Same Ole Same Ole
Earthsblood is the fifth recorded outing for this New Jersey five-piece and one of the leaders of the so called 'New Wave Of American Heavy Metal'. Although dabbling with Thrash metal the band are more akin to the metal-core genre incorporating widdly riffs, lots of shouting and fluffy choruses. Thankfully metal-core has been fairly short lived and slowly dying to make way for the vastly superior revival of the classic thrash movement. The problem with bands like God Forbid is when the bubble bursts, and all bubbles burst eventually, what do the band do? Do they flog the horse to death and rely on the following they'd created? Do they jump on the next up and coming bandwagon? Or do they regroup and deliver the best album they can whilst stretching the boundaries of what the band are all about? Of course the press release that came with the album suggests the latter, but for this reviewer at least they've failed to do any of the above and created an album that is ok…just ok.
First of all this album sounds the business. Eric Rachel and Christian Olde Wolbers have done a great job of twiddling God Forbid's knobs. The opening introduction, 'The Discovery' is quite inspired, but the first track 'The Rain' is a little on the dull side. It checks all the metal-core boxes quite nicely. Uninspired guitar riffs, check, lots of changes to make up for the lack of any great ideas, check, lots of shouting, check, clean vocals in the chorus, check, and so on. I've been shouted at by almost every metal band over the past nine years and I'm beginning to tire of it slightly. Vocalist Byron Davies has a decent shouty voice but surely he can see which way the wind is blowing and use his versatile voice accordingly. What is even more amusing is the band proclaim the lyrics are an abstract observation about the interdependence between humankind and the planet. Without the lyrics in the CD booklet you would never tell they were singing about the above, so I guess it all boils down to the music and how hard it rocks.
Musically speaking, on occasions God Forbid are on the money with Earthsblood. 'Empire Of The Gun' and 'War Of Attrition' are good songs with some crunchy riffs and fist throwing breakdowns. 'Bat The Angels' isn't too bad but the nine-minute title track eclipses all. It's just classier than the others containing a great build up and impressive solo. Maybe a different use of vocals would've improved it but it's certainly a direction for future God Forbid albums. As for the rest, it's a little bit 'shrug of the shoulders'. 'Walk Alone' and 'Shallow' in particular are missing that little spark that turns an average song into a great song.
Referring to the press release again, it states that the band have paved a new path out from the stagnant US metal scene and their future looks a very bright one. From listening to 'Earthsblood' I would say it's same ole same ole which is usually at the very heart of stagnation. It certainly isn't a bad album but from previous form you know the band are capable of so much more. If you want some great modern thrash without going down the retro road then Sanctorum and Memorial are worth checking out. But if you fancy a bit of the ole metal core then be my guest because that's what 'Earthsblood' is good at. Sadly, that's the only thing it's good at. Perhaps it's myself who's grown tired of this style of metal after hearing far too much of it over the years, most probably. I've read some good reactions to 'Earthsblood', I've also read some reactions similar in tone to this review. If you're a dedicated fan of God Forbid then you'll love this. If you're just a passing fan, and that includes the whole metal-core thing, then move onto something else.