EXCLUSIVE: DALLAS & DOC COYLE GIVE A TRACK-BY-TRACK BREAKDOWN OF GOD FORBID’S EARTHSBLOOD
As you are (hopefully) already aware, God Forbid’s latest opus, Earthsblood, hits stores today. Guitarists Doc and Dallas Coyle was cool enough to give us a track-by-track breakdown of each song on what is inarguably the band’s best record to date. Enjoy!
1.”The Discovery” – The intro for Earthsblood came about in a peculiar way. The original piece started with the doomy guitars that kick in around 40 seconds into it. We wrote it as part of our black metal side project called Hell Nigger. It was the outro for a song that we wrote in one day. Without the keys and stuff, it sounded more like Morbid Angel, but with the new album having a much darker tone, we thought it would make a cool intro to the album. The piano piece was actually played and composed (with some direction from Dallas and I) by my Dad, Kevin Coyle. We showed him the chords that the guitars were playing, and he started doing this arpeggiated Danny Elfman thing that just killed. Our Dad is a piano teacher and has been playing for like 40 years. He also played on our last album. The orchestration was performed by Michael Romeo from Symphony X. We met each other through our producer, Eric Rachel. He has his own home studio where Symphony X records their albums and this orchestration program that costs some ungodly amount of money, and takes 4 computers to run. Apparently, they use that program to do film scores. Mike is incredible, and I can’t thank him enough for adding some much virtuosity to the record.
2. “The Rain” – In addition to being the first actual song on Earthsblood, “The Rain” was probably the first song we had done when we were writing. I think the first song you write for an album as well as place on an album sets the tone for what’s about to come next. This may be an obvious statement, but “The Rain” has a lot of black metal influence – especially Dimmu Borgir. It also features the first God Forbid blast beat. I don’t know if there was a rule against blast beats before, or maybe we just weren’t feeling it, but this time it really fit the song. We certainly weren’t trying to make it a gimmick, but lately we’ve been influenced by bands like Black Dahlia Murder and Behemoth. I liked writing this track because it was like a return to intensity that I think was lost a bit on Constitution of Treason, which was more focused on mid-tempo groove. As far as setting a tone for the album, this song also makes a statement for some of the more dynamic, prog elements of the album as well being an intense song. Vocally, I love this track because of the diversity, and on a few parts like the chorus it’s Byron [Davis, vocalist], Dallas, and I all singing together which shows one of the strengths of the band. I dig the solos on this track too. I was really trying to do some new stuff. The last record, it felt like my solos were getting a little stale.
3. “Empire Of The Gun” – This is easily one of the easiest songs to get into on the new album. It’s got all the signature God Forbid sounds. Solos, thrash riffs, big chorus, breakdown etc. etc. To tell you the truth, I think it’s a solid song but it’s so easy for us to write this type of song that the excitement comes from the vocals and lyrics for me. Musically, this song is all Doc. I don’t get a kick out of writing the traditional style metal because I think it’s been done before, but Doc proved me wrong. I think moving to seven string guitars really helps this song break out of it’s “traditional metal” shell. The song is about a mother who receives a letter from her son after she finds out he dies in a war. It’s kind of related to “To The Fallen Hero” off of Constitution. I like to inter-connect songs so we don’t lose our vibe from album to album. It’s a way for us to know where we are starting in tone in writing a new album. This song has a pop structure in the writing but I think that’s one reason why it’s so catchy and people latch on to it so easily.
4. “War Of Attrition” – “War Of Attrition” is easily the heaviest song on the album and one of the last we wrote for Earthsblood. As we were finishing all the tracks in the rehearsal space, Doc really felt the album was missing something. As we were in the rehearsal space Doc said we needed a “Live Banger”: A live song that would get people pumped. Obviously, listening to “War Of Attrition,” it definitely is a Live Banger. Before we had a title for the song it was labeled “Live Banger” LOL! The song had a Pantera influence so when it came to writing the vocals I really wanted that feel. From “Fucking Hostile” to “Strength Beyond Strength,” there is Pantera influence all over the place. I’d like to thank Vinnie, Phil, Rex and obviously the great Dimabag for putting the magic on this track. When it comes to the heaviness of the song there is no heavier GF song. The middle eight Deicide part is bound to break peoples necks!!!
5. “The New Clear” – “The New Clear” is an odd GF track. It’s the most left field song we’ve ever done. And to my surprise people are reacting incredibly strong to it. With “War Of Attrition” we concentrated on making the song a very different type of track. In God Forbid, everything we do is calculated. We don’t make mistakes in making good music. With that said, this song was a leap of faith for us and anyone who has followed our music. It’s kind of fitting that it is a leap of faith because the lyrics are especially deep and have to do with faith. They are about my wife for the most part but underneath it all is the journey to find your soul and realizing there is more to life than our bodies. It’s a deep song and I think it will stick in peoples minds. It’s one of my highlights on Earthsblood. My favorite riff in the song is the 80’s rock riff. When Doc wrote it I was like, “That’s the best riff you ever wrote!” Doc actually took a riff of mine and rearranged it for the clean beginning then added all of the nuances you hear. I’d say for this song, he really took it a part and made it something better. He really killed it with the arrangement. I fought him every step of the way but writing a record is like war!
6. “Shallow” – This is an interesting song because it almost didn’t up on the album or even recorded. It was one of the first songs we worked on, but it just wasn’t vibing like some of the other songs. I loved the riffs, and thought it had a place on the album, so in a last ditch effort, I shortened the intro, rewrote the chorus, and Corey [Pierce, drummer] and I jammed the ending part which started out kind of like a joke and became the best part of the song. My original concept for the song was to write something like Metallica’s “Leper Messiah,” one of my favorite Metallica songs. I wanted something with that straight-forward one-two groove feel that just begs for people to headbang, and takes a thrash turn mid-way through. I love the idea of borrowing the feel of one of your favorite songs as opposed to taking riffs or something like that. It’s more creative and allows funnel what you like about other bands into your own music. Byron had a great time with this song because he really gets into our heavier material. This was initially going to be a B-side, but I really dug the song and fought to get it on the album because there’s so much melody and epic stuff on the record, I thought it would be great to have just one no-frills, kick your teeth in, metal track. The guitar solos on the outro are played by Patrick [Pintavalle] and Peter [Joseph] from The Absence, who are one of the best metal bands out there right now. I didn’t give them a ton of space to jam, but they made magic in a short time. Props to those guys. They shred, and took the track to the next level.
7. “Walk Alone” – “Walk Alone” is signature GF song, but done way better than in the past. It’s one of those metal songs that should make you smile and pump your fist when it comes on. It’s rock n’ roll. The beginning of the song has Guns N’ Roses written all over it, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. I had a few of the riffs laying around, and we ended up jamming the intro in rehearsal one day, and put it together with my riffs, and it instantly clicked. I went home later and wrote the pre-chorus and chorus parts to solidify the first half of the song. Corey played some killer thrash beats on the verses that just made the song exciting. That’s something I think we’ve had trouble doing in the past, making our more melodic songs energetic. The other thing I love about this track is the middle section that seems to take the song on an unexpected mini-journey musically. This is a guitar song for sure. There are three songs on Earthsblood without solos, but there are like four solos in this song, but it just made sense. The solo I did in the middle of the song was done at 3 in the morning during the vocal sessions at Christian Olde Wolbers studio heavily influenced by Jack Daniels and using his 7-string string that had loose strings and played like butter. It’s my most inspired and favorite solo on the record. Byron pretty much wrote the whole song lyrics wise, and he went through a couple of different versions of the verses. He went through a tough relationship where his girl cheated on him, so he got out a lot of his issues on this song. Dallas and Byron worked on a chorus during pre-production but I didn’t think it was catchy enough, so I laid something down that had been in my head, and it seemed to work. So the chorus is actually Dallas and I singing, but I have to say there are some high notes in there. I may be cheating live. We’ll see.
8. “Bat The Angels” – This song is another highlight for me. It’s a very odd track because it’s mid-tempo all the way through out. It’s way more rock than it is metal even though it is very metal. The chorus riff was written on tour with Devildriver in October of ’07. I remember the day writing it. I was really hungover but I latched on to this key change and played it over an over again. The riff stayed with me until we got home. The first riff was written in about ’06 when we were on tour and I wrote the riff on stage. I was like, “This is a pretty interesting riff!” It wasn’t until the studio that we put the whammy Pantera effect on the screechy riff to give it an off the wall feel. Studio magic!!! The end of the song was actually something that came out of nowhere. I wrote the original heavy Black Metal part in about ’05 and had a demo of it. We inserted that and after we had the big build up the heavy Meshuggah-type riff just came out of jamming and wanting to be heavy. I’d say this song was a stroke of luck. Lyrically, this song is about that Paul Mooney joke. Put wings on a white baby it’s an angel, put wings on a black baby it’s a bat. The story of the lyrics has to be kept under wraps just in case we make a video but it deals with the divine. In a lot of ways it’s like the dark sister of “Chains Of Humanity” lyrically. I love this track!
9. “Earthsblood” – The epic title track seems to be a favorite already. It’s the longest God Forbid song, and touches on different ground for us. Hopefully people will hear this track, and see we’re not some “insert breakdown here” metalcore band. The Opeth influence on this song is pretty obvious and even on the entire record. We even called this song the Opeth song before it had a title. With that said, I think it still sounds like a God Forbid song. We didn’t intend to make it a nine minute song from the outset, but the song seemed to dictate many different twists and it all felt very natural. It takes some skill to craft a very long song with many different parts and have it still feel like one song and not a Frankenstein monster of musical sections. We achieved that very well in my opinion, which is why this is becoming one of the fan favorites from the album. Here are some cool facts about Earthsblood. 1.) I recorded the clean guitar intro on my garageband on my computer at home. 2.) Mike Pinella from Symphony X plays keys on this song. His keyboard line completely makes the melodic chorus. He added so much to this song, and he did it all in only a couple hours. Talented bastard. 3.) Kris Norris who used to be Darkest Hour did the 3rd guitar solo in the song with all of the sweep picking. He did it on while tour, and the source tracks were a bit shrill, but Jens Bogren who mixed it put an awesome panning effect on the part that sounded great. 4.) The “All Together We Stand and Rise” chant line originated from our sound engineer Steve Lagudi. I didn’t even know that until recently. 5.) The word that Byron screams at the 6:54 is the word “Groove” because the part that we’re playing… well… it grooves.
10. “Gaia (The Vultures)” – This was one of the first three songs we wrote for Earthsblood. This song was almost entirely written in the practice space. The beginning bendy-guitar part was something I was jamming out in practice and we just arranged it and kept the groove. I love heavy and simple and this song is it. When the verse comes in with the lyrics, “What is it you said?”, it was just a jam that Doc and I magically came up with. The chorus riff I wrote by chance as well. It is a very odd riff and I’m sure Guitar World will want to know how it is played. This is the slowest song we ever wrote but it was always my favorite of the first three we wrote. As you can probably tell, I’ve always been into the left field stuff we’ve done. I was the one who wrote “Welcome To The Apocalypse” for Constitution and so many people hate it. But I love it. I think it’s good to have something different to give the album color (No pun intended). Lyrically, this song is attached to a script I wrote called The Vultures. And the song is mostly about how as a human race we are drawn to destroy the weak. We will pick at the dead and let the living go on in happiness in a metaphorical way. It seems we spend more time looking at the outside of someone to pick at them rather than learning who they are. For instance, it’s easy to call a black person a nigger or a Mexican a wetback to hurt their feelings. But what if you really knew who they were. You wouldn’t be so petty. I guess it’s just human nature. That’s the last track on the album and I think it’s a big statement. We believe Earthsblood was worth the wait! We hope you guys dig it!
-Dallas & Doc Coyle