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Recommended - 85%

730, March 19th, 2011

Currently there's definitely a resurgence of "older sounding" death metal bands. That is; bands that strip it down a bit and mind the more flowing and memorable compositions of songs rather than the uber-technical and complex which consequently resulted in a race for who's the most brutal and confusing. These "older sounding" bands want to bring the songs back into death metal. And who can blame them? The pissing contest has gone too far.

Enter Godless Rising and their impressive Trumpet of Triumph full length. This is the first time the band's fine music has graced my ears and it screams experience and knowledge. What I mean by thisss is that there's nothing juvenile, rushed, or coincidental about Trumpet of Triumph. It seems to be a work of seasoned veterans, dedicated to generations of speed, thrash and death metal. They are not playing this music because it's cool. They do it because they must and they respect it.

There's so much here to sink your teeth into. Late Carcass and Death-like melodic and catchy parts, evil, perverted and twisted riffs a la Blessed Are The Sick, tempos at bursting speeds to slowed-down paces reminiscent of a stalking predator, blasphemous lyrics, dynamic vocal delivery, merciless drumming with particular personality, and solos that would make James Murphy and Andy LaRocque proud. Add to that the sharp, high-note riffs synonymous with Pestilence you've got yourself a stimulating whole.

A quality that defines Godless Rising's sound include (amongst others) is the element of surprise. When you think they are only going to be brutal they switch into a very catchy, alluring melodic part, as "Where is Your God" clearly demonstrates. You think to yourself that the vocals are somewhat dynamic, with maybe three types of "voices", and a few breaths into "Damnation of Angelic Souls" you've been exposed to the fifth or sixth. And you are only three songs deep. And they do not avoid modern attributes. Just check the opening riffs and drumming in "Devour the Cross". Don't for a minute think they do not sound brutal or dark enough. Check out "We are Legion", one of the best extreme metal tracks I've heard this year. I could go on. But you should hear for yourself.

Don't go thinking that with all the comparisons I've made, that Godless Rising is a mere throwback band rehashing old ideas. I stress their ability to not only breach the gap between old barbaric brutality and classic metal catchiness but a capability to make those two worlds melt together and flow effortlessly. It is no small feat. Only artists with a certain degree of mastery, insight and understanding of the music at hand can accomplish something like Trumpet of Triump. As a result, the listening experience is quite refreshing.

Let's not beat around the bush here. In connection with this review's intro, it is a fact that we should be expecting a huge wave of older sounding death metal bands and it is bound to become just as daft, forced and silly as the unnecessarily technical, wanking, brutal death metal bands that have been in the forefront for at least the last five years now.
So where do Godless Rising fit into all this? Nowhere really; they are one of the bands headlining a new wave of bands. This is a band that avoids falling into the gap between thoughtful melodic parts and the brutal that is too broad for most other bands to bridge. In wrong hands, the marriage of the two is more often than not unconvincing, contrived and almost false. On Trumpet of Triumph it just clicks.

Its not without it faults though. Sometimes the twin-guitar riffing is a little bit too much. But this is a minor complaint. And even though there are plenty of modern instances, it made me want more of that. I think that since they have the older more classical sounding speed and thrash metal mixed with their death metal down to a "T", their material can easily incorporate more fleshed out current sounding compositions.

The production values here are surprisingly good, really. Clear distinction between instruments, although I would have wanted to hear more bass, but the guitar tone is perfect, the drums sound open and organic (unusually good samples on a drum-machine?) and the vocals of course, drive it all home with a dynamic and expressive performance that high in the mix and articulate at times.
I just wish this promo had come with lyrics, then my experience would have been heightened and more profound, I suspect. It too bad labels do not bother to include lyrics anymore. Oh well.

This is what Morbid Angel should have done instead of the nonsense that was Heretic.

I strongly recommend readers to investigate this fine LP. - Birkir Fjalar

Published on May 16, 2010

Musically glorious, vocally destitute - 65%

doomknocker, June 16th, 2010

Death metal has a ways to go if bands who ended up tackling the style after the fadeout of the golden Roadrunner 90s grab their guitars and attempt their own wall of murderous sound. One would think that for all the genre’s amorphous nature newer groups would be able to mold it into their own original approach, but sadly, a good 9 out of 10 bands popping up as the millennium dawned weren’t able to do so and found themselves, unintentionally I’m sure, slamming head-first into a creatively-limiting brick wall (wall analogies rule!). Thus has been my biggest source of disdain at nowadays death metal, and should I feel the urge to partake in the unspeakable I know I’m better off with (as many are) the old fogy bands, the ones who can still get it done right.

And it’s with this bit of apprehension, tempered with a hopeful curiosity, that I took it upon myself to check out this here GODLESS RISING group, hoping against hope that they would be able to lift themselves out of creative stagnancy…

I’ll start with positive aspects…firstly, the production is rather clear and punchy, adding a conciseness that helps clarify the overall performance of the group. Such a performance is quite different than your usual Cookie-Monster-Cutter death metal group, where everything is tight and potent with a rather youthful exuberance, almost like this is a fun-loving group of metal kids blasting their blasphemous hearts out. The songwriting combines savage, blinding violence with rather well-to-do thrashy riffs and a surprisingly melodic edge that takes harmonic lead guitars, punishing rhythm guitar/bass duets, and bestial blast beats in an unholy combination of vintage MORBID ANGEL meeting the riff-heavy chaos of older SLAYER and thrash-era SEPULTURA with inklings of DEHTKLOK soloing for that not-your-typical-death-metal act feel. Also, the ambient interlude that is “Dante’s Inferno (Burn the Flock) is rather frightening…and the cover art is old-school to the bone, both adding to the brownie points factor.
However, for all that makes this disc better than your typical underground noise-mongering, the musical scheme of things doesn’t have a lot of meat on these scorched bones. Despite the onset of good ideas and riffs, “Trumpet of Triumph” seems to lack staying power, that little something that touches a nerve of enjoyability in order for repeated listens to come to be. That and the vocals could’ve REALLY been worked on better; all those death growls hover over the rest of the band in such a way that it seems they’re not part of the overall performance, and not in that natural feel ala Mortuus in MARDUK. If only they could’ve been reigned in better, the likes of “Ungodly Incantations”, “Devour the Cross” and “Through the Flames of Rage” would’ve blown your goddamn doors off like so many Captain Chaoses out there.

In the end GODLESS RISING shows this listener good ideas gone slightly wrong. If time is truly on our side and they can temper their chaotic nature some more, they would truly be a force to be reckoned with. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

Brutality has just been rejuvenated. - 100%

EvilWays, May 26th, 2010

As is with most death metal bands these days, I expected to hear the same old predictable choppy guitar riffs, 320bpm blast beats, redundant and corny 'unholier than thou' vocals, and a production quality equal to or less than the first 10 seconds of an emergency toilet visit. But, just like the moments before that emergency bathroom break, I was totally caught off guard and completely surprised, I was wrong!

This CD kicks ass!

I really hope they didn't break the mold after this one was made. There needs to be more bands out there striving to create something this original. Trumpet of Triumph needs to be held as the new standard in death metal.

OK kids, wannabes, and has-beens… school is in session.

Let's start with the guitar work. It’s heavy, melodic, clean, fast, precise, and catchy as hell. Toby Knapp has once again proven himself to be the most under-rated and metals best kept secret out there. Why is he not a household name? The guitar riffs seem to come out of everywhere. His soul bleeds through every twist and turn of every song. There is nothing boring or predictable about it. It's just a fantastic ride through the mind of a true guitar mastermind. Let's not beat around the bush, you no longer have to tune your guitar as low as physically possible to sound heavy. Just know how to play your instrument! Want to learn how? Throw some good headphones on and crank this CD.

The drums on this release totally compliment the string section perfectly. There is no overbearing flash. This is not a juvenile double bass race. Take your generic drum beats, simple 4/4 bridge patterns, and useless (and unnecessary) fills and toss them out the window. They don't belong here nor do they exist here. It is great to hear someone play solid rhythms and be able to make you want to kick a puppy without having to play blast beats for an entire album. Andy Jones sees to it that Toby Knapp's vision stays in the forefront and manages to make something that seems already flawless really come to life.

Finally, we get to my favorite part of the CD:
"Ladies and gentlemen, The Cookie Monster has left the building."
What a relief! Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE me a good serving of some raspy death metal vocals (when done right of course), but it's not the only way to make yourself sound evil! Jeff Gruslin can kill you all. Far are the days of fronting Vital Remains. There is no comparison to what he managed to accomplish with this release. While the first two Godless Rising albums were amazing reminders of what Vital Remains used to be in the early days, this one blows it all out of the water. I hereby lay the comparisons to rest. Gruslin has officially begun another chapter with his vocal ability. Let's just say that he's been able take evil to a whole new level. Though he doesn't abandon his former vocal styling, he merely adds a whole new dimension and level of intensity. The best part is the vocals are coherent. Evil just isn't evil enough until you actually understand what is being said. There is no shortage of brutality here.

The sound quality of the album is intense. It is thick, clean, heavy, dynamic, and recorded just right. Tony Ricci of Triad Recording Studios has an ear for this genre of music. This is truly another rarity these days. Let's give the muddy and under-produced recording a kick in the ass as well and get back to being able to hear what we loved about this music in the first place.

Simply put; this is by far the release of the year to this point and it will be a cold day in hell before another band can come close to being 'unholier than this'. Keep practicing kids; this is the direction that death metal SHOULD be taking. Don't get left in Godless Rising's dust.

Dread generals align their forces and renew attack - 82%

autothrall, May 25th, 2010

Jeff Gruslin and guitarist Toby Knapp might seem an odd pairing to stick together for a band. The former was the vocalist for Vital Remains during their 'classic' phase of Let Us Prey and Into Cold Darkness, rejoining briefly in 1999. The latter is probably best known for his melodic US power metal band Onward, but has also done some work in black and death metal ala the brief lived band Darken, not to mention his instrumental records which showcase his accomplished playing skills. Well, unusual or not, the two have truly come together here to produce something far and above the call of any expectations one might hold based on the band's previous fare.

As a New Englander, I am always happy to have a couple bands in my extended backyard that perform this genre the way I like it, but I wasn't a huge fan of the first two Godless Rising records. They were solid, competent death metal albums, but really lacked in the departments of pacing and replay value. Well, if Rising Hatred and Battle Lords were mere matchsticks to the infernal depths, Trumpet of Triumph is the full-on field of artillery fire. The addition of Toby Knapp has grafted a hint of sub-technical flash to this record which keeps the majority of its 11 tracks interesting and polished. This is 'riff' death metal and not 'atmospheric' death metal, though the latter is often conjured directly through the former. Above the writhing, almost progressive guitar onslaught, Gruslin offers his choral hymns of sacrilege, a massive, tattooed affront to the sanctity of sheep that inhibit the progress of all mankind!

The album shows a pretty heavy influence from acts like Pestilence and Gorguts, in addition to the expected Vital Remains, Deicide or Morbid Angel. You can really hear it in Knapp's riffs, several of which feel like outtakes could have been used on Testimony of the Ancients. Tracks like "Ungodly Incantations", "Devour the Soul" and "Through the Flames of Rage" are simmering with enough guitar power to please not only the advocate for technical, musical death metal, but possibly beyond that into the melodic death realm, without any sacrifice in brutality. Gruslin is here to make sure of that, using a wide range of growls and snarls and even some morbid spoken word that takes you by surprise when it pops into a track. There are a few occasions where his snarling voice is not quite on par with the growls, which he excels in, but there are equal occasions (as in "Through the Flames of Rage") where he uses the higher range more and it snuggles right into Knapp's constantly engaging axe ministrations.

Trumpet of Triumph is about 45 minutes long, and it really never gets boring. Even when you have plumbed its depths, surprises like "We Are Legion" and "Warlords of Darkness" await you. Lyrically, this album seems like Sun Tzu for the legions of the underworld as they march upon the witless flocks horded about the Pearly Gates, with cannons of hellfire and lashing sermons of blasphemy parting the spectral human tide. The production is reasonable, if not the best I've heard lately. The guitars crunch nicely on the low end, and the vocals could be a little better mixed, but the leads and melodies are beautifully woven through the lattice of dementia.

In all honesty, Godless Rising have arrived at the precipice of originality here, a place where thrash, death, and a little classical shredding influence congregate upon the hinge of damnation to create something you can listen to repeatedly. The riffs and leads are pretty accessible, and yet I still felt like subsequent spins of the albums brought new details to my attention. The gripes are very few here, and minor. The cover art, while decent for some retro black or death metal release, doesn't quite live up to the music on the album. In fact, I could see someone flipping through the CDs at a local shop, seeing this and passing it by based purely on the notion that it's some generic Satan adoring slugfest. That's clearly not the case when you listen to the music, and I'd urge you to give Gruslin and Knapp a chance here. Theirs is a remarkable collaboration, and I hope they will work together again to ensure Godless Rising progresses further into the depths of this hell-well of inspiration.