I got into Welsh trio Godsticks back on their last album “The Envisage Conundrum.” After many listens, I am still not sure how much I actually like it. Why is that? For me, Godsticks are an enigma. They are a very talented and tight trio of musicians who are more about the riffs than technical excess. So what is my issue?
I figured getting a chance to review their new album “Emergence” would not only allow me a chance to experience the band’s development but also it might help me understand the band better. Well, maybe not. The band are never about writing a chord progression that the user expects to hear. That’s no big deal since that’s how King’s X started out as well.
The issue is that the melodies on top of those chord progressions are odd as well. Add in that, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Darran Charles has a very distinctive voice, it maybe pushes the listener a bit too far. For example, the track “Much Sinister” was released to the masses and it just does not have a strong hook. In fact as I sit here, I can’t recall it and I’ve listened to this album a lot for this review. “All That Remains” might have been a better choice since I can recall it and it does have a good melody.
Along the same lines, “Hopeless Situation” has a strong hook but it fails to impact because Charles’s voice just doesn’t quite sell it enough. He is always in tune but his voice lacks the power and emotion that many of these songs could use. But as a guitarist, he is exceptional, as is the rhythm section of Dan Nelson on bass guitar and Steve Roberts on drums.
But I do LIKE this album, I just don’t think the band has necessarily made any major strides from the last one. The opener “Below the Belt” does rock out. “One Percent” and the closer “Lack of Scrutiny” are strong songs, though could use a bit more of something. Many tracks are like that, so so close.
So basically “Emergence” is very much a Godsticks album. The problem for me is that I still am not clear how much I like them. They remain an enigma and might always be. They are a very talented trio that hopefully will release something to blow me away. They don’t have to, of course, but I hope so.
1. Below The Belt
3. Much Sinister
4. Exit Stage Right
5. All That Remains
6. Hopeless Situation
7. One Percent
9. Leave Or Be Left
10. Lack Of Scrutiny