Every so often, a band will appear and produce a truly genre-redefining album. In progressive metal, there have been recordings of such stature that they become albums many try to emulate: high-water marks such as Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, Dream Theater’s Scenes From A Memory, Tool’s Lateralus and Opeth’s Blackwater Park. It therefore comes as quite a shock that the third album from this engaging Cardiff act comes mighty close to becoming an addition to that illustrious list.
It begins with the onslaught of staccato guitar riffs that introduce Below The Belt, a song that remains infuriatingly catchy, despite the lack of any overpowering chorus. Such is the intensity of the track that it takes several listens to really appreciate the subtle complexities that are at work beneath the main melody. Darran Charles has retained his vocal distinctiveness, a relaxed style that remains one of the band’s many defining qualities.
Occasionally calling to mind a tranquilised, scream-free Serj Tankian (System Of A Down), the vocal inflections are pivotal. Exit Stage Right supports that theory, with Charles really driving the melody vocally, a pitch above the layered, multifaceted, hefty guitar backdrop.
Whether adopting a softer tone on the likes of All That Remains, flirting with the more experimental on Leave Or Be Left or producing exceptional, unpredictable, progressive metal throughout the remainder of the album, Godsticks are as musically pure as they are talented.
There may be moaners griping about the lack of keyboards, or accusations of selling out due to the brevity of some of the material, but this is a truly captivating album far ahead of some of the more predictable prog-metal releases. Given the right exposure, a touch of patience and further albums as relentless as this, Godsticks have the potential to make a monumental breakthrough.