Friday, January 06, 2006


Gospel - The Moon Is A Dead World - Level-Plane Records

Well I've been waiting to get my hands on this record for a while. Gospel is one of the newer bands on Level-Plane, a label with more street-cred than NWA. Gospel's new full length clocks in at a blistering 39 minutes and 5 seconds of catharsis, noise, melody, groove, and spazz. This is one of those albums that knocks you out when you first listen to it in its entirety.

Gospel collectively flex their prog muscle frequently on this disc, but there is much more to them than that. One unique aspect of their song structures is that they emphasize rhythm a lot more than most new bands, which creates lots of intensity. But it doesn't stop there! Gospel are also fans of melody, harmony, and flat out anthemic riffs. But these riffs aren't anthemic in a "We Aren't Gonna Take It" Twisted Sister kindof way, but in a "Smile That Kind of Icy Blue Smile" Saetia kindof way. They come across with such raw emotion that the songs and riffs can't help but be anthemic. I hear a sincerity much akin to Converge, and some riffs that owe a lot to their album Jane Doe, but Gospel don't just rip-off Converge. They give the proverbial head-nod on their way to lighting their amps on fire with awesomeness.

Another comparison that comes to mind is The Mars Volta, perhaps only because this band was the first to fuse afro-cuban influenced drumming, progged-out song structures, wailing guitar, and cryptic vocals to gain mainstream notoriety. I myself am not a fan of The Mars Volta for a number of reasons(but thats another review). But where The Mars Volta fails miserably, Gospel excels. TMV's (excuse the abbreviation) pension for self-absorbed droning and "structural exploration" is not found in the least on Gospels disc. These tracks find a groove, stay with it for a while, then shift on a dime to the next groove, all the while bombarding you with machine-gun drumming and lightning-fast guitar work. Gospel also doesn't bash you over the head with songs in the same key, and shows much variety in writing riffs and song structures. The track "Opium" stands out as a more exotic track, almost reminding me of label-mates Anodyne at times. Also, "And Redemption Fills The Emptiest Of Hearts" fires at you with noise a-la Dillinger Escape Plan meets Dream Theatre. Gone are the forced, shrill, high-pitched wails of Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta. Gospel instead replace A flamboyant skinny Latino, with a vocalist who sounds like he has lived in a van for 5 years, and hasn't shaved or showered in 10. He has a raspy, sincere yell/scream that really hits you in the pit of your stomach, and his delivery is spot on. The lyrics, while not jumbled by overindulgent 10-cent words, are cryptic at times. But this is overshadowed by the bands ability to play their little freaking hearts out.

Gospel is like the George Foreman Girll of post-everything. They cut the fat. But they don't leave out the tasty parts! Some of the highlights of this album include the righteous 9+ minute "Golden Dawn" peppered with memorable riffs, and the most memorable vocals of the album: "Hey, you got a cigarette man? yeah I know you've got one on ya! I usually keep mine in the backseat but it's buried behind all the rubble" . Im also a huge fan of the opening bass line in "Congratulations...You've Hit Bottom" It reminds me of Killers-era Iron Maiden. Also, another unique highlight to this album and the band in general is the keyboard. It fits seamlessly into the mix, and lends a good depth to the songs. It also adds as an awesome accent, and give the band a distinctly more prog-like sound (which is a good thing). It does not come off as pretentious in the least, and its one of the few, if not the only band that doesn't play horrible new-wave who can pull off using a keyboard. Thumbs up for that.

So if you liked The Mars Volta better when they were sincere and called themselves At The Drive In, if you appreciate musicianship, if you hate any music with the word "droning" involved, and if you want to hear a band that doesn't make music to get laid, then Gospel is your band.

With that said, go buy this freakin' album!



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