GOD FORBID were never a band I really got into during their heyday as the thrashier version of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (still haven’t really). On paper, that sounds like something I’d be all about but albums like "Gone Forever" and the highly acclaimed "IV: Constitution Of Treason," always seemed overly polished and lacked the big hooks of more successful acts like KILLSWITCH or SHADOWS FALL. Then, out of nowhere came the bludgeoning monstrosity that is "Earthsblood." With that record the band transcended the Metalcore genre, becoming the embodiment of what would happen if MASTODON suddenly decided to play Thrash Metal by way of CHIMAIRA. "Earthsblood" is an insanely awesome album, crammed with memorable songs, that only gets better with each listen. Thus, it was with great anticipation that I awaited their next release, which has now come to fruition in the form of "Equilibrium" and it’s strikingly CONVERGE-like cover art.
Opener, “Don’t Tell Me What To Dream”, kicks in with an undoubtedly Hardcore beatdown, not dissimilar to what bands like EMMURE are churning out these days, however it has a groovy, more complex vibe to it that sets it apart from that pool of sub-mediocrity. This song is probably the heaviest on the album and furthermore the band reverts to their familiar, Melodic Thrash style for the rest of the album’s duration. So it’s not the continuation of "Earthsblood" that I longed for, …but fear not! After the first listen I was ready to proclaim this as the finest Metalcore album since "End Of Heartache" – such is the band’s form (If you’ve ever enjoyed anything by KILLSWITCH ENGAGE or DARKEST HOUR, you need this album). Dallas Cole’s presence is not missed in the slightest; the leads laid down by brother Cole, Doc and his replacement – HIMSA's (now there’s a great, and truly underrated Metalcore band) Matt Wicklund are the best they’ve ever been on a GOD FORBID record. However, it has taken me a while to getting around to writing this review because, with each repeated listen, that same impact that I felt the first time was strangely absent, and I was at a loss as to how to feel about the album.
Perseverence prevailed and I have now unlocked the mystery. I now know the secret. You see, the thing about "Equilibrium" is that, rather than like most frontloaded albums, the best of "Equilibrium" doesn’t kick in until about half way. Post title-track, the album takes a heavier and considerably more consistent turn. Plenty of the melody remains, most notably on “Overcome” with it’s STILL REMAINS style, chorus synth and slow, melodic, solos – this track strikes me as a future show closer – but GOD FORBID are at their best when they’re their most fierce; “Move On” invokes CHIMAIRA at their most threatening while “This Is Who I Am” oozes MACHINE HEAD like menace (not least because of the song title). Indeed, Byron Davis makes a far better growler/screamer (come the end of “This Is Who I Am” he sounds truly colossal) than he does an over-produced clean-singer.
The only other qualm I have with "Equalibrium," which coincides with the earlier observation of the album’s later half, is the track ordering. This may seem pedantic but I truly feel that something as simple as switching around the softer, overly melodic “My Rebirth” with the thrashier “A Few Good Men” would give the album a better flow overall, and help resolve the duality the standing track ordering creates.
Other than that, "Equilibrium" is an outstanding record. Along with BLEEDING THROUGH’s latest (released earlier this year), which could not be more at the other end of the Metalcore spectrum, "Equilibrium" proves there’s still some life in the genre - even if it appears to be on its last legs.
(Online April 3, 2012)