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Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff CD (album) cover


Van Der Graaf Generator


Eclectic Prog

4.48 | 1998 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I couldn't really imagine what Van Der Graaf Generator could do after Pawn Hearts, an album which has since become one of my top albums of all time. In this sense, I consider us blessed that afterwards, the touring became too intense and the band decided to call it quits. Because this gave them enough space away from the music, enough time to mature without trying to top Pawn Hearts, that when they returned with Godbluff, they were saying something new again. (Not that Van der Graaf seem like a band likely to repeat themselves).

So three years after the masterpiece that was Pawn Hearts, we receive this excellent follow up album that features the classic four piece lineup of Hamill, Evans, Banton and Jackson.

The sound is both recognisable and changed. The band played the songs live and developed them, instead of using studio trickery to develop their sound. As a result, the music has a decidedly rawer edge. Fans of Pawn Hearts' dissonance, such as the studio effect of having 23 different VDGG recordings playing at once, will find that such effects are not used here - the rest can all take a sigh of relief. (That doesn't include me because I found that the dissonance in Pawn Hearts was part of what made it so magical).

Despite the years between the last recording and this one, the band sounds at least as tight as they ever did. The 35 minutes on this album don't have a single dull moment. The album is full of sharp edges and aggression.

While the album was selected from a series of tracks that were recorded together, including some that would later end up on Still Life, it feels like they all have a cohesive theme. References to war exist on the majority of the track, although The Undercover Man seems to hint at the feelings of isolation and insanity that made the previous two albums so intriguing.

Highlights: Scorched Earth describes the sound of the track as much as it does the lyrical content, with dark lyrics that continue to hint at the aforementioned themes. (In many ways, it's not too thematically different from Emperor off of H to He). In Arrow, Peter's vocals reach a new level of intensity. Long gone are the sweet, high pitched sounds he made on Pawn Hearts, here we basically have screaming vocals, with an intensity that matches the song's content quite remarkably. The Sleepwalkers is probably the catchiest part of this album, and at least as enjoyable as anything else.

There are really no downsides to this record, and it has earned its reputation as one of the best Van Der Graaf albums. It shows the band taking their music in a new direction, which they would continue for the next two albums. The only thing holding it back from reaching 5 star status is that, despite it's very sturdy foundation, the album doesn't quite reach the same heights as the best moments on H to He, Pawn Hearts, or Still Life.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |


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