By Dan Perretta
Slow, low, and dissonant – The three best words to describe the 2012 release from Godstopper, “What Matters”. This Canadian-based band packs a heavy punch, often delivered at slower pace. “What Matters” redefined what I thought about noise rock on the whole. I spent many years dismissing bands like KEN Mode and Fight Amp as “not my thing” until I discovered “What Matters”. Now, I can’t get enough of it. Seeing Godstopper live not long after the release of this album reaffirmed my suspicions. They were on point, just as mind-blowing as they are on the recording, and generally super nice people excited about the price of beer in the United States.
The unique aspect of their music is the blend of major and minor keys as well as the mix of haunting clean vocals, aggressive yells, and screams that seem to come from deep within. The vocal duties are carried by the whole band and croon beside heavy riffs produced by down-tuned guitars and bass. The yells definitely find roots in old-school punk and bands like Melvins. The screams could definitely find their place on a blackened hardcore album of your choosing. The combination of all three on one record, let alone one song, sounds unreasonable, but Godstopper do it with ease.
The music is layered very well. The guitars are often at odds with each other in a good way. While one is creating discomfort with a dissonant melody, the other adds complimenting line, contributing to the eeriness of the song. All the while, the bass is keeping everything tied together with a low riff. Then, they all combine for a crushing chorus or bridge. Every song on “What Matters” is very memorable and the dissonance is actually very catchy. Every time I listen to this album I find myself yelling and screaming along and just getting a little too involved with my body movements. I am certain more than one person passing me on the road has wondered what the hell is going on in my car and wondering if I am having some sort of episode.
Possibly one of my favorite tracks on “What Matters” is “Clean House.” This song is the epitome of what I love about this album and this band. It starts with slow reverberated drum beats, followed by a dissonant, dueling guitar melody, a low, heavy bass line, and higher pitched clean vocals that only add to the creepiness of the whole intro. Those vocals continue through the verse underneath the main vocal screaming vocal line. The chorus is an elephant marching, skull-cracking, guitar riff with vocals that can only be described as punk-operatic. The whole track is this exchange of insidious guitar riffs into a heaviness that forces you to use your whole body to head bang.
One last thing to note. Do not listen to this album in the dark. The majority of “What Matters” is perfectly nightmare free, but the last track will certainly induce the spinal tingles that will force you to turn the light on immediately…so I’ve heard.
If you are looking for a place to pick up Godstopper’s “What Matters,” you can find it on Bandcamp.