For Godcaster, everything has to be magnified or it’s not worth examining. Every aspect of the Brooklyn collective seems designed to overstimulate: their six eclectic members, their out-of-breath, cosmological lyrics, and their commitment to song titles no one has thought of before (example: “Tiger Surrogate Hunts the Praying Mantis”). They’re a band clothed in aureate imagery and dedicated to taking itself seriously. “We’re Godcaster and we’re the greatest band in the world,” vocalist Judson Kolk announced at a recent New York show, with a matter-of-fact calmness. After cutting their teeth in the Philadelphia DIY circuit, Godcaster have evolved to craft inventive art-rock on a monumental scale, powerful enough to lend credence to their confidence.
While their live show is a large part of the appeal, Godcaster also translate their furious, youthful energy into their studio recordings. Beating within their self-titled second album is the heartbeat of English art-punk band Cardiacs, combined with a mania like what would happen if Deerhoof started a cult. Godcaster is not background music: These songs feel like hot, hellish wastelands, and listening all the way through is an active exercise. “Didactic Flashing Antidote” is a relentless 10-minute journey that resounds in your chest. The dirge-like “Death’s Head Eyed Hawkmoth” could soundtrack a demented Western; Kolk’s voice meanders and pleads while the band remains impossibly steady, instilling hysteria and helplessness.
Godcaster’s early work—a spate of recorded-live EPs in their Philadelphia days and 2020’s Long-Haired Locusts—was looser and more capricious, like a band that formed in of Montreal message boards. But as they continue to mature, they’ve slipped into something that feels religious and hypnotic. Vocal duties rotate between members of the band, and their onstage delivery is reminiscent of a strange off-Broadway play. Elephant 6-esque lyrics like “I see lovers speak in tone/Smell anthurium’s pheromones” and “Ecstatic reaction/In fleshly contraption” are urgently cast against a background informed by Native American and Greco-Roman folklore. To Godcaster, the image of love is never anything less than exploding planets or weeping demigods.
There’s a relentlessness to Godcaster’s magnitude that occasionally verges on monotony. While their new, more focused sound is effective—they’re safely out of “elevated jam band” territory—by the time you reach the 11-minute-plus “Draw Breath Cry Out,” it feels like they might have dealt all their cards. But when flutist Von Lee sings on the stripped-down penultimate track “Pluto Shoots His Gaze Into the Sun,” her gossamer voice is arresting all by itself. “How beautiful/My heart is full,” she sings. It’s a vital breath at the end of Godcaster, a vibrant contrasting wash before you plunge back into the brutality of closer “Gut Sink Moan.” On Godcaster, the band maintains its characteristic mayhem and mythology while continuing to diversify: You can already hear how far they’ll keep pushing forward.
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