ALBUM REVIEW: God Alone. – ‘ETC’

‘ETC’ repeated in red sans serif font across the album cover, with ‘GOD ALONE.’ in black sans serif font in the bottom right corner

As a group of students hailing from the MTU Cork School of Music, God Alone. are filling the void of blackened post-punk with beloved acts from the much-loved-and-rarely-forgotten UK noughties indie scene. Intrigued? You should be.

Album-hinting single Tsk Tsk Tsk, a romping indie-tinged cut, does not quite exemplify the breadth these five have at their fingertips. Instead, this record exhibits overarching dread, as well as an inherent playfulness with chirpy guitars and song titles like Kung Fu Treachery.

Unfurling opener Tinfoil In The Walls is not a head scratcher due to the title alone. I mean, we’ve seen foil adorn a house party wall, but what’s going on here? Best mull that over while the album begins: drums and bass presented as clanking industrial machines, before tastefully transitioning into a gloomy post-metal slow dance of kick pedal hits and noodling guitars before a mid-section that spins round and round, faster and faster.

There’s never a straightforward tempo to describe the ebb and flow of each track; instead, the five-piece topple your expectations. Kung Fu Treachery has slide guitars. Are we in country mode? Well, in the same way that sound comes across far more eerily through the ambience of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. God Alone. then wreck that immediately with pummeling riffage, backed by some stylish flaunting from drummer Jack O’Hanlon. Oh yes, there’s some disco beat for fans of that lil’ chestnut. The music moves through stages organically, whether you’re keeping up or not from the curveballs the group love to throw in. Some deathcore growls don’t even seem out of place.

The guitar work on the title track’s intro is head-spinning, delicious even, something that comes back in a dream-like trance three minutes in. The band has one foot on the club dancefloor, the other in a garage making glorious noise. The Eurovision inspired call-back responses (“Douze points!”) are reminiscent of Foals’ debut Antidotes and its starter for ten The French Open, already claimed as a direct influence on the band’s music since their 2019 EP. Their high-neck jangly riffs attest to that too. But they’ve also cited Milhouse’s dad as an influence, so. Elsewhere, Tsk Tsk Tsk is the brisk Dananananaykroyd dance-punk throwback that the nü-ravers have craved since 2008, with added gloom. If the Misfits TV show was to have been made now, this would be the theme tune.

This sound of all-consuming darkness, and a light at the end of the tunnel first giveth then taken away, makes itself very much known throughout the course of 15BM1989, the album’s most despairing post-metal example, all set to terrify you. That is until a tongue-in-cheek “WOO!” and vomit-noise that makes you remember it’s mostly all fun and games. Closer Peony showcases gothic synth work, and plays with lyrical ambiguity, their absurdist roots making itself well known through some George Clarke-esque short form poetry. Who is the subject Sharon? It’s a jarring thought to end on, but that sums up the 40 minute run with aplomb.

The whole span of ETC seems to convey their encyclopaedic knowledge of genres, all whipped up into a consumable 6 tracks. The punky gang vocals merge with Converge-style ballast and Rolo Tomassi’s beautiful slowed sections when the panic setting has run its course. It’s math rock in a new guise, shaking up a scene currently making a bold return.

With this record, God Alone. surpasses the creativity of many groups out there, clearly reinventing the musical acts they hold dear in an equally heavy and danceable guise. If this is the future, take me there.

For fans of: Alcest, early Biffy Clyro, Rolo Tomassi

‘ETC’ by God Alone. is released on 21st October on Prosthetic Records.

Words by Elliot Burr

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