Originally written by Tim Pigeon
It seems as if I’ve been waiting forever for Gone Forever to finally hit the stores. God Forbid’s previous album, Determination, hit me with all the force of a 20 lb. sledgehammer to the noggin. Their abrasive approach to metalcore struck a nerve to the extent that there is no question in my mind that it was my favorite album of 2001. Well three years have passed and God Forbid’s place in the metal world certainly has improved. They’ve embarked upon innumerable tours and generated enough buzz to land themselves a slot on the upcoming, metal-filled Ozzfest 2004.
Having been in attendance at a few of their recent concerts, I noticed a slight change in approach with the new songs that were previewed. This change is confirmed upon listening to the first track. Clean vocals have infiltrated this album, with the Coyle brothers contributing backing and chorus cleans that, at certain times, sounds like Jerry Cantrell. Big bad Byron still delivers plenty of throat-scarring screams, so the shift isn’t that drastic. The clean vocals in “Forcefed” (which sound like the GF of old) only serve as a harbinger of the new developments revealed upon the rest of the album. The songwriting is much more traditional and improved, although I’m sure not everyone will find that to be a positive thing. Gone Forever leans much more in the vein of American melodic death, with the metalcore influences being dramatically diminished, showing up in the occasional breakdown. This should see them squarely competing for, and sharing, the audience of bands like Shadows Fall, Darkest Hour, and Killswitch Engage. What works in God Forbid’s favor is the simple fact that they just surpass the aforementioned bands.
The linchpin of the GF machinery is the incredible guitar assault by the brothers Coyle. They seamlessly transition between hyper-melodic leads, fist-pumping rhythm riffs, and bonecrushing breakdowns. Bassist Jon Outcalt and drummer Corey Pierce ensure that when the band wants to bludgeon you, they will succeed. Combine all this with a superb production job that keeps the brilliant guitar tone from Determination, and you’ve got one hell of an album on your hands.
God Forbid fire an opening salvo with “Forcefed”. There’s nothing pretty about this song. The riffs and screams are desperate, while the closing breakdown is dragged out oh-so-perfectly. It’s one of the top five breakdowns ever, in my opinion. Next up is “Antihero”, which makes the point perfectly clear that the boys have progressed. This is a great song with gripping melodies and just a classic metal feel to it…that is, when they’re not breaking down on your ass. By now, I’m sure many of you have already heard “Better Days”, but for those that haven’t, it’s a fun track that’s as radio-friendly a song as you’ll ever hear from them, but don’t expect to hear this on your local station any time soon. “Washed Out World” features some venomous, thrashy riffage, and a nice early buildup that is sure to rile up the pits.
I could continue to give high praise to every other track on the album, but what’s the point? If you’re not convinced by now, you’re missing out on some excellent metal. While this isn’t quite the album I was expecting from God Forbid, it’s precisely what I wished that so many other bands would deliver. Gone Forever sees the band streamlining their sound, and then proceeding to play it better than all of the rest of the New Wave of American Metal scene. Impressive!