God Forbid You Should Miss This Band Live

  • Axl Rosenberg

“We’re struggling,” God Forbid vocalist Byron Davis announced from the stage of New York’s Avalon last April, during a stint opening for Arch Enemy and Chimaira. “We’re always struggling.” The underwhelming turnout at last night’s headlining show at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Times Square- the latest stop on the band’s “Chains of Humanity” tour- suggests that God Forbid are still the underdogs of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. But the mind-blowing show the band put on for the hundred or so fans in attendance raises the question: why is a band this talented struggling to find their audience?

Reviewing their 2005 opus IV: CONSTITUTION OF TREASON for Blabbermouth, Keith Bergman wrote “Pick any trait that’s considered an integral part of modern metal. Whatever you picked, God Forbid does it better than your favorite band.” It would be difficult to find a much more concise way to convey how hard this band rocks live, but I’ll go for a more poetic description instead: in concert, God Forbid are so heavy it feels like a piano has just fallen from a 10 story window and landed directly on your head, so tight it feels like that girl you picked up that one time who swore she was 18 even though she didn’t have the I.D. to prove it.

They’re raw, too, in the best sense of the word; unlike so many other young metal bands that seem to do everything in their power to duplicate in concert their studio recordings note-for-note, GF maintain the live sense of spontaneity we’ve come to expect from truly great metal bands- subtle changes to the material that make it all the more exciting without losing any of its original power. A highlight of the show comes in between the first chorus and second verse of “Better Days,” when the music comes to a grinding halt, allowing deafening silence to permeate the air for a few moments before the song comes back into overdrive. It’s the modern equivalent of Slash bending and sustaining the last note of his “Mr. Brownstone” solo or Tool’s extended riffing before the grand finale of “Stinkfist”- the silence actually allows the momentum of the song to become tangible, the subsequent explosion like a sudden downpour after days of drought. And if the album’s lead track, “The End of the World,” doesn’t get your horns in the air and your fist pumping, you need to have your pulse checked; the song’s eerie, epic overture sounds just as intimidating live as it does on your stereo, and the moment the band explodes- in perfect unison- into the song’s driving, pummeling main riff is postively cathartic.

The harmonized, dual solos of guitarists Doc and Dallas Coyle would make the fellas in Iron Maiden proud, and their galloping riffs shame everything Metallica has written since LOAD. Drummer Corey Pierce and the bassist known only as “Beeker” (a reference, I assume, to his resemblance to a certain Muppet?) hold down the back end in a manner best described as “thankless”- like the very best rhythm sections, their flourishes are subtle, yet distinguished. Davis growls and stalks the stage like a demon, risen from the lowest depths of Hell; during downtime, he often stands apart from the rest of the band, atop a riser like the metal god he is, his maniacal grin reminscent of the cat who ate the canary. Does Davis have some deep, dark secret no one else knows- some bodies under the floorboards, perhaps?- or is it just that he knows that his band is vastly superior to so many others?

It’s not just that this band is ferocious- they are- but they’re witty, too. Much like Lamb of God, they’re a metal band not afraid to embrace a discussion about politics; unlike LOG, they have a light, droll touch. They arrive on stage accompanied by Hulk Hogan’s theme song, “I am a Real American,” and their t-shirts often satirize pop culture- one is made made to look like a shirt for the 80s cartoon series G.I. JOE, replacing that title with their own band name but retaining the slogan, “A Real American Hero;” another reads “Black to the Future,” retaining the font of the Robert Zemeckis’ immortal sci-fi comedy. You’d expect nothing less from a band that wrote a sci-fi/horror concept album about a post-apocalyptic hero who is eventually prosecuted for treason killed by his own followers.

To see God Forbid live is to feel the full force of true American metal coursing through your veins; don’t deny yourself the chance to experience this band up close and personal.


For a full list of God Forbid’s upcoming tour dates, click here.

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