God Forbid

IV: Constitution of Treason

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Never the most political of bands in their early years (like most hardcore-based metal bands, they trod a path marked by earnest but often unfocused, generalized social commentary), New Jersey's God Forbid appear ready to run for office with their fourth album, 2005's IV: Constitution of Treason. Or at least ready to tear the "office" down, judging by the album's incendiary lyrics foreseeing an apocalyptic new world disorder. Obviously imagined, but also rooted in grimly contemporary historical forecasts, their three-part, ten-song "Constitution" moves from worldwide nuclear destruction (no surprise there -- see "The End of the World"), to a stone-aged aftermath ("The Lonely Dead" --not quite Mad Max, but close), to the emergence of an unlikely messiah-cum-martyr (not again! see "To the Fallen Hero"), and, finally, a gradual regeneration of "civilized" humanity possessing belief systems disturbingly similar to those of old (yes, again -- see "Crucify Your Beliefs"). Through it all, suspension of disbelief definitely helps one get with the overwrought story line, but it's a boatload of inspired music that really cushions the passage, with the tracks named above as well as further highlights "Chains of Humanity," "Into the Wasteland," and the title cut proving among the most memorable and inventive of God Forbid's career. And if all of the above sounds eerily familiar to survivors of the original '80s thrash metal movement, these will be happy to know that the Coyle brothers' abundant deployment of jagged thrash metal riffing -- as much as their apocalyptic subject matter -- is in fact one of the album's greatest strengths. Besides perfectly offsetting the inevitable doses of melodic passages and alternating clean/screamed vocals typical of God Forbid and their metalcore generation, they help lend a timelessness to Constitution of Treason that any album should aspire to. And for a band that almost threw in the towel the year before, all of that makes this an even greater triumph.

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