The last time NJ thrashers GOD FORBID checked in with a new album, it precisely the huge step forward that only a few bands ever get–a bold and kickass record that distinguished God Forbid from every dime a dozen neo-thrash act and catapulted them into the elite of 21st century metal bands. Epic, conceptual, song-driven and carrying itself out onstage, Constitution of Treason had "definitive statement" written all over it. Now Earthsblood, the band's years-in-the-making follow-up, does all it can to ensure that the last time around wasn't the band's masterpiece.
If Constitution of Treason was God Forbid's attempt at becoming a club headliner, they're aiming for arenas here, laboring out ambitious numbers that push the metalcore envelope into a level of credibility. The band's recent MUSE cover is absent, but the British trio's influence turns up in grandiose choruses ("Walk Alone,") keyboard-laden tomfoolery ("The Discovery") and flashy musicianship ("War of Attrition") that is guaranteed to shake up an audience. It all sounds like a natural progression for God Forbid on the album's first half, peaking with the storming "War of Attrition," and "The Rain," where the band perfects it's death metal verse/metalcore chorus formula. Like MACHINE HEAD on their last record, God Forbid strive to tackle big themes by getting louder and longer than before, with strong results.
Earthsblood is both heavier and more accessible than the band's previous albums, with the sweeping "Walk Alone" standing a chance at winning over radio and alienating closed-minded metalheads. Lest one worry that the Hot Topic kids are going to catch on, the SLAYER-aping "Shallow" and the slow-building "The New Clear" could soundtrack your next apocalypse. The lyrics are passable at best, but the hard-charging aggression of the songs effectively depicts the world disorder that barker BYRON DAVIS and guitarist/singer DALLAS COYLE rail about. The album lags near the end when it buries three songs over 21 minutes of disc space, reminding us that progressive, socially conscious metal isn't nearly as easy as GOJIRA make it sound. Still, redemption shows up in the form of "Gaia (The Vultures,)" a plodding finale with a haunting melody that merits all seven minutes of itself. For its faults, Earthsblood is an admirable record from a great band, and hopefully they'll maintain their risk-taking sensibilities from here on.
Buy it/burn it/chuck it scale: Burn