No matter what New Jersey's GOD FORBID does it never seems to be good enough for a certain skeptical segment of the metal community. What's most puzzling about it is that such skepticism either lacks a — in my humble opinion — logical foundation or is applied without consistency as it pertains to a GOD FORBID release. What else would explain the lack of recognition in some corners for the huge leap into the progressive realm taken by the band on "Earthsblood"? The album is nothing short of magnificent in terms of sheer compositional depth and rich musicality. Then again, "IV: Constitution of Treason" was nothing at which to sneeze either. Of course, most bands that always seek to push the envelope or that refuse to be defined by expectation will always be at risk of losing some people along the way. Interestingly enough, "Equilibrium" reigns in some of the bombast of "Earthsblood" and replaces some of the polish of that album with edges of a comparatively rougher variety. The short of it is that "Equilibrium" is a substantial contribution to GOD FORBID's legacy of releasing albums of consistent quality.
The even shorter of it is that "Equilibrium" isn't as ambitious as "Earthsblood", but still rife with dynamic songwriting, putting it in league with albums like "IV: Constitution of Treason" and to a certain extent "Gone Forever". After years with a shockingly stable lineup, guitarist/vocalist Dallas Coyle is no longer the Yin to brother Doc's Yang. The capable Matt Wicklund (ex-HIMSA) has filled the spot vacated by Dallas. While the absence of Dallas' soaring vocals is noticeable, the main difference with "Equilibrium" is that the harmonies aren't quite as slick, which doesn't hurt anything. Some listeners may actually find the presence of a touch more grit to be preferred. Frontman Byron Davis still commands with a mouth that roars, although he has clearly spent time expanding his range and paying attention to inflectional details.
It may take a little time to get into the groove of "Equilibrium", as was the case with the prior two releases, but that's only due to GOD FORBID's meticulous approach to arranging. Several songs hone in on GOD FORBID's deft mix of pure aggression, progressive flair, and melodic center, including two absolute standouts in "My Rebirth" and the title track, as well as "Scraping the Walls", "Pages", and "Where We Come From", which reminds at certain points of both ALL THAT REMAINS and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.
As has been the case for several albums now, "Equilibrium" is packed with rich material, and while the aforementioned highlights are praiseworthy, the remaining cuts are anything but filler. The down-tuned and chugging "Don't Tell me What to Dream" will seem an odd choice for an opener and one strikingly different from any other track on the album. Just as odd is how it eventually ends up a mandatory cut too. In addition to the more purely belligerent "A Few Good Men", "Conquer", and "Overcome"; the more recognizably metalcore "Move On"; and alluring instrumental "Awakening" (featuring guest guitar solo from SCAR SYMMETRY's Per Nilsson) is a song called "This is Who I Am" that features a main melody vaguely recalling something that OZZY OSBOURNE might have penned. Spend the time and reap the benefits. There is a lot here to dissect, examine, and just plain enjoy on "Equilibrium", yet another album from a band that could never be mistaken for anything other than GOD FORBID.