Gone Forever is the heavily anticipated follow-up to God Forbid's 2001 CD Determination. Since the release of that album, their Century Media debut, they moved up the ladder from being an opening act on several package tours to scoring a spot on the MTV Headbangers' Ball tour (with like-minded bands Shadows Fall and Lamb of God) and finally emerging as headliners in their own right. They come out with their guns blazing on this album, as opener "Force-Fed" throws everything they've got at the listener: racing Swedish death metal riffs, tightly synchronized dual-guitar leads la Carcass' Heartwork, "chugga-chugga" hardcore breakdowns, and a bloodletting of harsh, screaming vocals. It is an impressive, punishing song that comes at you from about five different directions. They proceed to do the same thing eight more times on the album, with only the brief quiet intros on "Precious Lie" and "Judge the Blood" offering any reprieve. Apart from these moments, the intensity never lets down, although the melodic vocal refrains on "Better Days" and "Precious Lie" add some welcome contrast (and unlike many hardcore metal bands that try to incorporate clean vocals, God Forbid can actually sing). There is a lot to digest on this album, and the relentless attack, combined with the chiseled production and the music's unyielding harshness, make for a grueling listen the first few times through. In fact, even though it's only about 40 minutes, the album is a song or two longer than it needs to be. God Forbid were at the forefront of the new wave of American hardcore metal circa 2004, but some listeners still found it easier to respect the band's talent and digest the songs a few at a time as opposed to sticking around for a full album's worth of punishment. [The 2005 edition included one bonus track.] ~ William York, Rovi
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