The Drowned God has made a statement of blistering severity on their sophomore record, I’ll Always Be the Same. The eight-song record rests somewhere between an EP and an LP, delivering a poignant punch with ferocious instrumentation matched with powerhouse vocals. The overarching themes of self-awareness, observation, and introspection flood the plains as the album analyzes the state of the world and the significance and impact of individual choice.
Solid State Records has brought to the masses yet another strong force in the front line of metal as the band recently became the newest addition to their roster. From the band’s decisions on intriguing song titles to the album’s intricate mix, I’ll Always Be the Same has plenty of hidden gems to offer a captive audience in addition to the outright ferocity and of post-whatever-core to engage any fan of the genre.
The album starts with “Low in the Heavens,” ripping the work open with a resilient yell, the band’s tasteful use of borrowed chords, and independent-yet-correlated riffs. It’s immediately obvious – and bolstered as the album evolves – that the bass and guitars don’t fight one another in any of the songs, creating space in the mix and a refreshing distinction from so many metal bands today.
As it progresses, The Drowned God is keenly aware of each track within the whole, working to build tension with the first few songs. “Catholic” grabs your attention from the abyss, the band experimenting with new screaming textures and guitar tones. The clean licks harken back to the emo movement as they dance between a major and minor feel, working with the tense chords in the backdrop to create a sense of unsettling comfort. In “If You Were Them, You’d Do It Too,” the clean guitar takes center stage with a slow, burdened intro, accompanied by swells of synth and minimalistic hits. Vocalist Cody Golob cries, “I’ve seen it all for what it is / I’ve seen enough to make my own choices.” A dramatic resolution reinforced by the dramatic change in tempo for a brief three or four measures before the dust settles back into the previous, unhurried pulse.
The song flows seamlessly into “Body Knot” where we see another side of The Drowned God for the first minute of the track, a place where the vocals have a lighter touch and the accompaniment is a step away from cheerful. At this point in the narrative, we hear the question, “Will it ever be enough to show you my devotion?” The sound of surrender married to the contemplative lyrics bring the listener to a place of self-acceptance, a place to reflect on doubt and the emotions of the experiences where we have never been enough to satisfy impossible standards… The Drowned God pioneering through as our guide: Eventually, we have to be strong enough to settle into who we are and march on
From here, the attitude of the record changes. The band adds lovely color in “Less Than an Exit,” the drums moving between a swing and a straight waltz groove. The sounds become freer, which is aided by the tasteful use of a tambourine. Eventually, that freedom gives way to a more aggressive ending, fueling each layered vocal and carrying the song home.
“Confuser,” the penultimate track, is arguably the most intense song of the album. With a spacey foundation of sound slathered across the entire mix accompanied by the most passionate vocal delivery, the lyrics cry out with abundant loss, though, ironically, each line is eloquently placed, presenting a quiet self-awareness and perhaps not a loss at all. The band creates enormous space between instruments and between sections, forcing the intensity further into the lyrical cry for deliverance.
The album resolves with “You Were Right the First Time,” a full-bodied hive mind that sounds very much like the appropriate denouement. The final line – “Hold me under” – seals the record with ellipses, letting the listener know that this story is far from over.
I’ll Always Be the Same is a masterful, intentional, and pleasantly surprising introduction to a newly-signed