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Equilibrium - 80%

Odovacar, April 9th, 2012

After being with Century Media for four albums, God Forbid marks their debut on Victory Records with a show of defiance and determination on their sixth album, Equilibrium. The positive and indomitably titled “Don’t Tell Me What to Dream” kicks it off with a Meshuggah-style riff over a commanding Byron Davis shouting the song’s name. The song keeps its unshakeable defiance with breakdowns and the strong rhythm section of drummer Corey Pierce and bassist John Outcalt. That attitude is continued on the album by tracks like the “Conquer”, “Overcome”, and “This is Who I Am”.

God Forbid has played around with a clean-shout structure for most of their sounds since their third album Gone Forever, usually to mixed results. I’ve always felt that the clean singing was forced and whiny, however on Equilibrium, the singing is actually quite strong. I’m not sure if that’s due to Byron Davis taking singing lessons or if guitarist Doc Coyle is pulling more of the vocal duties. Either way, on the power ballad-esque track, “Scraping the Walls” the chorus rings out in an epic, layered treatment that will definitely garner crowd participation at shows.

The title track really demonstrates the singing capabilities of Byron Davis with a gruff call-to-arms performance. There’s even a surprising King Diamond-esque high note hit around 1:13 of “My Rebirth”. The vocals do slip a bit, such as on the beginning of “This is Who I Am” which has a more forced performance from Davis — that’s probably accented by the fact he’s only accompanied by a clean guitar arpeggio. Otherwise, his performance (or is it Coyle’s?) is fantastic throughout the track, with the clean singing taking up more of the airspace than usual while brilliantly intertwining with his trademark shouts.

The vocals don’t overshadow the dual guitar capabilities of Doc Coyle and new guitarist Matt Wicklund (replacing Doc’s brother, Dallas) who bring out the crunchy, catchy riffs, layered with breakdowns that don’t just chug along the low E-string and soaring leads, such as on “Rebirth”, the haunting “Cornered”, and “Overcome” – which shows God Forbid spreading their musical wings a bit with the inclusion of some synth during the pre-chorus. The main riffs of “Move On” and “Where We Come From” have the classic God Forbid-feel of thrash influenced metalcore riffs that doesn’t really seem to be missing the other Coyle brother. This makes me wonder how much of an influence he had on the songwriting or if Wicklund just didn’t contribute a whole lot to the album creatively.

Coming in with a track count 13 songs, Equilibrium is certainly God Forbid‘s longest album – track-wise – to date. Due to the sheer amount of tracks, it can drag on a bit with a few songs sounding similar (particularly the middle portion) and a throwaway instrumental on “Awakening”. There are some decent djent riffs on that track and a pretty cool, shredding lead, unfortunately it doesn’t go anywhere, ends abruptly, and detracts from the overall theme of the album.

Equilibrium is 14 years of cumulative perseverance and defiance – mixing the best of Determination, IV: The Constitution of Treason and Earthsblood. Those who wrote off the band as just another American metalcore band probably won’t’ be made fans from this album however, current fans will definitely be able to find some fantastic songs on here even though it probably won’t end up being an overall favorite. Even after 14 years, God Forbid knows how to push themselves, write catchy songs and are able to stand out from the rest of the pack.

Originally written for Teeth of the Divine.