God Forbid - _Earthsblood_
(Century Media, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (
Scour the CoC archives, and you'll discover that over the past few years we've been rather kind to New Jersey's God Forbid -- so much so in fact, that they've yet to release a disc that hasn't comfortably etched its way into the upper 90th percentile. The reasons for our unanimous praise? Well, rest assured, Century Media hasn't started offering us bribes for writing glowing reviews of their artists. God Forbid simply are an absolutely cracking modern metal prospect. The popular press have painted them in with the lukewarm stylings of Trivium and Killswitch Engage, but this quintet has a sincerity about them that's undeniably charming.This beguiling quality shone through en masse on their last effort, the spectacularly ambitious _IV: Constitution of Treason_, and yet in _Earthsblood_, God Forbid have managed to thoroughly redefine themselves, transcending whatever tag you'd have to tacked on to them in the past with an almost mischievous sense of invention. Using Paul Thomas Anderson's sublime "There Will Be Blood" as its conceptual departure point, this disc hacks, slashes and stabs its way through the band's back catalogue, and at the end of the exercise manages to leave you agape at the sheer volume of new tricks it's learned along the way. Indeed one thing that's very clear from the blast beats that usher in "The Rain" is the extent to which the band have expanded the creative palette from where they draw their influences. While "Empire of the Gun" could be lumped in with traditional God Forbid fare, "The New Clear" is impressive for all the ways in which it successfully condenses vivid strains of progressive, hard rock and even black metal into a consistently cohesive, epic six minute scorcher.By contrast, "Shallow" sticks to a simple formula and ramps up the aggression levels tenfold, showcasing Byron Davis as one of metal's most underrated singers in the process. Even so, when the album's esoteric title track kicks in, it feels like the band have only just started to show you what they're capable of, and therein the reason for _Earthsblood_ not scoring a perfect ten. The album leaves you reeling with every ounce of confidence that God Forbid are still to craft their _Master of Puppets_, and as much as that is an underhanded compliment, for any fan of heavy music such a record should make for an exciting spectacle indeed.
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