Review & Full EP Stream: Godhunter, Codex Narco

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter codex narco

[Click play above to stream Godhunter’s Codex Narco EP in full. It’s out this Friday, May 19, on Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records with sale proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.]

Tucson, Arizona’s Godhunter have always had a violent and/or aggressive edge to their approach, but most of what they’re demolishing on their latest EP, Codex Narco, are the expectations listeners might have of them. Delivered through Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records with cover art by Bailey Illustration as the result of a few tumultuous years on the part of the once-sludge metallers, Codex Narco only tops out at about 21 minutes, and as it moves between the intro “A Dread of Some Strange Impending Doom” and outro “Distant Fading Screams of a Dying World,” rest assured, the fare is still suitably dark, but the band nonetheless hugely expand their sonic palette even from what it was two years ago on their Endsville split with Destroyer of Light (discussed here), let alone on their prior 2014 full-length, City of Dust (review here), which remains their only long-player to-date. They were a six-piece at that time and have since pared back to a core trio of guitarist/sampler David Rodgers, guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Davis and drummer Andy Kratzenberg, all of whom are spread out geographically.

The fact that Codex Narco‘s tracks were written via internet exchange between these three might ultimately be a factor in the aesthetic outcome of the EP, but that’s not to discount guest appearances from CHRCH vocalist Eva Rose on the aforementioned opening/closing pair, or Josh Thorne of Thorne on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” and centerpiece “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams,” or Methra‘s Nick Genitals on the penultimate Tegan and Sara cover, “Walking with a Ghost,” which here becomes a blown-out vision of doomwave with additional guitar from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer) and bass from Demon Lung‘s Adam Sage. Nick Genitals contributes bass and guitar as well to the opener and closer and to the ambient “Unarmed Combat,” and Sage handles low end on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails,” “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams” and “Walking with a Ghost” while Bartholomew also plays guitar on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails,” “Our Blood is Poison” and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams.”

One imagines it was quite a chain of emails by the time these songs actually started coming together, or at very least a barrage of Dropbox notifications, but however it was done, the wash that Codex Narco creates ties together this dizzying interchange of personnel, and with a headphone-ready depth of mix unlike anything Godhunter have produced before, these tracks offer atmospheric weight to coincide with their sheer tonal density. Interplay between shorter pieces like the intro and outro, the sample-topped rumble and feedback of “Our Blood is Poison” and the bass-and-drum “Unarmed Combat,” which seems to recount for 100 seconds a military experiment drugging soldiers and finding them refusing to train, the two longer tracks “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” (5:53) and “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams” (5:45), and the unabashedly poppy “Walking with a Ghost” (2:31) ensure a steady flow from one piece to the next, and but for its runtime, Codex Narco could just as easily pass as an LP as an EP in terms of how its component pieces feed into and off of each other.

godhunter codex narco lineup

Davis‘ work on synth and keys becomes a huge factor in tying the release together as a whole, whether he’s playing to the post-punk chug and hook of “Walking with a Ghost” or adding electronica-style tension beneath the massive and blasted buzz tones of “Cocaine Witches and Lysergic Dreams.” No doubt a mastering job by the esteemed Brad Boatright had something to do with bringing the various tracks in line as well, but the handling of the synth and keys in the mix alongside the guitar and bass casts a scope behind the trades between screams and clean vocals on “Like Glass Under Black Fingernails” that proves as immersive as it is aggressive, and where in the past Godhunter have been driven to confront, to attack, Codex Narco feels more inwardly-directed as an examination, more personal, and thus more likely to draw listeners along with it on its brief but substantial path.

It’s the kind of release for which reviewers might generally fall over themselves to invent descriptors — which is an impulse that “doomwave” above notwithstanding I’m going to try to resist — but when one sees vague-eries like “post-sludge,” “sludgegaze,” “doomtronic” and so on, it’s a sign that at very least Godhunter are doing something of their own and something original, which on Codex Narco more than ever, they definitely are. RodgersDavis and Kratzenberg haven’t by any means abandoned their aggro tendencies or their underlying sense of purpose in creation — sales of the EP benefit Planned Parenthood and an anti-suicide video for “Walking with a Ghost” is reportedly in production — but they’ve successfully achieved a stylistic turn that even for those who’ve experienced their various experiments on collaborations with Secrets of the Sky (review here) and Amigo the Devil will no doubt prove a surprise. Still, even if one approaches Codex Narco anticipating the band Godhunter were on City of Dust, they’ve always warranted and encouraged a kind of open-mindedness that should make it relatively easy for listeners to get on board with the moves they have made and may or may not continue to make.

When it comes to the aftermath of this EP, that’s really the big question: whether Codex Narco, with its slew of guests and lung-collapsing soundscapes, is a sign of the future direction for Godhunter or a one-off experiment. Given the accomplishment and the fluidity of these songs, I’m inclined to hope for the former, but less than ever does it seem reasonable to predict what the band might do doing forward. Codex Narco is a quick listen, but it presents a huge shift in method and practice for Godhunter, and that’s as much palpable in the audio as it is in the context in which the EP arrives. What has remained most constant about them, however, is the boldness with which they’ve undertaken these changes, and that seems to be the thread that unites all of their work: They’re going to do what they’re going to do, on their own terms, without compromise. Whatever else might swirl around it, righteousness persists.

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records on Bandcamp

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Godhunter Post Codex Narco Trailer and Release Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godhunter and friends

Earlier this month, when Arizona sludge-with-a-purpose outfit Godhunter announced their new release, Codex Narco, would be out in May through Baby Tooth and Battleground Records, the guest-laden offering was positioned as an EP. As I look at the seven tracks below — granted they could all be a minute long; one doesn’t want to predict or pre-judge — and take a peak at the newly-posted trailer, it’s looking more and more like a full-length album every minute. I don’t necessarily know that Godhunter give a shit about such concerns — they’ve got bigger fish to fry, aesthetically and politically — but these are the things I get hung up on, basically so I know which list something belongs on for December. Godhunter, almost invariably, will wind up on one or the other.

The PR wire brings art, the aforementioned tracklisting and the also-aforementioned trailer. Busy busy busy. Dig it:

godhunter codex narco

GODHUNTER Releases Art, Trailer, And More For Codex Narco Record Featuring Members Of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, And More

GODHUNTER has issued the artwork, track listing, and a brief trailer for the band’s impending Codex Narco record, which features contributions from members of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, and others.

In line with GODHUNTER’s commitment to speaking out about social issues, the proceeds of Codex Narco’s sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood, the statement reflected in the pink color scheme of the artwork by Bailey Illustration and layout by Cool Ghoul Ltd. (Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man). Codex Narco was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and features a cover of Tegan & Sara’s “Walking With A Ghost,” for which a video is being created to support suicide prevention.

Codex Narco will see digital release through Battleground Records and cassette release through Baby Tooth Records on May 19th; preorders and further audio samples will be issued in the weeks ahead.

Codex Narco Track Listing:
1. A Dread Of Some Strange Impending Doom
2. Like Glass Under Black Fingernails
3. Our Blood Is Poison
4. Cocaine Witches & Lysergic Dreams
5. Unarmed Combat
6. Walking With A Ghost
7. Distant Fading Screams Of A Dying World

In September of 2015, after finishing a successful US tour with Destroyer Of Light, several members of GODHUNTER amicably split with the band, simply moving on with more family commitments and unable to commit to regular touring. Within weeks of the lineup shift, the rest of the band began writing new material together through internet conversations and individual recording sessions, as remaining guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers, drummer Andy Kratzenberg, and keyboardist Matthew Davis, currently reside on opposite ends of the country, spread across Washington, Arizona, and Georgia. Shortly into the creation process, it was realized that the band was deviating from their usual lyrical content on our deteriorating world and current events, and for the first time were instead focusing towards their own realms of inner darkness. Everyone in the band has experienced some dramatic personal trauma in recent years, a factor which is intensely reflected in the writing of Codex Narco, where dependency, depression, and loss are the driving factors, resulting in the most personal and deeply introspective material the band has ever made.

After fleshing out the main skeleton of the new material, the remaining members of GODHUNTER secured additional elements from several of the band’s closer personal and musical friends. Several of the contributors recorded a large amount of Codex Narco at Homewrecker Studios in Tucson, with the additional material recorded by each musician at their hometown studio of choice. The record features guest vocals from Eva Rose (CHRCH) and Josh Thorne (Thorne), bass from Adam Sage (Demon Lung), guitars from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer, ex-Secrets Of The Sky), and vocal, bass, and guitar contributions from Nick Genitals (Methra).

http://www.facebook.com/godhuntersludge
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com
https://twitter.com/BattlegroundRNR
http://instagram.com/battleground_records
https://babytoothtucson.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/babytoothtucson

Godhunter, Codex Narco trailer

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Godhunter Announce New EP Codex Narco Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Tucson sludgers Godhunter taking on a more directly political lyrical bent makes sense, as the band has always been keen to offer some latent social commentary both on the local level of their home in Arizona and in the wider sphere of worldly goings on. Not to mention these are deeply politicized times blah blah blah, but yeah, that makes sense as a turn the band would make. Interestingly, they’ve called in a few friends to help them make their point. Their new EP, Codex Narco, is set to release this May on Battleground Records and Baby Tooth Records and with guest spots from CHRCH‘s Eva Rose — well that’s going to be fucking unbelievably heavy — as well as members of Methra, Demon Lung and others, although Godhunter have undergone some lineup changes over the last couple years, they still clearly know how to put a party together. Interested to hear how this one turns out.

No art or audio yet, but the PR wire has release details:

godhunter

GODHUNTER To Release Codex Narco In May; Record Features Contributors From CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, And More

GODHUNTER has completed a new EP titled Codex Narco, featuring a cast of fellow musicians hailing from the likes of CHRCH, Demon Lung, Mountaineer, Thorne, Methra, and others. The EP will see release in May, with the proceeds from each format going to several important charities.

In September of 2015, after finishing a successful US tour with Destroyer Of Light, several members of GODHUNTER amicably split with the band, simply moving on with more family commitments and unable to commit to regular touring. Within weeks of the lineup shift, the rest of the band began writing new material together through internet conversations and individual recording sessions, as remaining guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers, drummer Andy Kratzenberg, and keyboardist Matthew Davis, currently reside on opposite ends of the country, spread across Washington, Arizona, and Georgia.

Shortly into the creation process, it was realized that the band was deviating from their usual lyrical content on our deteriorating world and current events, and for the first time were instead focusing towards their own realms of inner darkness. Everyone in the band has experienced some dramatic personal trauma in recent years, a factor which is intensely reflected in the writing of Codex Narco, where dependency, depression, and loss are the driving factors, resulting in the most personal and deeply introspective material the band has ever made.

After fleshing out the main skeleton of the new material, the remaining members of GODHUNTER secured additional elements from several of the band’s closer personal and musical friends. Several of the contributors recorded a large amount of Codex Narco at Homewrecker Studios in Tucson, with the additional material recorded by each musician at their hometown studio of choice. The record features guest vocals from Eva Rose (CHRCH) and Josh Thorne (Thorne), bass from Adam Sage (Demon Lung), guitars from Clayton Bartholomew (Mountaineer, ex-Secrets Of The Sky), and vocal, bass, and guitar contributions from Nick Genitals (Methra).

Codex Narco was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, and features artwork by Bailey Illustration and layout by Cool Ghoul Ltd. (Ethan McCarthy of Primitive Man). The record will see release through Battleground Records in conjunction with Baby Tooth Records who will release a cassette version, on May 19th; all profits will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

GODHUNTER’s commitment to speaking out about social issues has not changed though, and as such, the proceeds from this album will be donated to Planned Parenthood, as reflected in the pink color scheme. Mitch Wells from Thou is also making us a video for the Tegan & Sara cover song “Walking With A Ghost.” This video is being made to support suicide prevention. Even though the album is very personal, the resulting effort is all about giving back to organizations the band members care deeply about.

http://www.facebook.com/godhuntersludge
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com
https://twitter.com/BattlegroundRNR
http://instagram.com/battleground_records
https://babytoothtucson.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/babytoothtucson

Godhunter vs. Destroyer of Light, Endsville (2015)

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