Irish quintet God Alone may be young enough to have no functional memories of the nineties, but they are already up to their third release – a self-titled EP that you can find linked at the bottom of this article – and have cast their net of influence wide enough for it to be a little tough to pin down precisely what type of band they are. Although they themselves have plumped for a ‘post-metal’ tag, this by no means tells the whole story.
On the surface, it’s a reasonable descriptive starter. With the shortest of the four songs on offer here clocking in just shy of seven minutes and the total run-time nudging half an hour, as well as a couple of expansive, largely instrumental twinkly passages buried in free-ranging song structures, there is at least a post-metal skeleton lurking inside God Alone’s collective body. However, the band are happy to roam well beyond the relatively narrow markers of that genre, delivering a surprisingly varied and engaging listen.
Perhaps the most startling contrast is that across these four songs, God Alone devote roughly equal time to blast beats and disco beats. There’s also a strong seam of angular hardcore (which carries hints of Fugazi and Beecher), Deafheaven-style blackface, a dash of King Crimson‘s prog workouts, a flavour of Irish folk, a bit of dreamy Pink Floyd and even a hint of dub reggae to be found. On top of that, the song titles themselves – like “Madting” and “Yes Aii” look like they’d be more at home in a grime playlist. Phew.
With all of that compressed into a relatively brief release, you may be forgiven for thinking that the EP is a Mr Bungle-esque smash and grab ramraid, barreling headlong through a shopping list of genres, but in practice, it is all remarkably cohesive. Second track “Ke Ta” moves through a number of stylistic variations on the same theme, with the jump from gentle, atmospheric post-rock to a caustic, warp-speed blackened section being particularly effective. This speaks to the quite remarkable degree of maturity and dexterity in this young band’s musicianship and songwriting chops. Although the net result is wildly different, there are similarities in God Alone’s approach to young Cornish progsters For The Oracle.
Ultimately, God Alone are a progressive band in the most literal sense of the term. Their music is certainly a lot more raw and organic than the hyper-polished sheen usually overlaid on progressive metal, but it is unmistakably adventurous and infused with a genuinely infectious youthful exuberance that made, to these ears at least, listening to the EP one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. They’re clearly not afraid to cut their own path through the musical landscape, and it’s going to be fascinating to see where that path may lead them in the future.
God Alone are popping over to the UK mainland for a weekend of shows in Bristol, London and Worthing on 21-23 November (that’s this weekend if you’re reading on the day of publication), with long-standing personal favourites Core of Io in tow. Regular readers can expect to see what I think of the London date in my regular column, Disco Loadout, early next month – but if you can, I’d recommend getting out to see them for yourselves.