Godstopper – Children are our Future (2014) — EP REVIEW

GODSTOPPER2014CAOF_21Children are our Future has me excited enough to skip it ahead of a few other reviews.

I once saw Godstopper while living in Toronto. They were admittedly overshadowed by my excitement seeing Mare headline on a second night of reunion but I didn’t ignore their simultaneously crushing and gentle noisy doom-rock. It would be hard to do considering their curious, irregular patina.

That was the year they released What Matters, the show was actually a month before it, and the LP grew on me quickly quite well. It’s undeniable that you won’t hear much like it.

And now their draw to something deeper in the simpler territories of heavy and beautiful reveals Children are our Future, their new EP, and it’s genuinely stunning. This is a great step for this band.

In some ways Godstopper feel like a slower, weirder Cower. Both bands are unfortunately grievously overlooked, Godstopper coming from a city where there’s a known oddity attached to the sounds that emerge no matter the category we place on them.

These four friends have a good deal to express on their new record. What Matters was intriguing and unforgettable, purposely uneven, and a bit long for all the subtle oddities it contained. “Bent”, “Right Up To Heaven”, “Don’t Walk Home”, “Lyman”, especially “Clean House” — these stick out well. Overall hard to grasp on contact even if you eventually adore it like I do.

Children are our Future, with its four balanced, thoughtful songs makes for a more fluid and gratifying listen straight away I think.

It’s not that the material is necessarily stronger than previous efforts, they’re consistently memorable, but I’m definitely enjoying it more than What Matters off-the-bat. Their approach has refined a little I suppose allowing the hooks to take you faster with all the core goodness from their past intact. Excellent follow through in style that’s a touch more melodic.

The passion finds new purchase on all fronts instrumentally while the uncomfortable edge remains on first glance. A little bitterness. It feels intentional and I like it, kind of carrying over the personality while tempering the execution and writing further to a crisp, unforgettably bright point.

Together the coalesced efforts of Godstopper’s members assemble song writing that keeps shit uncomplicated but engaging, each one progressing into a thriving atmosphere. Individually they’re not being flashy but together the harmony is unique and potent. Many moments are catchy and also deep with clear lyrics providing an eerie or hopeful touch sometimes.

Songs are as mentioned fairly simply structured taking sharp noise rock stabs between darker grooves in many areas, but the sludge doesn’t reach the same heavy of other doom-like groups.

The heavy comes more often in the melodic, soaring moments that appear out of nowhere, perfect examples in “An Old Photo” and “Young Queen”. However the more directly sludge centric track “Death’s Clothes” brings in that more traditional sluggish battering.

Again the vocal performance is a stand out on Children are our Future, reminding me most of Cower sometimes: clean with a very old-school doom gloom crooning meets an almost hair rock enthusiasm or passion. Group vocals are there but the lead is the most intense. Mikes voice has presence and the words are touching, hollering and holding great heights. Only rarely is there growls and screams but they’re fitting when they show up.

I’ll admit I was a little hesitant upon the opening of this record. With “Andy Boy” the start of Children are our Future is a bit jarring, even when the sprinkling of cymbals spices the jabs up. They do well instilling unease with their sound, much like the track “Temples” from What Matters. Then the grimy lick comes in behind an anxious verse and the song quickly takes a turn.

This heavy riff transforms while the opening pangs get sprinkled in, bursts during the chorus which has a rare moment of harsh vocals. Things get increasingly pleasurable to hear. The core bass and guitar get more adventurous as do the vocals, then a bridge capturing that noise-rock dissonance between raspy screams.

After the lone riff begins building and the drums come back whispered vocals inject a bit of creep into the song, they grow into the rasps again. The last few moments crank up all of what they put into this track.

Then right into “Deaths Clothes” the most doom-laden track on the EP, the longest too. Immediately a bass lick flickers, pulling you into the trudge. It’s the vocals, choral and angelic as they start, that again change the atmosphere a bit; this humming “ahs” pepper the track later. The drumming is a solid hammering, martial excusing the wash of cymbals in the noisier moments.

His tone becomes more pronounced and rough once the verses actually come in — no guitar really until this point. Finally after a second revolution a droning series of high notes reverberate loudly, dragging to the front, almost melting as they stretch into another haunting verse.

From this point the guitars are busier: bends and scratching, feedback even when following that bass lick. In the lat minute the layered vocals really catch, harsh jabs underneath the droning chorus, and fading into silence.

My favorites on this EP are easily the final two songs “An Old Photo” and “Young Queen”. The former really solidified this release as impressive to me but both are prime examples of why Godstopper are a band worth getting to know.

“An Old Photo” captures a dual light hearted and beautifully sad quality in the gloomy sludge, instantly recognized in the procession of cheery “na na”‘s floating above a simple rhythm, and light drum strikes. It comes off celebratory before a hard transition where things remain slow but are draped in a somewhat sorrowful atmosphere.

Each downward note falling to the floor, repeated over and over, this riff dominates the majority of the song. An added slab of heavy as the layering infused with another guitar and later noise/feedback, bass crushing. This fucking rules.

The words hang thickly, ringing loud, eventually becoming stronger, the trailing and loud “before!” singles a change. A return to the opening gentle procession. Only now the distortion is on and the drumming is powerful, rolling strong. This is a great moment of the song that really sounds triumphant very much like “Lyman” from What Matters. Simple with a slow fade leaving only the marching “na”‘s.

Now this leads to the last one which has a seriously nice video accompaniment debuted by Cvlt Nation. This is “Young Queen” and it takes what the previous track did and proceeds to flesh out that aura only beginning with significantly more sludge. That opening riff pounds downward, harmonized eventually. The core rhythm erupts in palm mutes with the cries and howls.

The vocals pierce the heavy as they reach into the old-school wonderfully, melodic and clear. “Alone!” he cries, slowly softening his howls. He stretches it — suddenly this tremendous and soothing passage bursts. So brilliant and heavy especially the vocals. Verses are dreamy and the rhythm just soaks up that passion as layers push in. The last chunk repeats the last line and rounds out coming back to the start.

I’m really impressed by this. Children are our Future is a great follow-up from What Matters. Invigorating and warm, heavy and lush, very pleasing to the ear. Godstopper’s path seems set to be continuously interesting and rewarding to follow.

In order to make sure they can continue doing great things you should support this. Children are our Future is currently up for a pay-what-you-can download on bandcamp so do these guys a solid and pitch something into this strangely luminous doom rock EP.

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