OF THE GODS, And So It Begins (2010, self-released)

The skull:
I can pretty much guarantee that whatever detail we’re not seeing in this Mesoamerican carving is more evil and more metal than the dimestore skull that’s been plopped on top. Even if it’s just a portrait of some ancient king, there’s a 90% chance he’s depicted wearing a mask of human skin, or at least a jaguar pelt. The Aztecs were incredible, unbelievable badasses, and when they wanted a decorative skull, they fucking murdered somebody and drank his blood first. Of the Gods found some royalty-free photos on the internet, made only the barest attempts at color-matching in Photoshop, and called it a day. The titular “It” is clearly a short and undistinguished career. And as always (though it usually falls on Friar Wagner to mention it), the self-applied Parental Advisory warning is a baffling addition. Were Of the Gods so sure of their success that they imagined their DIY disc would end up on the shelves at Best Buy? They are from Las Vegas, a city of big dreamers, so maybe they were.

The music:
This is like a cross between barroom groove metal and the sad stale thrash of early aughts Overkill. It’s fairly riffy and played reasonably well, and there are some good ideas, but rotten vocals and a pervasive shit-kicking stupidity easily crush whatever good things the band otherwise brings to the table. I think the vocals (and lyrics) are really the worst part, for me. I’ve heard vocals like this a hundred times before, the singing of a man who has absolutely no business singing, but maybe had enough money for a PA. They’re semi-melodic (in the sense that they strain for melody) but also totally invested in sounding tough, and the result is less Phil Anselmo than, well, terrible. There’s no one to compare this kind of singing to, because although it is incredibly common in the underground, no metal band has achieved even a tiny modicum of success with singing like this. Really, the only performance that I think I can recall that compares is Kelly Shaefer’s work in Neurotica, and on the off chance you’ve heard that, I can say safely that Of the Gods’ Landon is even worse, as hard as that is to imagine. It’s a shame, too, because with a good frontman, maybe Of the Gods could muster the enthusiasm and energy to push themselves beyond this half-assed powergroove into something at least sort of interesting. And so it ends.
— Friar Johnsen

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