Brazil's Gods & Punks have fast become one of Desert Psychlist's go to bands for those times when we need a lift from life's everyday trials and hardships, there is something uplifting and strangely life affirming about what this band deliver with their music and this holds true even when the band are dealing with subject matter of a darker denser content. Gods & Punks are a band who love a theme, to tell a story with their music and this has held true from their very first release to the one we are discussing in this review, the bands stories and songs may be set in fantastical landscapes we do not recognise but the narrative of those songs, veiled as it may be at times, is concerned with the planet we reside on and our interactions (or lack of) with that planet. Sci-Fi writers often release their books in a series, with each series being part of a bigger story and Gods & Punks have done something similar with their albums, " Into The Dunes of Doom", "Enter The Ceremony of Damnation" and "And The Celestial Ascension" are all chapters of what G&P call their "Voyage Series" this month the band bring us the latest instalment of that story with "The Sounds of the Universe".
Let's get one thing out of the way first and that is that some of the songs you will hear on "Sounds of the Universe" have appeared elsewhere, here though they appear in the context of the "Voyage" story remastered and re-imagined. Now we have got that out of the way lets get down to the nitty gritty of reviewing this stunning album,
"Eye In The Sky" opens this chapter of the "Voyage" series, its laid back almost lo-fi first section of gently strummed guitar, backed by tasteful Gilmour flavoured lead and restrained percussion is delivered beneath an equally restrained and laid back vocal, the song slowly builds but doesn't quite explode instead it swells in intensity and volume with the vocals taking on a more urgent tone while those Floydian style licks begin to adopt a grittier edge. "Ejection" follows and like its predecessor it begins sedate and languid with lilting harmonies floating serenely over a backdrop of fractured chord voicings and liquid bass and again much like its predecessor there is no great explosion into a heavier dynamic but more of a gradual move towards that dynamic. Up next is "The TUSK" a song that resides very much within stoner/desert rock territory, warmly fuzzed guitar tones and insistent percussion wrapped around a gritty but on the whole fairly clean and effective vocal. Next track "Nebula Haze" is an excellent instrumental that uses sampled narrative and soundbytes to tell its tale, it also has the distinction of being one of the very few non-live rock songs to include a drum solo. Where previously on "The Sounds of the Universe" Gods & Punks have shifted into a heavier dynamic via gentler beginnings on "Bad Apples" they just go for the throat from the outset, the song erupting from nothing into a dank doomic, almost Sabbath-esque refrain then shifting things into a funky stop/start shuffle when the vocals kick in before finally closing things out with a scorching bluesy guitar solo. A delicious bass motif opens the equally delicious "Dimensionaut" then is joined by the guitars and drums in a superbly effective spaced out stoner groove decorated in what we at Desert Psychlist consider to be one of the best vocals of the album. The band throw us an interesting curveball with their next song "Universe", its madrigal-like vocal melody and lilting musical accompaniment has an almost medieval feel that wouldn't have sounded too far out of place if it had been played by a court musician in one of the great European throne rooms of the 16th century, however having said that the songs final heavier section might have caused a few ruffs to be ruffled and resulted in a few heads rolling. Penultimate song "All Systems Fail" is the albums second instrumental, its lo-fi and lysergic groove, played beneath a computer generated voice repeating the songs title, builds layer by layer until suddenly taking off into the cosmos on a wave of screaming guitar and thunderous percussion, the song is only just over three minutes long and it leaves you wishing it was much longer. Finally we arrive at last track "Gravity" a song that ups both the bands prog and doom quotient while at the same time managing to sound both spacey and stoner.
Gods & Punks are, in Desert Psychlist's opinion, one of the best bands to have come out of Brazil, and given the depth of talent recently coming out of that country that is saying something indeed, a band who consistently deliver quality without ever sounding as if they are treading water or going over the same ground again and again. "The Sounds of the Universe" is the last mile of what has been a great journey, where they go next is anyone's guess but you can guarantee wherever it is it'll be worth the price of the ticket.
Check it out ....
© 2021 Frazer Jones