A Prog band from South Wales UK who’s been around since 2008 and is still going strong today. Imaginative and original sounds brought to your Prog ears and their latest offering to the genre, 2015’s “Emergence” keeps with their striving to find new sounds, styles and utilize their influences in inspirational methods to make sure that they continue to put out new and amazing sounds for our minds. Their debut Lp “Spiral Vendetta” came out in 2010 and just a mere five years later we are looking at their senior release called “Emergence” in this ten song full length album.
“Below the Belt” does just that to get us started off and doesn’t waste a note to get right to it. A solid chugging riff’er of a tune with some excellent short harmonies and well ground musicianship. The drums come across soft with their approach but still with an edge as the guitars are rich deep in the mids as the bass adds low end inflections and vocally strong over top of it all. Some good recipe ingredients applied here with the start/stops well utilized and fragrantly included as the guitar solo which is quite interestingly played with some crisp double tracking but the beginning has some strange short passages to it which is not often heard in a solo so that was a pleasant off guard throw in. This takes it to the end of the song as it narrows down to a single note drone that lasts to the bittersweet end. “Ruin” slams us with a tight drum pattern as the vocals begin with a sharp disdain that speaks directly to the world as the guitars gather in the back to add insult to injurious tones as they attack the air with a cutting precision. The build up in the song flows and waves to and fro as the song has a tense impression on it of ominous cloud coverage. It drops down like thunder on a Mojave plain in August and sends shivers up and down your spine as you listen and wait for the lightning to strike which is does in the last quarter of the song as it comes down in searing bolts of flashing bright darkness then stops without notice on you as you are left hanging in mid-air waiting for the next strike that never comes. Leaving us to the next track, “Much Sinister” which it very much so is with its deep rich tones, stomping drums, low end bass that rattles your feet and brisk guitars that strafe your skin with razor like strings. Vocals that are melancholic but haunting their refrain over this track with such ease. Proggy well enough with some minor tempo/timbre and star/stops changes in it to keep it fresh and edgy as it powers through the chords and patterns here. Some great double tracked vocals here as well as a finish that stretches some boundaries and pulls back just in time to cut you right off at the end. “Exit Stage Right” smacks of musical warfare with a punch to the guts right off the hop here. The title makes me think of the live Rush album in a way but this song is nowhere near being Rush, this is Godsticks…. wait…. picture Gerrard Butler in your mind here and instead of Sparta…. “THIS IS GODSTICKS!” Brilliant example of what Neo-Prog is all about here with the systematic tones that are heavy but have a bright future to them as the chords shift and change gears frequently with grace and class. The timbre changes here are awesome as they slice through the air with the edge of a samurai’s katana. The drums are amazingly played here sounding like two drummers are having a go at it and the bass keeps everyone in the pocket super tightly here. “All That Remains” is the standard calmer song mid album classic move here and it’s a beautiful example of how heavier Prog bands can still have the time and talent to pull this off eloquently every time. Full of rich vocal tracks and subtle musicality in the background but essential accents that are inflected and attained through a well ensemble of musicianship here. A tribute to their 70’s Prog heroes they bring in some classical violin strings as well as some well placed acoustic guitars and a peaceful drum shuffle to accompany the harmonies in the background.
“Hopeless Situation” has nothing hopeless sounding about it. It has a very Chili Peppers beat in the beginning to it but not sounding like them which is nothing short of a great feat to pull off. The song clearly has its own identity here and there are a few bands that have an influence on this one for sure as you can’t quite pick them out but you recognize the band’s musical structure well here as they don’t go for the simple straight forward recipe on this one. This one is probably one of the more complex tracks on the record as far as structure and execution of it goes. The Prog recipe is well achieved here through many tempo/timbre changes and almost an offbeat tapping to it that makes you lose your foot now and then which is always a treat when the band has you guessing what time signature and/or tempo they’re in. “One Percent” has a distinct 90’s Rush feel to it in spots but again, it’s done their way as the guitars crunch and snarl their way in to this one as they form that chugging riff for the vocals to careen over them. A mechanized and robotic clinical feel here which is a great applique to the song because not many bands do this approach to a song and of they do it’s only a snippet where Godsticks have done it to the majority of the song making it a standout track. The ending is a total catch you off guard with a solemn fade away but then !THWACK! and they annihilate you in a last minute few bars before they just stop.
“Emergence“, the album’s title track has a heavy grinding drill to it as it begins its all guts no glory presence to it. A heavy metal Prog approach to things here, it’s more of a marriage in the two genres than you think and this band is a great example of how the Twain met and had an ’emergence’ a new sound and how the two blend well together because you can vary and sway the genres in to and fro patterns that don’t say it’s one or the other genre but both. A powerful track to an equally powerful album. The guitar solo here is fluid and jets like water across a gleaming sheet of ice as the band snaps and tromps the flow here like a tank in the midst of a block war battle and they choose to cut us off again at the ending which is a great sense of finished track but also one of the ways of the band saying, “Nuff said”. “Leave or Be Left“, a short just over a minute instrumental interlude that preps us for the last track but has equally just as much to say in its brief but important being here on the record and segues us in to, “Lack of Scrutiny” the final track on the album. It also has the signature Prog classic move of checkmate by being the longest song on the record at seven minutes to complete the journey from sight to sound to end game. The intro has a very speed metal presence to it in a NWOBHM feel to it and repeats in the mid section during the guitar solo briefly. (NWOBHM – New Wave of British Heavy Metal) But again the band takes us on their own path and leads us further down the trail away form anything else we have remotely thought of here giving us another new sound to comprehend and absorb. This one stretches their limitations without exceeding them and bringing them always back in to the folds of their musical realms and they never lose it where so many other bands who do songs of 6minutes or more in other genres often lose their meaning or bore us with interludes that go nowhere and have nothing to do with what is going on, sure that’s one of the blessings of Prog BUT in Prog one must always be mindful as a musician that should you go on tangents in your songs one must know where one is going, been, and going to end up at in order to bring the song full circle whether it segues in to something else or back to the original song you started off with and Godsticks is very well minded about where their music comes from and goes to on every track here.
All their albums are another chapter in their story and PROGression in to the genre and with two albums and an first outing mini-Lp back in 2008 they have been gathering no moss as they continue to burst on to the scene, gain new grounds and reach new ears as they have here. So Prog on Godsticks as the Friars of Prog Rock smile upon thee cheerfully. Enjoy.