Godcaster Wield an Awesome Might on their New Self-Titled LP
The art-punk troupe unveils the darkness behind their vision on the band’s most concise and exciting piece of workPhoto by Ryann Logeais Ebersole Music Reviews Godcaster
Since the beginning, even the name Godcaster inspired a sort of metaphysical awe. The band’s original demos seized the power of their namesake with wild, jagged musicality —more of a response to the Beefheart and Zappas of the world than an homage. Undoubtedly, the work came from a place of frenzy, an attempt to use what tools they had available to translate the untamed energy the group possessed. Explosive drums from the group’s Sam Pickard pounded alongside flutes, angular guitars, and vocalist/guitarist Judson Kolk clan in a spandex suit. Godcaster wasn’t just an evocative title—it was a mission statement. At every turn, they channeled this supreme chaotic vitality into flashes of lightning, with enough strength in its Faustian overtones to drive titans out of their sleeping nests and rage with them. Even on their previous album, Long Haired Locusts, where the songs leaned a little bit more into the ballad side of funk with tracks like “Sassy Stick Boy” or the poppy “Don’t Make Stevie Wonder,” the undercurrent of prog eclecticism accentuated the wiry guitars and mighty vocals.
Now, on their latest self-titled LP, Godcaster, the band has transitioned from maniacal intensity into celestial immensity. The expansion of the group (with the addition of bassist Jan Fontana) as well as a more refined production sheen than their previous releases allows the band to explore a deeper layer of their ultimate vision, culminating in an art rock/progressive odyssey that allows for moments of vulnerable sentimentality while simultaneously churning out some of the band’s darkest material to date. It’s sometimes easiest to describe the music of Godcaster in mythological terms, so if the band’s previous work is best represented by the feral demons of hell shredding on guitars in between torture sessions, Godcaster is more a musical accompaniment to the shrieks of pain bellowed by Prometheus as he has his entrails devoured day after day, gazing from his rock towards the unflinching sun.
This comes across immediately in album opener “Diamond’s Shining Face,” a violent and gruesome tale with lyrics that feel handspun from the Moirai’s own string, recounting a story of death, revenge, and pain underscored by Judson Kolk’s frantic wails. The instrumental is an eerie, cloudy dirge that moves at a walking pace, driven by a pulsing bass that elevates the already colossal tension. The track cultivates this sort of ancient desperation, one that’s been shared by all living creatures since the beginning of time. This sonic theme remains present throughout most of Godcaster, but perhaps most successfully on the 10-minute “Didactic Flashing Antidote,” which earns its runtime through both its dynamic, epic instrumentation as well as the fascinating melodic ideas embraced by the vocals. About halfway through the track, the instrumental devolves into this barren portrait of a dying earth, as dissonant sounds ring over the repetitive bass and distressed guitars.
“Albino Venus” and “Pluto Shoots His Gaze into the Sun” offer a more tender side of the band at this stage, but are no less captivating than the album’s more driving cuts. “Pluto” in particular delivers a celestial beauty conveyed by vocalist/guitarist/occasional flutist Von Kolk’s soft voice and lyrics like “Pluto tears into the boiling air / Below the Earth the morning hurts, the sun is burst.” It’s a mournful homage to both our forgotten planet and the lord of the undead. Those more muted excerpts from Godcaster make the more grandiose moments hit all the harder. The 11-minute “Draw Breath Cry Out” is monumental, filled with apocalyptic imagery and shattering instrumentation. “Bright white hot lights pierce through the night / Revolving lights pierce through the night” becomes a chant by the end of the song, and it becomes difficult to discern whether the song’s narrator is receiving this vision as a precognitive warning of what’s to come, or actively summoning this fate for the rest of mankind.
It’s easy to compare this latest iteration of Godcaster to similarly eclectic and musically devious bands like Black Midi or Model/Actriz, but hardly any of their contemporaries harness the same seriousness or radiant imagery in their messaging. What sets Godcaster and in particular this self-titled LP apart from the rest is not only the ecstatic inventiveness of the music itself, but the awesome might by which it is implemented—a mixture of cosmic grandiosity, devastation and a curious eye toward the inevitable tragic fate of the universe.