"IV: Constitution of Treason"

(Century Media)

01. The End of the World
02. Chains of Humanity
03. Into the Wasteland
04. The Lonely Dead
05. Divinity
06. Under This Flag
07. To the Fallen Hero
08. Welcome To the Apocalypse (Preamble)
09. Constitution of Treason
10. Crucify Your Beliefs

RATING: 9/10

A lot of truths are held to be self-evident when it comes to the current crop of American metal success stories. They've brought back the guitar solo, added clean vocals in varying degrees, borrowed a lot from classic metal as well as Swedish thrash and hardcore… pick any trait that's considered an integral part of modern metal. Whatever you picked, GOD FORBID does it better than your favorite band. They've racked up respectable numbers so far in their career so far, without taking their place at the forefront of the U.S. metal elite. That's gonna change, big-time, with "Constitution of Treason".

First and foremost, GOD FORBID write better songs than many of their contemporaries. These are friggin' anthems, seething with a harrowing intensity and laced with the kind of cinematic, cynical darkness that makes NEVERMORE such a potent force. Those looking for an Ozzfest-fueled sellout can take comfort in Byron Davis's massive roar — there are clean vocals, and they're done well, but there isn't a single gratuitous use of them — they are sparse, and all the more striking for that reason. For most of "Constitution of Treason", Davis is bellowing with volcanic anger, while the music churns and swirls with a decidedly radio-unfriendly sound.

Guitarwise, GOD FORBID distill the same influences as their Swedish brethren, and dump truckloads of riffs and frills into each song. Solos are fluid and expressive, hearkening back to the glory days of Skolnick and Hammett, while extra harmonies and dual guitar runs are seemingly everywhere. The end result is a crushingly guitar-dominant record with lots of breathing room, and the kind of dynamics that render each song memorable.

Usually, bands front-load their albums, saving the weaker cuts for the middle of side two. Here again, GOD FORBID goes against the grain. Not that there's a bad track on "Constitution of Treason", but the last three songs — sectioned off into their own movement — are simply astonishing. Telling the story of a leader who has risen in a post-apocalyptic world, only to be killed for his treason, this last movement begins with a haunting acoustic piece, builds into a loud and furious metal crescendo, and closes with SLAYER-worthy thrash riffing, an explosive end to a staggering record.

"Constitution of Treason" transcends mere "metalcore." It absorbs everything that's good about metal's evolution, and sends its songs back out into the world to redefine the genre's next steps. Dense, broad and sweeping in scope, it's full of the kind of memorable songs and inspired playing that will rise above the unfortunate glut of second-tier pretenders. We'll be dissecting this album twenty years from now the way we still talk about "Master of Puppets" today. As intricate as they are brutal, as melodic as they are punishing, GOD FORBID strike a balance here that is about as close to perfect as we're going to see any time soon.


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