Few could dispute that God Forbid have earned their stripes in the metal circuit. Years of relentless touring, a string of consistent albums and seemingly forever being stuck on the cusp of breaking out have certainly earned the band the right to finally cash in. But even with an extremely long gestation period and a lightly documented case of writers block, God Forbid have seemingly resisted temptation and undergone yet another well thought out transformation with "Earthsblood".
The cynics and detractors out there will surely be quick to write "Earthsblood" off as the album where God Forbid discovered Opeth, but while the revered Swedes are seemingly a heavy inspiration, "Earthsblood" is more than mere idol worship. For as many progressive melodies there are introduced here, the band equally match them with careening Americanized moments of brutal riffage and rage. This is where "Earthsblood" begins to break away from the easy comparisons.
For unlike Opeth, God Forbid have stripped away the folky psyche layers and replaced them with a far more bleaker urban atmosphere that plugs into their already established sound nicely. Combined with an increased breadth of melodic vocals that both clash and coalesce, the group are able to sound far more intertwined than your average good cop/bad cop tag team. If that alone wasn't enough, the entire group seem to have upped their game on all angles, showcasing beefier technical ability and broader range. Still, as grandiose and provoking as the many epic moments here can be, there's a tendency to feel that the band might just be in a bit over their heads.
Whether it be the melting pot approach that sees some early 80's Ozzy shamble to the surface in "Walk Alone" or a few overly labored choruses and hooks, not everything here is surefire genius. That said, while some subtlety and restraint certainly could have been exercised in some choice spots, the majority of this album rarely overstays its welcome, despite the greatly increased lengths of the songs on hand.
Indeed the only real complaint that could be leveled against "Earthsblood", is that while thoroughly enjoyable, some transitions and parts just seem forced and unnecessary. There's a fine line between simplicity and complexity when it comes to maintaining a steady momentum and "Earthsblood" can go either way on a song by song basis. Even so, it'd be hard to dispute that this is both God Forbid's most ambitious and most sonically rewarding album to date.
A veritable labyrinth of sound is contained within and will take more than a few repeat visits before the listener fully makes their way through it. In addition to that, it also seals God Forbid's graduation from being lumped in with the metalcore crowd to becoming a full-fledged metal band. More than likely "Earthsblood" will end up a critic and fan favorite, ensuring God Forbid have successfully jumped the shark and kept their ass cheeks intact.
(4 / 5)