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God Forbid - "Earthsblood" (CD)

God Forbid - "Earthsblood" CD cover image

"Earthsblood" track listing:

1. The Discovery (1:42)
2. The Rain (5:21)
3. Empire Of The Gun (4:45)
4. War Of Attrition (4:27)
5. The New Clear (6:36)
6. Shallow (3:31)
7. Walk Alone (6:14)
8. Bat The Angels (6:06)
9. Earthsblood (9:03)
10. Gaia (The Vultures) (7:17)

Reviewed by on March 20, 2009

"With God Forbid’s fifth album, 'Earthsblood,' the band is sending out a message loud and clear that they are ready to retake their rightful place near the top of the American metal scene."

In 2005, God Forbid shocked the metal world with their grandiose concept album “IV: Constitution Of Treason,” a seething tirade describing the flaws of humanity. Fans and critics began to warm up to the New Jersey quintet, as the album charted on the Billboard charts and the video for single “The End Of The World” played endlessly on MTV’s Headbangers Ball.

Four years have passed since that faithful album, a long time for a metal band to stay away from the spotlight. Was the time away a momentum killer, or will it turn out to be the start of a major turning point in the band’s career? With God Forbid’s fifth album, “Earthsblood,” the band is sending out a message loud and clear that they are ready to retake their rightful place near the top of the American metal scene.

Taking what they learned from epic tracks off their last album, like “The Lonely Dead” and “Crucify Your Beliefs,” God Forbid has pushed themselves as songwriters and musicians. The band’s core sound is still evident, but a progressive vibe sweeps throughout the album like a cool ocean breeze on a hot day down at the Jersey shore. The listener can sense that God Forbid took their time to craft each vocal line and melody.

One of the biggest changes in the band’s sound is the increase of clean vocals. While “IV: Constitution Of Treason” had a decent amount of them, it always felt like the band was not fully prepared to take that leap forward. A lot of effort was put into making the clean vocals both catchy and tuneful, and it shows on tracks “Empire Of The Gun” and “Walk Alone.” I found myself humming the choruses of both of these tracks well after the album was finished.

Keyboards are also an instrument that makes its presence known throughout “Earthsblood.” Used as a tool for building atmosphere, they keep themselves mostly to the background, and add a foreboding mood to several of the tracks. Michael Pinella, of Symphony X fame, lends his talent to the dark “Bat The Angels” and the multi-faceted title track.

The guitar work from the Coyle brothers is tight and consistent, a trait that has always stood out about the band. Their contributions to “Walk Alone,” “The Rain” and “The New Clear” stands as some of the best guitar work of God Forbid’s career. Along with the unrelenting vocals of Byron Davis, and the underrated rhythm section of bassist John Outcalt and drummer Corey Pierce, the musicianship on “Earthsblood” is top-notch, easily outshining any of their previous records.

Lengthy tracks dominate the second half of “Earthsblood,” where the average running time for each song is near the seven minute mark. God Forbid tries to keep things interesting with unorthodox melodies and acoustic instruments. For the most part, there are no issues, except that God Forbid has a tendency to repeat themselves a lot. Some songs have only one verse, sung two or three times, or a line that gets mentioned over and over again ad-nausea. These moments don’t hinder the album, but they are noticeable and an unwelcoming aspect to what is mostly a stellar album.

God Forbid fans waited almost half a decade for new material, but the band made sure that their patience was not in vein with another great album in “Earthsblood.” Unlike its predecessor, “Earthsblood” takes repeated listens for certain tracks to start clicking. God Forbid stumbles from time to time, especially in the later tracks, but the band always picks it back up to end each song on a high note. Taking a chance with a progressive edge to their cut-throat sound proved to be a successful risk for God Forbid on "Earthsblood."

Highs: Tight guitar work, improved clean vocals, top-notch songwriting

Lows: Second half gets boggled down by repetitive lyrics

Bottom line: "Earthsblood" is a great album that pushes God Forbid to the limit, a gamble that payed off for the band.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)