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Melodic DEATH Metal - 90%

The_Evil_Hat, September 19th, 2008

Godless Rising was formed by two ex members of Let us Pray era Vital Remains. When I heard this I was intrigued and when I saw the stellar reviews I ordered the CD from Moribund. When it came my excitement rose higher. The cover was awesome and (despite their name) the band seems to have decided to mostly leave satanic topics alone and to focus on war, which is a far better theme, in my opinion, for death metal.

The album opens with Heathens Rage and the first thing that you hear is a violin. It doesn’t even seem to be an intro riff but feels as if you dropped in halfway through the violin’s portion of the song. For some odd reason, this doesn’t come off as unsettling but rather immediately draws you into the album. By the end of the spectacular first song you know that you’re in for a treat.

While the band has members from Vital Remains they are nothing like their far larger relative. Godless Rising are very melodic, but not in the clichéd and usually cheesy Gothenburg way. Instead, think of a heavy death metal riff with a neo classical type solo playing on top of it. I generally am not a big fan of guitar solos. Unless a solo is truly extraordinary or atrocious it will usually flow by me without me so much as noticing it while I focus on something more interesting – like, say, the backing riff. That isn’t the case here. The lead guitarist here dethroned Dave Suzuki as my favorite soloist / lead guitarist with ease. The solos are melodic yet fit in with the heavier riffs, they are also fast and technical but never border on pointless wankery like so many other bands solos have. Since I’ve mentioned Dave Suzuki already I’ll bring up the only link to Vital Remains that this has, and that link is, of course the solos. Only, these aren’t hit or miss in the slightest. They never feel tacked on and instead are the focal point of the songs.

I’ve described the guitars but they are far from the only stand out instruments on this release. The drums are truly exemplary. The drums don’t rely on pure blasting as many bands do but instead use lightening fast and machine gun fired double bass as their main method of destruction. Descriptions like those are used often and usually mean nothing more than standard drumming where the drummer can play above a hundred fifty BPM. Not here. This is truly the only drummer I have ever heard that can give George Kollias a run for his money when it comes to double bass. The drumming on this album is far from a one trick pony, however. Interesting and original beats are always around the corner and countless innovative fills dot the tattered and torn landscape. Blast beats are used as well and due to their scarcity they make whatever part they appear in truly ferocious.

As for the vocals they are good although not incredible. They alternate between growls and far rarer high shrieks. Both styles are fairly understandable for death metal which is good because the lyrics in the booklet are almost impossible to read (due to clashing with the background art). The lyrics themselves are enjoyable to listen to and fit the music, although they aren’t particularly amazing. The bass is solid enough, but it never deviates from the rhythm guitar enough to make an impression. The one time it is truly audible is on Sadistic Ritual Carnage where it has a brief fill right before what is by far the most brutal riff on the album. The production is good. It’s cleaner than most death metal but it fits on this album.

On the whole this is a truly great album and one that anyone who is into death metal and enjoys good and melodic solos NEEDS to hear. The album is a good length at around forty minutes long and is definitely worth whatever price you find it at. There are no real flaws to this album and it’s a joy to listen to straight through or broken up.

Standout Tracks: Sadistic Ritual Carnage, Lair of Cerabus, Heathens Rage, Conflict from Within and Revelations of the Dead King.

If You Want The Best, You Get The Beast. - 100%

spacecorpse1, September 25th, 2007

Lucifer, the fallen angel never seems to get the credit he deserves when it comes to popular music. Instead it's usually the shiny angels that are actually industry whores in disguise that take home the money prize. While the dark one smiles sinfully in the shadows knowing it's all a matter of time until the minds and souls of the youthful strong are behind him. Thus I am so sure that vocalist and Godless Rising mainman Jeff Gruslin, the founding and now sole remaining original member of Godless Rising will have the final laugh because death metal this brilliant will never remain unheard of and underappreciated for very long; not if the true disciples of hell have anything to say about it that is, and... we do.

For an album entitled Battle Lords they better back it up by playing like they are going into war and... they do. Drummer Mike McPherson delivers some the fastest double bass playing that's humanly possible and it's turned up nicely in the mix so that you may feel the impact of thousands of automatic mortar shells beating you in the face. No that's not just a metaphor it's actually true just listen. Dual guitarists Paul Flynn and Mike Lecam = the KK Downing and Glen Tipton of death metal, enough said there. Bassist Justin Flynn comes from a war metal background, his prior work in the underground having been with the war metal band Ampütator, and he lends his tank-heavy bass lines to this communion of shock and awe.

The vocals on this album are performed by a real-life madman by the name of Jeff Gruslin and this is his most personal diary; lyrically and vocally. He's a man that's been singing like this for many, many years for the purpose of releasing his inner demons while doing what he loves as opposed to making a quick buck and faking it. Good news is that his demons never seem to leave him and we once again get a masterpiece of death metal that is Battle Lords. When I listen to this album I get a sense of all the hard work and sacrifice that went into putting it together. These guys must have thrown away so many riffs that could have easily appeared on a new Angelcorpse or Monstrosity album and they would have been successful. At some point though, they must have asked themselves, do we want to just be a great death metal band or do we want to rule the world and forever live in infamy for having birthed such a fantastic, epic warmonster of satanic death metal? I'm glad they went with the latter.

The songwriting here has a very 80's and early 90's thrash, death, black metal feel to it. During those eras in extreme metal, extreme bands like this knew how to write catchy songs. Bands like Destruction, Sodom, Death, and Morbid Angel all wrote actual songs that were just as based on really heavy riffing as they were on hooks and what makes a song catchy. Godless Rising uses that sacred metal gift to their advantage and they are never afraid to show it. Guitarist Paul Flynn's in-your-face riffs never stop hurting your feelings while at the same time turning you into a sadomasochist because you eventually find that you really like the sound of your own ass getting kicked after all.

All this praise must sound exaggerated to the point that you must be asking yourself well, if these guys are so great then why aren't they as popular as Slayer, Morbid Angel, or Deicide? Well they damn well should be and that's the problem. As I mentioned already, the members of this band adopted an all or nothing approach to making this record and what happened was instead of lord satan himself coming down and tapping them all a vein of golden waterfalls into their laps immediately upon the completion of this their magnum opus, they must have all realized that much more hard work was still necessary in order to spread this gospel of hatred to as many starving war-hordes as possible and the strain of that responsibility has recently come to it's fruition in the form of some major lineup changes at such a crucial time in their careers. This situation has not allowed for mainman and Godless Rising's progenitor of all things heavy metal Jeff Gruslin to reap the spoils of war that he and his Battle Lords have unleashed upon the world. That in itself, should be considered one of the worst war crimes of the 21st century. Do yourself a favor and check this out and hear what should be on the top shelf of every death metal fans collection.

Godless Rising...Rising! - 92%

darkreif, September 17th, 2007

Godless Rising has a lot of expectations to fulfill. As a band consisting of two ex-Vital Remains members, there are going to be a lot of expectations riding along with their second full length release, "Battle Lords". Whether or not you are a fan of anti-Christian Death Metal, one has to appreciate the one-two punch that Godless Rising gives us on their latest effort.

Released a little over a year after they debut (a relatively short time considering the underground status of the band), "Battle Lords" takes the band to some new heights, Godless Rising has a chance to flaunt their musical talents and give fans and new listeners a very diverse and solid album. Right from the beginning and the very odd violin intro to "Heathen's Rage", the fury never stops as the band quickly pull off technical guitar riffs and a double bass that will rattle your teeth out of your mouth.

But that's not all that Godless Rising has up their proverbial sleeves, there is also a great deal of diversity on "Battle Lords". The band isn't afraid to pull off extensive solos during verses, which is not the usual Death Metal tactic, there is also some very accurate and progressive cymbal work done in the background that is quite catchy and impressive for an Extreme Death Metal album. The band also changes the tempo quite often during the duration of the album and often in the middle of songs. Sections of groove, melody and pure speed can all be found in a single song like the title track, "Battle Lords".

Gruslin does some great variation on his vocal work too, everything from the heavy bass guttural sounds to a higher, scratchier screech gives the album some good replay value. Although the vocals are layered over one another at times and that could dismay some older Death Metal fans.

In the end, Godless Rising have pulled off another amazing Death Metal offering that combines some of the mentality of the classics but with a modern production and approach to the music. Awesome technicality and diversity really make this album a great listen over and over.

Songs to check out: Battle Lords, Conflict From Within, Revelation Of The Dead King.