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TRACK LIST: 1. Below the Belt 6:21 2. Ruin 4:00 3. Much Sinister 4:30 4. Exit Stage Right 5:45 5. All That Remains 4:38 6. Hopeless Situation 4:30 7. One Percent 6:30 8. Emergence 6:11 9. Leave or Be Left 1:06 10. Lack of Scrutiny 7:00 LINEUP: Darran Charles – vocals; guitars; keyboards Steve Roberts – drums; keyboards Dan Nelson – bass With: Jessica Moncrieff – violin Triona Milna – viola Rory Simmons – trumpet Barnaby Dickinson – trombone Moray MacDonald – keyboards Bruce Soord – vocals Rick Musallam – vocals Kaysha Louvain – vocals
Prolusion. The UK trio GODSTICKS has been around for more than a decade, initially starting out as a cover band back in 2006, and then from 2008 and onward focusing on creating and releasing their own original material. "Emergence" is their third and most recent studio album, self-released by the band in 2015.
Analysis. Godsticks is still what many would describe as a new band in progressive rock circles, despite sticking around for a good decade by now. A band that, in my book, is fairly high up on the list of bands too many people overlook in this day and age with endless choices of what music to spend time to listen to. This is a quality band (which is proven over three studio albums by now) that does deserve more recognition than what they have received so far. In terms of placement in the progressive rock universe, Godsticks as of 2015 resides firmly in the harder edged part of it, and one bordering on hard rock and even metal at times. As such, this is a band that should have a good reach also outside of progressive rock circles, especially as they tend to shy away from the more overt aspects of progressive rock and have a stronger tendency to be complex in a more subtle manner. Their material will by and large alternate between a small handful of arrangements that flow seamlessly into each other. On the most extreme side are majestic, massive guitar riffs with a progressive metal intent, on the other extreme we find wandering, gentle, light toned guitar textures with more of a melancholic timbre to them. In between, and also the dominant aspects of this production, we have firm, hard mid toned and light toned guitar riffs and darker toned heavier guitar riffs. The rhythms are steady and subtly sophisticated, and the greater majority of the songs also feature quality, melody and harmony-oriented lead vocals, occasionally with backing vocals emphasizing the harmony-oriented nature of the songs. As with other progressive rock threesomes, Godsticks tends to feature some nice, quirky guitar details here and there, and are skilled in creating material that maintains a strong tension throughout. In many ways this band makes me think of King's X, as there are similarities at hand here beyond both bands consisting of three members: the quality lead vocals for starters. But where King's X, at least initially, had more of a tendency to create melancholic material and often featuring details referencing back to the ‘70s and even The Beatles, Godsticks’ universe is a darker one, going from melancholic to ominous in mood and presence and fairly often with a slight touch of grunge finding its way into the darker toned passages of their material. That being said, on All That Remains, which I find to be the best track here, the band does showcase that they fare well also when exploring landscapes of a much gentler nature altogether.
Conclusion. Those who tend to enjoy progressive rock featuring elements from hard rock, metal and, arguably, grunge as well, should find Godsticks' 2015 album "Emergence" to be one that merits an inspection. Otherwise this is a band I'd recommend any fan of King's X to get familiar with. Godsticks may be different in overall sound and atmosphere, but they do have a rather similar approach, even if the ingredients may well be from a somewhat different source. "Emergence" is a quality album that warrants a check.
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