Godless (Puerto Rico) – Church Arsonist

First things first: the production on this album is pretty awful.  It’s not that it’s raw and degraded, it sounds cheap.  The guitar tone sounds like it came out of a practice amp, the drums are trashy and tinny, the vocals are just sort of there with no connection to the rest of the music, and everything is soaked in reverb that was placed there because, hell, gotta have reverb.  It sucks and it damages the listening experience to some degree.

With that out of the way, I like the music even if it’s a bit unevenly written.  Godless splits their music into roughly two categories: fast, raw, traditional black metal and epic, melodic pieces.  Both are pretty cool but the latter has more nuance and creativity overall.  The riffs carry this album and are what really allow the music to get past the rehearsal room production.  They come from pretty intelligent writers, clearly; none of the tremolo riffs seem yanked from ‘baby’s first black metal’ like so many other raw black metal bands, and the epic sections often contain chords used in rather unconventional configurations to give it a bit more flavor.  The vocals and drums are conventional but executed well enough to propel the music.

The instrumental ability of the various musicians is rather suspect; the band slips out of time with one another on a fairly regular basis before abruptly falling back into cadence with a vague sense of embarrassment.  It’s ignorable though if you let yourself get lost in the cold, textured riffing, which is consistently strong.  You could probably listen to just the guitars on this album to the exclusion of everything else and get a pretty satisfactory listening experience.  They’re uniformly good and don’t get too predictable at any moment.  Perhaps this is a bit more work to enjoy an album than should entirely be required, but maybe I’m more willing to get past some of the more amateurish aspects than most.

It’s a good album; it’s somewhat handicapped by its professional shortcomings but the core of the music is solid and rooted in a definite sense of developed riffcraft.  If you’re willing to extend yourself a bit and ignore the production, this is quite a good album; very riff-based, very traditional, and very raw, but inspired nonetheless.

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~ by noktorn on September 6, 2008.

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