Godhead - The Shadow Line - Cement Shoes Records 2006
Running Time: 49:07
The Shadow Line kicks off with the exact sort of Disturbed groove that you aren't "supposed" to enjoy as "Metal fans" but turn up when no one's looking. "Trapped In Your Lies" is catchy as hell, and twice as infectious as most of what's heard on radio these days. In truth, the Disturbed comparison isn't all that farfetched, and influence of Jason Miller on Draiman's midrange is inescapable. Sure, you won't find any howler monkey chatter or neo-metal growls herein, but what Godhead does, they do well. Also of note is the presence of actual guitar solos, further distancing Godhead's work from many of its contemporaries. "Hey You" is a bit too Filter-esque for my ears ("Hey Man, Nice Shot", anyone?), but is at the same time a measure of the time spent on actual songcraft in The Shadow Line, fluid vocal harmonies lurking within the structure of the tune. The Jay Baumgardener mix is especially worthy of mention, resulting in a robust but no less airy blending. The level of attention being paid to background vocals through much of the album recalls recent King's X, and I'd be unsurprised to find a Beatles record or ten in the collection of Mr. Miller. One of The Shadow Line's brighter moments musically shines through in "Fall Down", a song that - with more sloppily-played guitar and a sad attempt to be "metal" could've shown up on Metallica's Reload. As it stands, though, tasteful leads weave in and out of the song like thread on a loom, held in place by the classy drumming of recent acquisition Glendon Crain. "Another Day" begins with a lurching, bass-driven groove, whirring chords kept at bay for the verse only to slice back through the mix during the pre-chorus. The electronic throb of bassist/technological wizard Ulrich Hepperlin melds effortlessly with the music here, the concoction a signature of Godhead's sound. Syncopated bass joins the driving beat of "Unrequited" to manufacture a song reminiscent of Duran Duran, but infinitely more somber in tone, reptillian leads slithering through the tune courtesy of lead guitarist Mike Miller. "Goodbye" weds low end rumble to pulsing electrothrob, as at home on the dance floor of Insert Name Of Trendy Goth Club Here as sweat-drenched concert venue. It's not an easy fence to straddle, but on The Shadow Line, Godhead's been tapdancing along the tops of the fenceposts like a band that's finally hit their creative stride. Like early Static-X with a far better ear for song arrangement, processed vocals push the verse along until the brief piano segue into the chorus. Yes, real piano, not some dialed-in synth sound. The difference is clear, and the use of a real piano adds a haunting warmth to a style of music frequently seen as overly mechanized. Soaring leads and crashing drumwork colour "Your End Of Days", ushering in the rich acoustic strumming of "Inside Your World". As much a straight out love song as anything Godhead ever penned, wistful lyrics paint a picture of longing and hope regardless of the dark that surrounds us all.
This mixture of heaviness and harmony have been the trademark of Godhead for longer than most realize. In an age where heavy music is becoming increasingly introspective, Godhead turn the spotlight on relationships, love, death, the failure of romance, and its hobbled steps towards healing. There aren't many bands still actively cultivating this sound, and if future output is as credible and memorable as The Shadow Line, Godhead may end up carving their own niche in today's musical consciousness.