Before reading this article, rid your mind of any pre-conceptions it may currently harbour of death metal. Thanks. Now, exciting Glasgow hard-hitters Godeater are a technical death metal band with melody at their core and the biggest issues facing modern society at their soul.
For context, last month I attended a march to bring the Chilean Government’s attention to the issue of climate change while I was living in Santiago. The day before, thousands of people turned up to a similar rally in Melbourne. The topic is clearly top of the agenda for many people and many bands, none more so than Godeater.
The band originally formed in 2016 with guitarist Andy Macdonald and Will Keogh leaving another band and approaching guitarist Ross Beagan and a former drummer with the vision of playing heavier music again. Frontman Josh Graham joined in early 2017 and they soon released three-track EP Outerstellar. The lineup was completed by new drummer, Tim Coulson, earlier this year.
Godeater carry the message of climate change and various other observations of what’s wrong with modern society in a savage concoction of technical death metal and brooding, dark atmospheric excellence that they describe as “melodic, dynamic and cathartic.”
On the issue of climate change based on our experience in Santiago, Josh, the band’s lyricist, tells us: “I think it’s absolutely phenomenal to see the youth of the world out in force everywhere. Here in Glasgow, we had huge numbers in attendance and that’s a beautiful thing for sure.
“In terms of my opinion on the topic, one of the biggest problems I’m seeing is a lot of people seem to think that not supporting climate change is somehow the anti-establishment movement, which is completely bewildering.”
And expanding into the general topics that Godeater cover, Josh adds: “There are so many misconceptions about population and resources that are currently being peddled. It’s not so much a case of over-population, but more a case of our finite resources being misused, coupled with a deliberate lack of education.
“The moral arguments of veganism to one side, I do think if people are to understand the entire picture they need to learn some of the truths of industrial cattle farming and how damaging it can be. I recently read a book called Farmaged-don by Phillip Lymbery, which helped fill in some of the blanks that the infographics you might see on social media don’t provide. I can’t recommend it highly enough!”
These topics all play their part in the band’s debut full-length album All Flesh Is Grass, which was released at the end of last month.
It kicks off at breakneck speed with the intensely heavy opening to Anoxia, with wild rolling guitar riffs and huge drums. The intense drums continue Josh’s savage vocals and intricate little guitar flurries, then a brief pause for breath ends on diving low-tuned guitars that continue under more intense vocals. It may only be two minutes long, but Anoxia is a wild, intense, gothic opening ride.
It flows straight into the huge riffs that kick off Eternal Ending, with huge screams taking over alongside big drawn-out high-pitched guitars. Creepy whispers come in alongside funky guitars, then the eerieness is ramped up by plodding guitars and haunting atmospheric instrumentals. Give it a listen below:
That’s followed by most recent single Inertia Haze, which opens up with stabbing guitars then booming chords support Josh’s huge vocals “Synthetic sickness within, In the water, In your blood, Stuck in the pores of your skin, Undying, Uncompromising, This planet’s patience wears thin.”
The vocals and guitars pick up pace then drop into the opening little stabbing guitars with creepy little stabs of violin, before a huge atmospheric section led by pounding drums drops into a cool guitar solo.
It soon drops into a chilled out section with light synth and an eastern instrument, before the peace is disrupted by an onslaught of heavy vocals and stabbing guitars. Check it out in the video below:
That little eastern instrument returns for the intro of near-eight-minute track Salvation, which soon drops into savagely fast drums under Josh’s wild opening vocals “All flesh returns to the soil, All marrow returns to the sea, All journeys a split second in time, All life a grain of sand at your feet.”
A prolonged section of pending doom flows into atmpspheric synth over doomy drums and clean vocals “I found purpose, In nothingness, It keeps me safe, From the jaws of the abyss.” Huge darting guitars and wild drums return as the full intensity of the Godeater sound comes to fruition. This track is an absolute monster, and you can check it out below:
Speaking of which, brings us to the album’s lead single Silent Spring, which is based on a book from 1962 about the use of synthetic pesticides, and is simply massive.
It opens up with booming guitars supporting Josh’s intense vocals “Premonition, Call out with fear, No bustle from the hedgerow, Across the water a prophecy grows , Real-world death camps, An invisible slaughterhouse.” That builds up to a powerful, atmospheric chorus of “It was us against the world, We were on the wrong side, From on high the sirens ring, The only thing you’ll hear in this silent spring.” Check it out in the video below:
The album is a stunning collection of absolutely monstrous death metal intertwined with delicate synths, intriguing eastern elements, vitally important lyrics, and brilliant songwriting. And all of that is succinctly tied up in the album’s closing track Blood Moon.
It starts with intense drums under ascending guitars that explode into huge booming riffs under intense screamed vocals. While the whole Godeater message comes across in the lyrics “We all wanted a simpler existence, Greed of the elders made for slaves of the infants, Time passed by, The flames grew high.”
That drops into stabbing high-pitched guitar over wild drums, then atmospheric, echoey backing vocals over their trademark eastern influence that continue under an intense mass of instrumentals under the lyrics “You had everything you needed, Everything that you could ever want, You lost your way. It’s over, The prophecy is fulfilled, Let us bathe once more in the crimson dark around us and within us, Give yourself over to the earth, You are whole once more.” It’s a fitting end to an incredible, dark, intense album.
Speaking to us ahead of the album launch, Ross, who’s also responsible for composing, producing and engineering the Godeater sound, said: “I’m really excited for people to hear it! Listening back to the final mix again, I think All Flesh Is Grass sounds like a logical progression for the band, following on from Exsanguinated and Outerstellar.
“I think people can expect a cohesive and dynamic album. There are lots of cool little sections, a wide range of styles and sounds, but I don’t feel like any section feels out of place or outstays its welcome. Silent Spring and Inertia Haze served as good tasters for the album but it can really benefit from being listened to in full!
And Josh added: “I’m so excited for people to hear it. The album has first and foremost been made for ourselves so we’re super happy with how it’s turned out musically speaking. I feel like there aren’t a whole lot of bands who sound like us that cover the topics we do so I’m excited to see how that audience takes to it. It seems to have sparked a lot of heated discussion, so long may that continue!”
Godeater are influenced by a wide range of brands, with Ross telling us his heavy influences include Necrophagist, Between the Buried and Me and Cult of Luna, while branching out to my Dad’s favourite band Steely Dan, Casiopea, composers like Olafur Arnalds and artists like Bonobo.
While Josh adds: “I like bands where you can tell they’re pissed off, and I like lyrics that offer something beyond their face value. For me, Rage Against The Machine do that perfectly. Songs like Down Rodeo and Wind Below on Evil Empire do that perfectly so I very much try and apply that to death metal. When we were recording All Flesh Is Grass I had the mic handheld and was jumping up and down and running around the room to try and capture that kind of intensity.”
That’s a beautiful image in our heads, and one that we can imagine more than a few people will replicate to the sound of Josh’s own lyrics.
But when to comes to what inspires their music, Ross tells us: “Life, really! I feel like I don’t really communicate how I’m feeling very well, so I think I end up funnelling that into the music I write quite a lot. I also take a lot of inspiration from film and from travelling to different places.”
While Josh adds: “Aside from climate change/vegan ethics, there’re quite a few different topics covered! Overexposure and over-saturation of social media is very prominent, discussing how it’s affected me personally, and kind of more widely in the UK. The overarching theme of the album is that life is a transitory thing – there’s a whole heap of optimistic nihilism throughout, it was a very personal album for me to write in many respects but I’m glad it’s all out there.”
You can see Godeater for yourself at the brilliantly named Damnation Festival in Leeds on 2 November and they’ll be back out on tour and working on a follow-up album in 2020. More info on their gigs is here.
And, as Ross adds, go and give their debut a listen for yourself: “While it’s fairly evident that there are big themes on display and there is a message behind All Flesh Is Grass, a lot of the lyrical content is very personal. I’d like people to listen to the album and assess the message with a much more personal/introspective view, in a similar way to how Josh approached the writing process.”