Review: GOD – GOD II: Jesus Christ

18740691_296817024105200_5223610272702735472_n.jpgWritten by Brett Kihlmire

In the last half of 2016 a mysterious band calling itself GOD began unveiling tracks from its debut album simply titled GOD I. Though giving the album out one track at a time over a period of months, via lyric videos containing religious messages rather than traditional lyrics, this ambitious marketing plan catapulted GOD into the ears of prog and djent fans the world over. One year later, GOD is making its return with GOD II.

With GOD I being just shy djent masterpiece, my hopes were high going into GOD II and I wasn’t disappointed. The forces behind this band bring all the layered metal back for round two and do it even better. The thumping rhythm of the drums drive every song without getting out of line with the guitars and bass while the use of a standard and baritone bass really add to the heaviness of each track. The real stars of the show, however, are the guitars. GOD easily manipulates the instrument to make for some seriously cutting edge leads.

Every song on GOD II is a trip into another dimension. While the album opener ‘I Am’ reminds me a bit of the band’s previous work, particularly ‘Foreknown,’ it’s an excellent start with its equal parts heavy and melodic approach. One moment you’re soaring through the clouds on the majesty of the lead guitar and the next you’re wading through thick riffs. Easily one of the heavier tunes is track 2, ‘Obey.’ With some seriously addictive riffing and smart drum beats mixed in with fret shredding leads, this one carries the album onward.

‘Worship’ is the closest to a ballad GOD is going to give us. While it’s relatively heavy in comparison to the previous two tracks, the melody of the lead guitar matches the title by giving listeners a sense of wonder and closeness to the subject that GOD is covering. And if this one doesn’t quite hit the spot, ‘Temptation’ will  certainly grab you attention. This one has some wild leads at the beginning and that soaring lead style really reminds me of the work of Dream Theater. It’s an airy and delightful tune that gives the best of both worlds that GOD delivers.

‘Holy’ and ‘Transfiguration’ carry the album on just like the previous tunes. They’re not bad by any means, but feel a little formulaic. Fortunately, they switch things up just enough with some clean strumming to keep my attention. They’re definitely songs you’d relax to rather than work out with.

The seventh track of the album, ‘Prayer,’ is a bit of a curve ball and that’s good! Taking a prog rock approach, meaning it’s a little lighter on the riffing than most tracks so far, this one is refreshing on the ears. The clean strumming and effects really send a message without any words necessary. It’s a good clean track that’s perfect for getting your head together after a long day. The same can be said of ‘Trust,’ but this one is a bit heavier and much faster – the strategic use of double bass really hits its mark here, and those sharp leads are just great. It’s one of those tunes that you’ll never hear the same way twice thanks to the unique and sometimes subtle layering approach GOD takes with its music. Trust me, you’re going to be noticing different layers of bass and guitar with each listen.

Nine tracks in and we get another one right out of left field with ‘Forsaken.’ Charging off with a surprising speed metal vibe, the riffs are unbelievably fast, especially in comparison to the rest of the album thus far. The wailing of the lead guitar, fast and hard hitting drums, and chunky riffs really set this one apart from the rest and stand out as one of my personal favorites.

Capturing the essence of its source material, ‘Crucified’ has an air of darkness and pain delivered by the bass and rhythm guitar while the lead guitar shifts between an airy, loving feel and a darkness, foreboding atmosphere. What I really dig about this one is how it flows between the two extremes of the spectrum. At one point you’re feeling the music equivalent of anger and sorrow and then you’re feeling peaceful and relieved. I have to say, this one really captures the essence of its title, though I can’t say there was anything peaceful about crucifixion, except perhaps the noble sacrifice theme of the story in question.

‘Death’ takes you right into the shadows and really switches things up for the album. An unusual guitar effect and melody cover by a veil of synths kick this one off into darker territory. The beat and rhythm is slow and heavy, and the lead guitar is downtrodden until wailing out in pain. The chuggy riffs soon drive things on until an eerie, almost hypnotic melodic section kicks in sending the listener into a spiral. From the hypnotic melodies to the chugging riffs and squealing leads, this track really captures the essence of its title and sends the listener into a dark place. Thankfully, a wild solo towards the end shows us the light and leads us into the final track, ‘Forgiveness.’

The album closer picks up right where ‘Death’ left off with that “light at the end of the tunnel” feel carrying us to the end of the album. Like its immediate predecessor, it’s a slower track but it doesn’t blow your mind with heaviness. Rather, this one focus primarily on the melody giving it a heavenly feel as the lead guitar glides through our ears and delivers a satisfying conclusion to this is excellent album.

With not even a year passing since the GOD I was fully released, I was a little worried about how much GOD could have evolved in such a short span of time. Fortunately, GOD returns bigger and better than before. GOD II is just what prog rockers and djent-heads need in 2017. Though it lacks vocals, which some might cry foul at, it’s a solid effort through and through. If you’re a guitar aficionado then this is don’t miss album! It’s a rare delight for the year. 9/10

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