God - Hell & Heaven
Khaotica Productions
Viking Metal
5 songs (26:22)
Release year: 2006
God, Khaotica Productions
Reviewed by Kayla

Sometimes the name of a band or album will cause me to do a double-take; I suppose I’m still immature enough that the titles that pornogrind bands give their albums catch my attention. Hearing about a band called God caught my attention in a completely different way, of course, but it did pique my interest. God began life in Romania (how’s that for a sentence to take out of context?) as a gothic metal band, and had a decent discography before label and member relocation trouble lead the two founding members, brothers Constantin and Eugen Lapusneanu, to relocate themselves to Portugal and re-form God as a Viking band. Hell & Heaven is the first piece of work they've produced in this new incarnation.

Hell & Heaven is a solid little EP and a more than decent first effort for the current incarnation of God (yet another phrase I never thought I’d use in a metal review). Their sound is what you’d get if you crossed Ensiferum with a touch of Moonspell (circa The Antidote); aggressive folk metal with a gothic atmosphere found mostly in fluttering string arrangements. That’s as far as that goes, however; Hell & Heaven is more a soundtrack for pillaging than moping in dark rooms. Promised Land starts off with a tumbling solo and some respectable and melodic work from the lead guitar. The strings are mostly ascending and descending runs, the easiest way to create a folky, epic feel, although they mesh quite well with the riffing and bouncing vocal line.

The vocals are quite varied, with two timbres of growls, low clean vocals, and high clean vocals on the remix of Riders From Hell. The low clean vocals and lower growls are where the greatest similarities to Moonspell are found; I can’t help but wonder if vocalist Constantin (and, I suppose, Eugen by extension) is originally from Portugal, given the similarities in his tone and delivery to Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell).

As Hell & Heaven goes along, it builds up quite a head of bombastic steam; the middle track, Barbarian Gods, sounds huge and all-encompassing, the lead melody being tossed back and forth between the guitar and synths, before it peels back to reveal a simple keyboard passage and a layered vocal line. All this before the drums start hammering like the call to war and Constantin starts belting out something completely incomprehensible (although I’m pretty sure it’s in English) but sufficiently epic-sounding that it doesn’t really matter all that much.

After all that, of course, the listener is provided with a respite by a quiet acoustic track, Mystic Song. However, even that is richly layered, with a traditionally Spanish (or Portuguese in this case, I assume) style guitar. The style of the song is the same, however, and the method of layering the same as the other tracks, so it meshes well with the rest of the EP.

There are two versions of Riders Of Hell & Heaven; the original (and thusly-titled) version, and a remix, the so-called Hell’s Angels version. They’re essentially the same; as I mentioned before, the remix has higher-pitched vocals providing accents; the original song has the lower-pitched and higher-pitched growls answering each other, and the higher clean vocals help out the higher growls in carrying the chorus and answering the lower growls. In addition, the beginning features clips of the roar of motorcycles in the rain. Motorcycles are, after all, very metal (though perhaps not the best representation of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in a Viking song).

If this is indicative of the direction God will be taking now (really, it never gets old; go ahead and strike up a conversation about God with your friends) it’s certainly not a bad move. While there’s nothing particularly attention-grabbing other than their potentially amusing name, the music is decent, and something hardcore Viking and folk fans will probably enjoy.

Killing Songs :
Riders Of Hell & Heaven, Barbarian Gods
Kayla quoted no quote
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Dec 25, 2006 11:32 pm
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