On October 1st 2017, Stephen Paddock took it upon himself to kill fifty-eight people at the Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in what would become the largest mass shooting by an individual in US history. We could sit around for hours debating gun violence, mental illness and terrorist attacks, but sometimes these things are best left to the victims to explain. This is where Nashville trio The By Gods come in.
After an extensive tour of the US in 2017, the preparation for their first UK trip began only to be scrapped after frontman George Pauley’s unfortunate experience at the Harvest Festival. This led a brief hiatus for the band who took that time to recoup and write what would be there fifth album, Goldy. From the opening, you can feel the weight and tension of Pauley’s attempt to recover from the guilt and depression often associated with a mass shooting. That’s not to say the whole album is one big doom and gloom; it’s far from it.
The eleven tracks produced by Alex Newport, known for his work with the Melvins, Bloc Party, and Death Cab For Cutie, bear all the semblance of The By Gods usual blend of rock and roll with grunge combined with the wall of noise that Newport brings to his productions.
Blackwave, the first track and single from the album, is a healthy mix of early Radiohead meeting Nirvana’s more radio-friendly songs. The screeching guitar, coupled with smooth and raw vocals, anchored to a dirty bassline embodies all the usual elements of that soft-loud style that so many acts of the nineties have become synonymous with. Its catchiness doesn’t take away from its subject matter, if anything you can feel the tension rise from Pauley’s vocal line so that by the time Try So Hard, with its heavy crunchy guitars, catchy hook and chorus, comes on you start to wonder if this energetic and edgy track sounds a bit too familiar.
These aren’t exactly bad songs, they are incredibly well crafted to match the mainstream’s idea of rock, and there is genuineness from the album as a whole that most garage acts lack. As a band, The By Gods bring a lot more to the table than anyone else at the moment. Thankfully, Goldy isn’t a continuous homage to the grunge nineties scene. There are some moments of deep digging with songs like Penhead and Blurry showing us the vulnerability of the band stripping away all the bravado of some of the previous tracks. The softness of the vocals and melodic tone create a more organic sound compared to the heavy sludging of other grunge groups.
While not a big jump from their last album, Move On, after a couple of listens you can hear the progression of the band’s overall sound. It’s an excellent grunge album if you’re after some nostalgia.