This is a review of "XL" recorded by NGOD. The review was written by Jamie O'Neill in 2012.
After hearing a number of people discussing this Bradford-based quartet, I decided to give them a listen and download their latest EP. Ever since, I don't think I've stopped singing their praises. To draw comparison is very difficult, but imagine a cross between glistening indie melody, prog rock experimentation, and grunge's aggression, each in equal and balanced nature. Their intricate use of many rhythmic devices and complex time signatures, thanks to drummer Alex, is second to none on the local scene, and their lyrics invite into the mindset of teenage angst and drama, but with the surreal and imaginative thoughts of a daydreamer.
The EP begins with 'Wardrobe', which kicks off a punchy yet full-flowing melody in 15/8. A brave move, as it can be very difficult to create conjunct rhythm with such irregular signatures, but they pull it off with flowing precision, and it just shows the musical intellect of these four lads. The song continues with a powerful and robust chord sequence, with strong lead guitar melody riding high above the soothing falsetto of front man Sam.
'Talk With Hands' follows with even more power and impact than the opener, and it's a belter of a tune. This track really demonstrates the vast range of dynamics that NGOD manage to include in their tracks, and their use of quiet-loud is prominent from the off. After the dynamic-rich intro, the song breakdowns into a fantastic mellow section, which features a fantastic funk-influenced bass riff by Lewis in 4/4, probably the highlight of the track for me. It is shortly followed by a harmonic lead in the effect-ridden guitars, working in perfect sync with each other. Towards the end of the track, dreaming lyrics of 'My kite will only take me so far, so please just meet me halfway' are recited in a singalong-esque chorus fashion, before ending in a calm a cappella outro from the band.
The band demonstrates their chilled nature with 'Joel's House', a short track featuring Sam's lilting vocals over a mellow arpeggiated guitar. Once again, prominent lyrics act as an earworm, with 'It's hard to argue back when you never let me speak,' which oddly contrasts teenage infuriation with such a beautiful instrumental backing.
The penultimate track off the album, 'I Call Shotgun', returns with the same full-blown wall of sound that the album started with, and once again, the band's exploration through different rhythms is present, with a heavy 3/4 section working easily between sections in standard time. Punchy staccato guitar, playing a dotted rhythm sails above the laidback section in the track. This band really holds their own through parts of minimalism and simplicity, before launching into full-blown distortion, yet still maintaining the beauty of their smooth, untainted melodies, and it is a feat worthy of great admiration.
In my opinion, they save the best for last. 'C2579Z' is a top example of the quiet-loud complexity, yet still taking the listener through a whirlwind of pitch-perfect harmony. This band doesn't do build-ups. From the start, they launch into a fantastic 11/8 progression of dramatic chords, creating a huge sound that is mimicked throughout the whole song. It's the most powerful and contains the most intricate rhythms and signature changes out of the whole album. The dueling guitars of Sam and Luke, which emerge at several points throughout the song, really show this band's fantastic use of harmony between the leading instruments, and really show the vast capabilities of what this band can achieve.
If there's one band you should keep an eye on over the next few years, it is without a doubt NGOD. They have an impeccable balance between beauty, drama and power, and the way they have communicated it through this EP is an incredible sign of what's to come from this brilliant quartet.