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A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars Welsh band Godsticks released their sixth studio album titled 'This Is What a Winner Looks Like' in 2023, entirely recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios. The Darran Charles-led collective presents a great collection of ten new songs, as Godsticks expand their sound with what could be regarded as their heaviest release yet. The album kind of sounds like what The Pineapple Thief could have done had they filtered their sound through something like Porcupine Tree's 'The Incident', for example. The rambling riffs intertwine with the fantastic writing in a glorious manner, resulting in a heavy album that keeps the listener engaged and thrilled, topped by the very good vocals, perhaps some of the best to be found on a Godsticks album.

In trying to capture different aspects of where their music could take them, the band have incorporated some electronic elements that fit in perfectly with the heavier edge prevalent on the record. Melodically and lyrically the album is quite strong and coherent and surpasses previous attempts at becoming a heavy prog staple. Flowing naturally between songs, each one is a little journey in itself, telling a different story as part of a grander narrative focused on isolation, angst as well as "the crushing inability to escape from the void of live performance". This is finally an exciting heavy prog album with an alt rock edge that doesn't sound tedious or generic but fresh, exciting and muscular. Great step forward for a now-experienced band that has gone through some stylistic shifts in their career.

Report this review (#2980094)
Posted Saturday, January 6, 2024 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A band whose previous albums have projected much promise. 1. "If I Don't Take It All" (3:25) (8.66667/10)

2. "Eliminate and Repair" (4:52) kind of a boring song vocally but contains some great instrumental play. (8.75/10)

3. "This Is My New Normal" (3:49) the songs are getting weaker, less fresh-feeling. (8.33333/10)

4. "Devotion Made to Offend" (4:12) something a little different but still never rises above (8.75/10)

5. "Silent Saw" (3:25) Decent. Great "rap-like" third minute. (8.75/10)

6. "Throne" (4:31) the first really good djenty music is spoiled by a less-than-stellar vocal. (8.666667/10)

7. "Don't Say a Word to Me" (5:03) interesting synth opening turns old heavy metal with the joinder of the guitars. I like the style of Darran's vocal here: long sustained notes in his upper register. Weird to hear such an "old-style" guitar solo in the fourth minute. (8.75/10)

8. "Mayhem" (3:44) nice complex djent beneath Darran's vocal. Musically the most proggie song on the album, unfortunately it loses a lot from its dull/forgettable vocal. (8.66667/10)

9. "Lying" (4:01) dialing it in? There feels like zero enthusiasm behind this song--from any of the musicians! (8.33333/10)

10. "Wake Up" (5:06) a couple of interesting ideas and melodies here but once again it fails to rise above the mundane "we've heard many songs like this before." (8.666667/10)

Total Time 42:08

The music shows little fresh ideas or progression in either technical or compositional skill. As a matter of fact, I call this a step backwards from the wonderful 2017 release, Faced With Rage.

C/three stars; fair music but not much here for the true prog lover to waste his or her time on.

Report this review (#2980183)
Posted Saturday, January 6, 2024 | Review Permalink

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