Following the release of Welsh rockers Godsticks’ new studio album – Faced With Rage the band have released a video for the song “Angry Concern”.
The clip was filmed during the recording sessions for Faced With Rage at the world-renowned Monnow Valley Studio in Wales. Darran Charles, Godsticks vocalist, guitarist and main writer talks in depth about the track and their time at Monnow: “‘Angry Concern’ is probably one of our most experimental sounding tracks to date and testament to how integral each band member’s contribution is these days. Dan and Tom’s bass and drums are key to keeping an aggressive edge to what is a deceptively vocal-heavy track. I remember that this was one of the first tracks we recorded drums for at Monnow Valley and unusually for us, we ended up tracking drums for the entire song rather than section by section. This ensured a certain dynamism to the performance and I remember that after Tom’s very first take of this track we were all stunned into silence, including James our producer – it blew us away! One of my very favourite drum performances since the band first got together.”
Godsticks, having recently toured with The Pineapple Thief and appeared at Planet Rockstock festival, have also confirmed they will playing two headline shows in the UK in May – their hometown of Cardiff and in London.
A rather excited Darran Charles comments on taking that step to headlining: “After spending the best part of a decade as an opening act you can imagine we have been chomping at the bit to finally do our own headline shows. We’ve more than paid our dues I think, and with 4 albums behind us it’s time to stand on our own 8 feet! We’ll be performing tracks that we’ve never played live before and rehearsing harder than ever to ensure these are the best two Godsticks shows you’ve seen to date. We genuinely cannot wait!!”
Here’s a bit of that old serendipity doo dah that we often talk about. A few months ago at the behest of Good King Martin of Progradarshire I ventured forth on a cold wet Bristol Sunday evening to see Gavin Harrison and Bruce Soord steal pineapples in a German themed drinking den (which I’m reliably informed is larger than the feast) in the ensuing review which I am sure Martin will cleverly link to here, I discovered Godsticks for the first time.
My definition of a great support band is one where you enjoy the set so much you want to buy the album, I have discovered bands like Tilt and Jemima Surrender amongst others like this, and the only regret at the Godsticks gig was the fact that their set was heavily dependant on their next album ‘Faced With Rage’, which hadn’t been released yet.
Well, the good news for all you Godsticks fans, and all those who enjoyed their sets on the recent Pineapple Thief tours is that it’s now out, and I have been listening to it all week on my commute in, good job really, otherwise this would be a terribly pointless review (what’s new? Ed.).
Bit of history, Godsticks were formed in Cardiff back in 2008 the band has Darran Charles at the front, his guitar sound and vocals are an intrinsic part of Godsticks (and his work as touring guitarist for the Pineapple Thief also showcased his versatility) and he is ably accompanied by guitarist Gavin Bushell, bassist Dan Nelson and ‘new boy’ – drummer Tom Price.
Live, Godsticks are a mixture of power, aggression and melody, and the new material they played sounded like it had been part of the set forever.
On record there is obviously a more subtle dynamic at work, and it is refreshing to hear a four piece traditional style guitar band sounding on record like they do on stage, there is no technical malarkey tampering with the songs, these are songs designed to be played full tilt in the context of a concert, and the fact that they work so well in both arenas is a testament to the writing and production.
This is the bands 4th album, and they weren’t a band I had ever heard of prior to seeing them rip the stage up on tour with the Pineapple Thief, and I’ll hold my hands up here and state I had seen them described as prog metal, which to this listener is a bit of a turn off. A lot of the new prog metal stuff is just loud music that goes on too long.
I would not describe Godsticks as prog metal, they have the knack for writing a catchy tune, they have a dynamic twin guitar sound that propels the music forward, and they are probably at the heaviest end of the music that would appeal to me, but prog metal? No.
In layman’s terms Godsticks Rock! They have an impressive musical armoury, and certainly live having an extra guitarist to do some of the heavy lifting allows Charles to be the front man he so obviously is. His exceptional vocal range and guitar playing, in tandem with Gavin Bushells guitar work, is one of the many highlights of this album, and tracks that they powered through live, like Open Your Eyes or Guilt are superb examples of the finest hard rock sounds, whilst on longer pieces like the excellent Everdrive, this is the sound of a band pushing themselves and moving forwards.
Godsticks live are an energetic and impressive prospect, on record they reinforce that opinion and to their credit have created an album that wholly reflects who they are as musicians, with what sounds to me like no compromises.
Based on the live show I saw I was expecting to enjoy this record, having heard it, I absolutely love it, and it has snuck in under the radar at the end of the year as what could be one of the top ten albums of 2017.
I once stole some coconut shampoo, I don’t know why, I didn’t have a coconut, however Bruce Soord has been getting away with Pineapple Thievery for over 18 years, and despite the gig being on a Sunday night, I was glad to finally see them on their latest musical jaunt, a worldwide tour de force promoting the latest long player ‘Your Wilderness’. In fact these dates were added later, as it seemed very odd when the tour was first announced that they bypassed the West Country entirely, and we can’t all afford to ship off over to that London for a gig
In fact this was the last gig of the tour, and practically a local one, as Bruce doesn’t live a million miles away, so it was almost a homecoming for him.
It’s always strange to go to a venue that is so intimate to see bands that you think should be playing such bigger venues, particularly when the venue is the Bierkeller, which is an odd little place. A cross between a traditional rock club and a German drinking haus, managing to not quite be one thing or t’other, and it’s also funny to go to the merch stand and see the latest release by the band being an audio/visual document of the show that you’re about to watch. (Where we Stood).
Support was by Welsh boys and K-Scope label mates Godsticks, whose set was made up of a majority of new material from their forthcoming album ‘Filled with Rage’, I had never heard of them before, and as I have probably said elsewhere one of my criteria for what makes a great gig is how good the support band are.
Godsticks are good, very good indeed, they have a wonderfully chunky sound, big riffs and big beats, and have that knack of turning up the amps but not losing the melody, whilst the set was bias towards the new record, ‘Faced with Rage’, which is out on October 13th, the older material from ‘Emergence’ fitted in superbly.
As a rock band go Godsticks are entertaining, musically adept and according to someone who was with me in the audience who had seem them before, they have come on leaps and bounds. All I know is they were a superb start to the show, and got the audience warmed up before the main event.
Last time I saw Bruce and the boys was on the ‘Magnolia‘ tour, back in The Fleece in Bristol in 2014, and then I thought they should be playing somewhere far bigger.
Now, with the addition of the busiest man of the night Godsticks guitarist and vocalist Darran Charles, who joined ThePineapple Thief live line-up, the amazing Gavin Harrison on drums, the Thief’s live sound is suddenly enhanced, and those simple tweaks helps take the burden of Bruce, so he can be the frontman he was always destined to be, and with Gavin on board this group of excellent musicians suddenly have raised their game even more.
There is a reason why the tickets say ThePineapple Thief with Gavin Harrison, and that is because Gavin is the contemporary musical equivalent to Bill Bruford, and is mesmerising to watch and hear as a drummer, astonishingly despite being a massive fan of his work, both solo and with bands like Porcupine Tree or King Crimson, this was the first time I have ever seen him live, and whilst I love The Pineapple Thief, and their latest album, seeing Gavin Harrison in action was something I couldn’t miss.
Being biased towards some of the later albums, and of course ‘Your Wilderness’, the entire album hits the stage at one point or another tonight, and songs like In Exile, Where We Stood and Tear you Up come across with power and intensity, the sound that a band confident in their ability can deliver with panache.
With Darran doing some of the heavy lifting, Bruce is like a man freed, playing to the audience and turning in some fine banter (‘forgetting’ to remember the album title of Godsticks new release being one of many exchanges), whilst material from ‘Magnolia’, including The One you left Behind (the strongest track from that album), absolutely rips the place apart with the power and skills of the band. With long term collaborators Steve Kitch on keys and Jon Sykes on bass, a lot of the focus is of course on the man in the corner of the stage. Every note is timed to perfection, every fill, every beat is on point, and nothing is superfluous, I feel a lot of prog drummers can get a lesson in how to do it from Gavin Harrison. Everything he does added so much to the songs that every so often I would get a great big grin on my face, as the whole sonic template meshed together to create an almighty sound.
I said before when I saw them at The Fleece a few years ago how I couldn’t understand why they aren’t playing bigger venues, and ironically the Bierkeller is slightly smaller than the Fleece, and I wish I could fathom why a band this powerful, with songs this melodic, this intelligent and this epic aren’t selling out and playing to the sort of crowds that bland wallpaper peddlers like Coldplay are doing. There is more musical intelligence in one of Bruce’s riffs or one of Gavin’s fills than there is in Coldplay’s recorded output for the last 5 years, and music this big and this powerful and emotional deserves a bigger platform. I guess that the benefit for us is that we get stadium-sized performances in smaller venues and to hear this music, this close is something we should all be thankful. If, and I say if, Gavin Harrison is still playing with The Pineapple Thief next time they tour then you owe it to yourself to go see them. If not, then we’ll always have ‘Where We Stood’, and the Bristol Bierkeller.