Album Title: Inescapable
Date of Release: 7 February 2020
I’m a little late to the party with this record and, if I’m honest, it wasn’t really in the queue to be listened to. January and February are busy months for new album releases and I have been struggling to fit everything in. However, an announcement was made by the ProgPower Europe team that this UK-based band would be appearing on the festival bill for 2020. As I was to be making my annual pilgrimage to the festival, I suddenly felt obligated to check out Godsticks in more detail.
Having now done that, I can declare that I am pleased to have taken the time to listen to ‘Inescapable’, the Welsh quartet’s fifth album of their career. If I’m entirely honest, I’m not convinced I’m the exact target audience for Godsticks, but the mark of quality music is that it can bridge divides and transcend genres to a point where even the sceptical can find some enjoyment.
The sound of Godsticks is hard to pinpoint, but it is fair to suggest that it encompasses everything from heavy rock, to 90s grunge, and from prog rock to modern alt rock, with a fair amount of variety within the nine tracks that make up ‘Inescapable’. Some compositions work better than others for my tastes, but the band should be commended for offering something a little different from the masses.
The spearhead for Godsticks is vocalist, keyboardist and singer Darran Charles and he sits alongside bassist Dan Nelson, guitarist Gavin Bushnell, and drummer Tom Price to deliver ‘Inescapable’. The press release and quotes from the band hint that this record is a more melodic affair than previous albums. If that’s the case, I’ve not been convinced to delve too far into the Godsticks back catalogue, because ‘Inescapable’ isn’t the most overtly mellifluous of recordings. At least, that’s the initial impression.
As time goes on and the spins rack up (more out of duty than desire initially), more in the way of melody becomes apparent and I begin to find a little more enjoyment. Ironically, given my general mistrust and dislike for the grunge movement that swamped the 90s, I find myself gravitating most towards the brooding track ‘Victim’. It is a softer, more melodic song with vocals from Charles that are very reminiscent of the grunge scene, as are the bass and the guitar tones. But crucially, alongside the loose and relaxed performances from the musicians, are strong melodies throughout, especially in the pre-chorus and subsequent chorus. The guitar solo is really striking too.
I also like the angular and prog groove of opening track, ‘Denigrate’ which benefits from a guest appearance from TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins. It too, has a 90s vibe to it in the production and the way that the song comes across. And yet, it remains modern-sounding somehow, relevant in today’s world.
The contemplative ‘Breathe’ is another grower that features that sombre atmosphere but which backs it up with some nice melodies, a vibrant and dominant bass playing and a sense of tension that grows throughout the track.
With song titles like the aforementioned ‘Victim’ and ‘Breathe’ as well as ‘Numb’, ‘Relief’, and ‘Surrender’, you get the feeling listening to ‘Inescapable’ that this is a very personal album where very real human emotions are being confronted, dissected and laid bare. And apparently that is the case, as the fodder for ‘Inescapable’ is the inner thoughts and personal musings of Charles himself. The overall tone of the record is certainly in keeping with this, as much of it is quite dark and introspective.
Try as I might, I can’t get on with ‘Relief’ though, as it is repetitive and feels more one-dimensional than other tracks on the record. Plus, I’m not a fan of the lyrics, which seem a little forced and not delivered with the kind of venom that perhaps such sentiment should. Then I firmly believe that the near ten-minute ‘Change’ is way too long, with the content not really justifying the length, despite some meaty riffing at the start that initially catches my ear.
At the outset, I did state that I am not really the target audience for this album and, whilst I like much of the material more than I thought I might in the beginning, I remain of that opinion. I like what Godsticks are trying to do on ‘Inescapable’ and I’m certain that this new record will find favour with many – indeed, if what I have written piques your interest, be sure to check this record out. It does deliver enough for me to want to check out the band at ProgPower Europe, but it won’t be an album that’s returned to very frequently in the coming months I suspect.
The Score of Much Metal: 70%
Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: