The UK has seen the rise of three prominent rock duos in the past couple of years, though for those with their eyes above ground would be forgiven for only recognising two – Royal Blood, the band who many have dubbed as the saviours of rock music with their bass-abusing sound, and Slaves, who’ve brought snotty, rough-and-ready punk back to the masses. The other is God Damn, a duo from Wolverhampton who are by far the most alien of the three acts to the mainstream. Their breakthrough Vultures shared the sonic simplicity of both Royal Blood and Slaves, but presented it far more abrasively, coupling sludge and noise influences with Thom Edward’s loose, acerbic vocal style in what could be frequently compared to Bleach-era Nirvana.
By comparison, third effort Everything Ever is God Damn’s Nevermind, tightened up musically and with a pop heart beating at its core, but still ludicrously loud and caked in distortion. It also just so happens that Everything Ever improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable way, with better songs, a more defined sense of direction and performers with a much greater understanding of how to play around with restraint but still sound utterly feral. Because, while Everything Ever knocks Vultures‘ discord down a few pegs, it doesn’t skimp on the roughness and unkempt sound – the absolutely irresistible Failure and the grimy glam of Fake Prisons still pack an almighty wallop with Edward’s cleaner but still guttural vocals and Ash Weaver’s militant drum thuds, but there’s an unavoidable kernel of pure pop at their core.
It’s this ear for a proper hook that becomes God Damn’s biggest asset on Everything Ever. As a body of work, it feels much more focused than its predecessor, mainly because this is a straight-up pop album drenched in thick, Sabbathian tar. That’s hardly a bad thing either – the likes of Sing This and I’ll Bury You are up there with the best songs this band have ever written, and though it does tail off at the end with the relatively forgettable pair of Let’s Speak and Easily Minded, the rest of the album has a remarkable consistency. What’s more, God Damn still manage to retain the majority of their heft despite the streamlining. Yes, it’s toned down a bit and the more acidic screamed vocals are, for the most part, relegated to the background, but tracks like Again Again have a heavy churn and punch that’s the musical equivalent of a brick in a washing machine. It’s so addictive and so accessible that it is sometimes easy to forget that this is a relatively heavy album compared to rock’s mainstream.
In reality, Everything Ever is exactly the kind of album that the mainstream needs. It’s supremely listenable, but has enough grit and grisly intent to keep itself firmly rooted in the alternative world; Everything Ever could be the perfect gateway album, an accolade that few would’ve ever believed God Damn to be on the receiving end of. As such, this is undoubtedly God Damn’s most impressive work to date, equal parts punchy and grimy in a convergence that is a near-perfect marriage of pop and rock. If this is the album that does elevate God Damn above ground, there really couldn’t be a better one to do it.
For fans of: Nirvana, Turbowolf, Royal Blood
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Everything Ever’ by God Damn is released on 23rd September on One Little Indian Records.