New God Root Album Uses Art to Help People Escape
In the promotional material for doom/sludge quintet God Root‘s new album, Salt and Rot, vocalist/bassist Ross Bradley notes, “We hope this record helps people escape.” Sonically, the album delivers on that promise with its heartfelt, cathartic earnestness and emotionally bare vocal work. However, the band’s commitment to emotional release goes far further than meaningful lyrics and raw music; no, God Root saw fit to use a communal approach to capturing emotion on Salt and Rot, incorporating input from their friends and family in order to evoke a sense of belonging in the face of adversity. How they did so is a genuinely moving take on production, especially in a sterile metal world that sees fit to repeat the same base tropes again and again and again.
In order to capture a visceral artistic response and create a true gateway to escape, God Root launched a project called “Let Go” during the recording of the follow-up to their self-titled debut. The “Let Go” project was created to give listeners their own stake in the recording process, to weave their own hurts and sorrows into the story of healing and rebirth. Bradley explains the project and how it influenced the final product.
“We put a call out to our friends and family to contribute something they wanted to “Let go” of. We recorded their voices/read their writings. Some of these were personal stories and some were phrases or names that meant something to them. We processed them into our track “From Hounds to Silent Skies” in a way that maintains their respective privacy. It was really harrowing and humbling to have these people we love be as vulnerable and open and honest as they were.”
Compositionally, the remainder of the album takes this exposed weakness and transmutes it into strength. God Root’s signature Neurot-sludge-on-steroids approach is still on full display, but the tribal elements are taken back to their primal roots; animalistic chirps and growls litter the record amid primitive caveman drumming while suffocating riffs as pitch as the La Brea Tar Pit consume the light amid swaths of erupting swarms of noise. It’s an atavistic record, far more savage and primeval than your stock sludge album, and yet, there’s a bright light bursting out amid the swaths of feedback and tribal drumming, a brilliant sheen of hope and deliverance.
After the cathartic group session of “From Hounds to Silent Skies,” the album is baptized in a brutal wall of reverb and resonance before concluding with the dire “Conscious Disease.” That track rides waves of agony and absolution, recounted by the juxtaposition between the impassioned speech about pushing through fear and failure and the clanging drums and torturous vocals. It’s a powerful finale, one that sprouts through the rough hewn rock like a delicate sapling that will one day bloom forth into a mighty tree.
It’s rare to hear this level of passion and earnestness in production when so many bands are content to sing about tried and true metal themes. Most bands can effectively pull off instrumental heaviness; few are those who can match that instrumentation with an emotional heft. That quality alone merits God Root your esteem.