Godsticks - Inescapable
Progressive Rock
9 songs (50:22)
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Goat

A Welsh group who have been active for over a decade, Godsticks play a familiar form of prog that isn't without its originalities. There's a particularly modern style of British prog that owes a lot to alt rock, made famous by Porcupine Tree and continued with the likes of The Pineapple Thief and Godsticks play it well, mixing influences from Radiohead to Rush to Tool all into a decent formula with lots to offer for fans of both prog and rock. And Inescapable shows them developing nicely, a set of well-written and diverse songs that sing the praises of the band far more than the self-deprecating lyrics based around setting impossible standards for yourself to achieve. It's music that is far better than it may at first sound, the likes of Surrender solidly played and decently (if not, to pinpoint the band's main fault, always tremendously) sung but not really wowing you by itself without time spent with the album as a whole.

Opener Denigrate is endearingly chunky and djent-y, one of the more metal-leaning tracks present with driving riffs, groovy bass and backing vocals from TesseracT's Daniel Tompkins and a great bit of soloing, yet the album as a whole trends towards softer moments in a way that makes it a little harder to recommend to metal fans. The following Victim is more melancholic and built around the vocals, the rock instruments falling into the background a little more even with more soloing, which is a consistent strength across the album as a whole. Again, it's hard to see this album as heavy, even when compared to the likes of Riverside's last album which used its mournful atmosphere as a strength; Inescapable being more resentful than outright angry or melancholic. Even the staccato-riffed Relief is aggressive more because of the vocals (and lyrics, with plenty of f-bombs) than the instrumentation, and generally guitar-driven tracks like Time lean far more towards melody.

Yet overall the band have the balance about right, particularly on the album's stronger second half where an engaging Alice in Chains-esque grunginess begins to emerge on the likes of Numb and especially the nine-minute Change, which builds up slowly yet so smoothly that the bursts of Dream Theater-esque chugging riffage work extra nicely, and it doesn't feel overlong or overstretched. That 90s feel intensifies with the gentle but beautiful ballad Breathe and the aforementioned Time, where the vocals take on a little of that Layne Staley-esque sneer to them but the captivating guitar work seizes your attention more, even getting technical towards the end with some fun drum flourishes. And finale Resist sounds more like the Seattleans, complete with wordless harmonising - interesting also that it's one of the weaker tracks on the album, finishing a little abruptly and unsatisfyingly. It's possible that Godsticks flew a little too close to their influence here but when listened to as a whole the album still sounds original and flows well, and fans of modern prog will find much to enjoy.

Killing Songs :
Victim, Change, Breathe, Time
Goat quoted 75 / 100
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