Gods of War earn points for having a suitably bombastic name and further points for having an eclectic approach to metal. Dealing in black, death, power, thrash and folk metal is either the product of a brave and confident band or the act of certified loons and happily it proves to be the former as the band ably demonstrate over the course of a free four track EP, ‘tales from the darklands’. Formed in 2009 in Liverpool, Gods of War are part of a new wave of innovative British bands exploring the genre in their own uniquely exciting way and over three releases they have honed their skills to produce ‘tales from the darklands’, the perfect introduction to the band’s blackened world view.
The EP opens with the furious blackened thrash of ‘fornost’ which posts icy guitar riffs, folk-infused solos and vocals torn from the throat of a shrieking banshee. The production is reminiscent of early 90s black metal, all searing treble and only the most rudimentary nod to bass, and it suits the music perfectly, emphasizing the brutal vocals and hyper-speed guitar playing that dominates the track. There are hints of early cradle of filth, a touch of Old Corpse Road and nods to plenty of other genres over the course of the song’s four minute run time by the end of which you’ll be hooked on the band’s adventurous sound. ‘Gods of old’ has a thrilling guitar riff that draws from traditional folk melodies and the deep, dark well of Bathory to truly stick in the mind, while a pounding beat slams into your skull and sets about demolishing the listener slowly but irrevocably. Listening to it for the first time it’s impossible not to admire the band’s imaginative arrangements and technical proficiency and there is no doubt that Gods of War have the skill and the creative instinct to really stand out in the extreme metal scene. ‘Operation engage’ has a tighter, thrashier feel, with a scything riff and vocalist Danny Hell delivering his lyrics as if he’s been employed in a syllable demolishing contest. Like listening to Testament at the wrong speed on your turntable, what it lacks in lyrical clarity and musical subtlety it makes up in sheer maniacal glee and adrenalin-charged fury and you can’t help but recall the similarly excessive ‘the song remains insane’ from Soulfly’s debut, such is the speed and dexterity with which the song is deployed, although even here Matt Hughes finds the time and space to unleash a beautifully fluid solo – clearly Robert Johnson was not the only man to make a demonic pact at a certain crossroads. The EP’s finale is the epic, atmospheric ‘Angmar’ which slowly builds from a reflective opening towards a classic, iron maiden style riff. Still extreme and delivered with unerring aggression by the band, the nod to the NWOBHM highlights yet further the depth the band employ in their song writing and ‘angmar’ proves to be a thrilling conclusion to an EP that never fails to impress.
Gods of War must have spent a lot of time honing these four epic songs and their skills before decamping into the studio to record this four track EP. The arrangements are meticulous, the playing ubiquitously excellent and the influences myriad. A touch of folk, a healthy dose of black metal, nods to thrash and death all abound and extreme metal fans have no excuse whatsoever to not check this band out as they are generously giving the whole thing away for free. With a powerful atmosphere that is as redolent of decay as Miss Havisham’s slowly rotting mansion, and a dark energy that is impossible to resist, you need to download ‘Tales from the Darklands’ without delay – music this good deserves to be heard.