think of the title track from "IV: Constitution Of Treason" and magnify the atmosphere something like 10-20 times at the very least. Maybe it's just me, but "Earthsblood" sounds a little too ambitious in places, consequently leading into a pretentious vibe emitting from the record.

6

Download: Earthsblood, The New Clear
For the fans of: Unearth, Shadows Fall, Chimaira
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.02.2009
Century Media

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