God Forbid



Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 02 May, 2012
Link: Facebook Page

Redemption is at hand

New Jersey (U.S.A.) quintet God Forbid really seemed like they were going places with the mighty duo of Gone Forever (2004) and IV: Constitution of Treason (2005). They really did build on the strong foundations of 2001’s Determination which went under the radar way back when. Four years on from Constitution of Treason and Earthsblood was quite the let down. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why it didn’t cut it. All I know in the purest of sense is that it didn’t continue the upward trend that the band were clearly heading based on the releases that preceded it. Perhaps then it is of no surprise to see the group pop up on a label other than Century Media for the first time. The band now calls Victory Records their home and the group’s sixth long player, Equilibrium, is the first for their new label.

In the years since Earthsblood, however, the band has had an injection of new blood as well. Long time guitarist and vocalist Dallas Coyle left the band not long after the release of Earthsblood. He was soon replaced by ex-Himsa guitarist Matt Wicklund and the band went about their business. Dallas - whose brother Doc is still the other guitarist in the band – played quite a significant part in the group not only as a guitarist but as a contrasting vocalist to frontman Byron Davis. So Coyle’s departure is more significant than you might think from the outside. There would be big shoes to fill and more importantly, a significant part of the band’s style would require attention as well.

So where does that leave us with Equilibrium? It’s still very God Forbid sounding. The crux of it features a mix of clean and shouted/growled vocals, solid riffs mixed with stomping breakdown runs and tonnes of groove that we have always received from these New Jersey cats. Are things too different? Well, no, not really. Sure the solos are still present but the big thing is the larger presence of Doc Coyle vocally here and conversely, the lacking presence of the vocal talents of his brother. Are these things game changers for God Forbid? Thankfully, the answer is no. Equilibrium might turn out to be quite the apt title as the band is clearly running on all eight cylinders without missing a beat, regardless of the line-up change. Clearly the band is still in balance at this point in their career.

But here’s the thing. Equilibrium is the metric shitload better than the unfocussed Earthsblood. Whilst that is itself is a good thing – a point backed up by the trademark God Forbid sounding opener Don’t Tell Me What to Dream, the excellent A Few Good Men, and the soaring title track Equilibrium amongst others – album number six still falls short of the infectious brilliance of Gone Forever and Constitution of Treason. It’s strong and certainly has its moments and it clearly shows the band is focussed once again on what made them great on those aforementioned albums.

However, as one of “those” bands that were at the pointy head of the pack of New Wave of American Heavy Metal acts that took the metal world by storm almost a decade or so ago, unfortunately, the pack has bolted and God Forbid were left behind. It’s almost criminal really because like Skinlab before them – also a Century Media artist at the time – the potential to be huge shone brightly with two albums in succession, and for whatever reason, the wheels fell off and the bands fell by the wayside as the Lamb of Gods of the world went on to reach new and astonishing heights. It sucks really because acts like God Forbid and Skinlab become criminally underrated and eventually forgetten. Here’s hoping that for God Forbid, Equilibrium helps bring some well deserved attention back to this quintet because they deserve it. Those who gave up on them with Earthsblood need to give these guys another go because Equilibrium is definitely the God Forbid we all know and love from a previous era.

Victory Records/Riot! Entertainment

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