Gaza are not a happy band. In fact, they might be described as positively angry. That much is almost immediately obvious when listening to their second album, He Is Never Coming Back, as the doom-laden chords of the introduction quickly give way to a furious assault that rarely wanes throughout the album.
Taught drum patterns and abrasive riffs entwine with the vocals; a harsh low scraping roar, all of which means that the album feels a very clenched jawed and vein popping affair. Such intensity of emotion can be both powerful and admirable, and at moments Gaza communicate their emotion with incendiary vitality. The title track delivers a short visceral assault on the Christian Church (a theme they continually return to) with its simple lyrical delivery and coarse instrumentation, and 'Canine Disposal Unit' is a rumbling powerhouse of a follow-up, with throbbing guitars evoking tightly wound emotive force.
But is anger alone enough? In truth it would be unfair to say that Gaza do not have anything more to offer, tracks like 'The Astronomer', an echoing slow-burner of thunderous gravitas, provide some much needed space in amongst the more frenetic pieces. But it does still feel that this is a limited work. The focussed rage of the album is undeniably affecting at times, but without the gleeful humour of the likes of Strapping Young Lad, the existential turmoil of Gojira, or even the sheer clarity of early Metallica – it ends up being slightly one-dimensional.
He Is Never Coming Back is by no means a failure, the boiling current of emotion that underpins it gets through to the listener enough to see to that. But neither is it quite the success it could be. The high intensity fury that drives majority of the cuts flatters to deceive, disguising an occasional lack of depth. As in life, in music, anger is sometimes most affecting when kept coiled, under a tight leash. The irony of this album is that the emotion that drives it is best expressed when the band rein it in during the slower, more controlled pieces. This is further highlighted by production that favours the slower rumbling tracks, leaving the higher tempo ones sounding thin. Nevertheless, this is an album with genuine emotional resonance.
1. How it Is. How Its Going To Be.
2. The Kicking Legs
4. The Biologist
5. Windowless House
6. He Is Never Coming Back
7. Canine Disposal Unit
8. The Anthropologist
9. The Meat Of A Leg Joint
10. The Astronomer
12. The Historian